ChrisW74

Deer Signs - How old/new

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Hi everyone,

 

I'm seeing a lot of sign but I'm lacking the knowledge in how old or new those signs might be. So, I'm looking at getting better at judging how old/new the deer signs I'm seeing are.

For example: Scat ... do you have a series of pics (or a link to a place that does) that shows what to generally expect to see at different ages (Fresh to a few days old)?  I don't have much personal experience watching a deer crapping in the woods and having a photo shoot with it, butt (intended) I figure some of you definitely do haha.

 

hoof prints: dirt vs mud.. how old are these?

 

all tips, advise and examples appreciated

Thank you

-ChrisW

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General common sense.

Scat.  How solid and moist is it?  First they dry up...then they start to crumble.  If you see solid pieces that are still moist then it's less than 24 hours.  Better if it's still steaming.

Tracks is the same.  When you see a solid print and the dirt is still some what moist like it's been just dug into.  Again, first the new exposed dirt dries up and then the shape crumbles.

Good time to go is right after heavy rain fall.  Best time is right after snow fall.  You'll know everything you see occurred is new.

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Big clumps is typically a buck


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I find a duck's opinion of me is very much influenced by whether or not I have bread

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General common sense.
Scat.  How solid and moist is it?  First they dry up...then they start to crumble.  If you see solid pieces that are still moist then it's less than 24 hours.  Better if it's still steaming.
Tracks is the same.  When you see a solid print and the dirt is still some what moist like it's been just dug into.  Again, first the new exposed dirt dries up and then the shape crumbles.
Good time to go is right after heavy rain fall.  Best time is right after snow fall.  You'll know everything you see occurred is new.

Not really common sense for someone who didn’t grow up around it haha But thank you much for the explanation it certainly does help understand. I’ve been generally seeing moist or mostly moist outer but not steaming


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Big clumps is typically a buck


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I’ve read when it’s clumped it usually a buck and does generally are the scattered (scat-turd haha) jelly beans


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Heres a pic of a buck I shot a few years back, nothing solid about this one!!

ED4E1981-3438-40E9-A34B-892EE650EB64.jpeg

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Switching gears to habitat improvements!

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7 hours ago, ChrisW74 said:

Hi everyone,

 

I'm seeing a lot of sign but I'm lacking the knowledge in how old or new those signs might be. So, I'm looking at getting better at judging how old/new the deer signs I'm seeing are.

For example: Scat ... do you have a series of pics (or a link to a place that does) that shows what to generally expect to see at different ages (Fresh to a few days old)?  I don't have much personal experience watching a deer crapping in the woods and having a photo shoot with it, butt (intended) I figure some of you definitely do haha.

 

hoof prints: dirt vs mud.. how old are these?

 

all tips, advise and examples appreciated

Thank you

-ChrisW

Scat will tell you there is deer in the area. I don't really think it's very important to know exactly how fresh it is.

For the most part, especially for a beginner, tracks will also tell you there are deer in the area.

Most importantly, is finding where are those tracks are coming from? And where are they going to? Most times between bedding (usually very thick cover) and feeding (ag crops, green grass fields, acorn or apple trees). Once you have established bedding and feeding areas, you'll want to set up somewhere in between, down wind of course. 

So finding scat and tracks is good! But taking more obvious clues from them will work more in your favor.

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Grampy is correct about bedding and food source.  Deer are mainly nocturnal so at sunrise they are leaving their food area and heading to their bedding area.  At sunset, they are leaving their bedding area and heading to their food sources.  You'll also see a mid-day spike in activity as well.  I find usually around noon to 2PM.  This is on higher probability.  Not set in stone.

Also deer tends to be a bit of a creature of habit so they will walk the same path all the time.  You can look at the brushes and grass and some time you can see a fairly obvious 12 to 18" wide path in the ground where the grass looks a little more beaten down then the rest.

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Good info above. The warmer the scat, the closer the deer, pinch those turds and find the herds!
Find a spot with a lot of tracks, poop, and other sign (nipped briar buds, capped acorns, obvious food sources, beds) then go from there. The more quantity of food, tracks and poop, the more frequent deer visit. Trail cams are your friend.

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15 hours ago, grampy said:

Scat will tell you there is deer in the area. I don't really think it's very important to know exactly how fresh it is.

For the most part, especially for a beginner, tracks will also tell you there are deer in the area.

Most importantly, is finding where are those tracks are coming from? And where are they going to? Most times between bedding (usually very thick cover) and feeding (ag crops, green grass fields, acorn or apple trees). Once you have established bedding and feeding areas, you'll want to set up somewhere in between, down wind of course. 

So finding scat and tracks is good! But taking more obvious clues from them will work more in your favor.

