Classify my hunting pressure

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thedarkknight
 
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Classify my hunting pressure

Postby thedarkknight » Fri Oct 31, 2008 6:42 pm

Hello everyone I have a question that has been on my mind ever since I began hunting on the effects of deer sightings and hunting pressure.  To start let me give some background on the area I hunt.  I hunt a 2000 acre timber tract in middle georgia.  We have a river that forms the western boundary of our property with around 4 or 5 major creeks feeding into the river.  We have planted pines in addition to hardwood oak creekbottoms. 

Now the question I have is how much do I and our other members pressure our deer herd?  I can only hunt 2 days a week and on average we have say a half dozen members that hunt weekends only(morning and evening saturday and sunday morning).  So how much would you say we pressure our deer?  Average?  Above average? Below?  Any opinions are greatly appreciated thank you for your time.
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Gafrage
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby Gafrage » Fri Oct 31, 2008 6:47 pm

Are you some sort of outfitter, or is this group you speak of family and friends?

thedarkknight
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby thedarkknight » Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:42 pm

It is a 5 year plus QDMA hunting club.  

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Gafrage
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby Gafrage » Fri Oct 31, 2008 8:00 pm

My initial input is as simple as this.

If you hunt different stands it's hard to mess up that much land.  Keep in mind though, if does bust you that area is kind of shot, at least until the rut occurs.  I guess I would classify your land as below average.  Granted you move stand sights, and don't hunt the same stand each hunt.

End of initial input!
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How many people are in this hunting club? Do they all switch stands?  Are they somewhat experienced hunters (keep their scent under control as much as possible, don't go into the woods the same way each and everytime, etc.)  Are you allowed to bait?  Do you bait?  How familiar is everyone with the land?  Or are people learning as they go?


Edit:  It's hard to make a good assessment on your pressure, but my guess is that with that much land, it would take 60 people who smoke while they are in their stand to mess it up.  Just like you are capable of patterning deer, I believe the same remains true with them.  I think they are "aware" enough, (I'm not going to use the word smart enough...because I think it is a conditioned response) that they can pick up on human activity.  Especially with the weekend warriors it appears you have down there.  Regardless of how careful you try to be, or actually are, chances are that at least one time this year you will bump a deer or two either that is bedded down, or just happens to be passing through.

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shaman
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby shaman » Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:33 am

I look at my land as minimal hunting pressure-- close to a "deer sanctuary."  Up until this year we had just a little over 1 person hunting two days a week.  Now my sons are getting involved, so it will be 2-3.  That's on 200 acres.  As long as I don't hunt the same stand morning and evening both days, I see no sign of pressure.  That does not include poachers, but then I have no idea how much I get poached.  All I know is that the deer seem to all run over to my place when the shooting starts.  The neighbors seem to be much more crowded-- 6 or more shooters on one 100 acre plot. However, they all get deer as well.

If you extrapolate that out to 2000 acres, that means a "deer sanctuary" might have 10 people on it without any effect.  My guess is that you could have more.

That's just a raw extrapolation.  If your place is like mine, the majority of the hunting takes place on less than 40%-- more like less than 20%  of the total area.    The rest of it is either hard to hunt or it has nothing to attract a deer's attention.

If y'all concentrate on a small number of stands, even a small number of hunters can pressure the deer out of an area.  I did that one year at one stand on our property early on.  I left that stand, and put up another 100 yards away, and had a buck in my sights on Opening Morning of Rifle season.

Driving, dogs, and that sort of thing will also convince deer to leave an area in a hurry.

What I would do minimize pressure is make a rule of  only 1 weekend sitting per stand.  That means to cover morning and evening, 2 days a week, you'd need a minimum of 4 stands. I feel free to break my own rule, but that's what I try for .  Six guys should have 24 stands. I would throw in a few spares.

Over the course of the season, stands will lose their luster, and on 2000 acres you will find deer moving from one movement pattern to another.  This requires a different set of  stands.  4 stands per hunter is just a minimum.  I have 25 venues on 200 acres, only some are active stands and blinds.  Others are just good spots that have been kept clear over the years, and still others are just waypoints on the GPS.  The latter are places I have found that require little or no setup to cover deer moving over a given piece of structure. 

Normally I have my freezer full from my primary spots long before I have to dig.  However, I frequently go to secondary and tertiary spots  just for a change-up-- especially after I have filled my buck tag and I'm just out looking for fun. 

Here's a handy tip. Get a few  black 5 gallon buckets and place them up-ended at likely spots around the property, and then mark them on the GPS.

1)  Instant hunting venue with almost no investment
2)  Concentrates poachers
3)  A great place for a change-up hunt.

I have a few out on the property.  Some have been untouched in 5 years.  However, I've had some great hunts in the rain and fog stalking from one bucket to the other.  Most importantly it gets you and your partners thinking outside of your pet stand sites.  Over time, some of the buckets will turn into new stand locations as folks spend time on them and discover that they produce.  This will spread out your activity and reduce the pressure on the deer.

The other thing it does for me is that if I find cigarette butts, a snuff can, etc. nearby.  I know I'm being poached.  For some reason, black buckets seem to be poacher magnets.  I had one such site next to a tree that I'd made, that attracted a poacher last season.  I slipped in on him and didn't catch him, but  I made him drop a lot of his gear running out.  I do somewhat the same thing for turkey, and sure enough I caught two poachers this Spring, sitting in one of my skeleton turkey blinds that I had prepared back in 2002.

