I once had an old Alabama redneck (term used fondly) tell me, “Boy, our deer walk around with their heads craned back, looking up into the trees cause so many of their brothers and sisters and cousins have had an arrow through ‘em.” If you have hunted pressured, spooky Southern bucks you know what my redneck friend is talking about.
I recall that because I read an article in which a biologist said a deer’s eyes are oriented to pick up predator movement at or just below the horizon. He said a deer is much less adept at picking up movement above the horizon, so you can get away with more movement in a tree stand than on the ground.
But when a buck or especially an old doe is 120 yards out and coming straight in on a string to your tree stand you’d better be careful or you’ll get picked off and busted. Deer not only have a super-wide field of view, their eyes are also adept at picking up the tiniest flicker of movement.
When a deer is boring in, freeze. Shift and move only when its head/eyes go behind a tree or cover. Sometimes when I’m bowhunting, if the woods are pretty open, I let a buck walk in tight below my stand, then move. This is nerve-racking! But a deer usually will not crane its head way back and look straight up, unless you bang the stand with your boot or do some other foolish thing.
While I say “not usually,” I have had deer beneath my stand all of a sudden take a step or two back, look straight up, stamp and blow, and then whirl and blow the hell out of there. I swear they have a sixth sense. I have seen whitetails do a lot of crazy things in all the days I’ve hunted them.
In my experience while Eastern and especially Southern whitetails often look up, deer in the Midwest and West don’t seem to do it as much. Do they look up where you hunt?