Why Does it Seem That Nocturnal Deer are Getting Smarter?

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  1. Sooner or later someone will come across a deer sitting cross legged by a feeder with it’s spine straight up and it’s front legs relaxed and eyes closed all in perfect zen asking if their there for enlightenment.

  2. The first step of effective game hunting is to be smarter than your quarry. All too many hunters fail at this first insurmountable hurdle.

    • Nikita Tesla,

      I agree with your first step to effective game hunting.

      Unfortunately, hunting laws sometimes present a HUGE obstacle to success and no amount of knowledge will help in those situations.

      For example I have hunted in regions where state laws constrain hunters to shotguns only which, of course, vastly limit your range. In such regions it can be next to impossible to get within range of deer on some properties.

      • Well, uncommon, if you really are smarter than you quarry, then you’re not thinking like your quarry. How many weeks have you spent learning your quarry’s habits? There is no universal rule, but deer that I have hunted often have 5 to 7 different feeding patterns, alternating from one to the other each night. If you have really been observant for 8 weeks or longer, you know on any given day which route they are most likely to follow today. You don’t get close to the deer – instead, you get out where you need to be to greet them while they dine.

        A successful hunting day requires 20 to 60 days of good scouting, unless you’re relying on pure dumb luck.

        • successful deer hunting often requires sitting motionless for hours…a skill I already possessed…

        • Paul,

          Many (most?) of us do not have that much free time (20 to 60 days of scouting) for hunting white-tailed deer.

          It also gets interesting when you hunt a property where farm crops are significant/primary food sources–and the farmer harvests the crops mere days before your hunting season opens. (Ask me how I know.)

          For those of us hunting far less than perfect properties with extremely limited time for scouting, our best bet is to identify heavily used game trails and then set-up in a position where we can pick-off deer walking along those game trails–and then sit and wait.

      • Complaining about being limited to a shotgun is an excuse. Not a reason for a poor hunt. I’ve killed dozens of deer in my hunting life and only on 2 occasions were the shots beyond shotgun distances. Once with a 30-30 and the other with an M1 Carbine. The ability of the hunter plays a much larger role in the success or failure of a hunt. Than the caliber of the firearm.

        • Darkman,

          If a hunter has full access to 40+ acres of good mixed habitat where there are no homes in the surrounding area and there is minimal hunting pressure, it is absolutely possible (and typically easy) to get within range of white-tailed deer even with a shotgun.

          It is an entirely different kettle of fish if you only have access to a few acres of open field where several nearby homes (with their accompanying “safety zones”) surround your small area–and there is significant hunting pressure to boot.

        • Darkman,


          Perhaps the relevant question to ask is: just how much time and money is a reasonable person supposed to invest in developing their hunting skills? And another question to ask: is it wise to denigrate hunters who have not yet attained your super-Mega-awesome Nth degree Samurai Ninja Seal Mossad Spetsnaz hunting skills?

          I guess I will close with a simple thought for you. Would we tell someone who is in average physical condition that he/she could be a fine human specimen if he/she simply spent six hours every day in the gym on intense strength and cardio training–and anyone who fails that standard is just making excuses?

        • DM

          We, (dad and I,) got tired of the idiots packing modern arms out in the woods.

          Since he had hobby of building black powder Kentucky style smoke poles, going for the black powder season here really cut down the idiot factor, -for a while- anyway. Once hunting pressures got bad enough, (mostly for elk,) the idiot factor started creeping in again.

          The stuff he built was good for deer or elk to at least 100 yards out, no problem.

          He’s got a target (300 meter rifle) on the wall shot off hand, using a .54 cal flintlock at 85 yards. One hit in the 10 ring, two in the 9, two in the 8, and two in the 7. (Yeah, that is a big target at 85 yards, but remember OFF HAND and a >flintlock< to boot. Those that have fired a flintlock will understand the delay between pulling the trigger and -BANG-!)

          Using a bench rest greatly tightened up the grouping.

          Each gun he built was a work of art. Usually stained and polished tiger striped maple, wire inlays, hand cut and finished patch boxes and brass trim, hand finished lost wax cast locks, etc. I think his last used number was #103 and that was a flint pistol with the belt tang like you see in some of the 'pirate' movies..

