We’ve got to marks the deer leave. Hoof marks and droppings. Some blokes try to complicate the reading of deer sign to minute analysis of the deer's activity when they left the marks. For me it was a bit simpler. Marks indicate that there were deer there and that there is every possibility that they will be there or thereabouts again. The abundance of marks gives a clue to the number of deer in the area. The more marks, the more deer. The fresher the marks, the higher likelihood the deer are closer. Because marks are so important in establishing chances of encountering animals, finding a method of locating concentrations of marks was important.
Years ago one of my jobs was timber cruising in the Bruce Bay swamps of South Westland. It was claimed at the time I got the job that I had the lightest body and biggest feet so I wouldn’t sink as far into the swamp as heavier blokes. I learned a lot. In order to establish likely timber volumes in an area, a sampling system was adopted. Run a compass line and at a set distance measure all timber within a circle. Then calculate the volumes based on the samples. A similar approach was used by the Department to determine deer densities in any area. Establish a transect and count the droppings at distances along the transect. I found that I could apply the same principles to identifying areas of concentration of animals, particularly as they were affected by seasonal changes.
I found that when starting in a new area it was very useful to run some transects as a means of finding concentrations. I don’t mean laboriously drawing lines on maps and religiously following them but thinking, if I hunt between river level and the top of the range including different topography and veg types, I would have a better idea where to concentrate my efforts. All the time looking for marks. The benefit of this approach is that you are less likely to overlook potentially good areas than if you stick to limited traditional patterns of hunting.
Kit, Mike and I were having a hunt and a catch up in the Waikare, just a four day “weekend”. I saw some marks upriver at the end of the Kakawahine flats on my first evening. I timed my hunts to be thereabouts on the next two nights. Kit came in the last night with a deer on his back. Where did you get that one? Top end of the Kakawahine? Yep.