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Discussion Starter #1
When hunting mountain deer do you have more success finding sign and deer in the valleys, Side benches or on the tops of mountains???
 

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I look for thick laurel with oak trees on side hills.
Most guys don't hunt on thick side hills and the years that those oaks have acorns,
that's where I find deer when the shooting starts.
 

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Hunt the steep side hills once the shooting starts. That is what I did after being told by the locals in Clinton County
 

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I hunt above a half bowl cut, just below a 2200 ft. ridge, between two laurel thickets. Deer are always sneaking between those thickets.
 

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I like to find trails along the laurel as well the deer will often cross areas between clumps of laurel. If there is food and an additional terrain feature like a saddle then all the better.
 

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All good suggestions. I in recent years of rifle hunting have been trying to hunt points. Where a less steep point extends from a side hill or the "head" or end of a ridge. Hollows to one side or both. This would be for rifle. Otherwise its all about food. I've seen acorns on top of ridges with none in valleys as well as the opposite.
 

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I hunt anywhere as long as I don't have an uphill drag to my truck.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
These answers are all very interesting. When I first started hunting about 1975 we hunted the top or very close to it reasoning that the pressured deer would head for security up high. It worked real good until the days of unlimited does and the beginning of AR's. It seems the deer aren't quite as pressured on the public land I hunt in 3B now. My stand choices are now based on the natural movement along with pressure. Sure there are hunters and in areas lots of them. It's a shame I'm not at the parking lots to actually see how many cars are there, but I'm in pretty early. As a side note if anybody else hunts the #13, 57, 66 metroplex of Gamelands have you ever been out of the woods to count cars in the lots? Whats the most you count? Like I said I'm early in and late out most times.
 

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Tide- I hunt a rugged SGL in SE Pa. I know this isn't where you hunt but your right about the pressure isn't what it once was and it tends to be concentrated. One of the biggest problems we encounter is trying to figure out where that pressure is concentrated. One year its in the area I'm hunting and the next year no one can be found. This past season I extended my hunting area even further. Needless to say, during all of rifle season (3) hunters seen, two of which were blood trailing and one that walked through. What we also saw were plenty of deer. When I walked out the first day there were ZERO cars left in the lot. When I walked out the first Saturday at lunch time there were (7). Which I would consider "low" pressure. The last day ZERO.

Just to add something on my first post. For us, wherever the acorns are good so is the hunting. Good up high, shooting up high. Spotty or bad acorns high and the majority of the shooting is in the valleys. The difference for you is your valleys which I believe are forested whereas ours have ag fields. Still, the acorns could be good high or low for you and certainly effect your hunting.

Your hunting some really big areas and it sounds like you have the right idea. Isn't it working out that you would ask?
 

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I have the most success in any type of valley or hollow. Even better if there is a stream in it. I've shot my last several rifle season deer in these type of situations. Next best for me have been pinch points in travel corridors that are either in valleys, side benches, or the top. I look for whatever food sources are being hit hardest during archery season and I look for pinch points between thickest cover in rifle season. There again the several deer in rifle I was referring two were traveling between thick cover in the bottom of a hollow or valley and I was hunting these "pinch" points of travel. Archery kills have been the same type of deal as bucks were traveling from bedding to bedding searching does so I was in a position that would funnel the majority of the travel. That's been my experience for what it's worth. Which may not be much!
 

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The only differents is the legs,they are shorter on the right or left side,depending on what side of the mountain they live on.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
buckman4c said:
Tide- I hunt a rugged SGL in SE Pa. I know this isn't where you hunt but your right about the pressure isn't what it once was and it tends to be concentrated. One of the biggest problems we encounter is trying to figure out where that pressure is concentrated. One year its in the area I'm hunting and the next year no one can be found. This past season I extended my hunting area even further. Needless to say, during all of rifle season (3) hunters seen, two of which were blood trailing and one that walked through. What we also saw were plenty of deer. When I walked out the first day there were ZERO cars left in the lot. When I walked out the first Saturday at lunch time there were (7). Which I would consider "low" pressure. The last day ZERO.

Just to add something on my first post. For us, wherever the acorns are good so is the hunting. Good up high, shooting up high. Spotty or bad acorns high and the majority of the shooting is in the valleys. The difference for you is your valleys which I believe are forested whereas ours have ag fields. Still, the acorns could be good high or low for you and certainly effect your hunting.

Your hunting some really big areas and it sounds like you have the right idea. Isn't it working out that you would ask?

I am always looking to learn and hoping that others will too. It still amazes me how people will hunt the same stands year after year whether there is sign or not. My first goal is to be at least 1 mile from a lot if possible and then look for sign.

The reason I brought up hunting the tops is I grew up hunting #58 in Beaver Station Columbia County. The effort it took for us to get way back in was the reason for our success. Every opening day it was anywhere from 3 bucks to 5 bucks by 10:00 am for the 5 of us. The very spot we hunted is now easy to find. They put a road in and the parking lot is where we used to walk to. Now the walk is easier in where I hunt, and I see a decent number of deer (8-20)on opening day and bucks (can shoot a legal one every year). Like I said up top, I always try to learn something.
 

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find the deer's secondary trail
....
 

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Been hunting mountain deer all my life and still haven't figured it out. We have one stand that has been a consistent producer. The deer have come from EVERY SINGLE direction at every time of day and every wind condition. Sometimes they just meander.

We have a lot of overgrown clear cut, though, so that's just one big food source and one big patch of cover. No acorns except for one tree that we planted in 1994. Our mast is beech and that's bust more than boom.
 

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Get a lightweight rifle. I hunt mountain deer with a 9 pound Sako Finnbear and it's miserable. I need a new rifle.
 

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I hunt with a 300 SAV Meatmaster. Perfect for walks and sits in the Mt's.
 

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Food sources and patterns change constantly in the mountains.You have to know what deer like to eat over anything else and now where it's all located.When one food source dries up,you have to know the most likely place they went.A great spot one week can be a complete bust the next week.Look at the browse and see if the deer are impacting it.I spend every sunday during the season in the woods scouting.That's by far the most important scouting I do all year.Second thing is try to stay out of the valleys because the wind is almost impossible to play.Third,find ravines that go up draws.Eventually they peter out and there's almost always a trail at the top where that happens.Whether or not they use that trail,depends on what they're feeding on at the time or where they're bedding.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'll give a little bit more of what I have found to be a big scouting tool. I sit in the stand I intend to hunt out of for deer on the opening morning of bear.
 
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