Certain viable, hunting-related conclusions can be drawn from discoveries of deer droppings. Lots of off-trail droppings, fresh (shiny) and old (dry with dull surfaces) scattered over an area several acres in size are characteristic of whitetail feeding or bedding areas (bedding areas also have beds, of course). Discovering droppings about 1/4 inch in length, fawn droppings, mean two deer live in the area: a fawn and mature doe. Lots of three-inch tracks and half-inch droppings are characteristic of mature does and their home ranges. Half-inch droppings and three-inch tracks of two deer traveling together (in fall) are likely made by a mature northern state doe accompanied by its yearling (1-1/2 year-old) buck. Droppings and tracks of normally smaller yearling does are somewhat shorter. Yearling bucks and yearling does without young remain in the ranges of their mothers until the beginning of their third spring.
Fresh droppings longer than one-half inch, made by mature bucks only, are regularly found in doe home ranges after about September 1st for two reasons: 1) larger buck ranges normally overlap several doe ranges and 2) after shedding antler velvet, mature bucks regularly visit does and their young during periods of feeding until the third two-week period of breeding ends in early January.
Droppings of whitetail bucks 4-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age (the largest of bucks) measure ¾ to 1-1/4 inch in length in my northern Minnesota hunting/study area. Though most bucks of similar ages have droppings of similar lengths, their diameters can vary considerably, some droppings appearing long and skinny and others appearing egg-shaped, revealing the presence of more than one buck of similar age or size living in the area. Where I hunt, any buck that has droppings 7/8th to one inch in length is almost certain to be “trophy-class,” a buck you’d want to have mounted. Some of our bucks with ¾ inch droppings, generally 3-1/2 year-olds with wide and tall but more slender antlers, fall into this category.
If from this day on you skillfully limit your stand hunting to trails and sites marked with fresh buck droppings ¾-inch in length or longer (usually clumped in fall) and resist the urge to take lesser bucks or does, you will begin to enjoy the most incredible whitetail hunting of your life.