View Full Version : for whitetail gurus

December 1, 2008, 09:05 PM
Surely someone here has a lot more expertise than I on this subject. I was just stumped during a deer hunt in Indiana. Thought I was a pretty good hunter all these 50 years of it, but apparently not so. Couldn't answer this.
For three days, three hunters in our group hunted hard ( two experienced) and saw no deer, where usually we would have seen many. So what? Well, Everywhere we saw people they were talking about no deer being seen in these days. It was southern Indiana, November 28-30, so you can see for yourself the solunar effect. I went to pick up previous deer at a large packing house and they had had very few deer in during this time. Deer were not found bedding in the usual places and shining at night revealed almost no deer in cut corn and bean fields. People who were driving (I don't) flushed no deer. I've seen this with fish, but never deer. How about some hunting wisdom to suggest what may have caused this? (This was the last weekend of a two day gun season.)

December 1, 2008, 09:11 PM
You've killed them all...

December 1, 2008, 09:22 PM
Sorry, couldn't resist. Is that it just a 2 day gun season, or is there more of a gun season prior?

My first guess is that the deer just have become too cautious. Even in the bean fields, I've seen that if you shine deer day after day, they will eventually grow tired of being harrassed, and will adjust their schedule. Food sources may have changed. They may have run out of food in the area and have changed their schedules to find/forage other areas at different times.

I've also seen deer that have tailored their movemant times to that when hunters aren't in the woods. Some will scoff at this idea, but deer are adaptable and smart. They know when "most" hunters leave for lunch or for the day.

Maybe all of the above, who really knows. Deer can be as predictable as a Swiss watch, and then the next day...poof...they cannot be found anywhere.

I haven't been hunting near as long as you have. So, I know I'm probably not telling you anything you haven't seen or know. But I believe that I hunt harder than most, and most days, I end up at the truck scratching my head.

December 1, 2008, 09:36 PM
OOPS, this dang computer made a mistake. I told it to write two weeks, not two days. I've hunted problem whitetails before, but at least the fawns stay stupid. Blessed with a lot of private land to hunt this year, different topography, cover, food, and some of it I've been hunting for years. Never saw it dry up like this. All daylight hours and then driving by at night. Just new for me. In the olden days this was the norm, but not with populations like we have nowadays. New to me. My best experience has been when the solunal best times line up with near dawn or near dusk. Not like tht this week, but still hard hunting for three weekends produced one deer sighting. Lucky for me, my bullet bounced off enought trees to find it's way into the vitals so I'm not skunked. Back for MZL in a week or so. Maybe their invisible paint will have worn off. There is a scientific answer but I'm not that smart. It is fun to get smarter and know somethink new about this game though. Maybe someone will come up with some great new (to me) ideas or answers>

December 1, 2008, 09:45 PM
Seems ya'll in the midwest have this fairly widespread... I think it is a culmination of several factors. Good mast crop has them not moving so much, Coyote population increases has reduced the numbers, And possibly the diseases of prior last few years catching up on them... Just what I have been reading on hunting boards...

December 1, 2008, 09:51 PM
Deer can really hide after the first shot of the season, they're not stupid. Older ones will go nocturnal.

I'm sure that they're there, you're just not finding them. Did you do any preliminary scouting? Know how to track?

My family is from the central/east part of the state, Indy, Anderson, Richmond. Grandpa lived in Anderson and many a hunting trip originated from there when I was a kid.

December 1, 2008, 09:58 PM
Don't have an answer for you, but the first three days of Kentucky's deer season, I saw one buck (a nice 6 pointer that I took on opening day) and my hunting partner saw a small 7 pointer, a small 8 pointer and a nice 8 pointer that he took. In total, we hunted 5 days this season and we saw 4 bucks and zero does. We spoke to a local game warden three days into our guns season and he reported that he thinks the does were laying down for some reason and the bucks were really on the prowl. Just a weird season.

