While scouting other areas we decided to hike a bit of the Appalachian Trail to see what deer sign we saw off of the trail. We have seen deer just off the road that is next to the AT and we had a hunch that deer were crossing the trail to get to bedding, food, and other resources.
We had hiked down the trail not even a quarter of a mile when Tyler spotted a rub just off of the AT. I was at first reluctant to follow the rub and see if there were others. You see, we had been out scouting for a while and I had gotten tired and hangry (hungry/angry) but, I looked down at the rub and saw one immediately behind it and then another off behind that rub. I sucked it up, and I’m glad I did, and forged onto the elevator ridge the rubs were located on.
If you have read this far and are unfamiliar with some of the terminology I’ve referred to already, check out my post Scout Log: Tips and Tricks for Scouting Deer. In that post I define some basic terminology that comes along with scouting and looking for deer sign as well as giving advice to folks of all levels who want to scout deer.
We got off the AT and onto the ridge. From there we found sign of fresh scat, game trails and I even found deer beds. I knew they were deer beds by the kidney bean shape in the crunched up leaves as well as by the scat next to the bed and the greyish white hair that was glistening in the early afternoon sun.
I’ve found deer beds before, after a light snow where I could see a kidney bean shape that had no snow on it, but these were different. I’d yet to see a deer bed with that much fresh sign. The hair was just laying on top of the leaves as if it had been gingerly placed there.
We walked around the elevator ridge more as we followed various game trails looking for other sign. We found older beds, old and fresh scat, and a few more older rubs too. This spot felt too good to pass up so I put a Wildgame Innovations camera on the spot and named it Buck Beds. I didn’t know for sure if there would be bucks in the area but the rubs seemed like a good indication that at least during mating season bucks would cruise through the area.
I let the camera sit for three months all together and found some interesting things. First, I saw bucks with antlers through the end of March. This was surprising to me as we have thought that bucks start shedding antlers in February and have lost them by April. Many people start shed hunting, looking for antlers in the woods, by the end of February and have generally stopped looking by April. Based on my camera photos, shed hunters could find antler sheds well through mid April.
The second thing that was interesting was bucks were beginning to grow new antlers by the beginning of May. In a few pictures I can see little buttons forming at the beginning of May and by the end of June there are visible antlers growing.
Third, there are consistent pictures of a buck bedding right in front of the camera in the bed I found that had hair in it. I showed a few of my hunting mentors the photos and all of them were impressed as they had never captured a deer bedding on camera. Below is a slideshow of the bedding buck(s).
Of course these pictures are incredibly cute but, there is some consistency in movement and bedding from 3:00 am – 5:00 am. Noting this pattern, as well as where the deer are coming from at that time and then moving to after can help us predict the deer movement for the area. Because it’s an elevator ridge Tyler thinks we could pattern the deer to figure out their movement in a nearby area above it off of the Mill Ridge trail.
As of now, I don’t have a camera on that spot any more but, once season starts and we’re back in that area more frequently I will hang one again. The camera’s location is not one I will hunt as it is too close to the AT however, I’m hoping that we will be able to begin to pattern the deer in that area and figure out some of their behaviors.
Stay tuned for more scout logs about our scouting trips and findings throughout the hunting season!