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...