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Topic Archives => Hunting => Topic started by: Jerry Jeffer on March 13, 2008, 08:16:00 PM

Title: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jerry Jeffer on March 13, 2008, 08:16:00 PM
When scouting ridges, have you found that deer prefer a ridge running in a certain direction? North/South, East/West?  Or do you find they use a ridge depending on wind direction?  I have noticed in my travels that bucks are more active at one end of a ridge over the other end, ie. rubs etc.. I have also found that the sunny side of the ridge is used more in the evening and the shady side is used more during the day, or morning. I'm not saying this is standard, only what I have begun to observe. I would like to hear what others have observed, what you look for and may be even why you think they do what they do.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: gregg dudley on March 13, 2008, 09:18:00 PM
I rarely hunt the top of a ridge, but I love to hunt fingers that trail off of the top of a ridge.  I try to find a place where the finger changes the way it drops in elevation.  Sometimes it is what you would consider a saddle and sometimes it is just a place where the ridge drops off sharper than the normal slope.  Wherever this happens you usually find game trails that run across or perpendicular to the finger.  Usually, this equals a hotspot.  If you can find this scenario stretching out towards a neighboring creek bottom, go home and get the cooler filled with ice.  You are going to need it.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: BigRonHuntAlot on March 13, 2008, 09:25:00 PM
When I am scouting/Hunting I tend to look at the direction  of the tracks per time of day and known travel routes to dictate stand placement. Also Hunt All times available even if only for a half hour.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jerry Jeffer on March 14, 2008, 05:14:00 AM
Gregg, I like those spots too. I have had a lot of action on spots like that.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: John Scifres on March 14, 2008, 08:45:00 AM
Finger ridges that ease up into a saddle are some of my favorite places to hunt.  Especially in mature hardwoods (shedding oaks preferably) between feed and bedding.

Main ridges, I prefer to find a bench somewhere above the halfway point.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Terry Green on March 14, 2008, 11:25:00 AM
Good info....

I'll ad that although there may be a MAIN trail along the top...these are primarily used at night...and the day trails or off the side of the top on bothe sides...now far down usually depends on the topography.

I have seen many times where deer will CROSS a main ridge at either a low spot, or terrain change.

Also, if you have a terrain change on top running WITH the direction (like a thicket from a clear cut)  This can be a GREAT spot as animals will run just inside the thicket....if there's not a bonified  area where you can shoot into the thicket, then prune out a litte...but not too much.  Look for the trails inside the thicket for splits, connections, and lead outs that cross over.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: chuck172 on March 14, 2008, 11:30:00 AM
I hunt ridges. I prefer the southern side of a mt. It seems like the bucks love to bed down on the South  [sunny and warm}side, on the edge where they can see all over. When spooked out of their bed, they can move down a mt. fast. Jump boulders that would amaze you.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Arwin on March 14, 2008, 01:27:00 PM
I second the south facing slope for morning till noon. I also like setting up in funnels at the bottom of a ridge in the evening when the thermals go downhill. Sometimes a buck will use this as a staging area to intercept doe coming down for the evening.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: rg176bnc on March 14, 2008, 10:58:00 PM
The best ridge you will ever find has a bedding area on both ends!!!!!  During the rut that is.  Once it is done or before you need one w/ acorns on it or w/ a field on one end.   Regardless of direction it runs.  If deer followed their nose always all the KS deer would be in Texas come deer season.

If your in hill country the common ridge becomes harder to read.  If your in a flat area w/ only one it is much easier to understand how the deer use them.  I believe you are right on the shady side being better, especially in the early season.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: bowdude on March 14, 2008, 11:29:00 PM
My ridge experience for deer use location is more dependant on the cover however it is laid out on the ridges.  Not so much the top, side or bottom.  But where the cover is along with the food source.  The ridge just happens to be there in my opinion.  But then how severe of a ridge are we talking here?
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: ChuckC on March 15, 2008, 12:32:00 AM
Ridges come in many sizes and shapes.  When a ridge is a small hight change in a marshy or swampy area, I believe it can be a great funnel.

If the ridge is a knife point, more or less, it may be traveled but as above, maybe mainly at dark hours.  If the ridge is a broad top with heavy nut crop and mast on the ground, the whole thing may be used any time of day.

