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Path of Least Resistance

Bowhunter57

Senior Member
3,316
107
Allen County
In past years, I've gone through the wooded area that I hunt for deer and have cleared out their trails. By this I mean, using a weedeater and a leaf blower to clear out weeds/grass/briars and generally widening the existing path/trail. I use a chainsaw for any large branches and/or trees that have fallen across the path/trail. I've seen an increase of deer traffic on these trails, after clearing and widening them.

Understandably, the deer are wild animals and will go where ever they want. However, it seems that I've "influenced" their line of travel, by clearing the way. :unsure:

Has anyone else done this or used this method to direct the deer into or through an area?

Bowhunter57
 
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Sgt Fury

Sgt. Spellchecker
Yup, in thick areas, I’ll use a set of loppers and trim back the vegetation to make it easier for them. I’ve noticed at times when a tree falls across a deer trail, they sometimes will use a different trail altogether instead of just going around the deadfall. Once they get used to the new trail, the other becomes less traveled. When that happens, I’ll block the other trail to make them use the one that I want them to use again.
 

jagermeister

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Supporting Member
16,501
166
Ohio
Does and fawns, even immature bucks, sure. But more often than not a mature buck isn’t gonna take your nice wide manicured trail. He may even avoid the area, knowing there’s been a disturbance. Depends how recent it was done I guess. I try not to trim shooting lanes at a new set if I can help it, for this reason.
 

Wildlife

Member
Supporting Member
2,680
120
USA
Been doing it for years and I've documented some of it within my hunt journals that past few years. I attached two examples listed below during this year's deer season, which I explained why I do it.

I have learned long ago while working within the woods over the years during the hunting seasons, things like brush clearing and/or wood work, the wildlife in the area generally do not seem to mind too much or appear not to be bothered horribly while I'm actually working. In fact, I have encountered many deer while doing that kind of work in the woods, so I consider it a different style of scouting for me as well.

I clear our streams and creeks from log jams every year, typically in the fall when the they dry up the most, which is crucial for a few reasons, but also to maintain regular deer movement near our home. The creeks and streams are highways for the deer.

I also maintain a 6' mowed path right along our entire alfalfa/wooded field. Not so much for the deer sake, even though they use it regularly, but for me mainly, to help minimize any contact with weeds and/or brush, to help minimize leaving behind any of my scent while entering into the woods.

I'd like to also share, while approaching some, but not all, of my yearly hang-on setups, I will take a path that is not less resistant, one that is typically very congested with heavy shrubs, to help conceal me as I approach, however I will also clear the ground of any small tree limbs and/or leaves to help minimize noise as I make my way to those setups, which are typically near or right above some heavy duty deer paths/runs. I have also discovered by doing that, deer are less likely to track me to my tree that come into the area,

I agree with jagermeister also, mature bucks, from my experience, stay and/or travel within thicker cover areas most of the time for good reason. IMO, that is why they are mature, obviously a smart thing for them to do.

And finally, I still attempt to place certain setups with the thought in mind to out trick those older, smarter mature bucks, which is why I love to hunt them the most.

Wildlife 2020/2021 Deer Season

Wildlife 2020/2021 Deer Season

 
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Sgt Fury

Sgt. Spellchecker
Does and fawns, even immature bucks, sure. But more often than not a mature buck isn’t gonna take your nice wide manicured trail. He may even avoid the area, knowing there’s been a disturbance. Depends how recent it was done I guess. I try not to trim shooting lanes at a new set if I can help it, for this reason.
I do all of my scouting and trimming after the season...February and March. No bugs and you can see everything (rubs, scrapes and signs of other hunters) with no leaves on the vegetation.
 

CJD3

Dignitary Member
Supporting Member
13,053
155
NE Ohio
The first half of my hunting life, I chased the deer.

One year after a final missed shooting opportunity, I had enough. Now I make them "come to me". I chose the best ambush and funnel sights and set up stands factoring in the prevailing winds of NE OH and the lake. A little clearing and improving the deer trails here and there. Dropping trees or moving logged off treetops to obstruct runs there... Those 3 stands have had to be moved in 20 some years.

As Jessie says above, "Deer are generally lazy". I made new trails too. The deer use my 4 wheeler trails as much as I do. lol
 

Jackalope

Dignitary Member
Staff member
33,464
201
I hunted a place once that was no bigger than a 10 acre patch of woods and really thick. It had a tractor path going right through the middle. The old man that owned it would mow it a couple times a summer and always right at the beginning of fall. There was always deer in those woods and the path was tore up with rubs and scrapes. He sold it and the new owner let me hunt it. The new owner didn't mow the path and within two years you couldn't buy a deer in those woods.
 

Bowhunter57

Senior Member
3,316
107
Allen County
In my area, I've noticed that the mature bucks will parallel the cleared paths and cross them, but won't actually walk on the paths for more than a few yards. During the dry crunchy times in the fall during the hunting season, is when I'll use the leaf blower to clear off the leaves. Typically, I'll clear the path a good 4' wide and the deer instantly start using the cleared paths. Apparently, they don't like the crunchy leaves either. :unsure: Any deer that don't follow the cleared paths are easily heard at a distance.

Bowhunter57
 
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CJD3

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NE Ohio
Good point. Every mature buck I saw this year was doing that.

"mature bucks will parallel the cleared paths and cross them, but won't actually walk on the paths for more than a few yards."
 
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Fletch

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
4,507
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I'm always trimming paths... Deer love thick areas within reason.... As said earlier deer take the path of least resistance... Like Joe said they love using old logging roads for making scrapes and rubs....
 
Several of the stands we have up rely on certain trails that go past. Those trails have to stay open or the stands are essentially worthless so I check them after season and at least once during the summer and clear anything that might block their way. Early September is when I usually complete a final walk through on those sets to make sure nothing new had fallen. Two of my best sets were affected a couple years in a row due to lack of maintenance and I didn't know what was going on.

The Corner stand (by far one of my best for a S, SW wind) faces a long stretch of cover that funnels them right out in front. The W side is a line fence and the E side is the crop field. It is thick in there and deer often bed in it, especially does. That is what makes it so good as bucks will cruise by where the stand is scent checking OR they march right down the middle of it heading N or S. That path got chocked full of brush and new deadfalls that the deer stopped using it with the exception of a small new path they made just out of bow range. Couldn't figure out why I wasn't seeing much other than E/W movement and that was the reason. The following year after it was cleared out it was golden again. Briars are now the big culprit to blocking that path so I plan to get more aggressive with clearing it this summer. Usually takes a couple hours of work and it's perfect again.

The Gar Hole has been fine tuned a few times with stand placement and I think I have it right this time. However the E/W main trail that is on the S end of a big thick bedding area got blocked one year by a deadfall. Where I had a stand that year they normally would pass by at 8 yards but this particular year they were going through up another 30 yards or so randomly walking through, no real trail up there even after investigating. Sure enough that deadfall needed cut up and it was back to normal. That 8 yards was tough to sit still and not get caught turning your head to look down so that is why the stand location got moved. Now that trail goes past at 20 yards into the heart of that bedding with several other random trails converging within 25 yards.