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How close is too close to camp where you intend to hunt in the Backcountry?

Western VA Hunter

Active Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
103
I just got into backpack hunting a few years ago. What is your rule of thumb on how far away to camp from the area you intend on hunting? I'm mainly whitetail hunting for mature bucks.
OUR SEASONS ARE:
Oct-Archery whole month
Nov- First 2 weeks Muzzy
Nov- Last 2 weeks Rifle
Dec- Late muzzy/archery whole month
I live and hunt on National Forest in the beautiful mountains of the Shenandoah Valley in the Western part of VA. We have about 200,000 acres of National Forest with elevations of up to 3500' in the mountains. We have tons of roads to drive and lots of old logging roads that go for miles behind closed gates.

Our deer populations are low in the mountains due to poor forestry management and lots of hunting pressure. There are nice bucks that still roam around up there, but you have to go in deep past the pressured areas to get onto them. I usually hunt all day when I'm in the backcountry. I mainly sit, but still hunt on wet/windy days.

So with that in mind, what would be your opinion on how far to camp from the area that I intend to hunt? I don't want to get to close to pressure them even deeper when I camp to hunt in there.
 

Topdog

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
1,793
I spent 12 years operating out of a wall tent in the Adirondacks, 4-7 miles in past where motorized vehicles were prohibited, chasing the elusive mature whitetail, seldom seen by any human, well guess what..... it was a bust and never produced much, I had so much time and energy wasted in packing all that stuff in and out, the logistics of all the camping stuff took away from my hands on time of actually hunting, that in my situation was counterproductive, I’m glad I did it, and it’s fun to experience but that is my opinion. Now I just hump it in somewheres by foot each day and move around a lot. To answer your original question, how far to camp away from deer, if your camp is mobile meaning your only going to be in it maybe 2 or 3 days and then move on I would say you could
be pretty close, like maybe .5 mile of where you intended to hunt, if this is a base camp that you plan on leaving up for an entire season like I did, your gonna want more distance, each trip you make down an old logging road scenting the place up just pushes the deer deeper, those deer live there like that back in because there nomads and don’t care what ridge they live on, you bump them and adios there on to another ridge, there super sensitive to humans, hence why they are there. Hunting like your planning is 50% camping and 50% hunting, it can be a great time, I’m just not much of a camper anymore and prefer a real bed and shower. Best of luck to you and post your results!!!
 

JakeFromVirginia

Active Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
116
I just got into backpack hunting a few years ago. What is your rule of thumb on how far away to camp from the area you intend on hunting? I'm mainly whitetail hunting for mature bucks.
OUR SEASONS ARE:
Oct-Archery whole month
Nov- First 2 weeks Muzzy
Nov- Last 2 weeks Rifle
Dec- Late muzzy/archery whole month
I live and hunt on National Forest in the beautiful mountains of the Shenandoah Valley in the Western part of VA. We have about 200,000 acres of National Forest with elevations of up to 3500' in the mountains. We have tons of roads to drive and lots of old logging roads that go for miles behind closed gates.

Our deer populations are low in the mountains due to poor forestry management and lots of hunting pressure. There are nice bucks that still roam around up there, but you have to go in deep past the pressured areas to get onto them. I usually hunt all day when I'm in the backcountry. I mainly sit, but still hunt on wet/windy days.

So with that in mind, what would be your opinion on how far to camp from the area that I intend to hunt? I don't want to get to close to pressure them even deeper when I camp to hunt in there.
I hunt near you and am from Shenandoah Valley. I concur what another said about too much work not enough reward from it.

I use a mountain bike (not motorized) to get along the fire roads and away from parking lots quickly. Then hike to where I know deer are and then slow way down and sit and wait for the evening to come. Some days I intercept them on my way in. Some days they never notice I’m there/dare to think they’re always safe. Some days I get busted.

I think you underestimate how lazy most public hunters are. I only have to bike a mile in to find bucks and bucks sign. Or climb any elevation that’s more than a hill. You and I and a few others are a rare bread in Virginia. I guessing you pack out your deer also?

So don’t work too hard ;). Also scout those steep hills close to the road - they may surprise you.
 

JakeFromVirginia

Active Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
116
“each trip you make down an old logging road scenting the place up just pushes the deer deeper, those deer live there like that back in because there nomads and don’t care what ridge they live on, you bump them and adios there on to another ridge, there super sensitive to humans, hence why they are there.”

I agree but recently found a lot of deer sit above those roads and watch/scent check them. Entry exit is critical, I always take a long walk around away from where I know deer are so they don’t see or smell me. Sometimes it’s just a different creek or hill, sometimes it’s a 2 mile hike out of the way. But necessary.
 

atwoodnative

New Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
37
Location
Montana
I'm in Montana and do a fair amount of backpack hunting for elk. Elk and deer may not be the same, but I hunt them both and they are both sensitive to human presence. My first day or maybe two in camp I can hear elk bugling from my tent, and get into them within a 1/4 to 1/2 mile from camp. After that first day or maybe two, that is no longer the case and I have to get at least a half mile from camp, but it does not seem to get any worse than that. So based on that experience I would say 1/2 mile impact area. I also try to keep a low impact camp with no loud talking, no campfires, and I camp along a creek at bottom end of a meadow such that the cold down-drainage thermals keep pulling my scent away from where the elk would be.
 
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