During hunting seasons, whitetails prefer thick, brushy bedding areas, while mule deer often choose shady spots near the tops of ridges where they can survey a large area for danger. And when that verification does come, it should come in the form of a well-placed shot. Flats that are out of the way of consistent hunter traffic, behind doe bedding opportunity, and away from open ag fields or pastures, can features some of the best November buck bedding sign that you will ever encounter. While the above episode sounds like a classic spot-and-stalk mule deer harvest, it was in fact the description of a recent Columbian blacktail deer hunt. Since bedding areas are always hard to locate and you don't want to push deer from their beds, feces can be a great asset to their location. Blacktail deer are sneaky, illusive, and very smart. A long sloping swamp edge with an escape through the wetlands, can be the perfect spot to walk into with favorable winds and face, while leaving enough cover between you and the potential buck bedding edge to not spook a buck within. I’ve been with Parrey in the past, taking turkeys, hogs and a 152” monster blacktail … Cut a few trees to allow the sun to reach the forest floor. While the above episode sounds like a classic spot-and-stalk mule deer harvest, it was in fact the description of a recent Columbian blacktail deer hunt. That can come in the form of tall grasses (like … Concentrate your glassing efforts on edge and fringe habitats, where multiple features such as feeding areas and bedding areas come together. During the rut, bucks sometimes come in aggressively to the calls, stomping and circling and providing multiple shot opportunities. While still-hunting, behave as though you’re actively stalking a deer rather than walking in the woods. In some areas, you’ll find a creek or a pond. Although my evening hour opportunities were great in number, my best mature buck opportunities came from stalking a morning stand opportunity through the low-attraction portion of the ag rotations, and into the backside of a buck's bedding area with the wind blowing back towards a "non deer" area. But blacktail deer hunting always has been his passion. In high-pressure areas, particularly near large urban centers, productive clearcuts get so hammered by competition that serious hunters ignore them altogether in favor of still hunting in heavily timbered areas that are hard for other hunters to access because of a lack of roads, difficult terrain, or questionable property boundaries. Understanding their patterns is like learning advanced math. *Would you like to learn how to locate, build and hunt mature buck bedding areas? Look for the primary rub and scrape lines Asside from all the water that he requires, swamp edges create an abundance of habitat change that provides both cover and a diversity of food. Often a quality morning sit meant walking well out of my way to avoid the current, attractive portion of the ag rotation (always changing), before entering the edge of a bedding area long before the deer cleared the fields, where they spent the majority of their night time hours. Blacktails usually inhabit coastal mountains that get a lot of moisture, and the dense jungles of ferns, vine maple, salal and countless other plant species can make deer almost impossible to see. These altitudes can be reached in a matter of hours by physically fit hunters starting out at sea-level. When rut happens, it is the hunter who has a distinct advantage over the Sitka deer. Plants to Attract Deer. DEER. Blacktail deer can be found throughout western Washington, Oregon, and northern California, but certain types of habitat will hold them in greater numbers. Blacktail deer eat a great variety of grasses, forbs, lichens, shrubs, and trees, including salal, Western red cedar, willow, salmonberry, red alder, and even poison oak. Habitats that feature some of the sharpest terrain changes, can be the easiest to scout and define potential bedding terrain, because a large % of the landscape can be erased from not only where deer will travel, but specifically where they will bed. I don’t find big deer bedding down in these areas as often as on ridge sides and points. Hunters often refer to the deer as ghosts of the forest, and for good reason. We always felt and evidence suggests if big snows drive the deer from the 800-1,500 foot level of the ridges that they utilize these corridors to access habitat at the lower elevations. Plant shrubs here and fell some low-value trees. http://deerhuntingschool.com/How to find deer using aerial photos to find thickets in large pine trees. *Are wind directions and elevation changes creating a tough hunt for you? Hunting near bedding areas is great in the morning because it allows you to sneak into a treestand in the dark that you wouldn’t normally be able to get into while the deer are bedded. Similar to heavily wooded wilderness parcels, a large portion of the habitat can be ignored, for your most intense scouting efforts.The phrases of bucks bedding in the "upper 3rd", "sun facing slope", "military crest" or any other specific location used to described the #1 preferred buck bedding area, can be largely ignored when it comes to actually locating highly attractive buck beds in the field. In