Will deer cross a major river?

By Grant Woods,

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I am acquiring a lease to hunt 150 acres right outside my back door. It has never been hunted and is archery only. The property is on the Cape Fear river in eastern North Carolina. There are quite a number of deer along the river, and the terrain is not typical of the region with more hardwoods and deep ravines leading to the river. It is thick with bedding and travel corridors.

Is it better to set up on the high ground or low ravines along the corridors?

Is there any chance that a shot deer would run into the river? Have you ever known deer to cross rivers at all as part of their normal movement patterns?

Thank you!
Mike Hubbard


Congratulations on acquiring a lease that’s within walking distance!!  

In general, I strongly prefer hunting high ground. The wind is usually more constant at high ground compared to low areas.  However, large bodies of water can have a big impact on wind direction/thermals.  When the water is cooler than the surrounding land air tends to leave the river and rush toward the land.  When the water is warmer than the surrounding land air tends to rush toward the water!.  I use this to my advantage.  When the wind is rushing toward the water I prefer hunting by the water so my scent is carried out over the river/lake.  

Bottom line is that I want to hunt where I won’t alert deer.  I’d rather hunt where there is less deer sign but know deer won’t detect me than hunt were the most sign is and risk alerting deer.

I have observed deer swimming across large bodies of water.  In fact, my colleague Dr, Harry Jacobson, reported some deer he had fitted with radio collars swam across the Mississippi river regularly!

Enjoy creation,