December 1, 2008, 10:21 PM
Well I hunt in Central, KY and was in a nice section of Oak trees with acorns galore. We have had our farm for four years now and this was the best season yet for seeing deer. We had some feeders with corn out that were not even touched. I was able to get a nice 8 pt and two other guys got doe. All our deer stomachs had acorns and no corn in them. We also had several food plots out there with the Imperial Whitetail Clover in them that were being hit daily. I hunted a pine thicket a few times and only saw one spike. Every time we hunted in the white oaks we saw 7 -10 deer. I would suggest head for the oak trees.

December 1, 2008, 11:34 PM
What Brent said - might be an upper-midwest thing. Everyone in WI was complaining - the newspapers even picked up on it, stating that the harvest wasn't likely to come near what it was last year. Folks said I was lucky to get two and see more than a dozen - in years past we would stop counting around 30 or 40 on opening morning. The full-time butcher/taxidermist I go to out there thinks the wierd weather this year has them sitting tighter than usual, and their rut thrown off. It's strange because one of the neighbors up there has trail cams and sees plenty of deer, including some serious antlers that nobody's ever spotted during the day. So it's not like they left, or the population has dwindled to an unhuntable number, or they have found new stomping grounds. It's just a slow year regionally, and perhaps the factors that contribute to less daytime deer visibility have also sustained their core-area food sources so that they don't even need to wander out at night in your area. I certainly saw a lot more deer at night than I did during the day though, on ag fields, so go figure. Anyway, hope you get another bite at the apple in a late gun season or something - best of luck.

December 2, 2008, 02:24 AM
Same here the first 2 weeks of deer season! I live in Evansville and hunt vanderburgh, posey and dubois and didnt see a single animal the first 2 weekends and most of my friends and family didnt see nething either! it has def been and odd season but i finally got a break last saturday and shot an 8 pointer. the weirdest part of it is that the 2 week prior to gun season i saw plenty of deer while bow hunting but they all seemed to disappear on the 15th. ive also heard hear-tell that it may be a result of the CWD from last year and it may take a few years for the population to get back to where it was previously

December 2, 2008, 07:31 AM
I've always been amazed how deer can crawl in a hole and pull the cover over top of them when they want to. Around here it's usually after they finally figure out there are a bunch of people in the woods trying to kill them.

December 2, 2008, 08:58 AM
Lemme ask this... "How has your rainfall been for the 3 months approaching season?" Could your swamps be lower or higher in water level than normal? Down here in florida plenty are shot on the highgrounds but if you want a near sure thing... get down in the bottoms and find a dryer trail and a stump to sit on and your in the meat!

December 2, 2008, 09:54 AM
Well, yes I did scout and found sign normal, although we had a later than usual leaf fall (hmmm, a possible piece of evidence) and the deep trails not as evident till later. I have found some areas torn up with sign in the brushy bottoms. No deersies though. I think they all went to Florida for the winter. We don't have swamps around this hilly area, but water sources are about normal for this time of year. Immediately prior to season sign appeared normal, with normal abundant buck sign. On my sixth day hunting this year I was very happy to take the first deer I had seen, a six pointer. Should be mighty tasty.

December 3, 2008, 04:34 PM
Our season was horrible this year as well in N Minnesota. I heard many people complaining about it as well. We have huge populations of wolves around as well. Very little tracks, we have 8 in our part and only two small deer were taken. One weekend we didn't even see a deer. Between the 8 of us, only 8 deer were spotted the whole entire season total. This is land we have been hunting for decades.