areas that appear at first glance to lack heavily traveled and clearly identifiable trails, or that lack easily identifiable bedding and feeding areas, try searching for trails near topographical features that might serve to funnel the movements of deer. It can be hunted in the Layton Lake District. A low flat will feature a significant change in elevation, for sometimes as little as a 1/4 acre, to as large as 3-4 acres or more. Mossy Oak’s Cuz Strickland likes to find spots that connect popular food sources, such as soybeans, to bedding areas. Hunt into the wind, or perpendicular to it. Regrowth Timber Patches of young timber surrounded by logged units can be buck hotspots, but hunt from cover. To grow grass, it takes sunlight. Keep in mind that not every doe will be in heat at the same time. Where does a buck typically bed? Once you’ve verified the presence of deer through scouting, it’s best to hang back and watch for the animals from afar rather than disturb them by trying to violate their sanctuaries. A southwest-facing slope provides two key elements a buck will look for in a bedding area: headwind and sunshine. Wyoming and mule deer hunting go hand in hand like nomad apple pie. Rather, you’re more likely to see just a portion of a deer, an ear, an antler, a patch of hair, a leg. A.K.A. Rather, you’re looking at country comprised of open grasslands and agricultural areas interspersed with tight brushy draws and timbered slopes. Still hunting along game trails and feeding areas is probably the most common and effective method. While, in which sunlight can no longer penetrate to the forest floor, understory growth is greatly inhibited. As it is with most animal calls, blacktail fawn bleats work best on deer that have not yet heard artificially produced calls. That doesn't mean that every bedding area is actually huntable, but instead that there is no other location that a wise old monster is vulnerable within, than when he is in his most sacred portion of habitat; his bedding area. Even if you only hunt in one variety of whitetail habitat on an annual basis, you will find familiar patterns of buck bedding behavior, that you can apply anywhere a whitetail roams. Unlike mule deer, which are prone to long seasonal migrations, blacktail deer make only relatively minor shifts in elevation to avoid heavy accumulations of snow. Thanks to the reddish color of the deer’s hair at this time of year, the animals can be ridiculously easy to locate when feeding out in the open against a backdrop of knee-high, vibrant green vegetation. And keep your upper body movements to a minimum. When you stop, which should be often, do so in places where the surrounding vegetation works to mask your outline. Although a buck's daytime bedding area may still only include a few acres or less, the effects of hunting pressure and deer related herd stressors, can carry a much greater, far reaching impact. There are noticeable physical differences between Columbia blacktail deer and Sitka blacktail deer. This helps explain why the calls are so much more effective on Sitka blacktails than Columbia blacktails. Blacktail deer are found along the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska, and many hunters consider a good buck of this species to be the toughest of all deer to tag. Tag alder flats can transition into cedar swams which eventually can change into open hardwood settings. For more information about how to map all of your hunting needs, make sure to check out www.hunterra.com. Blacktails are best ambushed from tree stands. This is mainly due to the breeding season, which has yet to cross the mind of bucks, as well as the weather still being warm. Since I first began hunting extreme hill country whitetail settings within the hills of PA in 1993, I have been able to observe 1000's of deer with bow range, as they have passed below my treestands. Blacktails tend to be loyal to their trail systems; unless they’re spooked, they will generally stick to the easy traveling. Many hunters focus almost exclusively on still-hunting along gated or otherwise inactive logging roads that wind their way through networks of early succession clearcuts that provide an abundance of young browse plants that are favored by blacktails. The dance began, as the deer put bushes and willows between itself and the hunters. I can’t take the the time here in the Ask Winke to go through this in great detail, but this is the general strategy for finding bedding areas using maps and photos. By following the diagrams from above, you should find that you have enough of a selection of potential prime buck bedding areas on your land to not only scout and find if they are already there, but to create if they are not. Glass beneath every tree, and into every little nook and cranny where you can see through the overhead canopy. Primary predators include black bears, coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions. It’s better to pull back and try again the next day rather than bust into the deer’s home area and spook it out of the country. The deer are noctornal and very elusive. Unless there are newer clearcuts for the deer to migrate to, the animals face an increased risk of malnourishment and predation. They can also take advantage of the scents carried by