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saskie's picture
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This weekend was my last one in the bush here setting up stands and blinds. From here on in it's hands off until opening day. My most promising spot has me in a bit of pickle on how where to set up. Here's the scoop....

It's a low (30 - 50ft high) ridge which runs about 400yds almost exactly N-S between a large, secluded regenerating clearcut and a thick, nearly impenetrable swamp to the ESE. SW is another clearcut, but is more open and is still virtually barren of browse or other food (only logged a couple years ago). At the south foot of the ridge a small creek runs to the east - west (out of the swamp and eventually into a lake about a half mile away) with a 50ft strip of bush on either side. Initially I thought the creek might be a funnel of sorts between the two clearcuts, however this was not the case as it is very choked with blowdowns and fallen logs movement is nearly impossible - no sign at all and impossible to actually hunt. However it led me to the ridge.

Numbers of deer are definitely moving along the ridge on a regular basis between the swamp and the clearcut to the north. I'm assuming (this is pretty much a no brainer) that they feed in the clearcut and bedding somewhere in the swamp. In fact there are two very well travelled trails: one either side of the ridge. Both appear to have recent movement (the forest floor is carpetted with thick moss so actual tracks aren't visible but both appear to have recent movement). However only the trail on east slope shows fresh droppings, the trail on the west slope is virtually void of droppings and of those that are there none are fresh at all, but it certainly appears to be used as frequently as the other trail. Also, the east trail is the only one showing old rubs and a scrape from last season. The western has none.

My theory is this...the western trail is used as the deer travel from bedding areas TO the clearcut. As you approach the clearcut along this trailyou have an excellent field of view over the entire clearcut from inside the forest before the trail leads down off the ridge and into the clearing. Also, where it actually enters is screened by a thin belt of taller-than-average young birch/alders.
I assume the trail along the eastern slope is the route used travelling from the clearcut to the bedding area. (This would explain why there are droppings here, but none on the other trail). I can't explain the absense of rubs/scrapes on the west.

It is not possible to find a stand or blind to watch both trails, so my plan is to set-up on the east trail in the morning, and then scoot over to watch the west one in early afternoon...

Any thoughts....?

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If you got high enough in a tree on the ridge, could you see both trails?
I'm wondering if the deer moving along the west trail are just moving from point a to point b fairly quickly (maybe because its daytime when they do it) and thats why your not seeing any droppings and on the other side they are picking at some sort of food source and spending a little more time (possably at night) and leaving some sign. Just a few thoughts I had when I was reading your post.
Another idea I had related to a ridge that I used to hunt that sounds similar. Even though the woods were open on most of the ridge I'm thinking of, the deer would cross it anyway. They (and I) found a small saddle that when they traveled in it they couldn't be seen from the rest of the ridge, unless you were in that saddle with them. The saddle was only 12 to 15 feet deep and about 80 yards wide but just enough that you couldn't see them if you were on the ground.
Are you hunting with a riffle?

saskie's picture
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Yes, rifle.

hunter777 wrote:
If you got high enough in a tree on the ridge, could you see both trails?

In theory, perhaps however due to the nature of these trees it's not practical. They are long, slender balsalms, with most foilage in the upper levels. Nearer the ground, although densely packed, there is little foilage allowing reasonable lines of sight (25-40yds) in all directions, and with minimal pruning good shooting lanes as well. Higher up would put you amid the canopy and prohibitively restrict your visibility. Also the trees are rather slender with very shallow roots, so there may be additional practical constraints to using a tree stand

hunter 777 wrote:
I'm wondering if the deer moving along the west trail are just moving from point a to point b fairly quickly (maybe because its daytime when they do it) and thats why your not seeing any droppings and on the other side they are picking at some sort of food source and spending a little more time (possably at night) and leaving some sign.

This is somewhat what I'm thinking - I'm assuming the deer are doing their business as they leave the feeding area (via the east trail) and then again near their bed as they rise and head out. I'm paranoid about messing with a deer's bedding area so as soon as I saw the trail veer off into the swamp (I found the west trail first, and stumbled on the eastern one by accident while bactracking back out from the swamp to the clearing) I stopped following it, assuming that they were bedding amid the thick tangled swamp spruce and grassess. I suspect that if I follow it into the swamp I'll find more sign and droppings near their bed I'll make a point of checking this after the season.

hunter 777 wrote:
Even though the woods were open on most of the ridge I'm thinking of, the deer would cross it anyway.

I suspect they use the ridge for its vantage which allows them to remain 10-20yds inside the trees and overlook the entire clearcut before coming down off the ridge and into the open. They have the chance to spot any danger waiting for them before exposing themselves. It is possible to enter the clearcut from the E via the swamp, however there is no indication that they are doing so - all the sign appears to be on the ridge.

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Not to oversimplify, but I'd hunt the trail nearest the bedding area in the morning, and the trail nearest the clear-cut in the evening.

Sounds like a good place to do a little rattling, with the ridge behind you and the swamp in front of you. Sounds like it might be difficult for them to sneak around and wind you.

Let us know how this works out. Thumbs up

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Have you been able to find a spot where both trail intersect before the bedding area? Very likely that there is a common land feature that cause to and from traffic into the bedding area somewhere along that route.Thats the spot I would be looking for to begin my hunt. at as a bow hunter. Rifle hunting I might be more inclined to sit back on a morning and evening routine and keep an eye on things from a distance. Sounds to me like you can expect to see good travel on either route and with your proximity to the deer no where near as critical with a rifle setting up where you can see several areas of the trails would be far better than being perched right over one specific spot.

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