Navigating Laurels

np307

Six Pointer
So last thursday and friday I went up into Pisgah to do an overnight camp with the plan of deer scouting and maybe fishing some wild streams. What I really ended up doing was fighting through laurels at an extremely slow pace. There were only a couple of deer trails that I saw and a small rub from last year. Definitely not enough sign to make me think the area was worth returning to, especially since those were down in a draw that it took a couple hours to walk out of.

So my question is, should I expect anything different in other places? It wasn't extremely tiring so much as agonizingly slow to walk through with a pack and especially noisy. I didn't really see a way to hunt most of what I walked through. I learned a few years ago to stop looking for places that I could see for a long ways, but most of these places I couldn't see further than 5-10 yards. Am I just being too picky, or am I picking bad spots? Curious to hear from some of you more seasoned mountain hunters.
 

Quackman

Twelve Pointer
I would walk the edges of the thickets. Find the ingress and egress trails and hunt those. The thickets are too hard to get through.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

np307

Six Pointer
How big are the thickets usually? I walked a good 2 miles through the laurels Thursday.
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
So last thursday and friday I went up into Pisgah to do an overnight camp with the plan of deer scouting and maybe fishing some wild streams. What I really ended up doing was fighting through laurels at an extremely slow pace. There were only a couple of deer trails that I saw and a small rub from last year. Definitely not enough sign to make me think the area was worth returning to, especially since those were down in a draw that it took a couple hours to walk out of.

So my question is, should I expect anything different in other places? It wasn't extremely tiring so much as agonizingly slow to walk through with a pack and especially noisy. I didn't really see a way to hunt most of what I walked through. I learned a few years ago to stop looking for places that I could see for a long ways, but most of these places I couldn't see further than 5-10 yards. Am I just being too picky, or am I picking bad spots? Curious to hear from some of you more seasoned mountain hunters.
I probe new places to find the edges of the big laurel stands. Or just look for the difference in color on satellite imagery.
Then walk that border and mark the trails coming out.
Go around the mountain to the next big stand of laurels and mark those trails.

look to see which trails connect the big stands of laurels and hunt in the hollers between them.
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
unfortunately, scouting in the mountains is much more effective at crossing places OFF your list of possibilities, not adding to them.

You may Spend years hunting one mountain before you find “the” spot for a given weather condition or mast year.
 

np307

Six Pointer
unfortunately, scouting in the mountains is much more effective at crossing places OFF your list of possibilities, not adding to them.

You may Spend years hunting one mountain before you find “the” spot for a given weather condition or mast year.
Thanks for the responses. I don't mind crossing places off or learning an area for a long time, I just was thrown by what I saw Thursday and wanted to see where that terrain was on the spectrum. Sounds like I just happened to find a large thicket. I'll have a couple more chances to overnight camp/scout. Ultimately I'm looking to do a 3 day hunt up there this fall.
 

Vannoyboy

Four Pointer
I had a buddy reach out to pull himself up an embankment by a laurel limb and he got bit in the forehead by a rattlesnake. He spent 3 weeks in Baptist hospital and nearly lost an eye. The snake was evidently laying on a limb, not the preferred bedding for a rattler.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Real thick laurels you can forget having lot luck right in middle lukecsaid edges are good. Now there is usually semi thick that I have no problem getting up above in tree where I can see down into holes but only if it has acorns on ground deer will feel more secure walking in that setting in daylight than wide open hardwood that can see 150 yards. Laurel is goid for bedding sometimes and if your in big enough patch they can feed in laurel on nuts before ever coming out on eve in open. I have better morning luck in that situation. I'll take a semi thick laurel patch with acorns on ground anytime on public land. As far as the little sign you seen welcome to Pisgah there is reason that harvest for 500,000 acres is what it is. Deer are there and often scattered you can hunt few hundred acres there and never see a deer using it some rough spots even more than that. Just keeps it looking for any habitat edge you can find and manage expectations
 

Wv67

Eight Pointer
What appmtnhunter hunter said hunting mountains is different , look for benches , and saddles , or flats on the sides of ridges far as laurels go I avoid them
 

41magnum

Twelve Pointer
What 67 said..^^...find the trails leaving the laurel near saddles/benches
nearly all critters access new watersheds via saddles. to keep off the ridgeline

I have killed many Pa deer sitting on the ground, in a makeshift blind, at the edge of laurel thicket, where I could see their legs long before they popped out into the open.
 

Eric Revo

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Laurel grows on top of rock..that's an indicator of very little food value plants for deer or any other creature. Deer will use these thickets to bed and as an escape route but to hunt them is going to be very frustrating.
Find more edible plants and you'll find those same deer that are bedding in the laurel and they will be much easier to kill.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Laurel grows on top of rock..that's an indicator of very little food value plants for deer or any other creature. Deer will use these thickets to bed and as an escape route but to hunt them is going to be very frustrating.
Find more edible plants and you'll find those same deer that are bedding in the laurel and they will be much easier to kill.
Unfortunatly where he is talking about that's bout his only choice besides rhodo which is worse. That certain area has very very little diversity and low low deer numbers
 

np307

Six Pointer
Lol, I grew up in Paddy’s creek.
The gorge is its own beast.
there are rules there that only make sense there.