          Kind of funny, but he got his paws on some chunks of wood being trimmed from a maple tree out on the San Juan Island that was planted around the time of the 'Pig War.' (That was an incident that almost restarted hostilities between the US and Britain back in 1859.)

          He turned that wood into a matched set of beautiful flint pistols.

          Black powder folks in the Northwest, (Oregon, Washington, Idaho,) knew of his works and were always pestering him to 'build them a rifle.' He did, for a few, but that quickly took away the 'hobby' aspect and that came to a screeching halt. He went back to his 'hobby speed' and was much happier.

        • Uncommon Sense. I spent very little $$$ and as far as time. It was a way to survive. The most expensive deer gun I ever bought up until a few years ago. Cost less than $300 used. That includes shotguns and rifles. Being a successful hunter isn’t about spending big $$$, investing an enormous amount of time or having Boo Coo land. It’s about thinking like your prey and understanding how they think. My greatest advantage came from the need to put food on the table, because of being poor. You learn fast or you starve and you don’t have $$$ to waste on fancy guns and ammo.

        • Stuck in Pugetopia,

          I have two break-action rifles chambered in .44 Magnum (yes, the handgun caliber) for my adult child and me to hunt white-tailed deer. For reasons that I cannot determine (and I have REALLY tried to determine), neither rifle ever shoots with consistency. Sometimes they shoot good groups, and sometimes they do not.

          I am out of time and patience for this hunting season: in desperation I busted out my muzzleloader that I have not shot nor hunted with in 10 years. I took it out Saturday and fired it. First shot (at 50 yards) hit EXACTLY where it was supposed to–where it was shooting 10 years ago–and zeroed for 100 yards. I also grabbed the newer version of that same model that I purchased as a backup muzzleloader about 5 years ago. I installed a scope that I had laying around, bore-sighted it, and pulled the trigger. After a few shots to sight it in, that thing is hitting with incredible accuracy as well.

          Any guesses whether my adult child and I are going out deer hunting with the inconsistent break-action .44 Magnum rifles or the tack-driver muzzleloaders?

  3. I am often surprised at how clever mature white-tailed deer become–especially bucks.

    It is common knowledge that mature bucks “go nocturnal” after the first day of the firearm deer season. That means they will simply hide ALL DAY during daylight hours and only come out in the dark.

    There are other facets to their cleverness that almost defy belief. I know experienced hunters who have watched (from a distance) mature bucks intentionally sit in place while a hunter passes by within a few yards. Those mature bucks seem to know that they have far better odds of survival if they sit still (and bank on the hunter not seeing them–a very good bet) rather than jumping up and bolting which guarantees that the hunter sees them and likely fires a shot. At other times hunters have watched mature bucks crawl away (a considerable distance at that) through tall grass/weeds when other hunters approach. Again, those bucks seem to know that stealth gives them much better odds of survival.

    In yet another case, I just learned about a mature buck that would sun himself in the middle of a huge field, keeping watch around the edges and making sure to walk away if a hunter tried to approach and get within range. (That was in a location that only allowed shotguns for hunting which had a very limited range.)

  4. I don’t even read the articles anymore, I’m just checking in on my shmartfone so I can see if I have plaque psoriasis… apparently it looks like animated Pinto beans growing out of various places on your body.
    Phew, still clear so far.
    ….sayonara till tomorrow fellas.

    • unicorn, I thought it was just me. Kinda reminds me of walking past the circus freak tents when I was a kid.

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    • Yea what the hell ate those beans people ate shaving off. I dunno but i consider myself lucky that i havent run across any. They do look kind of fun to shave off if you’re in to that kind of thing

  5. The smart animals survive and pass their genes to their offspring.

    A game species evolves more rapidly in a Darwinian Democracy.

    • And since our society has done its’ best effort to limit the fallout from making stupid decisions…

    • and they’ve adapted to us..realizing the closer they get the safer they are…when I was a kid shooting a deer locally was a big deal and a rare event…if you were serious about it…it involved a trip to the mountains to someone’s camp…now you need go no further than your back porch…

  6. Yes, whitetail in Iowa are slightly smarter than the average Obiden voter. Standing in the highway (or wait until car headlights are just past their concealment then dash out). Best if in a herd so at least one can tag the car.