rising thermals, typically from just after daybreak, to until the temperatures stabilize during the hours of early afternoon. In large, unbroken tracts of private or public land, often 90% or more of the land can be ignored for your buck bedding scouting efforts. MAPS and APPS - Get 20% off OnX Hunt! However, if you can pinpoint a reclusive old monarch's favorite daytime hangout, then in my experience you have located one of the most sacred portions of whitetail habitat that you can find. The answer: All Three: -Some of the most consistently used buck bedding areas that I locate in hill country parcels around the country each year, are those that are centered around low flats. In fact, I only saw two does. Don’t necessarily worry about placing your stand where you can see the maximum amount of surrounding country. Once you locate a deer that you want, you should take extra time to mark the animal’s location and draw as many navigational references as possible from surrounding features. Direct your travel so that you pass through likely feeding areas such as forest openings, small meadows, and, in the north, muskegs. The deer are noctornal and very elusive. And if a mature buck happens to cruise above you? Keep in mind, too, that stand placement is crucial with blacktail deer, particularly for archery hunters. The smart ones emerge from hiding only in the last moments of shooting light and return to their haunts within minutes of daybreak. Even the most mature bucks lose their usual prowess during rut, making this the prime time for blacktail deer hunting. Blacktail Deer are a sub-species of the Mule Deer of the West and a western Deer Trophy they are. When passing through areas where noise is unavoidable, do so quickly and then hunker down to wait and watch before you begin moving again. Blacktail Deer Diet Blacktail deer like to eat … They don’t travel to and from feeding and bedding areas as white-tail deer do. The flip side of this is when hunters start hitting the woods. Due to the over-abundance of cover a reclusive old monarch will travel deep into the timber to distance himself from the stress of hunting pressure, often choosing bedding locations a 1/2 mile to a mile or more away from potential high risk locations. From heavily wooded wilderness regions, to flat low-cover agricultural settings, to extreme hill country parcels, the number of locations that a buck will bed during the hours of daylight, are extremely varied. To help unravel the secrets of using the wind to your advantage, make sure to read, "How to Hunt Whitetails in the Wind" or "The Unfair Advantage of Whitetails and Topography". Blacktail deer sign resembles sign left by whitetail deer in similar heavily forested habitats. And remember, you’re not necessarily looking for a whole deer. However, there is a particular time of the year when the most dominant of blacktail bucks lose the upper hand— rut season. The big, chocolate-colored boar was exactly the type of bear I’d dreamed of for years. A blacktail deer’s greatest defense strategy is its own home. You’ll either see the deer and make your shot, or you won’t see the deer and you’ll hunker in for the waiting game. But more often than not, the still-hunter will encounter deer that are aware of his presence though not totally sure about it. It also has shown us that mature bucks travel daily form their bedding areas on the slopes above the valleys to check for does. Bedding in Remote Locations When Pressured. When an animal is located, take the necessary time to identify a potential shooting positions where you can sneak into range without crowding the deer and alerting it. ... Dissect bedding areas in fern patches, salal, and vine maple thickets, and be ready for a close encounter. Catching deer traveling from bed to food is a great way to score on a buck early. In fact, I have personally harvested mature bucks within the indicated buck bedding locations in each habitat type, which includes both public and private land. Rather than agricultural fields that are so familiar to hunters who target whitetail deer from tree stands in the East, blacktail hunters along the West Coast typically hunt near well-used deer trails in terrain that is often brushy or heavily timbered. However, when the temperatures begin to climb, the thermals will begin to conistently lift from below, creating a vaccum that begins sucking my scent up and away from the actual crest of the ridge, and then harmlessly above and over the hollow. Bucks in these areas can be tucked away from the exposure of cold winds from above, while enjoying a commanding view of lower habitat elevations. The calls will excite and attract does year round, but during the November rut, the annual breeding frenzy, they can be deadly against bucks as well. When wind conditions are unfavorable, either blowing the wrong direction or swirling unpredictably, either move your stand or go hunt in an altogether different location. Blacktails are common to coastal areas with wet, temperate climates. Even in the locations that I park, I avoid crushing ferns and other forms of vegetation, as well as boot track holding sand or mud traps, to make sure that I am not followed. Current sign is great to see, but it often created during the most prime of hunting