Knowing when to move on

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Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:15 am

Ghost hunter brought this up in a different thread. I think it is an excellent topic.

How do we know when to move on? How many years do we hunt a property or certain bedding area that has yielded zero shooter sightings?

One and done? Do you give it three or four years?!? :think: I’m pretty big on spending the overwhelming majority of my time on properties that will hold a shooter EVERY year. That said, a couple years ago my best property didn’t produce a single 3.5+ yr old buck all year. That includes summer observing. If that was year one and I was an impatient person, an awesome property would be squandered.

How about that bedding area that looks good? You KNOW there are shooters around, but you can never catch one while he’s using your “best bet” bedding :think: When do you cut the cord?


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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby NorthwoodsWiscoHnter » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:32 am

I have a good example of this from my last season.

I was hunting a large northwoods marsh. Throughout the marsh it had small islands of timber. The islands consisted of jack pine, some small oaks, and other various species. On an aerial this looked very good! Great features, points, funnels, trails through the marsh, and it was wet. A place that wouldn't get much pressure. It was also not far from my house. Last spring I scouted it and found some decent rubs in the areas I thought they would be. I was pretty excited about this area for the fall.

Opening weekend I sat on a point not far from a bedding area. Didn't see anything.

A couple weeks later I sat another area in observation across the marsh and didn't see anything.

A couple weeks later from that I was gonna go to the best spot I predicted. All the way into the spot I was taking my time being quiet as can be. We had a couple inches of snow already and on the way in, I found zero tracks, zero rubs, zero anything. I had a trail cam up in this spot since summer. Checked it and only had a couple does/fawns, bears, and a small 7 pointer. That was it. I turned around and headed back to the vehicle. I grabbed my pack and put my bow/stand/sticks away. I walked the rest of the day looking for hot sign. In the end I found very little sign at all. Walked over 3 miles trying to find something but nothing. It was huge disappointment. I'm a very patient person but if the sign isn't there, you gotta move on.

It was a good learning experience. It taught me that just because it looks nice from an aerial doesn't guarantee lots of deer and shooter bucks. You have to go where they are in order to kill them!
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby DaveT1963 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:47 am

When I go into a new property, I scout it hard and thoroughly. Sometimes my gut will tell me a big buck has to be present but I do not find sign of what I am after. At that point I determine where I believe they will be and put in mineral licks and cameras at creek crossings, funnels, etc..... I will let them soak all year and may check them just prior to Sept. I have been presently surprised a time or two and have learned to not ignore that gut feeling when I get it. Same with some of my go to spots. I will go in and hunt it. If I do not see a shooter or good sign I will drop a camera there and let it sit. If I am not seeing fresh sign or good deer I am not one to stick with it no matter what. I will let my cameras work for me.

However, a lack of physical sign does not always mean a good buck is not present or will not be present at some point. I often find poor buck to doe ratios will absolutely result in far less sign (rubs/scrapes, etc.) Since there is no way I can be everywhere, I personally rely on cameras to verify one way or another. Like I said there have been times I thought an area was dead that season only to check the camera and learn that a good buck or two was indeed present.

In the end I usually go with my gut instinct (it has served me pretty well so far) and let cameras do some verifying for me while I pursue hot sign.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Tennhunter3 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:03 am

This is a issue I face.

I think it comes down to confidence in the area and spot.
The spot either has it or it doesn't.
Gut instinct is usually right.


I think often we are going to decide to let go of a possible good spot in favor of another confident spot.Also depends on what scouting cams show.

Some areas layout much better strategically based on entry, wind,thermal, terrain thickness,. Some spots no matter where setup is it just can't be hunted correctly because of wind swirls combined with odd thermal behavior or other factors.

Entry routes are vital some are far better then others.
Pressure plays a big role for me if I know a bucks being heavily hunted they often stay in beds much later or switch to a different part of their range.

I think many things beyond just how many sits come into play.

