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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so I did not see a single deer today. I have been laying some apples and corn out in one of my spots that I have always seemed to get a lot of trail cam pics of deer at. I had it out for about 2 weeks and got 600 plus pics, about 400 being deer. Many different does and the same 2 bucks. I don't want to use the bait to lure them in to get a shot, I am using it to get some pictures of what is out there. My bait has been completely gone since Dec 22nd. I left my cam there from the 23rd till today (which is when i hunted this spot). I didn't see a single deer all day. I figure, it happens. No big deal, just wasn't my day. I get home and look at my trail cam pics from the past 10 days and have MAYBE 5 deer... a couple days with absolutely nothing.. So now I'm thinking, if they arent passing through this area when I dont have bait down, is this a spot I really want to hunt? I dont want to have to lay bait to see deer. I want to scout and get to a place where they are naturally walking through. It doesn't seem like that is going to happen this winter bow season though.. any advice?

I think I need to do some better scouting over the summer in preparation for fall bow. I am a first year hunter so any advice is appreciated.. I've been told over the winter bow season to definitely use bait but I would much rather hunt without bait. Just my bow and climber.

Thanks in advance! Happy New Year, and best of luck to you all.
 

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You can't really scout with a bait pile if you don't plan on hunting the pile. You're just altering their normal pattern when the bait is there so when it's gone there is no reason for them to come back. Best and easiest tip to find deer for winter bow is wait a day or two after a snowfall and see where the majority of the trails come out of the bedding area. Hunt downwind of those trails in the afternoon and they should come out before dark to search for food.

This time of year food is scarce and spread out but the bedding areas aren't and as the seasons get later the does yard up into bigger and bigger groups. That's the diff, early season the good food sources are usually a smaller area the deer go to, so we hunt closer to the food then. Without bait in the winter you have to narrow them down and finding the bedding areas will do that.
 

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I want to scout and get to a place where they are naturally walking through. It doesn't seem like that is going to happen this winter bow season though.. any advice?
Sure it can happen this year. Get out and scout and look for heavy trails and food. Especially after it snows this week to get an idea of travel patterns.

Most likely it will be in and around the heavy cover. You HAVE to be hunting in and around heavy cover this time of year. Almost no exceptions to that rule.
 

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I don't use bait either you just have to scout and find where they are bedding and find where they are going for food and water. This time of year water is freezing and it is getting harder for deer to get water. Check tire ruts on roads and natural areas that hold water. If you see a area with tracks around a frozen water. Break the ice and make it availed to the deer and set up off of the water soon they will find it and then you will have your deer. Just be sure to take the wind into consideration on setting up your stand versus where they are coming in at. I have a tire rut from a atv that is getting killed by the does and a few young bucks because it is holding water. Kids down the street keep hitting it and keeping it open. Water looks like a muddy mess but the deer don't care.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You can't really scout with a bait pile if you don't plan on hunting the pile. You're just altering their normal pattern when the bait is there so when it's gone there is no reason for them to come back. Best and easiest tip to find deer for winter bow is wait a day or two after a snowfall and see where the majority of the trails come out of the bedding area. Hunt downwind of those trails in the afternoon and they should come out before dark to search for food.
Makes sense.. thank you. Some better planning/scouting is definitely needed on my part.
 

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What zone in sj? I'd say bait for winter bow and hunt 2-300yds down the trail from where you have the bait.this time of year, the bucks are hingry but if your in the pines, they won't come to the bait till after dark because of the pressure so your best bet is to bait at least once a week, stay out of the area except to bait and watch the cam. If you let your bait run out for a week or so, they will move to the next nearby baitpile. You need to keep bait in the woods steady but not too much this time of year. If your after does, chances are you can catch them on the bait in daylight in winter bow but if your after a nice buck, you need to keep bait but hunt between the bait and bedding area without spooking deer right now. Hunting the pines is tough and even tho I don't like to bait, right now its so hard to pattern them because food source is hard to find, baiting is the best method
 

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You hunted one day of winter bow and didn't see a deer and your already complaining about it? Don't be so down on your self it's only the first day and the first hunt. I no your new to hunting but don't expect to see deer every time you go out. It wouldn't be hunting I you went out every single time and saw and killed deer with zero challenges. There have been quite a few winter bow threads with new guys asking the same questions so I would do a search and check them out because they all have basically the same tips. That's fine that you don't want to bait so with that said you have to focus on a food source or a travel route. Scout after this snow storm and you will certainly see where the deer in your area are moving and feeding. Focus on those areas and think like a deer. It's January, you have been hunted since September and its cold as shit out. Are you gonna be in the open woods or the thickest shit possible to stay warm and out of the wind? Deer this time of year are looking for cover and protection. Focus on those areas and think THICK. That's where you will find deer and movement. Don't expect to see a deer on every hunt. It's winter bow and it's a tough season to hunt. Be happy to even get a glimpse of a deer and forget the morning hunts. It's to cold and most movement will be in the evenings. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't use bait either you just have to scout and find where they are bedding and find where they are going for food and water. This time of year water is freezing and it is getting harder for deer to get water. Check tire ruts on roads and natural areas that hold water. If you see a area with tracks around a frozen water. Break the ice and make it availed to the deer and set up off of the water soon they will find it and then you will have your deer. Just be sure to take the wind into consideration on setting up your stand versus where they are coming in at. I have a tire rut from a atv that is getting killed by the does and a few young bucks because it is holding water. Kids down the street keep hitting it and keeping it open. Water looks like a muddy mess but the deer don't care.
I'm going to get on google maps again and take all of this into consideration.

