•Get permission to hunt in clear cuts. You can’t see the deer easily, they are in the gullies or bedded down in hollows, but they are there—a clear cut is their garden. •Be mindful of the wind, and try to use it to your advantage; but be aware that wind among ridges or along swamps can be fickle. •For years, hemlock has not been cut much around here. Even heavily cut woods will have hemlock groves left standing. These provide great cover and shelter, and we have found a lot of big bucks and does bedding down under hemlock. •Deer like to hang out on side hills, near swamps, so that both thick cover and escape routes are nearby. •Bucks don’t generally hang out in swamps, but will hide there. If you’ve chased one into a swamp, you will find him where there are hillocks elevated 10-20 feet. •Scrapes, rubs and licking branches will tell you there is a buck around, but we prefer clear tracks, as better indicators of the size of the buck. •In autumn, deer are drawn to a fallen white cedar as surely as to a wild apple tree. •Creeks with a bit of cover and creeks in deep gullies are good spots for deer. •Wooded “islands” in fields are good deer hangouts, so they are also good places to wait for deer to come to you. •Don’t look for deer where cattle have pastured. Look for hayfields where the grass has been cut and some new growth has occurred. If there’s a creek nearby, with brush around it, so much the better. •Does and fawns will feed in fields during daylight, but the bucks wait for dark. •Does ready for breeding will have chased away their fawns and yearlings. If a doe is alone in a field during the rut, the buck is probably lurking in the bushes. •Experts are often wrong (including me), and during the height of the rut, both bucks & does can make a lot of mistakes. •During the rut, when a buck might party all night, he can sometimes be found in unusual places during daylight: On the sides of major highways, resting in fields, bedded down in broad daylight next to a road. He is obviously played out and forgetful of the dangers around him. Bucks can be wily, smart, and unpredictably stupid—kind of like humans.
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