Oh!  This is somewhat off the subject, but it relates to the black bucket thing.  Back in 2001  I put up a feeder using a black plastic bucket with a hole in the bottom, and a broomstick with a nail through it. I stopped using it after the first season, but I kept the crude feeder in the tree.  Sure enough-- it's a poacher magnet.  Put up a few of these around your property, close to the edges and in the worst possible spots. Don't fill them; just leave them in the tree.  They work like flypaper on poachers.  Poachers will post a stand next to these and spend all their time waiting for the game coming to the feeder and leave your good spots alone.  One guy even went as far as putting orange streamers every 10 feet from the property line to the unused feeder so he could find it in the dark.  All I had to do was call the CO and tell him to follow the streamers.
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thedarkknight
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby thedarkknight » Sat Nov 01, 2008 4:58 am

Thanks for the input guys.  We have around 20 members with of course like half of them who never even show during the season or just show once.  I will never hunt the same stand twice, I follow the 24 rest rule and for the most part our other members do as well. 

Now heres the real question.  I saw you said that if your bumping does from your stand sites the games over.  Now with our property we keep driving to a minimum(no 4wheelers).  Basically we all have a half mile walk to our stands from our designated parking sites.  So granted I bump at least one doe/deer coming to or walking out a dusk.  Theres just no way I can help that in all honesty. 

What I find as the season progresses is that the deer seem to know "where" our stands our.  And they begin to pattern their movements away from these areas(usually in the thickest of thick 15 year old newly planted clear cuts).   Now the big boys the damn old ghosts of our property which I know we have from trail camera pictures....we may catch a glimpse of them earlier in the season just before the peak of the rut or no daylight sighting at all.  Really they are ghosts, in my opinion the buck that stays nocturnal from day one of the season or goes nocturnal as soon as he hears the first gun shot of the season....cannot be killed.

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DeerCamp
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby DeerCamp » Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:02 am

I wouldnt say to much. If you really only have 6 hunters. thats over 330 acers to themselfs.  I would try to limit them to there "only" area's of the woods. That way you wouldnt have to worry about your spot. I really dont think that it would be a big problem with pressure. That's my take.
 
Do you have any trail cam pics? If so, are a lot of them at night? If they are maybe the bucks feel like there is to much hunting pressure..
"If I pull the hammer and shoot this young buck, he's dead. But if I pass on him, the next hunter might not shoot so straight."

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shaman
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby shaman » Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:36 am

I hear what you're saying about the does patterning your habits.
 I bet they also know that you're only there on weekends. They probably also know what finger you pick your nose with.  I've had does get me patterned and actually follow me around, or bust me 500 yards from my stand and then come back to check if I'm in my stand. 

A buddy of mine had a doe that had him patterned. She would always come in staring at him.  He put a second stand 10 feet lower in the tree and he said she was completely fooled until the hammer dropped on his muzzleloader. He said she had the strangest look of surprise on her face.

Mix it up more and be unpredictable-- More stand sites the better.  Put up two stands near each other. One to set the pattern and another to break it.  Play this patterning thing to your advantage.  Once you feel you've played out an area, switch to another.  Save some prime stands in their refuges for the rut.

Now that I'm not bow hunting(bad shoulder), I get to rest my stands. September is out.  I hunt two weekends in the middle of October, let it rest for two weekends and then do my major harvesting in the rifle season in November. 
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Gafrage
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby Gafrage » Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:42 am

What I meant by the "games over" is if you are in the stand, and they catch your scent, or bust you because you move at the wrong time, or call and they are too close or whatever the case may be.  Not necessarily going to and from your stand site.  They have short memory on that, at least from what I've experienced.  Granted people aren't taking potshots at them as they run away.  It doesn't sound like your land is that pressured.  Just have patience and do what you can to eliminate your human odors and I'm sure you'll have success, and lots of it.

thedarkknight
 
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RE: Classify my hunting pressure

Postby thedarkknight » Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:51 am

Yes for over 30 years now our club has been 90% weekend only hunter presence in the woods.  However, this year I have requested my 2 days off a week to be during the week i.e. drive up monday night after work, hunt all day tuesday and wednesday and get in a few hours on stand thursday morning before I have to drive back in time for work.  I am excited to notice so far that my deer sighting and so far have been higher than when I only hunted weekends when there were a half dozen or more hunters in the woods as well.  For example this past wednesday evening I did not even get to my stand.  I saw 10 deer from still hunting the damn loggin road to my stand that evening.  The damn things were practically having a field day or something.  One of those deer was a doe who I walked up as she was walking down the road directly towards me.  We noticed each other around the same time.  But she only high stepped me as I slowly wrapped my arm through my gunsling to steady a free handed shot at 50 yards.  As soon as the cross hairs centered on her chest I let her have it.  She weighed 125lbs, it truly was a incredible hunt.

And yes those pictures are at night.  For example we have a VERY impressive perfect 12 point on a few pictures taken in august, all of which are at night.  Add to that we do not have a single bowhunter in our club so bowhunting pressure is zip. 

We do have alloted areas for each of our members so our overall presence is spread out across our 2000 acres.  However, as you may guess we have many pockets of unhunted land or aka sanctuarys. 

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