John's Journal...


You Still Can't See Them

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: Dr. Grant Woods of Reeds Spring, Missouri, one of the nation's leading white-tailed deer researchers, not only has studied whitetails for many years but also uses the latest scientific technology to track deer movement and learn why deer do what they do. We've asked Woods to tell our readers how to find the bucks of their dreams this year.

I'm totally convinced that most hunters don't see deer on the properties they hunt. I was really made aware of this fact about a decade ago when I was doing a browse survey on an 80-acre high-fence property in New York State. Snow was on the ground, and I learned the best way for me to get around that property was on cross-country skis.Click to enlarge I told myself, "I should have a great opportunity to see a lot of deer, because I know lots of deer live on this 800 acres. There's snow on the ground, I know the deer are hungry, I know they'll be moving, and I know I'll be quiet as a church mouse on these cross-country skis. I should be able to slip up on them and see them before they spot me." Too, a cold front was moving in that day that created perfect conditions for seeing deer. However, I stayed on those skis all day long, and I only saw one deer. Later I learned that more than 200 deer were inside that fence. However, I was doing my survey right after the land had been intensively hunted. Those deer had become so accustomed to dodging hunters that they could hear, see, smell and get out of my way before I ever could spot them.

One of the things happening now is that hunter numbers are stayingClick to enlarge relatively stable to decreasing slightly. But the amount of land to be available to hunt is dramatically decreasing. Therefore there are more hunters per acre now than ever before. Yet another factor is that hunters are much more educated about where, when and how to find deer than in years past. The deer must be much smarter and more elusive to survive now than they once did. Deer have learned that their best defense against hunters is to fill their bellies with food at night and spend their daylight hours in thick cover chewing their cuds. Deer are so adaptable that they quickly learn when danger is present and when it's not. For instance at Cades Cove in Tennessee, you'll often see deer moving there during daylight hours. No one hunts these deer. They have little or no fear of humans. However, because bears and other predators move at night, they spend most of the time bedded-down at night. Click to enlargeAnother phenomenon I've seen in Texas is on the Mexican border. The deer, and especially the bucks there, move an awful lot during daylight hours. For a long time, I couldn't decide why. However, some places along the Mexican border have so many illegal aliens coming across the border at night, and so many Border Patrol officers looking for illegal aliens at night that the land is crawling with people at night. But in the daylight hours, hardly anyone is moving where the deer are. So the deer there have learned to move during daylight hours because they're less likely to run into people due to the heat. I've never seen daytime deer movement as much anywhere in the country as I have along the Mexican border in south Texas.

To learn more about Dr. Grant Woods and Woods and Associates, you can go to

Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO FIND AND TAKE TROPHY BUCKS IN THE EARLY SEASON WITH DR. GRANT WOODS ...

Day 1 - How to Scout from the Skinning Shed
Day 2 - Deer Know You
Day 3 - Don't Forget Food Plots Are Buck Magnets
Day 4 - How to Find the Big Bucks on the Property You Hunt
Day 5 - You Still Can't See Them


Entry 258, Day 5