Eastern US Topography Deer Plans

One real challenge of a property with lots of elevation change is defeating the eyes of bedded deer as we approach evening stands.  Deer prefer to bed on the leeward side of this topography, meaning as we walk with our face into the wind, they are up above us on a bench looking down.  If they see us heading to a food plot or deer stand, they often slip back over the top of the ridge or avoid our hunting spot until well after dark.

Another challenge can be morning access.  If the deer are feeding atop the ridge, we can set up morning sits that have us at the bottom edge of bedded deer, or  somewhere on route to their bedding benches.  If the deer are feeding in the bottoms at night (rows crops/Ag) we need to get past them and into our stands.  Very difficult.


Compounding the whole situation is the thermal activity of our set.  In the evening the thermals blow up hill until about 40 minutes before dark when they swirl and then switch to a downhill pull.  Mornings are the opposite.  The deer know how this works and use these thermals both for cruising does (they can scent check both sides of the ridge from one trail on leeward side), and detecting danger in the evenings (staging off plots in low spots using sinking thermals to detect danger before entering).  Winds in the hills are advantage deer – which is why they hold giants.

Prevailing winds, thermal currents and the view afforded by changes in elevation can dictate where the local deer herd spends its time.  

Bucks using a bench on leeward side visually searching danger from below

Heavy topography can be a curse and a blessing, and it is one of the biggest challenges on these hill filled parcels.  The deers ability to work the topography with their eyes ears and nose gives them a real advantage if we are not considering the effects.  Hunt without a plan and they are going to figure you out.  The blessing is these areas hold some of the oldest bucks in the area because the sloppy hunter scores very few.

Topography is only one consideration we analyze when creating a property plan.  Topography aside, deer often seek out ‘edge’ features to satisfy their demand for back and side cover with a downwind view.   20 year timber harvest history of the area, lines of contiguous cover and local row crop influences weigh heavily.  Conversion of crop field to doe bedding is often a solid strategy, as it forces bucks out of the elevation that they use to their advantage.

Property designs with heavy topography often have us giving up a lot of the parcel because of the difficulty of access, while taking what the elevation gives to access daily activity.

If you need any help developing a comprehensive plan for your property, reach out to Shawn to find out what option may best fit your parcel.  We have been doing them since 2012 and have learned a few tricks to help make it work.