I'm still learning when to move on but I have crossed off spots for the above reasons.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Twenty Up » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:42 am

i always keep tabs on these spots. I’d take note on when/your belief on why they were there along with hunting pressure. Make another attempt when those stars align

My personal issue has been hunting just “off” of the good spots. So I’ll focus on one section when the bucks are bedding-traveling 200-300 yards away. Winter scouting usually confirms this

What I’m trying to get at is always keep an open mind and never get fixated on one specific spot. Change up your access/exit trails as well
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Ahawk116 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:12 am

I try to find as many spots as possible and just burn through them one at a time until I connect or see what I’m after. My hunting is mostly done in the mornings though so I’m not scouting my way in very often.

Meaning most of my spots are one and done. I’m just taking the most educated guess I can on them being there based upon what part of the season it is and why I think they are there.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Hawthorne » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:29 am

If it has the right habitat where a deer can reach 3.5 avoiding hunting pressure ,I don’t fully give up on an area. I’ll keep tabs on it from year to year scouting putting more pieces together. I have a few areas like this I’ve been scouting since I joined the beast that I haven’t hunted.Hopefully when it’s time to throw a hunt at it I’ll have it figured out pretty good and I’ll be in good position to make the kill.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby UofLbowhunter » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:31 am

DaveT1963 wrote:When I go into a new property, I scout it hard and thoroughly. Sometimes my gut will tell me a big buck has to be present but I do not find sign of what I am after. At that point I determine where I believe they will be and put in mineral licks and cameras at creek crossings, funnels, etc..... I will let them soak all year and may check them just prior to Sept. I have been presently surprised a time or two and have learned to not ignore that gut feeling when I get it. Same with some of my go to spots. I will go in and hunt it. If I do not see a shooter or good sign I will drop a camera there and let it sit. If I am not seeing fresh sign or good deer I am not one to stick with it no matter what. I will let my cameras work for me.

However, a lack of physical sign does not always mean a good buck is not present or will not be present at some point. I often find poor buck to doe ratios will absolutely result in far less sign (rubs/scrapes, etc.) Since there is no way I can be everywhere, I personally rely on cameras to verify one way or another. Like I said there have been times I thought an area was dead that season only to check the camera and learn that a good buck or two was indeed present.

In the end I usually go with my gut instinct (it has served me pretty well so far) and let cameras do some verifying for me while I pursue hot sign.


Not trusting my gut, has bit me in the but more times than i can count :doh:
The last year or two i have worked on this considerable, it has paid off to a certian degree! When im getting that feeling i have started to go with it alot more and i have put myself in some good places. Its just a matter of time and a little tweaking of what i am seeing to make things connect!
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby ODH » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:30 am

I travel 2-4 hours to hunt so that’s driven me to a style which I probably would not have recognized at all or would have taken me much longer to realize if I hunted in my backyard. I also focus on trying to identify areas which hold a good one consistently year after year. Luckily I have found more areas than I can actually hunt so I have options. But I can’t check them every day for fresh sign. And when I get in there and don’t find fresh sign that day I’m kind of stuck. Anyway this is a long way of saying the homework has led me to have confidence that these spots hold a good one more often than not. But key has been trying to figure out which days/weeks/months they are usually there. So I won’t give up on it if I don’t see one or don’t see sign of one when I think I should, but I usually can’t spend more time on it in that season either. I’ll check back after season and try to figure it out. Two to three years without the sign coming back then I’ll move on. I’ll let it rest for a couple of years then check it again. Sometimes they come back.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Redman232 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:41 am

If the sign is there, I'll bounce around the spot a few times the same season. If the sign is there and I'm not seeing bucks, I always assume I'm misinterpreting the sign and trying evaluate where I need to be. If I can get 3 sits in one small area for a couple years and don't have any sightings, I'll drop a spot. Most the time I'll have an encounter or bump a buck before I'm ready to give up. The only spots I can think of I've given up that I felt were good spots, were locations with swirling winds. Though there is one spot I can think of that has suckered me into probably a dozen sits over the last 5 or 6 years. I've successfully blown a buck out 3 times lol.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby tgreeno » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:59 am

The last couple seasons I felt like I've spread myself too thin, in the name of being mobile. And hunted areas that may have held a good buck. But my confidence level was not always high. This season, I'm focusing on my "best stuff", that I have high confidence in. And that may be only 3 or 4 properties, and 15 sets. Instead of 30-40 different options. I am going to learn these areas inside and out!