Hey Grampy,

Thanks for your input. In one public area Ive been scouting/hunting  I found the 2 water holes, a couple of their bedding areas (during northwest wind), and 3 feeding areas but the transitions seem to generally be in circuit loops (A, B, C, D)  through the day not back and forth (A,B) . I'm trying to get better at judging age of sign so I have a better guess if I'm finding a morning or evening transition section of the loops to help me make better decisions on my setup spot picks. I'm seeing multiple deer I'm just not picking the right spots so far to get a good shot. I'm above a trail just off this side of the pond and they emerge on the other side.

- ChrisW

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7 hours ago, chrisw said:

Good info above. The warmer the scat, the closer the deer, pinch those turds and find the herds!
Find a spot with a lot of tracks, poop, and other sign (nipped briar buds, capped acorns, obvious food sources, beds) then go from there. The more quantity of food, tracks and poop, the more frequent deer visit. Trail cams are your friend.

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Hi Chris,

Since I live in NYC, don't own a car and the closest areas I can hunt are public just over an 1hr highway drive away trail cams are not in the picture (intended pun) for me right now. It's also difficult to pre scout areas. So when I go into a new area i've been still hunt/scouting in the am and trying to pick a spot to saddle in the afternoon. So I'm trying to get better at maximizing what I can learn from each of my limited boots on the ground sessions. The specific spot I'm mostly referring to in this thread though is a public area on Long Island I've been to multiple times. 

There are few white and red oaks but zero sign by them for now. These groups seems to be green grass and plant feeding still, for now. Also, due to the lack of rainfall what was last year 3 separated but fairly close small to med ponds are now this year just 2 small watering holes separated by about 450yds. Each watering hole is now surrounded by mud and new grass  so the deer's paths  seem to have changed from last year.  But a lot of sign circling back to the water. So I've been trying to pick the right spots near one of these so far this year.

yea, you are right I probably need to start playing with the turds a bit more and taking pics to study later etc.

 

Thank you for your input

-ChrisW

 

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Chris,

You are doing well by finding the spots near the water hole. Is there any way you can set up close to where they are coming to the water, and still have the wind in your favor? Is there a good ambush spot between where they are bedding and the water? If you are seeing deer, that is great! You just need to figure out how to get in closer for a shot, without them knowing you are there. It may take a long loop around, to come in from downwind. 

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I’ve read when it’s clumped it usually a buck and does generally are the scattered (scat-turd haha) jelly beans


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While bucks will and do poop in clumps, the clumps are more indicative of a predominantly mast diet (acorns and the like). I have seen (observed) doe poop clumps and bucks poop pellets, sooo.....I love finding lots of poop in an area, rubs or not, scrapes or not. If you find an area where the doe frequent, the bucks will follow.
Fresh poop glistens and appears wet looking. That glistening is gone usually within 12 hours. The drier the older.


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Stalk/scout is a double edge sword.  The more you do it, the more info you get but the greater of a chance you'll disrupt their pattern.  If you're seeing deer, just sit back and watch and you'll get a general sense of where they came from and where they're going.

This is why hunters don't like to review their spots.  You can scout and pattern this area today.  Someone else can trample through it tomorrow, freak the deer out and have them change their route or leave the area entirely.  You arrive the next day and wonder why the heck didn't the deer come past your setup like you had planned.

For public areas, this is eventually inevitable.  So you have to also pattern the other hunters too.  Figure out not only the deer's normal pattern, but what they do after the hunters arrive and when their first source of food is gone.

Edited by Elmo
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18 minutes ago, squirrelwhisperer said:


While bucks will and do poop in clumps, the clumps are more indicative of a predominantly mast diet (acorns and the like). I have seen (observed) doe poop clumps and bucks poop pellets, sooo.....I love finding lots of poop in an area, rubs or not, scrapes or not. If you find an area where the doe frequent, the bucks will follow.
Fresh poop glistens and appears wet looking. That glistening is gone usually within 12 hours. The drier the older.


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ahhhhh  ... ok ok, gotcha    Thank you, the glistening detail is a big help.

Edited by ChrisW74

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9 minutes ago, Elmo said:

Stalk/scout is a double edge sword.  The more you do it, the more info you get but the greater of a chance you'll disrupt their pattern.  If you're seeing deer, just sit back and watch and you'll get a general sense of where they came from and where they're going.

This is why hunters don't like to review their spots.  You can scout and pattern this area today.  Someone else can trample through it tomorrow, freak the deer out and have them change their route or leave the area entirely.  You arrive the next day and wonder why the heck didn't the deer come past your setup like you had planned.

For public areas, this is eventually inevitable.  So you have to also pattern the other hunters too.  Figure out not only the deer's normal pattern, but what they do after the hunters arrive and when their first source of food is gone.

I understand what you mean. This is part of why I like this early season in the Long Island publics that I have been to so far as until it starts to get cold (Halloweenish) I have only seen one other car parked in any of the hunting spots. It allows me to learn with less of the variables you mentioned.

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New poop wet, old poop dry.

