Fresh tracks of a trotting deer (tracks three or more feet apart along a fairly straight line) or a bounding deer (elongated C- or J-shaped track patterns 15–25 feet apart) have no hunting value. They were made by a highly alarmed deer abandoning the area, perhaps its entire home range. It will not likely be seen in the same vicinity for a considerable number of days, if at all.
Fresh tracks of a walking deer (12–18 inches apart) or a feeding deer (tracks close together and randomly zigzagging) indicate the deer was not alarmed. If discovered early or late in the day, whether the deer is currently visible or not, it is likely fairly near. If the fresh tracks are found midday, though it is unlikely that deer is currently near, it will likely return to the same vicinity later the same day or early the following morning (unlikely after that).
What should you do? If early or late in the day, rather than attempt to stalk that deer, cautiously move 20 yards or more to a downwind site where you will be well hidden, sit down on your backpacked stool and wait patiently for the deer to appear — until 10–11 AM in the morning or 30 minutes after sunset in the evening. If midday, leave the area. After lunch, cautiously return to an appropriate stand site site from downwind or crosswind or before sunrise he following morning.
If the fresh tracks of the unalarmed deer are 3-3/4 to 4 inches long (not including imprints made by dewclaws), I never hesitate to hunt that deer as described above because the deer that made those tracks is an enormous buck. I have taken quite a few mature bucks, some of them dominant breeding bucks, within 15–30 minutes after sitting down on a nearby log or my stool.
You don’t own such a stool? Think about what you are missing.