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Where would you look for bucks?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by wombat13, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    I hunt a large (by northeast standards) private property. Not surprisingly, I don't think I've ever seen a buck after the end of the rut and the first weekend of gun season. Where should I look? Here is some brief info about the property:

    Topography: A ridge runs N-S at an average elevation of 2,100'. Peaks are a little over 2,200' and two saddles are at 2,000'. A creek which is easily crossed runs through the valley to the east of the ridge at an average elevation of 1,550'. There certainly some places that are easier to cross than others, but the creak is only about 15' wide and rarely more than 1' deep. This ridge/valley is about 1.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide.

    Water: The creek runs the length of the property. Also, water is easily found around the property since the elevation change creates springs at the lower elevations. Hunting a water source doesn't seem productive.

    Vegetation: Heavily wooded. No agriculture on the property and almost none within miles of the property. Most of the property was cut 10+ years ago, but they were "high-graded", not clear cut. Other sections were similarly cut about 3 years ago. A 140 acre piece on the neighbor's property was clear cut two years ago. This piece lies on the west side of the ridge and a bit of it is contiguous to this property in one of the ridge saddles.

    Prevailing wind: Most often varies between West to North during hunting season, but weather patterns can shift it South or east.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
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  2. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    My only advice for this late in the season would be to position trailcams between bedding and food source.
    Travel corridors are your best bet imho.
    Since the rut is over, they don't have much motivation to move around except for their bellies.
     
  3. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    My problem is identifying bedding locations and food sources. Identifying a preferred food source is difficult. This property is in the middle of several thousand acres with no agriculture. The property itself has been "high-graded" multiple times over the years, so there are no big stands of oak or other mast-producing trees. There are thousands of oaks, cherries, etc. on the property, but they are spread out.
     
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  4. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    They don't even come to corn unless they have little else to eat once the season starts.
     
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  5. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    First, I'd glass the clear cut areas very early and very late.
     
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  6. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    One of my favorite stand sites is on creek crossings.
    I have a perennial location on a high spot in a slough. That is where i got my buck this year. 20181115_160140.jpg this pic shows that my spot is the best place to cross the water for hundreds of yards either way.
    I also get entertainment from the animals that make their living on the water.
     
  7. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    Scent drags are your friend. Most deer in an area rut at the same time, but not all. Some does come in late, and the bucks don’t really stop looking. Scent drags that get near known bedding areas might get some interest and bring them to you. Always drop the drag before you get all the way to your spot so that they aren’t looking at you when they get to the end of the trail.
     
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  8. SoonerMedic

    SoonerMedic Member

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    There will be another "mini rut" if you will. It's usually a few weeks after the peak rut ends. You can still find chasing and tending later in the season. So, where there are doe there will be bucks as well.
     
  9. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    Find the trees that are producing mast close to thickets, ridges, and sit in a tree stand around that area or between them. You don't need 100 trees in a cluster producing just 1-2 and they will feed there and move on.

    You will also need to get in very, very early and in the stand before they start making their way back to bedding or hunt afternoons and be ready for a night time tracking job. I've shot 2 mature bucks in the last few years and one was really early AM and the other maybe 10min before dark. Both came out of a known bedding area/thick bottom land type stuff and slithered through the woods nibbling at acorns.

    I'm one of those guys who feel the rut comes in at the same time each year and there really isn't another rut per say but some doe maybe coming in heat later in the season. 2yrs ago it was like mid October and hear comes a big doe with 2 fawns and you could bet a $1k bill both those doe still needed momma they were so small and the way they acted. The deer in the attached pic was shot in the first week of January on a very cold (-15) day about the first hour of daylight running with a pack (6-7) doe and 2 smaller bucks. He wasn't very happy when he came in as he chased everything away as if he either wanted a doe to himself or the acorns.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  10. Choctaw

    Choctaw Member

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    I sometimes find it productive and enjoyable to ambush a game trail. If I find a deer highway I'm perfectly content to sit and enjoy the day. Popping a deer is a bonus. Of course I hunt in Texas and am rarely up to my eyeballs in snow which would be uncomfortable. :D
     
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  11. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    Deer will bed out of the wind usually; look for beds below the crest of the ridges where the ridge acts as a windbreak. Bedding locations change from day to day depending on wind and hunting pressure. Sounds like it may be time to scout for game trails, tracks, droppings, scrapes and rubs, and set up accordingly. Are you seeing does? If you see does, bucks should be there too.

    Unfortunately there are places that don’t appeal to deer. Hope you haven’t found one of those. Plant some turnip plots and keep your fingers crossed for next years!
     
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  12. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    I can’t speak for PA, but in Oklahoma, SoonerMedic is right. I will add that I’ve seen bucks chasing as late as March.

    If you want more deer at your feeder, stop feeding just corn. Add rice bran or a good protein pellet. You don’t need deer specific protein. A good cattle protein or sweet feed will work perfectly. And it’s cheaper.

    Topography is important. But the real important part is the deer’s destination. I’ve seen deer climb ridiculous ridges when they could walk another 20 yards and have a nice gentle slope to go up. If I were hunting your property, I would hunt the opposing ridge of the valley or hill depending on wind. If a north wind, hunt the south side of the hill or cut in the valley halfway up. Most often does will bed 1/3 down the hill or cut looking down the hill with the wind at their back. They can see anything they can’t smell and vice versa. And bucks will typically bed closer to the tops.

