Hunters, who are hunting on large tracts of a public forest, are always wondering Where to Find Deer. It’s easy to envy the farmers and ranchers who own private hunting spaces which seem overrun with deer. However, there is one huge advantage to hunting in large forests with low deer density – the deer are very big. You see, deer in such large forests don’t have the same competition for food as would the deer in smaller bodies of land. Also, the bucks in such large forests tend to travel further in order to find companionship. And the more these bucks move, the easier they will be to track.
The only problem is identifying the areas where you would find deer. The woods often have no identifying marks and signs of deer can be few and far between. So, this brings us to our topic for today: where to find deer? In case you haven’t yet finalized your hunting trip, you may also be interested in our earlier article Where to Hunt During the Rut.
Where to Find Deer
3 tell-tale signs that betray the location of the deer are:
- Rubs and Scrapes
No matter what kind of deer habitat you’re hunting in, you should always be looking out for the funnels. Taking note of funnels is especially important in public spaces where bucks are roaming large forest ranges. Pay the most attention to the obvious funnels, such as low gaps in ridges, also known as saddles. You should also take note of the narrow strips of wood that are positioned between areas such as clear-cuts and beaver puns. If you wish to be a successful hunter, then you should be able to identify even the most subtle corridors.
Be on the lookout for ledges along the hillside. Deer often travel along steep terrain because the funnel forces them to cross at specific points. Look for stream crossings that are narrow or shallow. Pay attention to swamps, open hardwoods with strips of thick pine and steep washes, swales or gullies. If you want to ensure that your tracking yields consistent results every year, then you must pay attention to funnels.
Deer that reside in private farmlands usually survive off of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. However, these foods are not as easy to find everywhere, so you’re going to have to search for the foods that deer prefer in the area where you’re hunting.
For example, if you are tracking white tails, you will find that they prefer oak acorns more than any other foods. This means that you should keep an eye out for a patch of white oaks that are isolated. However, deer can still be picky about which tree they get their acorns from. The key is to look for trees that give acorns and have a lot of deer droppings and rubs around them. However, if you find a tree that has acorns scattered around it, it means that the trail is cold.
Rubs and Scrapes
If you notice a rub that is situated close to a white oak or funnel, then you are definitely on the right track. And it’s a good idea to establish your deer
stand along these areas (Related: How to Attract Deer to Your Stand). However, this does not mean that finding fresh examples is necessarily going to be easy. Also, when the woodland is vast, the rubs are more dispersed and this makes them much more difficult to locate.
The key is to take the time to examine the rub. In woodland areas, the distance between them on a line is going to be greater. So you need to be patient and persistent in your pursuit. Don’t lose hope just because the rub is old; the older ones tend to indicate that the bucks will likely revisit them as they have done year after year. Once you have found a fresh marking around the rub line, you’re in good shape. Fresh rubs on any line are proof that you have chosen a great spot.
(Image: By Wasp32 (Own work) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
A scrape is essentially a biological profile of a buck. From just one scrape, you can learn everything about the buck, from age and sex to its social status, dominance, and willingness to breed. Scrapes are a way for bucks to establish their dominance over other bucks. Bucks make scrapes between their bedding and feeding areas, taking the time to make several of them.
Bucks create scrapes by digging at the foot of a tree and urinating into the bare patch. While doing this, they chew branches and run their forehead glands and antlers against low branches. But interestingly enough, the patch of ground is not the most significant part of the scrape – the chewed branch is. You see, the buck chews the tip of a branch and deposits his saliva at the end of it in order to ensure that it holds his scent.
Different Types of Scrapes
The most traditional buck rubs are known as the primary scrapes. These are the type of scrapes that happen to appear in the same areas each and every year. Sure, you will notice that there are a significant number of scrapes along the trails, but primary scrapes are those that are made at the very end of the trail. If you are a hunter, you should note these as the most important types of scrapes. Bucks will repeatedly visit primary scrapes during the chase and seek phase.
The most common scrapes are known as the secondary scrapes. They are usually the most prevalent and can be located between the deer’s bedding and feeding areas. You can find them on the trails and travel routes. Secondary scrapes are very easy to recognize because they form a line. This line is referred to as the scrape line and is evidence of a mature buck who is working the trail.
Boundary scrapes are the last and final type. These scrapes are considered the least important. They can be located at the intersection of two trails or along the edges of fields. Though these scrapes make the areas look like a great place to hang your tree stand, it’s important to remember that they are often an indication that the buck has simply passed through the area. His presence is not constant there.
If you take the time to educate yourself and learn more about Funnels, Food, Rubs and Scrapes, you’ll be able to find deer easily. This will make your overall hunting experience much more enjoyable.
We hope you find these signs useful in determining where to find deer. If you have had success with any other such tips, then please leave a note via the comments section and we will try to include it in our next update of the article.