Hill-Country Hurdles: Fewer Deer Sightings

Posted on May 10, 2013

This segment has covered some of the major hill-country hurdles you may encounter. Be sure to check out a recent post where we covered the challenges of tough terrain. Stay tuned for additional tips.

deer hunting

When all of the hard work, long hours, and personal sacrifices finally pay off, there is no better feeling. To succeed in tagging a big-timber buck, quite often you have to dig in like a tic; not letting go and not giving up until eventually you get what you want.

By nature, visibility in hill country is going to be limited. In most places, that means you’re not going to see deer that are 100 yards out from your stand. Most often that distance is much, much less. As a result, deer sightings are going to be substantially lower than if you were hunting on flat ground. Also, given that the landscape isn’t broken up by crop fields, the deer are not likely to be concentrated in one spot for feeding purposes. Thus, travel patterns can prove to be sporadic and wide-ranged; unlike the routine “feed to bed, bed to feed” behavior of most cropland deer. My brother, who often hunts near agricultural fields, has spoken of leaving the woods by 9 am! To a mountain hunter, that’s crazy talk.


But, as Tony explains, when the deer exit the fields and filter past his stand, heading back to their bedding locations, there really is no point in sitting on-stand any longer. “They aren’t going to magically re-appear in the field at a later time and walk past me again,” he adds. I can see his point. However, in the mountains I routinely hunt, it’s not that cut and dry. Out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t there. Deer can literally show up any time of the day. If you’re someone who routinely needs to see large deer numbers to stay in the game, you’re going to have a tough time chasing mountain bucks.


The first step to conquering this difficult aspect is to embrace the fact that you may go days without the first glimpse of a shooter buck; or any deer for that matter. That’s a tough task for anyone, even me. Do your best to mentally prepare yourself for it. Next, concentrate on hanging your stands in high traffic areas such as natural funnels (logging roads, saddles, bench flats, areas where steep and subtle terrain converge), near food sources (acorn-producing trees), and doe bedding areas (thick or secluded areas often near ridge tops). These locations will increase your chance of seeing deer; therefore keeping you focused and in your stand until the buck you’re looking for finally shows up.


Taking full advantage of this strategy, however, requires setting-up multiple stands throughout your hunting area. If you only have one stand hung, you’re likely not going to move it several times during the course of a season to keep up with ever-changing deer patterns. And even if you do, you run the risk of educating the very buck you’re after with the “in-season” disturbance. You may even “miscalculate” your move; relocating to a new spot after the action has ended. The best approach is to narrow down stand placement to high traffic areas, and then hang several stands in each location to stay on top of things. If you don’t have the resources to purchase and hang several stands, at the very least you should have tree’s “marked” in various location. Armed with a climbing treestand, those pre-selected stand sites can prove to be just as productive as actually hanging multiple stands.


Text and Photos by Steve Flores


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