Deer like to hide among goldenrod and tall grasses when getting from place to place.
Whitetails rarely wander aimlessly through the fields and forest. Whether it is food, security cover or sex, they always seem to have a general destination in mind. And the route they choose to reach that destination is most often the route that affords them the greatest safety. They seem to like nothing better than to be able to move about without being seen.
Depressions Are Good Highways
The trick to tagging a buck along a travel route is to first discover the exact whereabouts of one these secret whitetail highways. One year I happened to catch a glimpse of a nervous doe working the edge of an overgrown farm field. She suddenly disappeared from view however before I could pinpoint her exact location for a stalk. I slowly worked my way over to where I thought I had last seen her, hoping to see a racked buck bird dogging that doe, but at first all I could see were tall weeds and goldenrod…and a three-foot depression that ran along the edge of the old field.
That depression looked like it started out as a deep furrow left in place from the last plowing, but then heavy rains washing down the furrow eventually gouged out a ditch deep enough to hide a deer from view. That ditch and the extra-tall goldenrod plants that benefited from all that extra water provided more than enough cover for a buck to move back and forth through the field and into a brush lot where he could bed during the day without being detected.
Factor In The Goldenrod
I did not see a buck that day, but eventually I arrowed a nice deer by first waiting for a favorable wind, and then sneaking between the ditch and adjacent brush lot. I had to take this route or risk being sky-lined. I also had to deal with the goldenrod plants. Early in the year they are green, soft, and pliable, making them relatively quiet to walk through. But as they get hit by a frost or two, they turn brown and brittle making them snap, crackle, and pop when you step on them.
To complicate matters, the bucks were also more difficult to see in the ditch, even when I knew exactly where to look. Most of their bodies were concealed by the goldenrod plants leaving only their racks and heads visible between the brown stems and yellow flowers. They could however easily see approaching danger quite easily, especially if it was a predator the size of a man.
I eventually shot a 6-pointer a few mornings later at 12 yards as he weaved his way through that goldenrod field toward his bedding area after spending the night feeding in an alfalfa field a half-mile distant. He seemed quite relaxed and nonchalant without a care in the world until my arrow found its mark. I found him piled up just inside the brush lot an hour or so later with my arrow still buried deep in his chest cavity.
In years past I have often jumped deer out of goldenrod fields. I always thought they were bedded down, and many times I was probably right. But now I take a closer look. Beds or no beds, sometimes I find that they were just traveling sight unseen along a slight depression or farm furrow.