scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

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raisins
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scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby raisins » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:09 am

I'm trying to understand a new piece of public.

Last year, I was lucky and my new piece had tons of rubs of various ages once I got to the right spots and also scrapes from last year.

I've covered 25% of the new piece and have only seen a handful of small rubs, many are from over a year ago. I'm not yet very good at identifying buck beds or tracks.

If you don't see bucks or obvious buck sign (rubs/scrapes), then would you ever consider hunting a spot? I'm finding interesting terrain and habitat and deer trails where you would expect them, but I'm afraid this is all just doe sign.


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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby <DK> » Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:05 am

For me it would depend on the habitat and pressure. Competition from other bucks is something talked about here too.

If the place is thick as can be or very high stem count then a big one could be there hiding. Sometimes there could only be 1-2 lg rubs in an area w lots of small rubs.

In general - no I wouldn't hunt it unless I knew there was something good around. Last year I shot my biggest buck over very small buck sign. It shocked me and still does but the property has the right habitat.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby dan » Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:17 am

<DK> wrote:For me it would depend on the habitat and pressure. Competition from other bucks is something talked about here too.

If the place is thick as can be or very high stem count then a big one could be there hiding. Sometimes there could only be 1-2 lg rubs in an area w lots of small rubs.

In general - no I wouldn't hunt it unless I knew there was something good around. Last year I shot my biggest buck over very small buck sign. It shocked me and still does but the property has the right habitat.

PRETTY MUCH NAILED IT
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby DaveT1963 » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:30 am

Most of the mature bedding areas I locate don't have a lot of sign right near them. Mature bucks IME tend to save their need to scrape/rub in staging areas close to bedding and food sources. It does not bother me at all if i do not see rubs or scrapes in an area if everything else is present. In fact, perhaps that is why they are there, hunters see sign and tend to congregate near there so mature bucks would be moved towards areas where hunters are not. I think this will become even more common now that bed hunting is becoming so popular - the isolated spots are going to get harder to find as everyone can find rubs and scrapes so that is where pressure will be - even if it is remote in a lot of cases. So perhaps the new hot spots are just that - places where no one finds sign :think: :think: :think:
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby The_Real_Jmill » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:49 am

Definitely don’t abandon if it’s nice and diverse as far as habitat goes. I shot my largest archery buck last year and there wasn’t a trace of buck sign from the first time I got a cam pic of him in Sept. till I shot him in November.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby Ack » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:36 pm

You cannot write off an area by only observing sign from one season. As mentioned, if it has the security and everything else a buck needs, there’s a chance a good one could be there.

For example....I went back today and walked the area where I shot my buck in the fall. With what I saw for sign you’d never convince me there was a 130 living in there. There were a few scattered rubs....nothing big....not a ton....nothing that would scream big buck, but it has security and historically, good bucks within a reasonable radius around it.

And now that I think about it, where I saw the other good bucks on public last fall also did not have much for buck sign either. In these cases, it wasn’t necessarily what these spots did have that made them good....it’s what they didn’t have.....hunter pressure.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby buttonbuck » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:47 am

raisins wrote:I'm trying to understand a new piece of public.

Last year, I was lucky and my new piece had tons of rubs of various ages once I got to the right spots and also scrapes from last year.

I've covered 25% of the new piece and have only seen a handful of small rubs, many are from over a year ago. I'm not yet very good at identifying buck beds or tracks.

If you don't see bucks or obvious buck sign (rubs/scrapes), then would you ever consider hunting a spot? I'm finding interesting terrain and habitat and deer trails where you would expect them, but I'm afraid this is all just doe sign.


I have access to a 30 acre farm of briar and tall grass. Butted up to hardwoods. No buck sign whatsoever. A single rub and scrape 70 yards away in the hardwoods. Glassed it, and on the transition from under a tree covered in green briar comes out a stud. He bedded there on the reg and even tolerated my dumb a** bumping him out 5-6 times in daylight. I was super new to hunting beds and thought I needed to try to get 30yards from him lol. I learned alot from that.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby Dewey » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:26 am

Thinking back I can’t think of any bigger bucks I killed that left scrapes or rubs right in the vicinity where I killed them. Big tracks near bedding areas are where it’s at for me. Most rubs and scrapes are left after dark in evening feeding areas where I rarely hunt.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby KLEMZ » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:44 am

Dewey wrote: Big tracks near bedding areas are where it’s at for me. Most rubs and scrapes are left after dark in evening feeding areas where I rarely hunt.


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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby raisins » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:28 am

Thanks guys.

I guess I'm trying to shorten the process. I have no intel on the area and haven't seen good sign anywhere yet. I agree that where you see or shoot the buck doesn't need to have sign.

This piece is a little over 1,000 acres and is a valley. If I don't see any areas with the rubs I like, then I'm not sure how much I'll hunt it. For all I know, the place is overly pressured.

I'm there because it is close and I don't have a ton of options where I'm at.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby <DK> » Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:00 am

raisins wrote:Thanks guys.

I guess I'm trying to shorten the process. I have no intel on the area and haven't seen good sign anywhere yet. I agree that where you see or shoot the buck doesn't need to have sign.

This piece is a little over 1,000 acres and is a valley. If I don't see any areas with the rubs I like, then I'm not sure how much I'll hunt it. For all I know, the place is overly pressured.

