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#6921349 - 10/15/17 03:33 PM ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land
Kawabuggy Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1762
Loc: Houston, TX
Here's the scenario.. I am not a good deer hunter. I acknowledge this up front. I have been hunting Sam Houston for 9 years now and have not harvested a deer in that time. I have seen LOTS of does, and lots of young bucks that DO NOT meet antler restrictions, and even a couple of OLD bucks that still, did not meet antler restrictions. Prior to this I was only concentrating on killing a legal buck. 9 years later, and I'm ready to take a doe with my bow.

I have this problem where if I'm scouting and I find deer sign-scat, rubs, scrapes, poop, actually see or spook one, etc; I NEVER see them again at those locations. It's like once I find their playground I must be leaving my scent behind and they literally abandon the area and NEVER go back. Yes, I've checked places YEARS later after I've found well-worn trails with scrapes for 100+ yards, and after I've never found any sign of them again-NADA, ever again. I'm not kidding. Once I find a place they frequent, or scare one somewhere, that area is DEER FREE for the remainder of time (or at least the last 9 years).

I was scouting on Google Earth and found what I would think was a "deer funnel". Surrounded on 3 sides by private properly with clear cut pasture land. I figured the deer would be bedded down in the thickest part with easy escapes in any direction should someone, or a predator, come in after them. I packed up yesterday and headed to this new area. I was using my phone and compass to navigate. No trail in. Just plowing through thick undergrowth. I finally got to within 60 yards of the spot I wanted to be in and decided to down my gear and climb a small tree just to see if it opened up ahead, or what the next 60 yards was like. I get about 10 feet off the ground and realize I'm on the edge of a bowl that is over-grown with wild grapes and those bushes that have those purple berries. As I look out I see two does on the other side of this bowl standing there watching me. About 80 yards out. I realized I've blown it now as they spook and start snorting, and running with their tails up. I also realize that I can't hunt there anyway as I should have brought a climber and I instead brought a pop up blind. There is NO WAY I would be able to see more than a few feet out of the pop up.

Now the question-knowing what I know about NEVER EVER seeing deer again in a place I've seen them before.. Would you even waste time going back to see if maybe, by some miracle, they might be back in there again today? I was debating on taking my climbing stand back today but if my luck holds true, it will most likely be a wasted trip. What would you do?

Also, on my walk out I bumped at least 4 more deer. Too dark to see whether they were does, or bucks though..
A hog is nothing more than a bullet receptacle.

#6921404 - 10/15/17 04:41 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
Texas Dan Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 07/28/08
Posts: 13590
First let me say I applaud your efforts to hunt them the old fashioned way on public land.

I've hunted the Davy Crockett National Forest for over 20 years and can tell you without question that deer will use the same trails, food sources, and bedding areas on public land for generations. They will bed in the same thickets, cross roads in the same spots, and eat acorns from the same trees. If you happen to spook them at a certain spot, they will most certainly return if there is reason, such as it being a travel route to or from a food or water source, or bedding area. Unlike humans, deer don't go on walks just for the fun of it. If they move, it's because they are hungry, thirsty, or looking for a safe place to bed. And of course during the rut, bucks are driven to move by a desire to breed. Hunting them as you're doing just requires locating those places where you're most likely to see them as they move from one location to another, for one reason or another. As hard as you might try, you'll never be able to avoid spooking deer any more than you can avoid being seen by a neighbor while taking a walk. It's going to happen. When it does, do your best to find out why you saw deer at a certain spot. Were they eating something they like? Was it something seasonal like acorns or berries? Were they using a place were it's easier for them to cross a creek or stream? Was it a place that provided them good cover to avoid the eyes of predators? What time of day did you see them? Was it in the evening when they may have just left a bedding area, or in the morning when they were retuning to a bedding area after an evening of feeding on some food source? The list goes on and on. Hunting deer on public land isn't easy, but gets easier as you learn more about deer behavior and the area where you're hunting them. The good news is once you find a few spots where you know you're likely to see deer, they can pay off for many years to come.

