Tracks and scat

In areas where deer regularly travel, deer scat and tracks are generally numerous. Unfortunately, they may also last a relatively long time. Being able to tell how fresh tracks and scat are is an important skill.

Fresh sign is huntable right away; old sign may be useful if you are planning to hunt the area in the future during the timeframe when the sign may have been made. In some instances, such as when the leaves or snow are actively falling, sign may be difficult to find. In that instance, almost any sign that is on top of the leaves or snow is fresh.

 

Resources

understanding Deer Tracks

Because of the complexity of reading deer sign, we're going to do a series of three articles. The first is "tracks," the second will be "rubs and scrapes," and the third, "deer droppings." The best "teachers" of all are our Native American brethren who have forgotten more about reading deer sign then any hunter will ever know.

Understanding Deer Droppings

Deer droppings are not usually thought of by hunters as providing much useful information--but they do. Typically, deer droppings will consist of small jelly bean-shaped droplets scattered about in little piles on trails. They vary in color from brown to black, depending on the forage that has been digested. Usually these droppings are the product of small- to average-sized deer.

Whitetail Deer: Sign Language

Scouting for whitetails is like piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle. You start with a clean slate of, say, 200 acres, you scout the area for deer sign and then you put it all together. "Breeding rubs," like the one this awesome 12-pointer (right) was captured making, are key clues. Tracks, beds, scat and scrapes provide other pieces to the puzzle. But before you can add all of these things together, you have to be able to interpret what each sign is telling you.

Deer Tracks

The size of a deer track can help you determine the size of the deer. As a deer grows, their feet will grow accordingly. Big mature bucks will leave big and deep tracks. In soft ground the dew claws will show on both bucks and does. Rounded tips on hoofs are a result of hoof wear usually due to rocky or other abrasive surfaces and has little to do with weather the deer is a buck or a doe.