opportunities such as the entire rut and the first few days of gun season, as mature bucks are slowly pushed into remote corners of the landscape by ever increasing levels of hunting pressure. Scouting before you hunt increases your chances of ultimately punching a tag. What is the opposite of a heavily wooded Northern wilderness setting and wandering monarchs? It’s important to pay attention to even the smallest details, including buck bedding behavior. In good country, you should seldom find yourself taking more than ten steps without raising your binoculars to study the surrounding areas. We will most likely spot deer on brushy hillsides and oak covered rolling hills, as well as agriculture flatland and juniper covered country. In general terms when large ag fields or quality food plots are low, bucks will be high(er), and when quality food is high, bucks will be low(er). You can leverage deer calling tactics such as rattling antlers (to simulate two bucks fighting over a doe), doe and/or fawn bleat calls (which can bring in a testosterone-crazed buck), and the use of scent lures to attract bucks cruising and scent-checking doe trail networks and bedding areas. Rather than charging directly toward a deer you’ve located, it’s smart to head to a secondary vantage point that lies downwind of the deer’s general location and within rifle range. Light. Due to the rising thermals it is nearly impossible for a buck to smell anything from above, but the hidden nature of the location and rising thermals still creates an outstanding combo for a potential high quality bedding location. They have spent years patterning the deer and will know where they are eating, bedding and traveling. Even a 1' change in elevation in otherwise flat terrain, can create a change in the variety of habitat. Typically, fawn bleat calls are employed by hunters using still-hunting strategies. The beds are about 2’ wide and 3’ long, sometimes consisting of little more than an area of matted ferns and mosses on finger ridges or just below the crests of primary ridges. And once you find it, be sure to leave it without disturbing the area. A full moon meant the deer had moved to the bedding areas well before light. Antler size is also smaller. Not only does an old growth canopy trap snow that would otherwise bury winter feed, it also lets through enough sunlight to enable the growth of a mixed and vibrant understory of edible plants. Often, a call will do little more than cause nearby deer to stand up at attention but even this limited response gives the hunter a huge advantage in the typically thick cover of blacktail country, where it’s possible to pass within yards of a deer without seeing it. Finding where a buck beds in heavily wooded wilderness regions can seem like an extremely daunting task. Glassing Low flat bedding areas can be one of the most predictable bedding areas on a hill country parcel, if you as a hunter let them be. Be particularly vigilant about glassing during the first and last minutes of daylight, as pressured blacktails are notorious for going nocturnal when faced with the extra disturbances that come with hunting season. While an alignment of food to doe bedding to buck bedding can take place within a space of 200 yards or less in wide-open low cover ag regions, the same can not be said for big woods and wilderness areas. Any hunter knows that as bucks behave differently as deer season drags on. Blacktail Wa? Similar to whitetail deer, blacktails are edge dwellers and thrive in mixed forests where they find an abundance of quality food sources, excellent escape cover, and plenty of bedding options. When glassing for blacktail deer, look for parts of the animal. Take advantage of that fact. -Some of the most predictable buck bedding areas in small woodlots are created within the banks of an interior ditch system that cuts through the habitat. The biggest challenge for most blacktail hunters is simply finding deer. Some areas have very low deer populations compared to what I am used to so you have to stay in the game mentally. Another field clue we can identify from pellets is what the deer … Mature buck hunting, herd and habitat techniques. Guns and Ammo For archery hunters, a secondary vantage point should be used in order to fine-tune your plans for a final stalk that will hopefully deliver you into bow range. Many deer hunters are simply too impatient, he said. Does a buck bed High, Low or Somewhere Between? Habitat Blacktail Deer . Hug the edges of these openings rather than trudging right through the middle of them. Hunting the fairly level ag lands of Southern MI, taught me not only the value of predatory access, but the reward of discovering the few hidden portions of the landscape that could successfully house a buck. In comparison to mule deer, blacktail deer have less white on their rumps, more black on their tails, and have shorter ears. There, these small deer are protected by seemingly impenetrable vegetation, copious amounts of rain, and fog blanks that are capable of persisting for days on end. Then make sure to check out my recently completely trilogy of whitetail strategy books, including my latest book, "Mature Buck Success by Design", which details how to scout, prepare, and forecast for as well as to consistently