Spring, Texas

#6921764 - 10/15/17 09:28 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
JH117 Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/05/14
Posts: 286
Loc: parker county
If you saw deer and a good food source then chances are you will see them again. Are you hunting these spots daily? Maybe your just putting to much pressure on these spots. I found out the hard way by hunting some of my stands 2 to 3 times a week when I first started hunting 4 years ago. The deer patterned me pretty quick and completely avoided those feeders. I now alternate my stands and only hunt when the wind is right. Heck I got busted 2 weeks ago by a doe and didn't hunt that stand again until this afternoon. I didn't get busted this time and saw 8 deer during the sit. Just not the one I'm after. I also think using the climber vs the pop-up will bring you more success. If I were you I'd climb a tree on one if the trails that leads to the food source and make sure the wind is in your face. You definitely have the right idea and your persistence will eventually pay off. Good luck to you!

#6921776 - 10/15/17 09:37 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
bradshaw02 Offline

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 802
Loc: Katy
I hunted SHNF the past few years. Last year I hunted the same spot every time I went out. Maybe 10 different days. I only had one hunt that I did not see deer. I had deer bust me and run off blowing with their tails up too. The deer use this area as a funnel and just naturally come through there. I know the same doe busted me twice last year because she had two fawns with her both times. I missed a buck with my bow during bow season and ended up shooting a seven point during gun season. I saw three legal bucks at this spot last year as well as a few non-legal. In my experience hunting the Forest if you find a spot the deer frequent they will be back. Try to control the amount of scent you leave when getting in and out of the area. The wild card in this is other hunters and how they impact the area. Based on your explanation it sounds like you put in work that most others are not so you may be less susceptible to impacts from other hunters.

#6922794 - 10/16/17 06:10 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
Kawabuggy Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1762
Loc: Houston, TX
Just a quick update. I went back in to the "bowl" that I found the day before. I actually was very careful with the wind, and circled wide around the bowl such that I was approaching it with the wind in my face. I set up not on the edge of the bowl but several yards back so that I would not be sky-lighted should something be down in the bowl and look up. I sat until it was dark enough that I could not see the PEEP sight with my naked eye. I saw ZILCH.

I was covered from head to toe in Scent Killer. Had DOE in estrus sprayed on my boots. Had the wind in my face. I was in stand by 4:30. I even climbed higher than I normally do in hopes that they would not be looking up that high. It's exactly what my experience tells me.. Once I see a deer somewhere, I'm not likely to see them there again.

I guess I should try hunting mornings again. I used to see more deer in the mornings, than I do at last light. That's the other problem-I typically only see deer in Sam at last light. By that I mean it's usually too dark to properly identify the animal to make sure it's legal. I got discouraged from hunting mornings though as I usually have to leave the house at 3:30AM to get there in time to walk in to a stand. When you get up that early and don't see deer, it really makes you question why you are doing this. After getting up that early I'm ruined for the remainder of the day. Too tired to do anything constructive. I get that it's "deer hunting" and it's not supposed to be easy so I'll stop crying like a little girl now.

We do a lot of Hog Hunting on private property and literally are over-run with deer at all times. I would not even consider deer hunting where we hog hunt because there would be ZERO sport in it. I mean I could probably kill a deer with a sling-shot where we hog hunt. I guess I need to focus on something somewhere in between a place where the deer will jump in the bed of your truck and let you club them to death, or Sam where the deer appear as ghosts, and disappear just as quickly never to be seen in the same area again. I've always had my best luck spotting deer just walking into a new spot that I have never been to before and just picking a tree and climbing it. Hunting the same spots repeatedly DOES NOT work for me. Has NEVER worked for me. I'll leave the "bowl" area alone, and just look for a new place to try the next time I go out. I'm almost 100% positive I know where the deer are bedding in this area.