    I’ve also found that bucks move more around 11:00-12:00 in late season. And if the wind is howling, go for a walk. Cover ground. But move somewhat slowly and stay up higher on the ridge. If you spook deer, stop and wait. Often deer won’t run very far before they stop and look back to try to see if what spooked them is still coming. And they can stand there a long time. They will stand still and wait a long time to figure this out. So don’t assume just because you don’t see it, that it’s gone.

    3 weeks ago I was planning on hunting a ridge. I walked the valley and jumped up 9 deer. 7 does a yearling and a small buck. They split and went up opposite ridges. Or so I thought. So I waited 10 minutes and took a step. Nope. The group to my left ran about 40 yards and stopped in a small thicket. Couldn’t see them. But they saw me. And THEN they busted up the ridge. I waited another 20 minutes and then very slowly made my way up. They didn’t go 80 yards and bedded back down just over the east side of the ridge (I didn’t know this at the time) I walked up about halfway and set down. Set there for 30 minutes and decided my spot sucked. I stood up and took a few steps. And guess who else stood up? I froze. 30 MINUTES later they started to walk off. 5 or so minutes later a different buck, who wasn’t originally with the group stood and followed. But he didn’t get to follow for very long. He acquired a spontaneous hemorrhage and lost too much blood to continue his journey.
     
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  13. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    Thanks guys. I'm taking it in and mulling your advice. I've been hunting the property for 7 years. I've scouted deer sign and trails and set up game cameras in promising locations (although perhaps not enough cameras). What has been productive so far, is hunting the transition from relatively flat to relatively steep terrain, hunting near old wooden tree-stands (if old-timers humped lumber into the woods it's likely a good spot), and hunting where there is abundant sign. I've taken 12 deer over about 28 days of hunting, so finding deer to harvest isn't the issue. I've only taken one 2-year-old, 8 point buck though. The rest have been: 5 1-year-old bucks, 2 button bucks (thought they were does), and 4 does. Every buck has been taken during opening weekend of gun season or early crossbow season (this year is the first time I've hunted with a crossbow).
     
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  14. sage5907

    sage5907 Member

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    I'll tell you two things about deer hunting that are important. First, if you are walking all over the property you are your own worst enemy. There is one stand location on this property where you can sit and see every deer on the place without moving around. You just have to find that one sweet spot. Secondly, some people hunt early in the morning and late in the evening. On a given place the peak deer activity time may be completely different such as at 11 am. You just have to find out what time of day works best on a particular property.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  15. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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    What you need to do, you need to do in the off season, lots of walking looking for sign, lots of trail cameras.

    When I just don’t know where to go, I find a good tall tree and get as far up as I can, because one things for sure, the deer are always in the woods and from a good tall tree you can see a lot of ground.
     
  16. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Ask Mr Google about deer bedding areas and deer habitat. Last I looked, there area about 87 thousand gazillion YouTube videos.

    Unless the deer are in the heart of the rut, Bucks will not bed in your areas. Guys think bucks stay in a woods. Wrong

    Find the absolutely thickest, nastiest, impossible to navigate areas and that’s where bucks are. Unless it’s rut and they’re hot on does. Does will bed in semi open woods.Bucks don’t, unless it’s rut.
     
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  17. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    I asked here because the high quality of of posts. Who knows whether the youtubers know what they’re talking about. Besides, I hate watching videos. I can read 10x as fast. Video is a waste of time, unless there is info that is too difficult to express in words.
     
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  18. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Sit between the heavy cover they are in (swamps or tag alder stands) and the food they eat. Look for trails coming out of the swamps and tag alder stands, and park yourself upwind from them at a good shooting distance for you.Get there way before dawn, and sit until the end of legal shooting.
     
  19. Milt1

    Milt1 Member

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    Get in touch with the game warden that covers your area and discuss with him your dilemma. He may be able to tell you about herd size in that area and where your best bet might be. You have nothing to lose by doing this yet you might gain a lot. Get a topographical map of the area so that he will know exactly where and what you're talking about.
     
  20. Glockula

    Glockula Member

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    Here post rut hunting for bucks all about food. Bucks are worn out and will feed pretty regularly. Find a place with a lot of rubs and tracks in a relatively small area and identify a good trail or preferably a food source near by. As mentioned before it doesn't have to be a grove of oaks. It can be one good sized tree near bed. Creek crossings are good as well like Armored farmer said. But my key for this time of year is to get close to a big bucks bedding are, not right on top and get between him and food.
     
  21. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    Thanks for all the comments. Here are a few images showing the property. Blue lines are the property boundary. Dark brown line is a dirt road (gated). Light brown lines are the main trails. It is an old logging and oil property with logging roads and well access roads all over it. Most are overgrown and barely passable or not at all with an ATV. If you care to look, you can see the clear cut I mentioned to the NW and houses at the periphery. These are not farms. The entire area enclosed in the blue boundary is almost 900 acres. The clear cut is about 140 acres.

     
  22. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Wouldn't let me open them.
     
  23. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I think that after opening morning, once they figure out they are being hunted, bucks will lay low during they day. They will stay hidden until you practically step on them. Big bucks don't get big by walking around the woods when they can be shot. Unless, of course, its during the height of the rut.
     
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  24. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    Okay, let me try again. I haven't done this very often. Satellite View Hunting Map.jpg Topo Hunting Map.jpg North Half Topo Hunting Map.jpg South Half Topo Hunting Map.jpg
     
  25. entropy

    entropy Member

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    The areas in between the clear-cut spots and the stream should be best at dawn, deer will fill up on water just before bedding. (I see two,just off the road, one at the top of the boundary on the edge, one near the bottom, both just off the road and the stream) I would assume there is forage in the clear cuts, they'd nibble on that all night, then head for water, then bed. Thanks for reposting the pics.
     
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