IMO...If you don't have a high confidence level in an area. That's either thru sighting, sign or other intel. Go find some place you do have confidence in!
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby bigredneck61088 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:18 pm

Hawthorne wrote:If it has the right habitat where a deer can reach 3.5 avoiding hunting pressure ,I don’t fully give up on an area. I’ll keep tabs on it from year to year scouting putting more pieces together. I have a few areas like this I’ve been scouting since I joined the beast that I haven’t hunted.Hopefully when it’s time to throw a hunt at it I’ll have it figured out pretty good and I’ll be in good position to make the kill.



My take exactly, I have 15 acre marsh somewhat urban spot I hunt, always get the 100-115 deer with awesome potential and have killed one of those out of that spot. With the amount of unpressured land around it’s only a matter of time before a stud moves in. I monitor with cameras the outskirts, and one moves in the stand is already set. It maybe gets one sit a year so I leave a latch on in there. I focus my time throughout the season on where I think my best chance. I never give up permission or a spot if I think it still has potential and just check in
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby 218er » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:27 pm

I set cameras on mineral licks in May or June and let them soak until September. At that point I move the cameras to rub lines, pinch point, or a community scrape. If there isn’t a photo of a wall hanger I move on for the most part. I might hunt the property for a doe but my buck expectations would be low if I didn’t have any visual proof they existed on a particular parcel. I’ll circle back to a property ever few years. 3-4 years ago wallhangers disappeared a spot I hunt up north after successive rough winters. This fall there were two nice ones that appeared to be 4.5 year olds hanging around. I hadn’t had any evidence of bucks of that caliber around there for three years.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Itchy Bones » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:59 pm

If the sign is there, big tracks big poop, big beds, big rubs but you're not seeing them on the hoof maybe its one of those spots where they just cant be got. maybe a different access would allow you to get in undetected. sounds like a bump and dump would work good in that spot. could also be a good spot for a long camera soak with lithium batteries and a 32 gig card set it before season then retrieve it in january (1 pic x 1 minute delay will save you some heartache!). a couple years ago I shot a doe in late nov in a classic buck bedding spot off the end of a point in a swamp. also had a six point spook from right under my tree ( i was only 8 feet up). I tromped all over the spot figuring I might as well burn the spot i got a doe dead back there and a camera id like to check so after going in and out making a bunch of noise tracking & recovery and swapping cards in the camera and pulling the treestand (pulled the set after recovery because i'd left the doe overnight, had to sneak out of there). After all of this I had to scratch my haunch so a week later I tromped back there again to swap cards in that same camera again because I was disappointed in the last card pull. guess what?! big ol' mature 10 pointer I had a dozen pictures of him standing right in front of the camera for ten minutes turning his head every witch way. and that was two or three days after I completely burned the spot. I have a feeling that buck was in there that night I shot the doe but I didn't have a good enough hide in that little poplar who knows I'm off on a tangent now hope this helps. It sure was a learning experience for me maybe i just need to tweak my approach on this spot a little bit. maybe just file the spot away and throw another sit at in a couple years.
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Re: Knowing when to move on

Unread postby Ack » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:51 pm

If sign is still showing up from year to year in decent spots but I'm not seeing the deer, I'm trying to figure out why I'm not seeing him....timing, stand position, entrance problems, etc? Sometimes the camera soak is the only way to solve this....can really tell you when the sign is being laid down.

I have abandoned certain large scale areas because the caliber of deer I was looking for was either extremely rare or non-existent....which goes along with the "gotta hunt where they are" theory. I'm always looking at new areas, and sometimes those new areas just flat out look better than the old areas....that's another scenario when it's time to move on.

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