Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

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BackWoodsHunter
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Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby BackWoodsHunter » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:13 pm

Lookin for some input from the guys who late season bowhunt northern wi? I'm talking north of HWY 8 or so. We don't have to battle the crowds of blaze orange that hunt through the month of december with guns of some sort right into january. And we don't battle the crowds. We battle the frigid cold, lack of deer, and heavy predation. Wondering what your tactics are? I remember reading from HodagHunter when everyone used to be on Bloodbro about hunting fresh clearcuts but haven't heard talk from anyone on the subject since. I'll admit to baiting here. We feed the deer in the winter months at one central location but there is no agriculture within miles of our place and I can honestly say I think it has helped some of the deer on our land make it through the harder winters. Having a central bait station we keep deer on our land and can pattern them as hunters in farm country pattern deer on a path to a chopped corn field. Anyhow I hunt pine stands and areas of thicker cover that keep some snow off the forest floor and seem to be sheltered from the wind. The deer seem to associate with these areas for bedding/browsing in the winter months.
What do you all do?


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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Nortwoods » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:55 pm

I hunt up in Forest County north of 8. This gun season instead of doing a lot of sitting like I normally do and did some still hunting/scouting. For the last 20 some years I hunted opening weekend from dawn to dusk in a treestand not seeing a whole lot. I got to talking with a guy who hunts around the Dunbar area and he pretty much told me I was doing it all wrong. He told me "I need to hunt where the deer are and not where I want the deer to be". "Just because you shot one nice buck in the same stand it doesn't mean it's going to happen every year or every other year." It really makes sense once somebody tells you "your doing it all wrong" It made my hunt alot more exciting and with snow on the ground I could see where the deer were.

I do not bait, but one thing I found this year while still hunting/scouting was where there is bait, there is a lot more deer. But on the flip side I think it turns them nocturnal and all the bait piles I saw last week the hunters were still hunting them on the second weekend which means they were not tagged out yet. The two nice bucks I got were back down the beaten path far from any bait pile. You could get lucky with the bait pile but if your after a big one I think it might hurt you more than anything, but I don't claim to be and expert.

So here is what I would do and I may be able to do if I can sneak back up there for a few days. The guy who told me I was doing it all wrong told me hit clear cuts. On the second weekend of gun season my dad walked the outer edge of a clear cut. Saw a ton of sign and found a dozen and a half beds under pine trees. You'll still have snow up there so spend the first day scouting clear cuts to see where the deer are and if you see something good setup and hunt it. I'm not sure if you hunt the same stands like I did all these years, but I will not be doing that anymore, I think you need to be mobile, find some good tracks and hunt it.

The one thing I found last weekend which was real interesting was that the deer are not buried in the middle of a thick nasty swamp, it was like the dead sea. They were in more of a open cedar swamp. I did cut some nice tracks and not to far off of the main hardwoods. Find some good sign and hunt it, I think you need to be aggresive in the Northwoods
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Dewey » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:50 pm

That is some very good advice Nortwoods and it really got me rethinking my approach of how I have been hunting the northwoods.
I have to admit that it's been tough up there the last few years but now that there is some snow on the ground it would be a great time to get out there and pattern the deer if you can. The one thing I always noticed up there is that if you find a very heavy trail more often than not it led right to a baitpile. It's sad to say but you almost have to treat these bait piles as a food source and follow the trails backwards to set up near their bedding areas.
As far a clearcuts that is some good advice as well and I actually found my largest shed along the edge of a 3 year old clearcut. I was amazed by the amount of buck sign I saw in this clearcut this fall but of course I stuck to my old stands that were not in this clearcut and never saw a legal buck during gun season. :oops:
The last day I still hunted this clearcut and there were very large tracks everywhere and there was no sign of any other hunters in the area. Another lesson learned I guess but you can bet I will be set up there next year.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Black Squirrel » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:03 am

Great info guys! Good luck again, Backwoods! I like your attitude, I think that new bow wil be responsible for some blood shed this late season. 8-)
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby dan » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:01 am

