John's Journal...

How to Detect Deer Movement

Day 2: Learning Deer Movement Before the Season Starts

Click for Larger ViewThe deer's movement patterns before the season starts are the patterns he will follow naturally and normally when he’s not spooked and doesn’t have any hunting pressure exerted on him. This type of scouting is primarily for the bowhunter, the blackpowder shooter and may hold true for the first one or two days of gun season. But when the woods are full of hunters, and deer are moving more from fright than for any other reason, these patterns often do not work. I begin to scout 4- to 6- weeks before deer season starts. If you begin any sooner than that, the deer's feeding patterns may change, and the food they have depended on during the summer may not be the same food they are relying on during the season. Click for Larger ViewIf you don't know what foods the deer are feeding on or probably will be feeding on during this 4- to 6-week period prior to the beginning of deer season, check with other hunters or the state conservation officer in your hunting area.

Primarily early-season scouting is for deer moving toward or away from their feeding areas. In many regions of the country, one of the best places to find deer is around agricultural crops. For instance, let's say a cornfield is bordered by a woodlot. The easiest method for patterning deer in a cornfield is to walk the edge of the field and look for tracks. But just locating tracks on the edge of a cornfield isn’t enough evidence to justify setting up a treestand or taking a stand close to that set of tracks going into the field. To increase your chances of taking a deer, you need to pinpoint where tracks go into the field and come out of the field at the same point, which is where the likelihood of catching a deer entering or leaving a field is the greatest. Click for Larger ViewDeer generally will come through the same region day in and day out, but they also will meander through an area. If they start from a different point to move into the field on a particular day, they may use the same point to go out from the field. Or, if they come into the field from the place you've predetermined, then they may meander out in another direction. But usually, deer will prefer to use one or two places along the edge of a field for entering a field. Most often the deer will want to enter a field from either corners of the field that back into the woods or from the area that seems to funnel back into the woods.

Click for Larger ViewThe best way to scout a field is immediately after rain. The tracks will be fresh, and you can pick the places with the most deer movement that reveal tracks going in both directions. This tactic will work during the first few weeks of bow season usually - depending on hunting pressure – because deer will pattern the same way day after day without a number of hunter encounters. Besides a cornfield, this tactic works on any type of food source you can locate early in the season. During those first 2 weeks of the season, you can hunt very close to a food source.

Tomorrow: Learning about Deer Movement During the Season

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Detect Deer Movement "

Day 1: Understanding Deer
Day 2: Learning Deer Movement Before the Season Starts
Day 3: Learning about Deer Movement During the Season
Day 4: Scouting for Deer Movement at the End of the Season
Day 5: Pay Strict Attention to Detail to Bag an End-of-Season Buck


Entry 590, Day 2