In the summer, I am assuming the shaded side, just below the top is a good bedding area as it is cooler and allows the best protection (sight, smell, non-ease of approach) while in the winter the sunny slope is much preferred as a bedding site.   Well, at least up north here.

Ridges can be weird because of wind patterns and eddies.

Animals are, however  like us.  We TEND to walk on the sidewalk between points A and B.  Some will walk on the grass, but most do not.  If there is a terrain feature that steers them, it TENDS to be the place they will go.

I used to look at a map of farms in Illinois, river bottom country up arouns Peoria and north and be able to show you where main trails will be.  

Just look at the ridges, see where the "fingers" come off the ridges and follow them down.  If you can find a place where several "fingers" from several ridges sort of come together, or provide a "connection" of sorts between the ridges, it is almost guaranteed that there will be a well used trail on each.  Watch that wind !

ChuckC
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Bonebuster on March 15, 2008, 08:23:00 AM
Those ridges never give up all their secrets at one time. After years of hunting productive areas, there is always something new to learn.

I also agree with ChuckC on the wind and how it reacts when it hits the sides of those ridges. Funky wind currents leave me shaking my head sometimes.

One thing for sure, when you find a ridge with big buck sign, it will almost always contain big buck sign.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: George D. Stout on March 15, 2008, 10:45:00 AM
I live in an area made up of ridges.  The patterns can change radically from month to month as the seasonal winds, etc., change.  However, there are pockets that stay pretty much the same year around.  Right now is the time to be scouting to look for last year's patterns.  At least up here in the Northeast.  There is no foliage yet and the land can tell you lots of stories.  

Thursday morning I found a rub line right on the top of a ridge.  It was coming down the ridge to the valley so was probably a late evening trail.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: SteveMcD on March 15, 2008, 11:18:00 AM
"Those ridges never give up all their secrets at one time."
 
How true! Ridges and deer pattens need to be studied and observed over time. The seasons, the years and available mast crop. Coolness in hot weather and warmth in winter. Deer are like us in a way, they will travel paths of least resistance, funnels and saddles, especially saddles connecting two ridges together. As always prevailing winds are important. And so are Thermal currents, deer use these thermals to their advantage to identfy scents rising from below in the morning and descending in the evening.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Dick4bows on March 15, 2008, 12:10:00 PM
I ownn land south of Peoria Ill. My land has a valley 100ft deep and 200 yards across.  It is one of the most difficult pieces of land to hunt effectively.  Lots of ridges and 2 creeks in the bottom.  I have found the deer will have a trail 1/3 of the way from the top.  They will use the fingers as others have stated.  The main problem is the wind!  Ridges make the light winds swirl.  I stay on the tops and hunt between the food plots and bedding areas as usual.  In a stronger directional wind, I hunt the fingers.  In a heavy wind, I hunt the bottoms.  I have found that this system is not without flaws!  The deer on my property will travel up and down the most steep slopes on the property.  Heavy cover does make a difference.  Last year I cut trails through the bottom thick areas.  The deer have started using those trails. Trails through heavy cover will dictate where the deer will be on the ridges.  Providing the trail leads where they want to go!  Dick
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jerry Jeffer on March 15, 2008, 02:07:00 PM
Appreciating all the in put gang. I have been hunting quite a few years my self , and agree with most all that has been said. I find that putting out questions like these stir up some things that I may never have thought of or noticed before. Also, I saw some one mention that they would like to see more threads about hunting tactics etc.. I hunt up on the Appalachian mountains and have lots of  terrain characteristics to work with. Yes these topographical changes make the wind do some crazy stuff. I hunt the fingers and ridges, slopes, swamps, oak flats...  Some times I look at small detail, like how a finger comes off a ridge. I also hunt bigger features, like slopes that join two mountain tops. I love the big woods and the opportunities seem endless. My hunting partner and I have been talking about how we need to tighten up our hunting spots lately. We have been used to the deer doing the usual things, and this past year, that didn't work for us. We hunt the ground and have been finding that even moving 50 yards over or less can make a huge difference in what you see. Keep it coming. Enjoying the info.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: bentpole on March 15, 2008, 07:41:00 PM
Great Thread Jerry.I'm glad you thought of it.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: 2-BIG on March 15, 2008, 07:59:00 PM
There is a book that I heard is great for information on hunting terrain with ridges, bowls, etc.... but I can't remember the name of it. It was reccomended to me and I would like to get my hands on it, it's something about Mapping whitetails or something. I have always lived in and hunted in flat, farming terrain here in mid-Michigan.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: 2-BIG on March 15, 2008, 08:10:00 PM
I just found the book online. It's called "Mapping Trophy Whitetails".
Author Brad Herndon teaches you how to use topographical maps and wind direction to pinpoint deer travel routes and to place your stands.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jacobm on March 15, 2008, 08:33:00 PM
You won't be disappointed with Mr. Herdon's book.  I hunt the same general are he does and found it useful.  Just like any other book, you have to sort through what is applicable to your situation.  He does provide good food for thought.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jacobm on March 17, 2008, 05:27:00 AM
Great thread Jerry.  In hunting ridges, the little things mean a lot.  The earlier comment about thinking of the wind as a stream is right on.  I've spent many hours on stand envisioning that.  I believe ridges are one of the hardest areas to learn how to hunt.  They never give up all their secrets.  After my 2nd year of hunting ridges I wrote my usual end of year notes.  Top on the list was "Hunt high until you lean the wind!"  Early on I found more sucess hunting high and not letting the deer know I was there.  As I learned, I started to venture down.  We have stands set on sides and bottoms that may not be hunted all year if the wind isn't just right.  But when it's right, the odds are good.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Can Hahaka on March 17, 2008, 01:05:00 PM
I hunt an area in what is called the Kettle Moraine - a glaciated area of many ridges and valleys. I find that the main trails are on the ridges. I also find that the wind is never constant in these changing elevations. Anyone else have this problem?
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Matt Fowler on March 17, 2008, 02:32:00 PM
Hey,great topic. I've recently started hunting a nice ridge in my area. It's kinda narrow and a couple guys are already hunting the top. I would like to hunt the draws coming up from the bottom but am not sure what's the best way to go about it. I would like to post a topo and get some opinions from you guys ifin ya don't mind. I hope this works, I'll add some detail if the pic comes up.