December 3, 2008, 11:28 PM
I hunt northern illinois and filled my tags - archery and shotgun before second season! We have lots of deer activity due to the fact that there was so much standing corn late in the season - corn was too wet. i concur about gun season though, if deer are so harassed they will just hunker down, sometimes in the most unlikely spots.
Sometimes the only way to get them to move is to do pushes/drives. i have seen 20 deer hide in an old weed overgrown creekbed right next to a major interstate highway. In other cases i have seen them lay down in the middle of a picked bean field in full view,knowing they are out of range of our guns. They adapt to survive:o

December 4, 2008, 05:45 PM
I also hunt Indiana (Willow Slough) and sat for 3 days by the intersection of three trails, lots of scat, and two rub areas and saw nothing. I moved to my secondary spot about 1/4 mile away and bingo, saw a total of 60 deer in two days, finally got a six pointer. Weird season, temp was way too hot for shotgun deer season. Maybe that kept them bedded down.

December 6, 2008, 07:21 AM
Sounds about the same luck I had in the south east. I started hunting on the 8th of November (black powder). I was convinced that the rut was full blast and was waiting on the big buck. I was seeing a few does and just a couple of small bucks. I decided I would wait til the end of my hunting trip to harvest some meat for eating. Rifle season kicked off on NOV 15th. I continued to hunt and was still seeing a few deer but not many. On NOV 24th I decied it was about time to get some meat. I hunted hard on the 24th and half a day on the 25th. The weather was cold and good but I didn't see a single deer. I only heard a few shots around the area and others were also talking that they were not seeing any. It was just like the deer fell off the face of the earth. I must say my pride was hurt since thats the first time I have came back home in years of hunting without any deer meat. I think back and maybe i should have taken one early on and that way I would have been in good shape. Well the only reason I didn't shoot one early on was I knew I would eventually have to take it 240 miles back home before it spoiled. I suspected the rut was in and I wanted to concentrate on the big buck but thats life I guess. I had a good time in the woods regardless, it was a 19 day hunting and camping trip. Not all is lost though. I am going back next week for another 8 days, so look out deer, I am going for meat this time. I have 6 tags left so you know if the deer show up, the gun will fire for sure.

December 6, 2008, 04:58 PM
I also hunt Indiana. I LIVE HERE. I would have to agree with the deer laying down. I say this because there is 4 does in my freezer that were all kicked out of the weeds like rabbits. I take a couple boys hunting with me. After setting all day, got bored started roaming and wala. I did also add a small 8 point to the pile, after a neighboring hunter got to the woods late :)and kicked him out of bed.

We were seeing loads of deer right before season, then slim pickings. Where we hunt you can hear gun shots for several miles. Every season opening weekend there are loads of gunshots. This year there was very very few. We have boat loads of out of towners that flow in for season. Not to be rude but when they come in town and start throwing around spot lights, hunting in eye sight of others, it don't bother me that they have a crappy season:p

When they all leave and the city folk go back to town, the deer calm down, we usually enjoy a decent harvest.


December 6, 2008, 11:11 PM
I hunted in NE Missouri for the first 8 days of rifle season (around the 8th through the 15th of November) I saw more deer this season than I saw the past few years. Weather was a mix of everything from rain and light snow to warmish afternoons. I noticed in my area that a lot less shots were being fired by the surrounding hunters, especially on opening morning. Usually, it sounds like Tet '68.

Also, we took two decent bucks and saw another which seemed to be very lucky this year. Go figure.

December 6, 2008, 11:23 PM
Sorry, forgot to add photos.



December 7, 2008, 02:35 AM
I saw more deer this season than I saw the past few years

That's the answere! The deer are acting like geese and moving across country with the weather:cool:

bufordtjustice: very nice deer


December 7, 2008, 08:54 AM
Maybe the deer in my small section of S Indiana have just gotten smarter than me:(. I think I'm just being paid back for the several years of early harvests. I remember in the old days in IN we got excited just seeing deer sign. Still, when there is a change in the area as dramatic as this gun season, I think there is a reason other than they got spooked by opening day. They always get spooked by opening day. Maybe it's local to my patch of woods, but these deersies have definately changed their habits. Time to go back with MZ and reclaim my honor. I like having the place to myself when it gets bitter cold, which it might over the next couple of weeks. Heck, if it was to easy I'd just probably stay home. :)