Bow and Deer Hunting Secrets
Bow and Deer Hunting Secrets
If you bow hunt deer in an area that's 80 to 90 percent mountain Forest,its going to be tough hunting.There are two main reasons for this.First you have a large territory with plenty of cover and second a small deer population that will average 6 to 8 deer per square mile.Which is a lot less than you would find in farm country.There's not enough food available to to support a large deer population.I live and bow hunt deer in the type of habitat i just described.So i know from experience how tough it is to hunt in these conditions.I'm fortunate in that my family owns several hundred acres of land,so i can literally hunt in my back yard.This makes it much easier to get to know your hunting area as well as you need to.I know this is not an option for everyone,but i advise finding some place to hunt as close as possible to home.Not only is it more convenient and allows for more scouting opportunities,its also cheaper.
TRAILS AND BEDDING AREAS
First you need to scout for trails and bedding areas.The main trails will be 20 to 50 yards down the side of the main ridge.You will have the main ridge with smaller ridges branching off to the left and right.I call these finger ridges.There will be deep drains between the ridges,some not so deep.The main trails will travel along the top of these drains,its the easiest place to cross from one finger ridge to the next.Sometimes trails will cross near the bottom of the drain.If its a wide drain that runs far up the side of the ridge close to the top,its more likely to have a bottom crossing.Finger ridges will usually decend from the main ridge then level out to a point,then drop down again.Some will be more level than others.This level area mainly closest to the point is where to look for beds.Some finger ridges will drop down a short distance after the first point,then level out again.So check the next level area for beds also.Then find the trail coming into the bedding area.It will be along the side of the finger ridge.
There may be trails on both sides of the finger ridge.So check the direction of travel to determine if they are entry or exit trails.Often deer will exit the bedding area farther down the ridge,so they may both be entry trails.If so they should intersect farther down on top of the finger ridge.This is a good place for your stand.Unless its to close to the bedding area.I personally like to get close,about 50 to 70 yards.You decide for yourself what is to close.If there is only one entry trail then of course that is where you place your stand.Since the trail runs along the side of the ridge you should set your stand 10 to 15 yards below the trail.Even if the wind is from the stand to the trail.
Let me explain.First know that I'm talking about hunting from a tree stand.So you set up below the trail and you climb 20 to even better 25 feet.Because of the steep angle on the side of the ridge you will only be about 12 to 15 feet above the trail.This gives you a much better broadside shot without such a steep angle.If you set up above the trail the angle will be so severe you will have a very small target area.This is the main reason for placing your stand below the trail.As for the wind concern as long as its a crosswind blowing from you across the trail it will work.First when the wind hits the steep angle on the side of the ridge it pushes the wind up.This will carry your sent up and over the trail.Second since you are only 10 to 15 yards from the trail it will take only a slight breeze to carry your scent over the trail.
One more important part of this set up.You must place your stand on the opposite side of the tree from the direction the deer will come.I concertrate on hunting mornings and bedding areas.In my experience it offers the best chance of success.Whether its early season or the rut,i see more deer movement in mornings.Deer in mountain forest feed mainly on browse and mast,which they can find either in or close to their bedding area.So if you want to hunt evenings,you should still set up close to known bedding areas.After dark is when major deer movement occurs.Deer will travel to preferred food sources and go down to water.This activity sets up the morning hunt,catching them returning to their bedding area.Although i believe morning bedding areas are better than evening food sources there are no guarantees.Deer will have several different bedding areas in their territory.My advise is to scout north facing sides of ridges during early season or whenever you have warm weather.And south facing ridges when its cold.
This should help you locate active areas sooner.I have also noticed deer will use different bedding areas in a fairly predictable manner.They will use a bedding area or a couple of bedding areas in the same general area 2 to 3 days before moving.Then return to the area 3 to 4 days later.So knowing the trails and bedding areas will help you figure out a pattern of movement.Again there are no guarantees,and with wild free ranging deer there never will be.But the more you learn the more the odds are in your favor.So locate as many bedding areas as you can,especially those used by does.Doe bedding areas will have several beds close to each other.You will notice the smaller beds made by this years fawns.Though you will see mostly does and some young bucks before the rut,they are some big bucks around.And when the rut gets going,doe bedding areas are the place to find them.As i mentioned before your best bet is to find a hunting area fairly close to home.Then choose a 300 to 500 acre area and get to know it inside and out.It will take a couple of seasons.You must scout and hunt then scout some more.After all of this you will find that bowhunting deer in mountain forest is still tough hunting.
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