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Still Hunting Tip: Tracking Bucks Through Clear-Cuts

A Maine whitetail expert gives us advice on hunting deer the old-fashioned way--by tracking them.

You won’t find Jim Lepage sitting in a treestand, waiting for a deer to show up. A vice president at Orvis, Lepage, who has stalked whitetails for 40 years, hunts the old-fashioned way—by tracking a moving deer. Lepage hunts in the Allagash wilderness of northern Maine, where the deer are less pressured, but the general principles translate to any hunter who goes after deer in big forests.

Full Circle
A big buck that has figured something is on his trail will occasionally turn off to the side to try to spot the pursuer. “This happens a lot at clear-cuts,” Lepage says. “I could be moving north, and at the clear-cut the deer will move southwest to get downwind. Be ready for that move—and be ready to shoot.

Photo by Kevin Hand

On Track
To determine if a track is worth following, Lepage lays a .30/06 cartridge across the impression. If it’s a big deer, the cartridge will fit inside the track’s width. Stride length also helps determine size. Lepage prefers to track in snow, but he’ll also track in the rain, looking for overturned leaves.

 

The Shot
Lepage uses a .30/06 Remington 7600 pump with a 2X–9X scope. “The shots will be in really thick cover, probably no more than 75 yards,” he says. Since he won’t have the opportunity to find a good rest, he runs through five to eight boxes of ammo during preseason practice sessions, in which he concentrates on instinctive shooting. “You had better know your gun,” he says. “It all happens real fast.”

Comments (6)

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from Damon619 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

once it snows around here i love to stalk deer but until then the leaves make it way too noisy to do anything but sit

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from thuroy wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

This works great when I head to Northern Michigan and can hunt vast amounts of state land after a fresh snowfall. However, for the most part were I hunt is all private and it wouldn't take long to leave a property that is even 3-4 hundred acres in size. It is just fun to have a variet of ways to hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

This style of tracking bucks is the norm in my parts.With deer densities so low if you cut fresh buck tracks you follow them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from salmonquest wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm really going to try this year. I hunt in the U.P. and our deer densities are low. I have a good spot to sit but I think the 2nd day I will be walking around if conditions are right.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from albertahunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Excellent info. A bit of snow makes the deer much more visible and with the rut approaching the bucks start moving around. I like hunt the ridge tops, looking down onto trails and clearcuts moving slow and glassing. Grunting will stop bucks or bring them in for a shot but as stated it all happens real fast. My .06 Remington semi-auto gets the job done if I do my part. Too bad the season is so short. Good luck to all.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

yes like thuroy- i live in northern wisconsin and like to stalk deer after a decent snow i get into the tick areas and walk slow hunt 4-5 hours in and walk out in the dark sometimes its so much fun when you bust a good old deer tryn to sneak by you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Years ago when controlled fires and cows ran free,you could move thru the woods and now there's barbwire and thick brush.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Damon619 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

once it snows around here i love to stalk deer but until then the leaves make it way too noisy to do anything but sit

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from albertahunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Excellent info. A bit of snow makes the deer much more visible and with the rut approaching the bucks start moving around. I like hunt the ridge tops, looking down onto trails and clearcuts moving slow and glassing. Grunting will stop bucks or bring them in for a shot but as stated it all happens real fast. My .06 Remington semi-auto gets the job done if I do my part. Too bad the season is so short. Good luck to all.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

This style of tracking bucks is the norm in my parts.With deer densities so low if you cut fresh buck tracks you follow them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from thuroy wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

This works great when I head to Northern Michigan and can hunt vast amounts of state land after a fresh snowfall. However, for the most part were I hunt is all private and it wouldn't take long to leave a property that is even 3-4 hundred acres in size. It is just fun to have a variet of ways to hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

yes like thuroy- i live in northern wisconsin and like to stalk deer after a decent snow i get into the tick areas and walk slow hunt 4-5 hours in and walk out in the dark sometimes its so much fun when you bust a good old deer tryn to sneak by you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from salmonquest wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm really going to try this year. I hunt in the U.P. and our deer densities are low. I have a good spot to sit but I think the 2nd day I will be walking around if conditions are right.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Years ago when controlled fires and cows ran free,you could move thru the woods and now there's barbwire and thick brush.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment