Deer Tend to Find Themselves in Odd Places. But Why?
Whitetails are some of the most adaptive creatures to ever walk the earth. They learn how to make the best of whatever situation they find themselves in — and even thrive in it at times. They know how to survive.
Because of that, it isn’t uncommon to see deer frequent areas you might not expect them to inhabit. The photo above of a whitetail standing amongst some of our nation's fallen heroes is a prime example.
I’ve seen them in towns, school yards, parks, rock quarries, lake islands, brush piles, small woodlots, drainages, ditches and other oddball locations you wouldn’t really expect to see deer — especially big deer.
I’ve also seen deer in downtown Nashville, Atlanta and other major cities. Heck, I’ve watched a deer walk through the McDonald’s drive through. I reckon those two ladies were tired of the whole vegan scene. Nonetheless, you hear even more extreme stories of deer around homesteads, on subways, in stores and a host of other odd urban locations. Again, those are the most extreme examples. But deer had to put themselves in the vicinity of such places to be found in them. And it happens all too often for it to be complete coincidence.
So, what’s the message here?
Sure, part of the reason deer end up in these areas is due to habitat loss and encroachment. But I think it’s more than that. There is generally a common thread that runs through each of the places listed above. It’s called a lack of hunting pressure. Deer — and especially big deer — recognize this. Remember, deer are extremely adaptive. The know how to make the best of the cards they’re dealt. And a semi-urban setting with food and cover, or a country setting that hunters overlook, aren’t bad hands to play. Remember to check your state and local laws before hunting inside city limits or near municipal areas, though. Some urban areas allow bowhunting. Others allow no hunting (or shooting) of any kind. And always get permission from landowners.
Overall, this theory isn’t a new one. In heavily pressured areas, hunters are leaving the big hardwoods and other traditional hunting spots in force to seek out these areas that are completely overlooked by most whitetail enthusiasts.
Realtree.com contributor Dan Infalt has long held to this belief. He also believes it's a common reason that young kids and new hunters sometimes kill giant deer in areas that were already being hunted by other more experienced deer hunters. His theory — the kids or new hunters oftentimes get stuck in a spot by their "mentors" that won't interupt their own hunts. These stand locations are typically areas the experienced hunters never go, yet are still fairly close to where they hunt. And these big deer just happen to be in those places where the kids or inexperienced hunters plopped down? No. They're there because no one had previously been hunting them there. At least, that's Infalt's theory. And some of my past experiences support that thinking.
Keep this in mind as you conduct your post-season scouting and as we move into the pre-season this summer and fall. Think outside of the box and remember that whitetails are playing you by taking cover in these historically undesirable hideouts (to hunters). But you know what’s up. You know how to take advantage of it. And you shalt not be duped by deer that hide in plain sight ever again.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.