 

I hear if they taste like a raisinet it's a young doe, if they taste like a Milk Dud it's a mature buck. I have yet to test this theory.

 

As mentioned, others stomping around on public land leaving stink behind is par for the coarse. But also, you stomping around will leave your stink in the woods. Perfect case for catch 22.

Still hunting with a gun is a skill, doing it with a bow is about 5 times more difficult.

 

I would try and learn these things before the season starts, but if you don't know the lay of the land scouting while hunting is all one can do.

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1 hour ago, grampy said:

Chris,

You are doing well by finding the spots near the water hole. Is there any way you can set up close to where they are coming to the water, and still have the wind in your favor? Is there a good ambush spot between where they are bedding and the water? If you are seeing deer, that is great! You just need to figure out how to get in closer for a shot, without them knowing you are there. It may take a long loop around, to come in from downwind. 

when they were ponds the water line was closer to the tree line and the trails leading to it were all around but well defined. This year as watering holes is basically what used to be the deepest part of the former ponds so it's off the tree line a bit further. I was guessing that the tree lines closest to  each of the waterholes would be the preferred approach to maximize the deer's cover and was choosing which waterhole based on this thought and wind direction. Afternoon Saddle in tree along the assumed approach but so far my guesses have been backwards. Either they approach my watering hole choice from the opposite side (out of my range) or they go to the other watering hole (can see w/ binoculars). so far I've only been made by one doe (last year) in this location that was directly down wind of me. I've been pretty lucky and I feel like if the luck continues and I can dial my knowledge up I can get to my first deer.

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5 minutes ago, DirtTime said:

New poop wet, old poop dry.

 

I hear if they taste like a raisinet it's a young doe, if they taste like a Milk Dud it's a mature buck. I have yet to test this theory.

 

As mentioned, others stomping around on public land leaving stink behind is par for the coarse. But also, you stomping around will leave your stink in the woods. Perfect case for catch 22.

Still hunting with a gun is a skill, doing it with a bow is about 5 times more difficult.

 

I would try and learn these things before the season starts, but if you don't know the lay of the land scouting while hunting is all one can do.

too bad... I was hoping it was more like peanut butter cups.. i love eating those.

 

Living in NYC the gun game is not in my cards. Bow is where I'm at but thankfully I enjoy the learning and being out in nature is a great mental relaxation break from the constant noise of the city.  It will be a fun adventure along the way to my first deer.

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Stinking up the place is not a complete lost.  Looking at the positive side, you can a complete lay of the land so that next year, you only need to go once to confirm things are still the same as this year and not need to stomp everywhere.

Without a car, how do you get out there?  I met a guy a couple of years ago at a hunting/outdoorsmen event that also lives in the city who also doesn't have a car.  He rents.  Maybe you guys can share cost, etc?  I don't really know him personally but I kept his email I believe.

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50 minutes ago, Elmo said:

Stinking up the place is not a complete lost.  Looking at the positive side, you can a complete lay of the land so that next year, you only need to go once to confirm things are still the same as this year and not need to stomp everywhere.

Without a car, how do you get out there?  I met a guy a couple of years ago at a hunting/outdoorsmen event that also lives in the city who also doesn't have a car.  He rents.  Maybe you guys can share cost, etc?  I don't really know him personally but I kept his email I believe.

Yeah, thankfully I lay off the beans for a few days before going out there. and I do the best I currently know how to minimize my scent (rubber boots, no scent laundry/showers, scent killer spray, scentloc jump suit). It was interesting seeing how mush the pond area changed from last year to this year. My guess if rain avg level is similar those water holes won't be there next year so the deer may have to move. So scout/hunting new locations when I can for backup next year.

I've rental shared (a couple fellow new hunters I've recently met on here I'll likely also do this with) , gone out with non-hunting friends (I hunt, they nature hike), done the LIRR to get out there. If there is a will there is always a way! But not owning a car certainly makes it a lot more difficult. Need to plan more details for sure, can't just run down the road for a sit when I have an extra couple hrs unfortunately. I try  to play my hand the best I can though.

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If you see something like this, that’s called a scrape and it sign of a buck in the area. Often made under low hanging branches. Bucks scrape the ground with their antlers and you will usually also see hoof prints in the scrape. Like other sign, the moister the dirt torn up is, the fresher the scrape.

14496B6A-3F18-48FC-914C-CF2EACBC50B2.jpeg

52570F3E-C23E-4436-A3CD-469F22665D37.jpeg

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3 hours ago, ChrisW74 said:

too bad... I was hoping it was more like peanut butter cups.. i love eating those.

 

That's bear scat.

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If you see something like this, that’s called a scrape and it sign of a buck in the area. Often made under low hanging branches. Bucks scrape the ground with their antlers and you will usually also see hoof prints in the scrape. Like other sign, the moister the dirt torn up is, the fresher the scrape.

Thanks for the tip. Appreciate the example pics. I’ll keep my eye out for these scrapes this weekend.


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