    • Still waiting for someone to put headlights on a rifle round and slow the velocity to 55 mph. Then the deer will simply run in front of the bullet.

      • That might work. My old Buick has deer hits on both left and right sides where deer ran into me… Then they walked away.

        • Center punched a 8 pointer several years ago, in my old Oldsmobile 88. The car actually survived to be driven again. Deer unsalvagable.

  7. You want to shoot a deer? Pick a likely spot and sit still. It may be a while. Do it long enough a one will walk by. It may not be a trophy, but the vinison is just as sweet. Besides, I’ve got sixteen shoulder mounts on the wall. Boil the horns all day, they never get tender.

    • add to it…arrive a little late so that the other hunters have been sitting.. [and freezing?]..for awhile…do so noisily…sit down..light a cigarette…on occasion i’ve even read the paper…anything to drive them away from you in disgust..then get quiet, hunker down..and wait…often watching the same spot they just left…quite often you won’t have to wait long…shot a lot of deer looking back over their shoulder as they emerge from the same spot…

    • Gadsden Flag,

      I always laugh at the tree-huggers who spout-off that ambush hunting is unfair to the deer and that hunting is only fair if we stalk up to deer at close range.

      I tell those tree-huggers about real-world deer:
      — They see in the dark almost as well as we see on a cloudy day.
      — They have an enormous field of view.
      — Their hearing is at least 10 times more sensitive than ours.
      — Their sense of smell is at least 1,000 times more sensitive than ours.
      — They are ALWAYS on high alert.
      — They are frequently in herds with MULTIPLE deer on high alert.

      That last point is particularly troublesome for a hunter. On rare occasions a hunter may be able to beat all of those attributes in a single deer. Beating all of those attributes on multiple deer in a herd? Nope, at least one of them is likely to “bust” you long before you stalk up close to them.

      The end result: even a skilled hunter will rarely succeed in stalking up close to a deer.

      As you stated Gadsden Flag, the practical path to success is to identify a good hunting property, find a good spot on that property, and then just sit in that spot as still as possible for several hours–especially in conjunction with sunrise and/or sunset. Sooner or later, a deer will come by.

      • I always laugh at the tree-huggers who spout-off that ambush hunting is unfair to the tree-huggers as they try to escape the ambush.


  8. A bona-fide NYC ‘Good Samaritan’ just made a mistake he’ll never do again, firing a warning shot in the NYC subway system to stop an attack :

    “According to eyewitness accounts and security footage, John Rote, 43, drew a pistol and began firing shots after witnessing a man trying to steal a woman’s purse.

    The suspect in the attempted robbery, Matthew Roesch, 49, was also arrested.”


  9. Woman meeting her first Native American.
    ” Why all the feathers on your hat.”
    Each feather is number squaw I bred.
    “Oh dear”
    No not deer, run to fast,a$$hole to high.
    (apologies to any injuns out there)
    Ducks are flying and feeding more at night, they’ve wised up.

    • “Native” gals in the injun bar in Cass Lake come around pushing birch bark and other craft crap to the the great white hunters/fishermen. Usually has a “Made in China” sticker still on it…

      • Seems at least they could get their products from India.
        Made by an Indian.
        And from the way I read the history of man, the American Indian crossed the bearing strait and populated Asia, so technically wouldn’t made in china be made by indigenous peoples?
        Birch bark comes from Russia.

  10. …thousands of years of human hunters taking the dumb ones out of the gene pool, what did you expect?

  11. Not sure I believe the idea.

    I almost bagged three at one time night before last, they jumped across the road right in front of me.

  12. Try hunting without feeders, timers set for 9:30, ATVs, heated blinds, cameras etc and see success.

  13. The last time I went (centerfire rifle) deer-hunting here in Colorado, I was on site for the Crack O Dawn. It was like a scene from Hamburger Hill or Apocalypse Now… constant gunfire in all directions. Amazingly no one got hit (far as I know) and a couple of deer were carted off later… Insane. This state is so regulated (Colorado is more interested in selling out of state tags than to our own citizens) that I’ve lost patience… last time I went deer-hunting it was as an out of state guest in the Ozarks, where there are more deer than people.

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