Get the Drop on Spring Scouting


by Daniel E. Schmidt, D&DH Editor

Technology sure has changed the way we scout for deer sign on our hunting properties.
The advent of the trail camera has made it easier to identify individual deer and
to obtain a general census of an area’s deer herd. However, good, old-fashioned scouting
in late winter and early spring is still the best way to truly learn about deer behavior,
distribution and overall herd health.

Throughout the years here at D&DH , we have stressed the importance of
knowing more about deer biology and physiology as a means of learning exactly how
this animal ticks. It might not sound glamorous, but getting down and dirty — literally
— will help you accomplish those goals. One way of doing that is through analysis
of anything and everything deer related. That includes studying poop. Seriously.

One of the first things the Stump Sitters taught us back in the 1970s was that deer
droppings vary a great deal in shape, color, and form at different times of the year
and under different food conditions. During the winter months when deer feed on browse
the pellets are hard and become harder as the winter advances; they are various shades
of brown and about three-quarters of an inch long.

During the summer months — when deer feed on soft vegetation — the droppings consist
of clusters of pellets which are more or less stuck together in one mass—linked to
one another in bead fashion, although they occasionally remain separate at this time
of the year as well. Deer droppings represent basic clues to other signs and present
an excellent guide to a deer’s whereabouts and habits. They verify whether a bedding
area is being used. They make tracks easier to follow. They give you an idea what
the maker was doing.

If you find fresh cold pellets in the morning, you may assume the deer fed at night.
If they are warm, the maker is probably a short distance from you.

More than you needed to know? Not if you are serious student of the whitetail. For
more insights from the Stump Sitters, click HERE.