I'm there because it is close and I don't have a ton of options where I'm at.


Assess what you are dealing with. If its 1000 acres w multiple access trails, easy walking, open timber, close to town, allows firearms, etc... then there isnt much to get excited about IMO. Obviously that will be based on what options you have in your state. I know, not everyone has larger tracks of public like we do.

Are you putting good time into cyber scouting and mapping? What kind of terrain do you hunt?
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby Ranger Matthews » Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:57 am

It all depends. Normally there should be some indication that there is a bigger deer in the area. A lot of times it can be just as important what is going on at the neighboring properties. If there is prime habitat and buck sign on the properties that but up to the public that can be just as good. If there are does on the public at some point the bucks in the area are going to come looking for them. Same if there is good food on the public, the deer may be just bedding on the other side of the property line. Cyber scout the bedding that borders the public and check the trails coming in. At some point though you will probably want to confirm if a decent deer is in the area wether that’s from rubs, scrapes, beds, tracks or a trail camera pic.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby raisins » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:52 am

<DK> wrote:
raisins wrote:Thanks guys.

I guess I'm trying to shorten the process. I have no intel on the area and haven't seen good sign anywhere yet. I agree that where you see or shoot the buck doesn't need to have sign.

This piece is a little over 1,000 acres and is a valley. If I don't see any areas with the rubs I like, then I'm not sure how much I'll hunt it. For all I know, the place is overly pressured.

I'm there because it is close and I don't have a ton of options where I'm at.


Assess what you are dealing with. If its 1000 acres w multiple access trails, easy walking, open timber, close to town, allows firearms, etc... then there isnt much to get excited about IMO. Obviously that will be based on what options you have in your state. I know, not everyone has larger tracks of public like we do.

Are you putting good time into cyber scouting and mapping? What kind of terrain do you hunt?


This is WV hill country. The valley is 3 miles long and more narrow than long. There is only one easy public access and that is to walk the whole length. There are no short cuts into the back. There are large tracts of private woods surrounding it so private land owners probably don't mess with it because they have better hunting on their land. I have only scouted around 1.5 miles in so far. I might report back with better news. It allows firearms and is near a small town but within 1 hour of larger towns. There is open timber, but I'm sticking to the thick stuff.

Pressure in WV is very high because many people hunt and shoot any buck they see, and game laws allow 3 bucks per year of any size.

I have cyber scouted and I'm spending my time walking habitat transitions, military crests, saddles, and points/fingers.
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby <DK> » Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:02 am

raisins wrote:
<DK> wrote:
raisins wrote:Thanks guys.

I guess I'm trying to shorten the process. I have no intel on the area and haven't seen good sign anywhere yet. I agree that where you see or shoot the buck doesn't need to have sign.

This piece is a little over 1,000 acres and is a valley. If I don't see any areas with the rubs I like, then I'm not sure how much I'll hunt it. For all I know, the place is overly pressured.

I'm there because it is close and I don't have a ton of options where I'm at.


Assess what you are dealing with. If its 1000 acres w multiple access trails, easy walking, open timber, close to town, allows firearms, etc... then there isnt much to get excited about IMO. Obviously that will be based on what options you have in your state. I know, not everyone has larger tracks of public like we do.

Are you putting good time into cyber scouting and mapping? What kind of terrain do you hunt?


This is WV hill country. The valley is 3 miles long and more narrow than long. There is only one easy public access and that is to walk the whole length. There are no short cuts into the back. There are large tracts of private woods surrounding it so private land owners probably don't mess with it because they have better hunting on their land. I have only scouted around 1.5 miles in so far. I might report back with better news. It allows firearms and is near a small town but within 1 hour of larger towns. There is open timber, but I'm sticking to the thick stuff.

Pressure in WV is very high because many people hunt and shoot any buck they see, and game laws allow 3 bucks per year of any size.

I have cyber scouted and I'm spending my time walking habitat transitions, military crests, saddles, and points/fingers.


Put some more miles in and see what you find. I wouldnt say that is enough ground to judge a whole property. Anytime I come home w my head down, I try to go harder next outing and usually find what im looking for.

One other major factor to consider is other predators and hunting deer in different regions. That plays into pressure but I think gets overlooked. If you have bears, wolves, mt lions or even just pigs then I think a guy has a tougher challenge locating them. Add in high hunting pressure, w firearms and no antler limit then id imagine that is very tough task.

Keep at it! Trust your gut! Do some searching and I highly suggest reaching out to someone around your region too. Bounce ideas and questions off of each other. I guarantee things accelerate quickly
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Re: scouting new piece, ignore areas with no rubs/scrapes?

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:17 am

I'm very new and kinda going through the same thing as you OP. I say bear down and get in there. I put a bunch of KM's this week and found an old dead buck in the mud near some bedding with the least amount of sign in the entire piece. If I didn't find that neck sticking out of the mud, I never would have thought twice about the spot. I left a camera there..... I'd say if you can drop a couple cameras in there it will help as well. I got a couple for xmas and all of a sudden i went from spinning wheels to learning things in leaps and bounds. Tough to make out the bucks on cam right now with my inexperienced eye but all you need to see is the velvet (or the pedicles if you know what you're doing) then you can make a plan to move from there forward.


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