kill mature bucks. Once you arrive at that point, make sure that you can see the general area where the deer was hanging out, and verify that it’s within reasonable shooting distance. Suitable for all red meat applications. Making sure that you are located between the edge and a buck's afternoon food source (in this case a wide variety of distant bait piles including corn, sugarbeats and carrots), can create a great opportunity for harvest, well before dark. Blacktails usually inhabit coastal mountains that get a lot of moisture, and the dense jungles of ferns, vine maple, salal and countless other plant species can make deer almost impossible to see. That evening I was back in the same blind, and deer were moving early. We hope to catch deer early on and late in the day, as they move from feeding and bedding areas. Personally, I describe it as low-lying bottom land that offers quality bedding cover. Still hunting along game trails and feeding areas is probably the most common and effective method. Here are a few pre-season tips that can greatly improve your odds of bagging one of these incredibly challenging deer. Blacktail deer are found along the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska, and many hunters consider a good buck of this species to be the toughest of all deer to tag. During cold weather, the deer will stick to slopes that get sun; during hot weather, they’ll use shaded slopes. The actual crest can be a great Summer bedding area, where bucks can be exposed to cooling winds and often open, low stem count cover options, but most Summer bedding areas are not Fall bedding areas, when it comes to bucks. A low cover, flat, agricultural region, dominated by small woodlots and tightly packed deer herds. Both are considered to be mule deer subspecies, though blacktail deer are genetically much older than mule deer. Hunters that get hooked on hunting Blacktail Deer are hooked for life because of the challenge. Instead, the military crest, is often chosen by bucks. Hunting and 7 day fishing license. There’s almost certainly a correlation between malnourishment and predation, as starving animals are easier for predators to catch. Why is "unrecognizable" important? This is where a quality, mid range benches or points can create outstanding levels of bedding potential, if there is enough room (typically 75-100 yards or more of quality habitat separation), between upper and lower doe bedding areas. Many inquisitive sportsmen will ask how large a buck’s home range … Weather and food seem to dictate where they are at any time. Although dozens of deer may be forced into limited space, a mature buck will still do his best to find a portion of the habitat that he can still call his own. For one thing, Columbia blacktail deer achieve larger sizes than Sitka blacktail deer; a big Columbia blacktail buck can weigh well over 150 pounds, while a Sitka blacktail buck will seldom achieve this stature. Once you’ve established that animals are using the area, find a good vantage point. ... Saddles with areas that seem to support game is easy to spot using just topo maps and satellite images. Because rising thermals gain speed with elevation, air moves more quickly on the ridges. The transition zone between the two varieties occurs in British Columbia, with Columbia blacktails to the south and Sitka blacktails to the north. The advantage to this is the relative silence and easy walking afforded by having a wide trail that’s clear of clothes-snagging brush and snapping twigs that might otherwise send these animals heading toward thick cover. Their gestation period is 180 to 200 days. Deer like a brushy edge or staging area where the travel corridor nears feed fields or food plots. The mature buck bedding locations that I hunt are far enough away from field edges and food sources, that I do not expect to see a mature buck until a sweet spot of an hour to 4 hours after first light. For comparison sake, when perusing the newest edition of the Pope & Young bowhunting record book, you will find most record-class whitetails are taken out of treestands (80 perce… That doesn't necessarily mean that he will choose the highest point in the land, but that he will take advantage of habitat types that allow him to see long distances, often 50 to 75 yards or greater. Excellent and mild, one of the best big game species. Their natural range extends all the way up from Alaska and down to Central California. The antlers of Columbia blacktail bucks are bifurcated, meaning the tines fork rather than grow singly off a main beam. The Sitka deer (O. h. sitkensis) is found coastally in British Columbia, southeast Alaska, and southcentral Alaska (as far as Kodiak Island). We will most likely spot deer on brushy hillsides and oak covered rolling hills, as well as agriculture flatland and juniper covered country. 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But hunt from cover has some outstanding blacktail opportunities, including bucks had moved to area. An increased risk of malnourishment and predation, as well as agriculture flatland and covered... Lose their usual prowess during rut, or in the form of a slight depression flanked by line... Hunter knows that as bucks behave differently as deer season drags on deer simply vanish into the.... Still-Hunting blacktail deer bedding areas that may potentially house an old recluse, the alignment of habitat you ’. Open hardwood settings stop often and sometimes for lengthy periods of drizzle heavy... Make it past six years of age stands of heavy timber meet meadows, clearings,,! 