What do deer tracks tell you? - Deer Hunting Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-21-2008, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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What do deer tracks tell you?

There's a fair amount to consider when you stumble upon tracks in the field. Knowing what the tracks can tell you before you find them is key to benefiting from the chance discovery.

Check the gait - a buck's tracks will be less organized, showing a prominent outward kick. Does and younger animals will leave tracks that go in a straight line.

What's the drag - small deer lift their hooves more completely on soft terrain, heavier deer, and bucks in particular, tend to drag their hooves, leaving clefts in the ground between tracks.

Size matters - bigger deer have bigger feet, and though size isn't the most reliable indicator, one set of exceptionally large tracks among a myriad of smaller tracks is a sure sign that a big buck is around.

How old is it - it's hard to tell how old tracks are in the field, but with a little experience, you will learn the difference between sharply-defined new tracks and their less-impressive older cousins.

How many sets - the big bucks like to run on their own, so when there's a single set of large tracks on their own, you're probably on to a winner.

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-21-2008, 08:39 PM
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Here's another tip on deer "tracks": when bucks pee, they often just keep walking and pretty much pee a squiggly line all over the place. The girls squat and pee a neat little hole. This is especially noticeable in snow.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-21-2008, 10:38 PM
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I don't know about the straight line thing but there is a difference in the tracks. A doe will step in her own track and a buck won't. Not while walking in a normal gate. I think the same is true in other 4 legged animals like horses and cows, not sure, but its true with deer.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 06:56 AM
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Also - a doe's hoof print will look more "pretty" like kind-of a heart shape, and the tips of the hooves will not be spread out real far......whereas a large/old buck's tips will spread apart and if you were to put your index finger and your middle finger into his track you would make a peace sign.........Thought of another - an old buck's tips of his hooves will be worn down a bit and will not have the sharpe point like on does or young bucks, because of all those years of scraping the ground with them.

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Last edited by East Texas Droptine; 06-22-2008 at 07:01 AM.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 07:31 AM
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with snow pretty easy to tell which is which, like onehorse said doe's pee spot will be to the rear and centered. The buck will spray foward even if standing or walking. Also, a 200 lb doe makes a very big track and an old big doe makes an older looking track that can trick even the best trackers. I agree that young deer/does are pretty straight foward on their tracks pointed/small/straight. Without snow tracking deer is very difficult where deer denisity is high. I prefer to locate rubs & scrapes then find the back trails that bucks are using. About the only time I track deer is when a hit deer didn't go down and need to keep track of that one's track. Good topic!
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 09:10 AM
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huntingman where abots are you in pa? west? north? south? you can see the pateren. you don't have to say the town or anything if you don't want. lots of deerfers in pa.
post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 09:35 AM
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ronn I hunt between the towns of Clearfield and Dubois just south of I 80. Anderson Mountain. Deer denisity is still high but the last couple of years the DNR has given out a lot of doe permits resulting in lower populatiopn but a better buck/doe ratio. The area would be considered North central PA.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 10:00 AM
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i hunted once in pa back in 85. we were up around new milford. made my stomach hurt to see that many deer. just plain crazy to think there are places with those types of numbers having hunted nh for so long.
post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 01:33 PM
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ronn, things have changed a bit, I used to see 50 deer on first two days of rifle season, now 10-20 would be a good day. Archery can be tricky as you know, one day see 10-12 then go two days and not see a thing. On average during the rut I see 2-4 bucks/day in archery season. Not bad and quality is up. How about where you hunt?
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 03:11 PM
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for some reason I got boot off and had to relog in. I had this great big long thing written and now its all gone. stupid box.

Anyway, NH estimates the deer pop at about 80,000 deer on about 93,000 square miles. about 12,000 deer a year are taken in a good year by 60,000 hunters. this is why most hunters shoot the first legal deer they see. Still hunting is the best way to see the most deer but then the shots get a little more iffy. If you are stand hunting 10 deer a season is pretty good. Bucks travel miles and food sources are everywhere because we don't have the agriculture even VT has. So patterning deer is hard with different food sources coming in at different times and can change in a days notices. as you know from acorns, to beech nuts, to prows.

I recently drove to Va and I take 84 to Scranton and pick up 81 south. I saw a dead deer like every half mile and the whole state smelled like dead animals. lots of deer in pa from this states point of view.

so if buck/doe ratios are better, do you do any rattling?

Last edited by ronn; 06-22-2008 at 03:45 PM.
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