D5 High Country - Let’s here it...

Gaucho Wino

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Hey Guys - just got back from spending a few days in the D5 high country. Been bouncing around the last few years between D5 and D6 and the general consensus between my hunting buddy and I, is that there are very few (no?) deer above the tree line. Glassing “typical” deer habitat with very few sightings. Anyone else with this same experience? If so, any theories as to why? Predators, blue tongue, winter kill etc.? Beautiful country, but feels so sterile. Thoughts?
 

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canamrider07

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According to the numbers posted on another thread the Wildlife Game Management shows over 30,000 deer for that area. When I lived up in Pine Mountain and was out in the forest I felt the same way about being so sterile, there was nothing out there. Great picture.
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xman53

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Im in full agreement with you...Ive hunted these 2 zones for years...very depressing to not even see does...pre storm, storm, after storm same thing..i do like to think my chances are better after a storm...my heart palpitates when I see tracks, haha what would I do if I saw deer...migration is almost nonexistent...that's when 20 deer drop from 8000' to 3000' ft in 2 nites better be upthere for the surge...its coming down to who ya know down low or pull out the bucks to hunt on private land..also heard there wasn't even a deer check station on hwy 4 this year, please correct me if im wrong on that...I guess why would you pay someone to check in 7-12 deer on the opener...
 

Tybombero

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I would try calling the wildlife biologist for that area. They study the deer herd and know their habits. They always have lots of good info when I talk to them.
 

ak_o_sniper

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Sorry to say but not all biologist are created equal. The biologist for D3-5 will tell you the animals are up high and migrate at with the winter storms. When was a study actually completed on any of the deer herds in D3-5? I think it was 1957-1957 and they still use that 50+ year old data. Yes there was a recent study (still ongoing) with UC Davis on the Pacific Deer Herd but all they are really doing is collecting fecal samples. The majority of animal in D3-5 DO NOT MIGRATE. Why would they need to when there is better food and less predators in the foothills then in the high county. There are more animals in Grass Valley (D3), Auburn (D4), and Placerville (D5) then in any of the high county of those areas. Yes, some do still migrate, but the majority don't.
 

6x7

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When it snows above grouse ridge I can sit on migration trails down lower and see up to 50 deer in a half day they are still up their just so damn much timder it's hard to see anything.
 

Fredezee

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D6 has been poor for us the last 5 years EARLY in the season. Wait for the first snows. That's when we see we more deer activity.
 

Gaucho Wino

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D6 has been poor for us the last 5 years EARLY in the season. Wait for the first snows. That's when we see we more deer activity.
That's a good point, my experience in D6 has all been during archery and this trip in D5 was the first week of rifle so early season timing could definitely be an issue.

That said, it still surprises me that after days of glassing such great looking country, we didn't see much above the tree line. Most of this trip was spent at 9k and we were glassing areas between 9k and 10k without seeing anything. The funny thing is that we spent a day still hunting in the trees at 8k and found plenty of deer sign and tracks which is what had me second guessing the high country in D5 and D6 and thinking we were better off in the timber. Compare that experience to X12/A20 where we've seen much more deer between 9k and 10k and it's like two different worlds. Granted X12 is a premium zone for a reason, but that high country in D5 and D6 sure looks the part.
 

JohnCo

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In my experience the bucks will be in the timber by the time rifle season opens. Not always very far into the timber though, could be at the edges. The ones that don't do this just don't survive past the first year. Or they are in an area that sees no hunters.

There's a lot of country with almost no bucks, and other areas with good numbers of bucks. I've had more luck hiking through bedding areas and still hunting through select areas of timber than 100% glassing. With bucks hiding from predators and hunters, they can be mostly nocturnal. So if they never come out to be glassed up, I figure I have to go to them where they are at. Tracks and deer crap do help locate these areas they may be bedding. My 2 cents anyways, and it's worth less than that lol
 

JohnCo

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2A8F24F5-23E5-4B28-A6B1-9A332D2B2530.jpg Here’s my buck from this last weekend. I surprised him in his bed and after running a ways he stopped and gave me a shot.
 