I envy people that can walk into a brand new place and figure out very quickly where the deer will be, and where to set up so that they can see them. This is another issue I have.. I have had more deer walk up on me from DOWN WIND, from BEHIND me, than from directly in front of me. It tells me that every time I "think" a deer will come from a certain direction, they do just the opposite to prove the point that I haven't a clue. I usually blow it when they come in behind me because I'm too stupid to just sit still and when I hear them crunching the leaves under hoof I usually turn to see what it is and blow them out of there. Yes, I've done it more than once. NO, I'm not sure I would not do the exact same thing in the same circumstances again. Maybe they should make a camera that you can mount on the tree facing behind you linked to your cell phone such that you can view what is behind you without turning around, or scaring a deer when it approaches you from the rear. I would buy that, and use it every time because that seems to be my MO. I can get deer to approach me from behind, but not from the front. Makes complete sense.

Edited by Kawabuggy (10/16/17 06:12 PM)
A hog is nothing more than a bullet receptacle.

#6922895 - 10/16/17 07:55 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
bassman110 Offline

Registered: 02/04/10
Posts: 201
Loc: Wylie, TX
There are many different things that influence deer and their movement. I am however convinced as others have indicated that deer will move through the same area even if you bump them every now and again. I have hunted public land a lot over the last 5-7 years. What I have learned about bow hunting is early in the season it is HOT and deer don't necessarily like to walk around when it is HOT. Browse is plentiful and the rut is not on so they have no reason to expend any more energy during the day than necessary. I would wager this is why you don't see many deer in the evenings or at least this has been my experience. When it starts to cool down they will start to move more earlier in the evenings especially once the rut starts but then gun season also starts. I can say during the hot weather look for areas with the necessities which are food, water, and shelter (bedding area) all near to each other. Then look for the trails and setup where they are moving. I have also been had success using doe sent and bleeps. This time of year the does and fawns will call each other if they get separated. I would NOT use my phone as it likely gives off to much light. I would get a quality hand held GPS with map overlays. The garmin I use can overlay google earth maps which helps to see edges, paths, and landmarks. I keep the back light on low and view it sparingly close to my chest when walking in early in the mornings. Another suggestion do your scouting in the middle of the day after you hunt in the mornings.

Don't give up and don't be afraid to go back to the areas you have seen deer moving. It is hunting and you may not see deer every time you go to an area or for that matter every three or four times. If you are seeing signs it is a matter of patience and being there when they are moving. Placing a well hidden game camera for a day or two may give you a better feel when they are moving.

Good luck and hang in there.

#6922977 - 10/16/17 08:56 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
Enter Standman Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 10/09/10
Posts: 2872
Loc: Mount Pleasant, TX
American Beautyberry. That's the plant with the purple fruit you mentioned. Unfortunately, that's all the help I can be to you. Keep after it though, luck's bound to change sooner or later

#6924172 - 10/17/17 07:41 PM Re: ?? About Spooking Deer On Public Land [Re: Kawabuggy]
Brian C. Online   content
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/14/14
Posts: 274
Loc: Location
Never hunted the Sam or the Crockett. Heard too many horror stories. Now I also have talked to plenty of guys that have hunted there for years and have said it can take a few years to find a honey hole or two to call your own. I have hunted type 2 around Tyler and Palistine along with various other places behind the pine curtian. My experience is focus driven around creek and river bottoms. Find the hardwoods.

One of my mentors growing up had a spot in the Palistine spot that was an entire section of pine trees with one white oak on a knob. Nobody else really hunted this area due to the forest service logged it and took out what was assumed ALL the hardwoods. He hunted that same knob every year and killed deer there every single year along with a monster 8 point. That same year TPWD had released some transplant deer from Kansas in attempt to boost the genetics. We believe that 8 was one of them.

As you stated the deer on public land can be more spooky than private IMO but still killable. I think hunting public land can be the most challenging at times but extremely rewarding. I too tend to lend towards the philosophy of boots on the ground. I tend to go where most typically will not. Example I hunt a spot on the Red River where it is 2.36 miles by gps. A long hike but it is the distance required to begin to get to what I consider good deer country. Also think outside the box. I know guys that have hunted just inside the wood line where everyone else parked. They wouldn't show up till bout 8am and hunt til 2 or 3pm and they killed deer. Stick with it your luck is bound to change.
God Bless Texas!!! Godspeed our Military!


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