I like sitting along the edge and looking into the patch from the downwind or off wind side. A lot of deer will run the edge. Look for the exit/entry trails along the edge and set up with wind in mind for the intersecting trails. I also prefer hunting the flatter of the laurel/rhododendron patches. Side hill patches I like either setting up along a ridge line where I can see down to side hill trails or find a bench on the side hill and set up just above. Overlooking a "flat" of rhododendron produces the best deer sightings for me. They come and go from all directions. Bedding can be found just about anywhere in the patch but they usually prefer a ridge line where it then drops off.
I've also just plowed my way into the center of a patch, climbed a tree and seen lots of action.
These examples are primarily for rifle season. I really like them in rifle season because the deer very typically pick their way through the patch offering better shooting opportunity. During bow season, I've tried all the above and found my best action along the edge. Also where you usually find the best deer sign.
I tried still hunting through it, as quiet and slow as possible. Just as I was about to exit the patch,(just a few acres), I caught a movement. A small herd of four must have stayed just ahead of me the whole time. These other guys posts seem a better stradegy.
Was hunting from .a treestand in an oak flat about 6 yrs ago and saw several groups of deer all including at least 1 buck travel thru the area from several directions. There was about a 75 yd. round patch of laurel that each group passed thru and would pause in before exiting. They evidently felt safe inside it. Eventually a decent 7 point with a doe came out on my side and I shot the buck with my .257 Ruger #1 International, first day I had hunted with it. I moved my stand just inside the edge of that patch and killed 3 bucks in the next 4 years and could have killed a bear but decided I did not want too, just enjoyed watching it. It seemed that spot of laurel in an otherwise open oak flat was a magnet to deer that had been bumped by others. When my son still loved in PA he would still hunt along the edges of laurel thickets and killed several nice bucks doing so. This has all been on public land or land open for anone to enjoy hunting. Not much open private land left, everyone buys their little patch, posts it, gets up a tree and complains no deer moving .
Laurel is hard to hunt but in years of a good mast crop,the deer will bed in it all day if there's an overstory of oak.I often hunt close to laurel in archery season because that's where they bed.However,when there's a good mast crop,they simply don't have to leave if the acorns are dropping on their heads.Come rifle season,I push out smaller patches to my son and put deer past him almost 100% of the time.
....and then he stood up! Size of a Volkswagon! Head the size of a steering wheel! His arse was three feet wide! And no, I don't know if I hit him. I will NOT go check until you get over here! lain:
I wish one of us would have taken a picture of that perfect 44 caliber half-moon taken out of that laurel branch! Half an inch lower or an inch higher and he was DRT....ya know, 20 FEET in front of me!!!
I get enough laurel in bear season that I'm completely uninterested in going near the stuff for deer. That said, I've killed a few deer along the edges of laurel over the years. Usually it's been laurel adjacent to a good food source. Ironically, all of those deer were while still hunting and just happening upon the laurel.