Hill Country travel routes

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thumbsmcgee
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Hill Country travel routes

Unread postby thumbsmcgee » Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:19 am

After some thoughts on this past season in Missouri during the rut, I noticed some trends that seem contradictory to what I've learned. I've read and been taught that deer use the upper two-thirds of hills to do most of their travel.

The hills I hunt are really steep, I've read that they were created after glaciers melted. Angles are usually a 40-40 degree slant with steeper drops in some locations. I noticed this year most of the travel & action, albeit chasing during the rut, happened at the bottom of the hallow. I noticed they would travel the hallows and not so much the upper 2/3ds.

Some factors I think contribute:
- The Conservation Department has placed the majority of the trails on the ridges of this terrain. The foot traffic on these ridges probably keeps the deer away.
- The rut is the rut. Deer chasing act differently than deer any other time of the year.
- Hunting pressure pushed the deer further in the hallows during this time.

What are your thoughts?


HillCountryHunter-15
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Re: Hill Country travel routes

Unread postby HillCountryHunter-15 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:00 am

thumbsmcgee wrote:After some thoughts on this past season in Missouri during the rut, I noticed some trends that seem contradictory to what I've learned. I've read and been taught that deer use the upper two-thirds of hills to do most of their travel.

The hills I hunt are really steep, I've read that they were created after glaciers melted. Angles are usually a 40-40 degree slant with steeper drops in some locations. I noticed this year most of the travel & action, albeit chasing during the rut, happened at the bottom of the hallow. I noticed they would travel the hallows and not so much the upper 2/3ds.

Some factors I think contribute:
- The Conservation Department has placed the majority of the trails on the ridges of this terrain. The foot traffic on these ridges probably keeps the deer away.
- The rut is the rut. Deer chasing act differently than deer any other time of the year.
- Hunting pressure pushed the deer further in the hallows during this time.

What are your thoughts?


Good question, this is going to be my first year doing a majority of my hunting on public land and I am curious to see a few answers on this.

I also live and hunt in Missouri and the terrain I've been scouting and will hunt sounds very similar to what you explained (hill country with logging roads made by MDC down the middle of the ridge). The only difference may be that my hill country is big woods with no ag fields whatsoever. I see you say that most of the travel you saw was in the hollows rather than on upper 2/3ds of the ridge; have you been able to find much sign in the hollows when you have scouted? Most of the sign I find is up top on the secondary points right off the main ridge line. I have scouted the bottoms before and I just haven't found much sign. This may be due to what the drainages (or hollows) look like though. Some of them have a creek running through them and dont get as much sunlight as the top of the ridge does, I've noticed that you will find more oaks up top than in the bottom. I do know that the deer will bed on the military crest of those hills though. I have jumped a few while scouting and the ones I jumped were right on that crest. I was actually scouting the other day and ended up finding a good bed right on the military crest of a secondary point. Where they go from there is hard to pattern though, I'd say it all depends on the food source they are after that day.
thumbsmcgee
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Re: Hill Country travel routes

Unread postby thumbsmcgee » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:48 am

HillCountryHunter-15 wrote:
Good question, this is going to be my first year doing a majority of my hunting on public land and I am curious to see a few answers on this.

I also live and hunt in Missouri and the terrain I've been scouting and will hunt sounds very similar to what you explained (hill country with logging roads made by MDC down the middle of the ridge). The only difference may be that my hill country is big woods with no ag fields whatsoever. I see you say that most of the travel you saw was in the hollows rather than on upper 2/3ds of the ridge; have you been able to find much sign in the hollows when you have scouted? Most of the sign I find is up top on the secondary points right off the main ridge line. I have scouted the bottoms before and I just haven't found much sign. This may be due to what the drainages (or hollows) look like though. Some of them have a creek running through them and dont get as much sunlight as the top of the ridge does, I've noticed that you will find more oaks up top than in the bottom. I do know that the deer will bed on the military crest of those hills though. I have jumped a few while scouting and the ones I jumped were right on that crest. I was actually scouting the other day and ended up finding a good bed right on the military crest of a secondary point. Where they go from there is hard to pattern though, I'd say it all depends on the food source they are after that day.


Nearly the last 10 years I've only been able to hunt during rifle season due to being out of state. Haven't scouted off-season in Missouri until this year coming up. The strategy my Uncle & I have used since our traditional hunting spot became overpopulated by hunters has been to set up on the hillside cross from our old area. The hunting pressure there usually kicks up a lot of the deer and they travel our way.

This was my first year hunting elevated on public land, and I saw more deer this year than any other. I played the wind, and saw 3 bucks chasing and two does on opening morning. 2/3 bucks were mature, but all three were chasing a doe so fast I couldn't get an ethical shot. The doe I got was crossing the lower 1/3 of the hillside.

As far as sign, I typically see it near watering holes and upper 1/3rd as well. Just seeing the most action below though.
Evanszach7
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Re: Hill Country travel routes

Unread postby Evanszach7 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:23 pm

Just finished scouting a hill country section in southern Ohio that was as steep as your describing. Had a mix of clearcuts,new and old. Also had ag in the bottoms within a mile.

Found the best bedding where the least amount of pressure was. Some was leeward in the mid 3rd of an old cut, some was windward in the lower 3rd setup to watch primary aceess, but still a mile from parking across 2 major ridges... leeward and windward assuming a western wind which is most common here during season.

I went in to scout by marking the cuts and obvious topo features that attract hunters, and looked for bedding and travel routes where the deer could scent or visually monitor those areas. Elevation of bedding was more dictated by cover and if the ridge had a primary access route used by hunters.
mauser06
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Re: Hill Country travel routes

Unread postby mauser06 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:39 pm

Did you actually observe or have daytime travel down low? Or just notice a lot of sign down low??



Travel definitely takes place down low in the hills. I've witnessed Young bucks countless times seemingly following small trickles or creeks coming down the ditches between the hills when they are cruising. Never seen a big buck down low in the daylight though.


The bottoms hold a ton of sign. Ground is softer and wetter...creek banks look like they get crossed hard but in reality they aren't very solid...


I don't usually hunt low just because the wind is about impossible to hunt.


Here is similar but different....if there are oaks or logging, both major food sources, it's usually somewhere high.


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