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stanley

Hiking in before light! Scare them off?

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Had this on my mind as a topic for debate/input since last deer season. Finally making time on a quiet Friday morning to post it up.....

 

Had an experience last hunting season that made me re-think what I assumed to be true about hiking-in to a hunting area. My preferred method over the past several season has been to find an area fairly far from any roads (3-5 miles) and hike-in before the first crack of light to hunt it. I had sort of always been aware of any disturbance I make hiking in, and kind of assumed that any deer in the immediate area of my hiking route to be spooked-off, and hence would of course focus my initial glassing on areas outside of or beyond my hiking route.

 

Last year my buds and I were focusing on a particular drainage. I missed a nice buck on day two (my typical buck fever - rushed shot), and we decided to head back into the general area once again on day 3. One of my buddies was a 1/4 mile or so ahead of a me on the hike in, and was able to get this picture with his iPhone. Basically, he was hiking-up the trail getting close to our glassing spot (on a wide open hillside with just grass & some scrubby mesquite...) and he catches something in his peripheral vision from his headlamp. He looks to his left, and standing there about 10 feet off the trail is the buck that I had missed the day before! :wacko: He was able to get his iPhone out and snap a quick pic before it wandered-off.....

 

So basically, I just wanted to share this experience. For now on, I will NOT necessarily assume that all the deer have been spooked away by my hiking-in via headlamp. Conclusion for me is that they apparently feel VERY safe when nocturnal! Any other experience or thoughts on this topic to share??

 

Hunt on!!!!!

 

S.

 

Obviously very poor lighting. Approx 10-15 feet away with iPhone flash....

post-182-0-11437700-1526053931_thumb.png

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Another thing, is it better to hike in the dark and walk past all the deer, or start hiking at gray light and glass as you go? We all know coues are up for most of the day.

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IMHO--when I have done that --walk in with darkness as my friend -- have had encounters such as yours . From how the animal reacted did not get wind of me and just moved off a ways . I kept moving and relocated deer when the sun broke about 100 yards away from initial encounter . I would think that as long as you are not winded they will stay close to where they are comfortable .

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I have a couple of spots I frequent and have had to except that it is pretty much inevitable that I am going to spook a few deer when I hike in. It seems to happen more often than not, and I can't conceive of a way that I can avoid it and still get to where I need to go. Fortunately, they deer I have bumped just seem to move a ridge over and haven't been pushed out of play. I feel I am better off going into the area in the dark rather than the early light. I would probably spook the "hike-in deer" regardless of the time I walk in, but am less likely to spook deer in the areas I plan to glass by hiking in the dark than I would if it were light when they are more likely to see me.

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In three radio tracking studies of white-tailed deer in south Texas, we found that deer treat darkness like cover. They move out to feed farther from cover on dark nights, and they remain in, or closer to, cover on bright moonlit nights. As long as they can smell and hear, they are not prone to move long distances away long from humans in the dark. On windy nights, though, they do tend to be a little more spooky.

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In three radio tracking studies of white-tailed deer in south Texas, we found that deer treat darkness like cover. They move out to feed farther from cover on dark nights, and they remain in, or closer to, cover on bright moonlit nights. As long as they can smell and hear, they are not prone to move long distances away long from humans in the dark. On windy nights, though, they do tend to be a little more spooky.

 

"..... treat darkness like cover."

 

Yup, thinking that is basically the conclusion that I came to! My buddy's encounter last Fall surprised me, but likely it was the close proximity that was the real shocker (Like he maybe could have knifed it!). Makes sense they feel secure in the dark though, I suppose. I do too! ;)

 

S.

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Deer spooked at night wont go far, headlamp type flashlights are the worst thing you could use for your walk in (light jumps all over the place as you turn your head,cupped small red lens in hand pointed down, never horizontal)

I have a phot of where I jumped a deer bedded right below tree-stand, he moved off, I climbed into tree and the deer returned after it calmed down again, the deers body heat melted the frost at the base of the ladder...

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If Im hunting solo Ill often cold camp very close to my ambush spot, within a hundred yards of a treestand or even in my ground blind so I dont disrupt the area. That seems to work well. The last few Ive killed have been in a stand I hiked over a mile to each way and it hasnt seemed to make a difference frankly. Of the last three, two were taken at almost exactly 7:30am while I arrived at my stand at 5:30. I may well have bumped something on the way in but there are plenty more unlucky ones moving through the area. I actually got a shot at a nice buck a few years ago by making too much noise. Humped into an area I like that is far from the road. After an almost two hour hike I was at my spot around 9:30 am. The rock I normally sit on was covered by snow so I wiped it off and used my boots to scrape clean the ground where my feet would be. Nice six point coues buck heard that from a couple hundred yards away and thought I was another deer making a scrape. He charged right in to me was over 150 yards when I first spotted him and I missed him at about 30. Barely had enough time to get an arrow on the string before he was right on top of me. Missed him and the. Killed a spike buck two hours latter. Last year I had a doe and her mini come up on my while climbing up a tree in my climber. They were about 35-40 yards away staring at me when I spotted them. I just kept going. They walked up to about ten feet of me to investigate this strange thing climbing up that tree and eventually just fed away never spooking or running. I make my best efforts to not disrupt the natural vibe of an are but frankly dont worry at all if I jump something in the dark. As stated by others I dont think it ruins an area in the least.

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I once stepped out of a hot spring in the back mountains of Northern Idaho. It was a full moon with not a cloud in the starlight bright night. Despite that there were no clouds in the sky, the moon was kinda flashing.

At that moment I recognized that the flashing effect to the light of the moon was created by the huge antlers of a big muley in velvet. The deer was literally standing less than three feet from me. I could have reached out and petted the dang thing.

Then I looked around and realized the hot springs we were in was surrounded by at least 18 deer. I could walk around among them and they paid no attention to me. Maybe the hot spring erased my human scent or something, but I guarantee that never would happen in the daylight.

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no peyote in them parts. Maybe some psilocybe mushrooms coming over from the coastal range, but no peyote <_<

psilocybin geeez. 😂

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I was really surprised hiking in last year in the dark by how many sets of eyes I caught just off the trail in the light of my headlamp. They were definitely keeping a close eye on me but were very relaxed even within 5-10 yards, just watching me. Of course once the light started to peek out they would flag and scoot immediately. Really caught me by surprise but what you guys are saying about treating darkness like cover seems to be very true. I highly doubt the more mature bucks are tolerating anything to that extent but it's interesting to see the difference in behavior from darkness to light.

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