I once had an old Alabama redneck (term used fondly) tell me, “Boy, our deer walk around with their heads craned back, looking up into the trees cause so many of their brothers and sisters and cousins have had an arrow through ‘em.” If you have hunted pressured, spooky Southern bucks you know what my redneck friend is talking about.
I recall that because I read an article in which a biologist said a deer’s eyes are oriented to pick up predator movement at or just below the horizon. He said a deer is much less adept at picking up movement above the horizon, so you can get away with more movement in a tree stand than on the ground.
But when a buck or especially an old doe is 120 yards out and coming straight in on a string to your tree stand you’d better be careful or you’ll get picked off and busted. Deer not only have a super-wide field of view, their eyes are also adept at picking up the tiniest flicker of movement.
When a deer is boring in, freeze. Shift and move only when its head/eyes go behind a tree or cover. Sometimes when I’m bowhunting, if the woods are pretty open, I let a buck walk in tight below my stand, then move. This is nerve-racking! But a deer usually will not crane its head way back and look straight up, unless you bang the stand with your boot or do some other foolish thing.
While I say “not usually,” I have had deer beneath my stand all of a sudden take a step or two back, look straight up, stamp and blow, and then whirl and blow the hell out of there. I swear they have a sixth sense. I have seen whitetails do a lot of crazy things in all the days I’ve hunted them.
In my experience while Eastern and especially Southern whitetails often look up, deer in the Midwest and West don’t seem to do it as much. Do they look up where you hunt?
They look up in CT…Once a deer catches you move/smells you in a tree and equates that to danger your done. What I mean by that is that deer will never forget how and where that danger accured. They are so aware of their surroundings that next time they catch movement from above they won’t stand there but just blow/run or just change their pattern all together.
Deer are creatures of habit so move when you know you can get away with it or wait for a shot another day….
they look up in VA, but I truly believe it is mostly to due with wind direction
You bet they do where I hunt! Public grounds are hunted and the deer there are naturally more cautious. You better watch when you move in a tree stand or else you can watch them tear out of there in a hurry.
Mike I grew up hunting in the South and as you stated deer there are used to being hunted from the trees and are more adept to looking up for hunters. Now that I live out here in the West I find that deer rarely ever do that and I think the reason is there are far less tree stand hunters out here. Most of the deer are being hunted via spot and stalk methods, or hunters sitting in ground blinds. I’ve met many hunters out here who’ve never even seen a tree stand, let alone sat in one. So I think it benefits hunters who do use stands in the west since the deer flat out aren’t used to hunters being up high.
Yes, on two occasions specifically: When they are in a feeding area and are extra wary, and when they see a big blob outlined against a tree trunk.
Also, as you mentioned, they will occasionally get right under the tree and *something* makes them look straight up. I assume that is a tiny whiff of ground scent, but I’ve had it happen several times. When they are right under you, they can hear even the softest sounds that you would get away with if they were 15 yards out.
Deer look up here in Indiana!