Editor’s Note: Deer sign sometimes lies to hunters. If you could trust all deer sign, you’d bag a buck near every deer sign you find in the woods. But how do you know when deer sign lies, and when it tells the truth? How can you tell if the deer has made the sign during the day or the night, today or three weeks ago? To hunt deer successfully, you must not only find deer sign – you must interpret correctly what that sign tells you.
Deer tracks tell the truth when they report that a deer has walked in that place at one time. However, they lie if you think deer tracks mean a deer will walk that way again. Think of deer trails as highways deer use to move from one region to another. Deer don’t always utilize these roadways during daylight hours. Although fresh deer droppings indicate a deer has walked through a region recently, don’t assume deer will come that way again. Feeding sites around acorn trees and agricultural crops may have tracks and droppings, telling you the deer have fed there. But they lie if you think they tell you deer will feed at that site during daylight hours. Also, you don’t know for certain that deer will return to feed there, while you hunt that area.
You must realize the effect other hunters will have on your evaluation of deer sign. If you’ve pinpointed a super hot spot for taking a whitetail, and another hunter hunts that area or spooks the deer out of there, then that deer sign does you no good. When most deer hunters try to read signs to determine deer movement, they forget that deer don’t carry pocket watches. Deer don’t always show-up on time when and where you expect them to appear. Read deer sign as you do a history book. The deer sign, like the history book, records what has happened in the past and may give some indication of what you can expect in the future. But deer, especially older-class, white-tailed bucks, act as unpredictably as people do. Just because they’ve walked a particular trail in the past, fed in a certain region or bedded in a specific area, you can’t bet they’ll follow that pattern on the day you plan to hunt.
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” (http://amzn.to/11dJRu8). You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free, and you can listen to 10% for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. To see more of John’s deer-hunting books, visit http://www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips. John and Denise Phillips’ new book, “The Recipes You Can’t Live Without,” that’s full of delicious, time-tested recipes for cooking wild game and fish and also ideas for breakfasts at your hunting club just was published in print this past week. Go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MYTMSMH?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860 to learn more.