Deer Hunting 101
Pressured bucks are less likely to change their routines after hunting season arrives because they rarely see people. Unfortunately, most of the deer we pursue today are heavily pressured by deer hunters. Unless you hunt during archery season or on large tracts of privately owned, h land during firearms seasons, you’ll probably find it tough to enjoy this pleasant experience. But don’t let that ruin your hunt, It just simply changes the nature of the challenge. When hunting public ground, look for hard to reach areas and isolated tracts of land as these areas will often be neglected by other hunters.
One of the first things to think about is the option of avoiding the most heavily walked areas. You may think without a large tract of private land available that you are forced to hunt public land and go to areas thick with other deer hunters, but if you just sit back and analyze the situation, a different story will unravel. The majority of these deer hunters are in areas within a quarter to half mile of a road or parking area. On big tracts of federal or state lands, you can often get beyond most deer hunters by simply starting earlier and walking in a bit further. Study topographic maps and find areas where no roads or trails would be present, then look for features that would make it the perfect deer habitat.
The most obvious type of deer tracks are the actual hoof prints that deer leave behind when they walk. These tracks are ovular in shape, with small claw prints making an independent dot below the hoof they are most easily seen in snow, but can also be tracked in mud or softer ground areas. Hoof prints are helpful for two primary reasons first of all, they help you see where deer are traveling. They are perfect for figuring out deer traffic patterns on your property, for locating bedding, feeding, or drinking spots, and for ultimately choosing a profitable hunting spot.
Secondly, hoof prints can tell you a lot about the size and gender of the deer you are hunting. In general, hoof prints can measure anywhere between three and six inches in length measured from the top of the ovular hoof print to the small dot of a claw print on the bottom. Fawn tracks are usually shorter than four inches, while mature bucks will come more in the five to six inch range.
With this information in mind, you can decide whether it’s worth it for you to track a deer or not, just by looking at their prints.
If you are tracking a deer, you are going to have to keep an eye out for more than just hoof prints and clear trails. Deer droppings can add a good deal of information to your hunt, as judging the freshness of the droppings can give you insight into how recently a deer passed a certain way.
Droppings can give you an idea of whether or not the buck you are tracking is close or long gone, it will save you precious time following old tracks. A large concentration of droppings in one place is also a good indication that you are getting close to a bedding area.
Speaking of urine, there’s no easier way to spot deer tracks in the snow than to look for urine stains. Usually, you will see these in addition to hoof prints rather than instead of them, meaning that they are good more as tracking supplements rather than standalone sources.
However, urine stains can tell you the gender of the deer you are tracking if you can’t tell from the prints bucks urinate in between their tracks, while a doe’s urine will appear behind the tracks.
If you manage to land a shot on a buck, the hope is obviously that he will drop dead on the spot and give you no further tracking to do right. But if the buck bolts, you need to know how to read a blood trail.
You will see different types of blood trails depending on where your shot made impact. Pink and frothy blood is the hallmark of a lung shot, in which case, even if your buck bolted, he won’t make it far. Bright red blood can indicate a wider range of things, from a hit near the heart to a shot in the leg. The more rich and red blood you see, the more likely it is that you landed a lethal shot.
Seeking out hard to reach areas, also consider hunting isolated, cut off tracts of public land.
- Dense cover or rugged terrain are the keys. When bucks feel pressure of just a few hours of hunting, they immediately move to places where they can escape the pressure from humans.