Understanding The Signs Deer Leave Behind

Sign Sign everywhere a sign.  Blocking o by katerha, on Flickr
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Understanding The Signs Deer Leave Behind

With opening day of fall archery season just around the corner, I anticipate what is to come. Preparation is in full force, and hunting for that trophy buck has already started.

I am focused on three main hunting areas this season. All of which I have hunted with success my whole life. The deer are constantly moving in and out of the three areas under my radar. How do I plan to attack these deer this season?

First and foremost, I need to set up my game cams and see what exactly is moving and where. This is the preliminary strategy. Following behind comes obtaining and recording pictures and location. Once I have a relative idea of where to start scouting, I will better understand how much time I need to delegate to each of these areas. Also, keeping I’m mind that what was there last year, or what is there during scouting of this season, may not be there on opening day. Deer territory cover one kilometer, and hunters moving through the woods can push deer in and out of their territory.

Signs, signs, signs everywhere are signs. Deer leave behind signs everywhere they go. Understanding these signs can help the hunter to better understand where the deer typically travel and how regularly. Deer beds can be found everywhere. Just a few beds usually mean that the deer got pushed out of their comfort zone and needed a place to crash. However, if you happen to stumble upon multiple beds it is worth paying attention to. You have more than likely found the usually bedding area the deer rest.

Next, to help determine if you have revealed their secret location look for trails leading in and out of the bedding area. Determine how new or old these trails are. Look for prints in the mud or softer areas. Are they fresh?

Follow the trails looking for scrapes and buck rubs. Bucks tend to mark their territory using these methods. Scrapes and feeding marks can appear similar. Look to see if the deer left parallel hoof skids or just kind of knocked debris out of the way to feed. Parallel hoof marks mean the deer was scraping hard leaving its scent behind to warm others he has claimed this territory. Generally speaking, you will find that deer will have multiple feeding marks in an area, and as mentioned earlier will not leave behind defining parallel hoof skids. When you find a scrape place a drip bag near by. This will let the buck know there is a doe around for him when the rut begins. Keep moving along looking for multiple scrapes letting you know that there is a buck focused on this area.

Another tell tail sign that a buck has marked his zone is a rub. Rubbing their antlers on trees leaves behind their scent. As we have talked about, deer are very territorial and have a range of one kilometer they tend to adhere to.

Dragging a scent line along the trail where scrapes are found will keep the buck focused on that area in preparation for the rut. Try to pick a tree where a prominent scrape has been located and scent added to. Make sure you have a drip bag hanging near the scrape. Get out there early opening day and be confident you have picked the “hot spot”. Early evening is also a prime time where deer are out feeding and heading back to their beds.

Scouting for deer is key to your success. Hopefully this article has helped you in better understanding the signs deer leave behind.


J.D. Arp

J.D. Arp





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