In this paper, we examine the strategies used by early Mesolithic people as they moved into the karstic uplands of north-eastern Istria, Croatia. These strategies are inferred from detailed analyses of the lithic and faunal assemblages from Šebrn, a small upland rock-shelter occupied for a relatively short period of time in the early Holocene. We conclude that Šebrn's lithic assemblages are in technology and typology relatively homogeneous and can be treated as a single unit (related to the Sauveterrian and Epigravettian, sensu lato). The faunal remains, in contrast, reveal a dynamic situation of temporal changes in the scope and focus of activities on site. Drawing on several lines of evidence from the lithic and faunal assemblages, we suggest that the initial use of the site was intermittent and people who pursued a generalized subsistence strategy visited it. With the passage of time and as people learned about upland environments, they turned to a specialized procurement of red deer. Šebrn became part of a settlement system that related lowlands to uplands and the site gained significance in the cultural landscape as people brought to it expectations about what they would do and how long they would stay.