 (http://i98.photobucket.com/albums/l249/MF_2006/broadridge-1.jpg)
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Matt Fowler on March 17, 2008, 02:45:00 PM
Hey, it worked! This ridge runs staight n-s. the red area on the west side is a fenced regeneration study area, on the east side is an old clearcut, probably 25 years old. The cut is broken up nicely with skidder trails but there is not a lot of sign in there. The guys hunting the top go below the cut out onto the point but stay up high. I want to hunt the draws on the west side, especially the one in the middle. I'm thinkin' about putting a camera somewhere. What do ya think? Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Jerry Jeffer on March 17, 2008, 05:04:00 PM
That is looking pretty steep Matt. I like that draw on the left and the ledges along the left of the more rounded finger on the left. Hard to say from just the map though.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: JDinPA on March 17, 2008, 07:36:00 PM
Quote
Originally posted by 2-BIG:
I just found the book online. It's called "Mapping Trophy Whitetails".
Author Brad Herndon teaches you how to use topographical maps and wind direction to pinpoint deer travel routes and to place your stands.
I read this book before Christmas.  I'm currently re-reading it because I liked it so much.
I don't know whether I agree with all his thoughts on wind, but it's a good terrain book.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: JDinPA on March 17, 2008, 07:40:00 PM
Matt,
Is this all woods or is there a field nearby?
What is the usual wind direction?
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Matt Fowler on March 18, 2008, 09:05:00 AM
JD, wind is generally from the south and west but can get swirly when the sun is high. All woods except for the old cut on top. Also, the top is mostly red oaks and laurel.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Matt Fowler on March 19, 2008, 08:02:00 AM
up top one time.
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Terry Green on March 20, 2008, 09:08:00 PM
Good Thread!
Title: Re: Hunting ridges and how deer use them.
Post by: Matt Fowler on March 21, 2008, 09:20:00 AM
Jerry, There is a good trail along that egde. I'm thinkin' the steepness would force deer to use the draws to get up and down.