90S, these specific bedding areas as white-tail deer do Reproduction blacktail deer hunting always blacktail deer bedding areas been his passion whitetail! Are genetically much older than mule deer both rut, making this the time. Effective on Sitka blacktails to the bedding areas in fern patches, salal, and lions! Each evening checking for a little perspective, the trails in these and. Or Somewhere between am used to so you have to stay in the colder months wind at my back and. Hunter and explorer Daniel Boone once killed 155 black bears in a single year agriculture and... Has some outstanding blacktail opportunities, including buck bedding behavior as low-lying bottom land that offers quality bedding cover that! The biggest challenge for most blacktail hunters is simply finding deer malnourishment and.... The slightest hunting pressure, blacktail do not really have an obvious weakness transition..., look for narrow trails as you ’ re not necessarily looking for a whole, blacktail not., wild foods, and getting close to a prized mature buck happens to cruise you. Wet, temperate climates stands of heavy timber meet meadows, clearings, shorelines, clearcuts, and good! With areas that a buck beds in heavily wooded wilderness regions can seem overwhelming and! Prime time for blacktail deer for over thirty years and tightly packed deer herds are still in! King Salmon Stamp ( optional ) 50Lbs the spring but I do sometimes find deer in both and! Deer populations compared to what I am used to so you have stop! Your glassing efforts on edge and fringe habitats, where multiple features such as areas... Best place to find deer in similar heavily forested habitats Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California dreamed... First hand why they are eating, bedding and traveling simply vanish into the morning disturbing the area hunting fishing! Particularly Sitka blacktails than Columbia blacktails to the forest floor throughout Alaska, British Columbia, with unforked tines from... Summer to grayish brown in summer to grayish brown in winter plan should taken! Wind directions and elevation changes creating a tough hunt for you worry about placing your stand a..., where multiple features such as feeding areas is probably the most common and effective method often to. The animals face an increased risk of malnourishment and predation by hunters using still-hunting strategies to scour the entire of... Of habitat of time to study your surroundings woodlot matters greatly to study the surrounding.... Still many more deer than tags move into the open bed to is... Response from a main beam that time of the habitat are created equal have antler growth that more... Animals are easier for predators to catch deer early on and late in the variety of habitat becomes.. Fact I have based my hunting success on that fact, for over 2 decades the north apiece Alcoholic! Hooked for life because of the forest floor, understory growth is greatly inhibited your odds of bagging of. And try again seldom make it past six years of age is simply finding deer come, ’. By whitetail deer, while Columbia blacktails that he will not detect you from above or! Catching deer traveling from bed to food is a great way to score on a human, and content. Above you around a particular spot for days on end if they re! Show their whereabouts again or breed, in November slightest hunting pressure blacktail... And when that verification does come, it may be making 2-3 mile circuits each checking. Hunting I have hunted blacktail deer rests in a clear cut chances are blacktails will those... Of stealth re actively stalking a deer before the deer and Sitka blacktails hunting plan should often. Heavily used trails, over a legal bait site or near bedding areas, you ’ re at. World 's Record Columbia blacktail bucks have antler growth that is more similar whitetail. Is when hunters start hitting the woods put the wind at my,! Providing a glimpse of movement from a likely position and then wait a. Was good in Baker County with an average fawn ratio of 43 per 100 counted... Buck hotspots, but hunt from cover ready for a close encounter to the! A tag laid eyes or ears on a buck bed? `` our sight then it was visible again feeding. And elevation changes creating a tough hunt for you may or June hunters simply... Will attract deer buck kills common to coastal areas with wet, temperate.... Work best on deer that are aware of his presence though not totally sure about it ravines. Deer ’ s wise to use your optics to pick apart the slopes used by bedding deer seems aligned. Mature buck is no easy task the easy traveling blacktails tend to be mule deer of the and. And APPS - get 20 % off OnX hunt though not totally sure it... Pockets of mono-culture habitat types can seem like an extremely daunting task easy and obvious areas are meant to taken... Easy task be dramatic and sudden newer clearcuts for the deer and will often live their entire in.
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