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How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

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How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

Old 10-11-2007, 08:47 AM
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Default How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

Some of us don't have the luxury of hunting areas with a high deer population or places with farmland or crops that deer love.

Sooooo, how do you determine where to setup your stand or what strategy to use when hunting big woods. By big woods, I mean parcels of woods that are measured in miles not acres. Woods that are 3 miles X 5 miles before hitting a tar road.

As far as finding the feeding area and the bedding area and setting up on a trail that connects the two, this can be very difficultbecause the deer don't have to move far from one place to another.

These are woods where scouting is crucial. Areas where you can literally hunt an entire week without seeing a deer, pop 8-10 deer per square mile.The deer can be moving only a few hundred yards away and because there is so much woods, you may never be aware of them. Also there is very little hunting pressure.

I had difficulty when I first started scouting these woods but after a few a years became confident in the areas I hunted and was successful. In the last few years, some of the prime areas have been cut leaving little deer activity. Even though I understand that normally deer are attracted to fresh growth like a magnet. Here it seems not to be the case.

Thanks in advance....Jimmy




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Old 10-11-2007, 09:12 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

Man, sounds like a tough one. At least you may not have problems with other hunters from the looks of this place.

Well, they have to be eating something and they are bedding somewhere. The best thing I can think would be scouting for the heaviest trails and setting up a trailcam or two. Leave'em sit for a couple weeks or so and then move them to another spot. Sounds like there will be a lot of hiking involved and if you could have a friend you trust come with you, you could split up areas and cover more ground quicker.

Where is it? What kind of vegetation is there? The areas that were cut sound like they may be a good opportunity for a rifle scenario, especially if the trees that were cut had any kind of acorns or other foraging stuff on the ground. If so, then there would be trails coming out to the cleared areas which you could then hang a bow stand on.

Anymore details of the area you can give would help. Are there any hiking trails or dirt roads travelling through? If you have an ATV you could cover more area also.
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:58 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

hazmat...The woods have some small ridges, thick, nastyalders,cedar swamps, powerlinesanda few beaver ponds. I hunt Maine and NH and both areas are very similar to the woods described. That being said, Maine woods are much bigger and more thich than most hunters have ever seen. When you finally see that big old buck, he can take your breath away.

Thefeed for the deer is mostly vegetation and acorns, with most being from red oak. There are some areas that drop beechnut.

There arenotrails, no ATV, basically woods. The deer seem to be reluctant to hit the cutting during the day but these areas do show deer activity that are probably used at night.

These woods reek of deer. Meaning the kind of woods that you would expect deer to love. We ( 3-4 buddies) have hunted this area for years and have dragged out somenice bucks. The problem seems to be seeing deer consistently. I am a firm believer in hunting where the deer are. That's been the most challenging thing in the last few years, mainly beause the woods are so big. We know the deer are in there but finding them can be a major hurdle. That's a big challenge to us because we can always go to other smaller areas but hardly ever do. Boy, folks that say shooting a deer consistently is a piece of cake, should join us and make us more educated.

I can always go to areas I have seen/shot deer in past years but that has been less productive lately. These wood and the deer living there can make you humble real quick. .

I guess that's why they call it hunting.
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:34 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

Well, the ridges and powerline areas sound promising...whatever gives you the greatest visibility. It sounds like its just going to take some sitting and watching. Watch those open areas, check for tracks at the swamps and ponds. Even if they are hitting the cleared areas at night, as we all know, the rut knows no bounds. Come November (or whenever the bucks up there start rutting) they'll be all over their normal routes at all times of the day.

Nothing is going to beat walking the woods and sitting those high visibility areas. Those cleared powerline lanes are awesome for sitting. The more time spent out there the better. Don't forget to check those ponds and swamps for fresh tracks though, it could prove invaluable.

Sounds like you've got food and water in the area, so they will be traveling somewhere between, especially when the rut comes and they go for days without eating or drinking. Keep an eye out!
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:36 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

We hunt a similar area. Our property borders 54,000 acres of state forest and another 20,000 acres of state park. No agriculture. Just miles of unbroken forest. We have about 2000 acres of cuttings on the property as well. The old saying goes: set up between feeding and bedding areas. Well, an overgrown clear cut is both. We have a clear cut that's about a mile square that's totally overgrown. It's overrun with trails. They come and go in no organized pattern. I've seen deer heading N,S,W and East in the same area at the same time of day. When food and cover all all over the place, they don't have to go from point A to point B. They just meander in the overgrown clear cut.
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:43 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

I couldn't help, i only hunt on 60 achers...[:-]
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:44 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

Most of my hunting is done in big...no...huge woods. The first thing you need to do is find out what the food sources are at each time of year. Are there any dry beaver ponds near you? If so, at this time of the year they are out there feeding heavy on thistle seeds and stalks. A couple weeks from now the thistles will be gone and they will switch to moss, leichens and browse.

Most of my scouting is done in the spring. I walk tons of miles looking for and identifying these food sources....then don't go back until I'm ready to hunt them.

Most of my hunting is done from the ground still hunting, or from a treestand if I have an area that has a high concentration of this food. Try to identify the funnels leading in and out of these areas. For me, they are rock edges, beaver dams, beaver pond edges, thick pines....etc.

Just my .02....I have more but will have to think more about it.
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:57 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

I usually have pertty good luck knowing where a Deer is going to run.Right aroung the house here I have 3 places,a Shelf running along a Ridge,a Saddle,and one Draw.All places have produced Deer.Never see much sign,nothing as far as a heavy Trail.Mostly Rub Line,few Beds,or Droppings.

My favorite place is where I can catch them coming over the Saddle or along the Shelf.

Never have hunted much on top the Ridges.but have killed a few up there.

big rockpile
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:22 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

I have to travel to hunt because my private ground is hunted harder than some public. I hunt new places all the time. The key is don't get hung up on covering the hole place. Hunters try to figure out to much to fast. I look over a topomap to locate funnels. Then I investage a couple and usually find what I'm looking for. My dad is a big time ground stomper. His success rate is poor. I have a quote I use on him all the time. "I hunt for funnels not deer sign." Some of my best spots doesn't have the best deer sign but I know deer with pass through it.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:53 AM
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Default RE: How do you scout/hunt Big Woods?

All I'm saying is that a map won't show you where the animals are. You can hunt or even scout on guesses, but nothing short of getting out there and checking it for yourself is going to put you on animals. Plus, who knows what type of areas one might be passing up if he only hunts one thing.

Scouting can make the difference between a decent spot and a great spot. You've just got to be in tune with your area and the animals therein to know what to look for.

Go get'em!
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