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Whitetail Deer Signs

The whitetail deer is one of the most demanding yet rewarding creatures to hunt. Exceptionally fleet of foot - they can reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour - they are excellent swimmers and leap remarkable distances, with heights over 8 feet and lengths reaching over 30 feet presenting no difficulties to this impressive "athlete" of the animal world. They form small groups for three quarters of the year, but in winter (which is mating season) they come together in huge herds, numbering at times in excess of 100 deer.

Hunting therefore requires a good deal of strategic planning before hand and specifics such as recognizing whitetail deer signs like: trails, beds, rubs, scrapes and droppings. The trails are created by deer to assist them in their travel between areas they use frequently in the most energy conserving way. These trails will take the whitetails through brush, ravines, gullies and low-lying routes where they can remain fairly well hidden.
It is possible to see how often a trail is used by the amount of tracks left, plus vegetation along its route. Checking after rain or snow is the easiest way of identifying any recent usage. By kicking leaves, or fresh snow over old footprints it will be possible to see if it is still an active trail, and even more crucially, what time of day or night the whitetails are moving around.

If you come across a 30 to 50 inch oval shape of pressed down grass, snow, leaves or general dirt, the chances are you have discovered the bedding area of a whitetail. They will usually be positioned downwind to give the deer a chance of detecting approaching danger. Security is always the priority with these animals, ahead of food supply and comfort. Rubs and scrapes are other good whitetail deer signs. The buck males rub their antlers against trees as they prepare for the rutting season. They leave behind tell-tale signs of their presence, just as they do with the scrapes that they make. These will intensify during the 2 to 3 weeks prior to breeding and will be found close to food sources and female bedding locations.

A popular, but skilled hunting technique is identifying the whitetail deer's gender, size and approximate age simply by examining their scat. Fresh scat will be soft in texture, a light greeny brown in colour, very moist with a kind of sheen covering the top of it. Any like this are likely to have been left within the previous 12 hours and, if warm, possibly within 15 minutes of discovery. Older droppings will be harder and darker. Naturally bigger deer leave bigger scat, but closer scrutiny will help see what they have been eating and give an indication of their whereabouts at meal times. If a young fawn leaves scat near the bedding, the mother doe will actually eat it herself to prevent detection by predators.

The whitetail deer signs vary from the subtle to the outright blatant, but each acts as clue for the hunter to follow. It is all part of the exhilaration experienced during the hunt for these fabulous animals. A successful hunter not only spots these signs, but over time learns how to correctly interpret them.

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