Scout the Droppings; Not the Deer

In my last article, I mentioned contemplating the sometimes monumental task of locating resident deer herds on land that you are not familiar with.

Also, I mentioned that when scouting unfamiliar land, you should focus your attention on finding the bedding areas first and the feeding areas second and then finding and scouting the trails that connect these two types of areas.

However, finding either a bedding area or a feeding area on land that you are unfamiliar with can be a somewhat daunting task. Therefore, I would suggest that you learn to use deer droppings to help you in your search! That’s right; I did just say that you should be looking for deer droppings instead of looking for deer.

Now, my reason making this somewhat unusual suggestion is that finding areas where there are numerous piles of deer droppings in close proximity to each other will indicate that you are either very near to a deer bedding area or very near to a deer feeding area. In fact, according to a study done by researcher Logan Bennett in 1940 on deer kept in a pen, deer defecate an average of 13 times a day and, there is an average of 75 pellets per group. Whew! Now that’s a load of deer sh*t!

However, deer droppings are actually an excellent indication of the number of deer in any given area and how much time they are spending in any one area. Consequently, when I am scouting new territory for deer, the first thing I do is examine the overall area to gain some idea of where the deer might be bedding and feeding, then I start scouting the terrain in between these areas while looking for deer droppings because they are an easy sign to spot.

Then, if I find an area where there is only one or two piles of droppings, I can pretty safely assume that I have found a travel corridor; thus, I immediately start to look for a trail and try to follow it. If, on the other hand, I run across an area that has large number of dropping piles close to each other, then I immediately wonder if they are associated with a particular food source.

Therefore, I then examine the surrounding foliage from the ground level up to the average head height of a deer to see if I notice any browse that has been nibbled on and then, I look up to see if there is any mast waiting to fall. If so, then I can safely assume that I have found a feeding area. If not however, then I am probably adjacent to a bedding area.

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