Gaucho Wino

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In my experience the bucks will be in the timber by the time rifle season opens. Not always very far into the timber though, could be at the edges. The ones that don't do this just don't survive past the first year. Or they are in an area that sees no hunters.

There's a lot of country with almost no bucks, and other areas with good numbers of bucks. I've had more luck hiking through bedding areas and still hunting through select areas of timber than 100% glassing. With bucks hiding from predators and hunters, they can be mostly nocturnal. So if they never come out to be glassed up, I figure I have to go to them where they are at. Tracks and deer crap do help locate these areas they may be bedding. My 2 cents anyways, and it's worth less than that lol
Appreciate the insight and advice, that makes sense.

Last year when we were in D6 for archery, we did still hunt some high country beds around 9.5k without any luck. I think that was a case where predators may have had an influence, as we saw some very old beds and more than our share of lion sign up there too. To your point, the next day we did glass some bucks on the mountain opposite of us on the edge of the timber. We set out in the AM to go after them, dropping down 1k feet in the canyon before hiking back up 1k feet in an effort to back door them, but no luck. It was a brutal bushwhacking effort to get there and I bet they were in the timber and we just couldn't find them the next day. By that point it had taken us all day to get there and we were out of water with nowhere to pump and had left our llamas behind at camp, so we couldn't hang out for another day to try and find the bucks.

Anyway, awesome buck pic and congrats - you have me fired up for another trip and to keep trying to connect with one up high.

IMG_1954.JPG
 

OPAH

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LLamas very photogenic animals ! They going to let you put somethiong dead on their backs?
 

Gaucho Wino

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LLamas very photogenic animals ! They going to let you put somethiong dead on their backs?
The key is having evenly weighed panniers and cinching everything down tight. They get skittish if whatever is packed on their back is loose. That said, if I had a $1 for every time I had a problem with a llama...the most embarrassing is when someone on a horse comes riding by and I'm standing there with a llama that decides to kush and playing it off like I want them to sit. :bag-on-head: Overall, they're still great stock to help bring back some steaks and drinks in the back country. :toast-yellow:
 

snoopdogg

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Ha! Always trying to embarrass you when the horse people come by.
 

Quiet

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JohnCo, could you tell us at what elevation you tagged your nice buck, was it in D5? I went up the opener to around 7-8K with a buddy and didn't see a thing. Thinking of waiting until the last week of Oct. and hitting the 4-6K levels. At these elevations it's thick, so wondering if my iron sighted Win. 94 or 86 will serve. Thanks.
 

JohnCo

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JohnCo, could you tell us at what elevation you tagged your nice buck, was it in D5? I went up the opener to around 7-8K with a buddy and didn't see a thing. Thinking of waiting until the last week of Oct. and hitting the 4-6K levels. At these elevations it's thick, so wondering if my iron sighted Win. 94 or 86 will serve. Thanks.
I was above 8000 feet for that buck. Yes in D5. I like going high, mostly because it's cooler haha. Recently I've realized how hunting the same area for several years I've been able to compile information on how to hunt this area. Learned where they summer, where they move for archery season, where they go for rifle season, and kinda figured out when they leave the area for winter. I know where the opening weekend pressure usually is and how the deer don't leave for good, they'll be back. Two of my best bucks I've shot midweek after opening weekend.

I wish I had some lower elevation places I knew as well. I know there's deer in the 7-8k elevation. I've seen some monster buck tracks. Unfortunately with deer population levels the way that they are, just because you didn't see anything doesn't mean they weren't there. Just means you didn't see them.

My sister has a tag still and I'll probably do the same thing you are. Wait until the last two weeks in October and hope for some weather. Go on a weekday if I can.
 

Quiet

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JohnCo, ak_o_sniper is right: DFG relies on decades old studies dating back to the 50s or 60s. That being said, when the deer migrate (mostly does tracked in the studies) they tend to wind up in the Peavine Ridge area north of Hwy. 50. If they cross the precipitous slopes of Silver Creek, the hills north of Pollock Pines were scorched by the 98K-acre King Fire in 2014. There's private timber holdings in the area but it might be worth trying. Not sure if the bucks make it down with the does before the season ends. Good luck everyone.
 

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