Sure it can happen this year. Get out and scout and look for heavy trails and food. Especially after it snows this week to get an idea of travel patterns.

Most likely it will be in and around the heavy cover. You HAVE to be hunting in and around heavy cover this time of year. Almost no exceptions to that rule.
Unfortunately after this heavy snowfall we are suppose to get, I'm going to Colorado for a week.. Hopefully I have a chance to try this when I return!
 

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You can't really scout with a bait pile if you don't plan on hunting the pile. You're just altering their normal pattern when the bait is there so when it's gone there is no reason for them to come back. Best and easiest tip to find deer for winter bow is wait a day or two after a snowfall and see where the majority of the trails come out of the bedding area. Hunt downwind of those trails in the afternoon and they should come out before dark to search for food.​
Sure it can happen this year. Get out and scout and look for heavy trails and food. Especially after it snows this week to get an idea of travel patterns.

Most likely it will be in and around the heavy cover. You HAVE to be hunting in and around heavy cover this time of year. Almost no exceptions to that rule.
What these guys said. If you follow this advice, you won't need to bait and your success will grow
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You hunted one day of winter bow and didn't see a deer and your already complaining about it? Don't be so down on your self it's only the first day and the first hunt. I no your new to hunting but don't expect to see deer every time you go out. It wouldn't be hunting I you went out every single time and saw and killed deer with zero challenges. There have been quite a few winter bow threads with new guys asking the same questions so I would do a search and check them out because they all have basically the same tips. That's fine that you don't want to bait so with that said you have to focus on a food source or a travel route. Scout after this snow storm and you will certainly see where the deer in your area are moving and feeding. Focus on those areas and think like a deer. It's January, you have been hunted since September and its cold as shit out. Are you gonna be in the open woods or the thickest shit possible to stay warm and out of the wind? Deer this time of year are looking for cover and protection. Focus on those areas and think THICK. That's where you will find deer and movement. Don't expect to see a deer on every hunt. It's winter bow and it's a tough season to hunt. Be happy to even get a glimpse of a deer and forget the morning hunts. It's to cold and most movement will be in the evenings. Good luck.
I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining about it. I'm happy every day I get to go out and hunt whether i see deer or not. I meant for the primary discussion to be patterning the deer. Thank you for your advice though. I do appreciate it. I'm here to absorb as much info as I can.
 

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Deermaster is right on, this time of year they don't feel safe in open fields and open oaks like they do with all the leaves on the trees and minimal hunting pressure of the fall. They feel safe in swamps, laurels, thick crap and will go into the oaks to feed on any remaining acorns at night. Go out friday after the snow and start walking, look for heavy trails in the snow in thick cover, mark the trails and pick out a tree downwind. Don't jump on a spot where you see a set of tracks, wait till you find an area with a bunch of tracks and an intersection but still able to bowhunt in the thick crap. Pick a tree, hang a set and give it a few days to cool off and hunt it if the wind is right. Chances are, if you have that many tracks and are in thicker woods, that a deer will show in daylight. Good luck, winterbow is the hardest time to kill a deer personally unless you get a good snow and can find where they are staging before dark to hit the food source
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What zone in sj? I'd say bait for winter bow and hunt 2-300yds down the trail from where you have the bait.this time of year, the bucks are hingry but if your in the pines, they won't come to the bait till after dark because of the pressure so your best bet is to bait at least once a week, stay out of the area except to bait and watch the cam. If you let your bait run out for a week or so, they will move to the next nearby baitpile. You need to keep bait in the woods steady but not too much this time of year. If your after does, chances are you can catch them on the bait in daylight in winter bow but if your after a nice buck, you need to keep bait but hunt between the bait and bedding area without spooking deer right now. Hunting the pines is tough and even tho I don't like to bait, right now its so hard to pattern them because food source is hard to find, baiting is the best method
I'm just looking for meat in the freezer right now so I'm happy with does. That makes sense. Thank you for the advice! I was in z23 today. The bag limit is one 1 of either sex so I have a couple other zones I hunt.
 
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