Hunting anything in thick timber, in areas where trail cams or familiarity aren't an option, is basically a hike and hope. If you are lucky, it becomes a spook and shoot. Nothing wrong with that (we all know plenty of folks who hunt like this and are very successful), just is what it is. As others have said, pay attention to sign, cut tracks and follow. One other thing: Not all deer are located miles away from roads and people. Hunt the land you can (public I am assuming), check it all out. I personally wouldn't just eliminate any area due to "too close to..." or "too many people/wheelers..." without scouting.One successful pronghorn hunt and one unsuccessful first rifle elk hunt (just got back). Other than that, I am a new hunter.
I did find a game trail or two with older deer sign. No rubs and no water. I'm still learning the food sources and only saw some smaller browse in the one area that I actually checked off as a possibility.
My main question or point of discussion, is without glassing, how do people hunt Mule Deer in areas in thick timber? How does the strategy change?