Hunting Values of Various Deer Signs, Part I

Fresh deer tracks of unalarmed whitetails (walking or feeding), especially near or within feeding areas, always have great hunting value. They not only reveal kinds of deer that made the tracks (via measured lengths) but reveal vicinities in which they are located right now or likely will be later today and/or tomorrow morning (if not alarmed by hunters meanwhile). During hunting seasons, don’t count on such predictability at same sites after three half-days have passed.

Fresh droppings of unalarmed deer also have great hunting value for the same reasons as fresh tracks. They are most common in feeding areas, aiding in identifying current favorite feeding areas — hubs of whitetail activities.

Lengths of whitetail beds reveal kinds of deer that made them but have dubious hunting value. Though deer may often change locations in which they feed and travel during hunting seasons, whitetails with safe bedding areas (deliberately avoided by hunters) where all hunters are stand hunters generally remain in their home ranges during hunting seasons, maintaining predictable habits at predictable sites during predictable hours. Whitetails that lack safe bedding area soon abandon their home ranges.

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Freshly made antler rubs (damp with damp fragments of bark on the ground beneath them) antler on tree trunks three or more inches in diameter adjacent to well-used deer trails are signposts of breeding areas made by older bucks, likely the largest in your hunting area. Trails thus marked are most traveled by these bucks during the 2–3 weeks before breeding begins (during archery hunting seasons). A rare rub found freshly made in November is likely to be visited and possibly renewed by the buck that made it within a few to 24 hours.

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