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New Deer Set Up. What Do You Look For?


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When you are scouting a new deer set up, what do you look for??

I like to hunt bedding to food. I look for a pinch point between the two. Not too close to bedding but close enough. Of course prevailing wind direction has to be considered as well.

Some may look for scrapes, rub lines, field edges, thickets, transition areas. All are good. What do YOU look for???

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Great responses so far! Keep em coming!

I do have setup's just off of travel corridors, like the saddle between ridges, bench's on steep side hills, transition areas, back off of a known food source, or field edge. I tend to let the deer tell me the best place to set up. By looking for sign, and observation of where they come and go. I am primarily a ground hunter. But sometimes finding the perfect tree in the perfect spot, is the way to go. 

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I look for edges within the woods and sign of recent deer activity  That may be browsed plants,poop,footprints or scrapes/rubs. If it is a scrape it needs to be close to security cover,the ones in open areas or field edges are mostly used at night,at least by the bigger deer.

Here is a funny story a few years ago I was scouting a new to me piece of state land and finally got to an area that looked good based on the poop piles and the acorns on the ground. I went a little further and thought this thing about 85 yards away looked like a deer so I got my binos up. While I was trying to locate the spot there was movement between me and that suspected deer  It was a bedded doe not 50 yards from me and her head filled about the whole field of vision in the binos. I am a great white hunter!!!

Didn't get that doe but almost got one later that day but she was 40+ yds off and never got closer.

The closest thing to ag I can hunt is a field edge of a hayfield.

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I look for A to B movement.

Early season:  A = bedding, B = food
Rut:  A = bedding, B = bedding
Late season:  A= bedding, B = food

I hunt a lot of flat terrain where I am at, so it's more about hunting habitat edges and transitions.  In areas where there's actual topography to work with, I am looking for all the optimal terrain features (saddles, benches, hogbacks, inside corners, outside corners, etc) that deer tend to naturally funnel through but also provide a good entrance and exit route to hunt.  Also be mindful of rising thermals in the morning and falling thermals in the evening, i.e. hunt high on terrain in the AM and low in the PM when possible.

However in areas like NJ where you can bait, it's more about "creating" your spot that gives you an advantage (i.e. entry/exit) to get longevity out of it.

With that said, one of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is to give yourself a wind advantage but not such an absolute one that the deer have zero level of comfort moving through the area.  Deer want to walk into the wind or quarter it, not walk with their backs to it.  So setting up where you have the wind in your face and deer are supposed to approach you with the wind to their back tends to work for young does and bucks, but older ones won't make that mistake, they'll circle you or simply not be in that area that day favoring an area that gives them a wind advantage that day.  If you can place a stand that forces them to make a difficult decision to get downwind of you (i.e. they simply can't because there's a cliff or major ravine dropoff, or they have to risk walking into an open field in the middle of the day), it might be enough to get them to walk the edge of the downwind side that still gives you a wind advantage but also commits them to giving you a shot.

One final note, nothing is absolute.  I've seen deer, even mature ones, break all the rules and do unexpected things, especially during the rut.  You can think you've done everything right, and maybe you did by the book, but deer will throw you a curve and come from somewhere you never expected.  If you are after mature deer, hunt when you have an advantage.  Don't force hunts in areas you shouldn't be just because you have that day off, all you'll likely do is educate them and burn the spot.  Sometimes that's the gamble you're willing to take (especially during the rut, I know I do gamble on spots/deer at times with limited time off), but the cost is possibly never seeing that buck again if you wind up on the wrong side of the hunt that day.  That's what makes it fun though, a chess game between hunter and prey! :up:

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first is access to and from otherwise you can burn out the otherwise perfect spot.

after that it depends on when during the season. early season it's on secluded food sources.

for doe harvest it's easily accessible spots not into main larger patches of cover. pretty groomed access route or otherwise doesn't have me leaving much scent like on taller warm season grasses or weeds.

during the rut it's cover that's a travel corridor between bedding areas.

after regular season opening weekend it's typically natural funnels or shorter crossings of fields. any small patch of cover that sees no people presence, not just hunting pressure

later in regular season into late season it's any high energy food source like beans and especially corn or that otherwise has cover.

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On my property the bucks have a tendency to travel north and south alongside the old stone walls. I think it has to do with the whole deer love to travel edges thing. the majority of the rub lines I find are 10-20 yds.  off the walls. My challenge is accessing the areas without leaving my scent everywhere. My house is on the west side of the property and with the prevailing wind coming out of the west I typically have to cross a travel corridor to get upwind of them because circling around really isn't an option here.

The big mistake that I used to make was trying to find a tree that looked perfect for a stand rather than finding good sign and then finding a tree or ground location that would work for the sign and wind. I wasted a lot of hours in the "perfect" tree without ever seeing a deer.

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1 hour ago, The_Real_TCIII said:

In bigger woods like state land I love to find old fence lines

and old treestands! If I find an old treestand more than 800 yards from parking, i'll try that area especially if it's a hard to get to spot and someone lugged all that wood there.

Edited by 2BuckBizCT
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