I bet you did feel like a fish out of water.
The gorge is like 10,000 acres and only about 250 are fit to deer hunt. The rest is just holding the world together.
Let the record show I wasnt dumb enough to go into the actual Gorge looking for deer. Just figured that was easiest identifier of the general area I was in.
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Lol, I grew up in Paddy’s creek.
The gorge is its own beast.
there are rules there that only make sense there.


I bet you did feel like a fish out of water.
The gorge is like 10,000 acres and only about 250 are fit to deer hunt. The rest is just holding the world together.
Squirrel or a bear might be better odds. Deer are slim in that area
 

turkeyfoot

Old Mossy Horns
Let the record show I wasnt dumb enough to go into the actual Gorge looking for deer. Just figured that was easiest identifier of the general area I was in.
Using maps to identify areas that border private with more favorable habitat might increase your odds
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
Let the record show I wasnt dumb enough to go into the actual Gorge looking for deer. Just figured that was easiest identifier of the general area I was in.
I love hunting IN the gorge...
Very very specific spots, though.
B56347B5-7BDF-4279-A23E-DFA7DB1AA2B2.jpeg
there’s places you’ll find that put off a good deer every couple years.
This was a 2017 buck, so we’ll prolly start hunting this holler again next year if some good sign shows up.
 

buckman4c

Spike
Suggestions:
(Archery)- As already mentioned, hunt the downwind edge especially if its a known doe bedding area. Bucks will cruise the edge because its easier and allows them to smell the unseen. Take note of thermals around Rhododendron patches. The best downwind edge may be the top or bottom for rising or falling thermals. I prefer hunting thermals especially on calm days because I find the wind direction too unpredictable around them patches.
(Bow or Rifle with hunting pressure) - Find the funnel within the rhododendron. There may be a terrain or other feature within the patch which forces deer to move along a certain path. This path will be beaten down. Finding the trail is tough, finding a way in without walking right on the trail is the real challenge.

Good Luck
 

Loganwayne

Six Pointer
The rest is just holding the world together.
there is no truer statement for WNC than that.

i had some land owners from out of state buy 70 something acres in maggie even after we told them it wasn't a good place to buy and they thought they hit the gold pot, until i told them what it was gonna cost of a road then a house. told them the best idea was to buy two acres below what they bought and build there.

FYI i know where 70 acres is for sale...... full of snakes and rocks to steep to walk and no sign of deer or elk LOL
 

appmtnhntr

Ten Pointer
there is no truer statement for WNC than that.

i had some land owners from out of state buy 70 something acres in maggie even after we told them it wasn't a good place to buy and they thought they hit the gold pot, until i told them what it was gonna cost of a road then a house. told them the best idea was to buy two acres below what they bought and build there.

FYI i know where 70 acres is for sale...... full of snakes and rocks to steep to walk and no sign of deer or elk LOL
That’s great.
One of my favorite quotes for people like that is, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”
 

alt1001

Old Mossy Horns
Some are 10’ x 10’, and some cover whole zip codes.
Some are nice to hunt in. Some are evil and even the Indians didn’t go in there.
Couldn't have said it better myself! :ROFLMAO:

Laurel's are your best friend and worst enemy depending on how you hunt them.

If you can find small breaks or openings in an otherwise larger strand of Laurel, that's where you need to be. Especially if there is a bench, saddle, etc.
 

alt1001

Old Mossy Horns
Thanks. I'll re-consult the maps and pick a couple more locations to check out. Don't mind lower deer odds, just wanting somewhere I can go hike/hunt/camp for a few days this fall.
I scouted a newer area towards the end of last season and found a small bench from an old logging road that split 2 large Laurel thickets. By large thicket I mean they were both around 40ac a piece. The opening (I use that term loosely, it's only open when compared to the thickets themselves) was only about 30ft wide. I set a camera up on that bench and was astonished by what I saw in only a couple of weeks of running the camera in that location. I had multiple bucks using the trail almost daily, and 95% of the photos I got were daytime movement, I very rarely got nighttime photos here.

The thickets themselves can be a bear but if you can find those edges and even better those smaller breaks within the larger strands, you will find deer.

I know where I'll be this season! Good luck to you!

46998

46997

46999

47000
 

np307

Six Pointer
I scouted a newer area towards the end of last season and found a small bench from an old logging road that split 2 large Laurel thickets. By large thicket I mean they were both around 40ac a piece. The opening (I use that term loosely, it's only open when compared to the thickets themselves) was only about 30ft wide. I set a camera up on that bench and was astonished by what I saw in only a couple of weeks of running the camera in that location. I had multiple bucks using the trail almost daily, and 95% of the photos I got were daytime movement, I very rarely got nighttime photos here.

The thickets themselves can be a bear but if you can find those edges and even better those smaller breaks within the larger strands, you will find deer.

I know where I'll be this season! Good luck to you!
Nice looking deer. Yeah, that looks like a golf course compared to the stuff I was walking through the other week. That's not unlike some of the spots I hunt when I'm not in the mountains.
 
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