Great advice Nortwoods!
I would spend a day scouting checking out mainly the clear cuts. I would drive roads looking for concentrations of tracks and/or a big track. Follow the tracks till your near bedding. The tough thing with that is the tracks often lead to bait. The best sign you will find should be located near clearcuts that are a few years old. The edges of swamps can be productive to...
It really boils down to lots of scouting.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Mike Foss » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:47 am

I am not one to hide behind my PC. During late season I will hunt over bait, not all the time and it depends on each situation, I have hunted on trails leading to bait, hunted areas (Oaks & Acorns)and clear cuts. One thing that I do know is in the Late season the deer are still very spooked and mostly nocturnal no matter what you hunt over. Big bucks can be had during legal shooting time over bait. These pictures are from one of my archery stands for the Late Season that I started during the rifle season. Look at Times and Dates. Two pictures are the same deer. Nice 10 and nice 8.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:53 am

Northwoods advice is what I mainly do. Clear cuts are king and the perimeters must be scouted/walked looking for tracks. Once a good buck is located I scout back to where the bedding area is located. Good tatic for spring that should carry into early fall or late winter, second season. Once pressure hits I've found bucks move further and further from cuts....acorns falling can have an effect also on bed relocation.

Bed locations are most likely not in the same location during second season bow compared to mid fall paterns either bucks are constantly moving because of food, pressure from others or maybe even me pushing them too hard.

Here is the kicker on new cut areas you haven't scouted in spring...some don't approve of this but this but it is a good time to place bait and camera at cut edges or standing groves of trees left in the cut. 9 out of 10 your buck pictures will be at night but that's fine. I'm mainly locating what's left for bucks after rifle season and to define his track. I will then back track till I find an area where I think I can ambush the buck. Some times thats less than 100 yards from the bait, others it's a half mile. It's a tricky way to hunt because one doesn't want to storm in and find the actual bed and risk spooking the buck. I move further from the camera or different trails depending on activity seen from the tree, still having the camera left at the bait utilizing it as a tool monitoring the bucks actions/ reactions to where I'm hunting. Fresh snow falling almost daily really helps. This tatic is far from fool proof but has worked in the past for me on mature bucks. Sad part is some of the bucks shed early up here before they even calm down from the gun season. Had a nice 10 chasing a few years back, shed by Dec 6th.

Now I don't claim to have the pieces of the puzzle figured out and require some more insight along with different ideas on how to scout for deer in this northwoods section, hence why I requested Dan's assistance this spring to walk some of "my" areas. I believe Dan will be able to unravel the missing pieces on larger buck locations during all phases of the bow season and help me out a ton with new and different ideas/info.

After reading all the info Dan offers on this site it's obvious buck bed loaction is the key for most all his success....I need help locating buck beds for all phases of hunting up here. This is where I struggle to do this on a consistent basis.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:58 am

Good bucks Mike.....you and I were responding to this post and the same time and said about the smae thing. Yours is much shorter and to the point, sometimes I get to long winded. :lol:
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:16 am

Couple of pictures relating to the last post .... nice bucks can show at bait during daylight. Most of the time it is inconsistant and a guy will have better luck hunting off the bait closer to his bed.

Crawling buck, this buck crawled thru a small opening 50-60 yards from me....how he knew I was there was beyond me but he got away. Got a few pics of him the following year early season and he vanished before the rut.
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The shed ten. Seen him a couple of times from my stand....all after he shed. Never found his sheds or the deer the next year.
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Buck I'm still on this year. Have night pictures of him. He made thru rifle but moved quite a bit away from where this picture was taken.
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Buck from last year never saw and couldn't figure him out.
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Buck I shot in second season....1st year DNR ran season past Dec 31st. Shot him on Jan 1st in a massive storm with high winds and cold. Second buck I seen that night. Would have the shot the 1st one but never offered a shot and then this one showed just as the 1st one was leaving.
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My one horner shot a few years back. Long story but he dropped the only antler on his death run. Registered as a doe and found the one antler he had when shot in the spring but never found the other side.
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Don't have the picks on this computer of a real nice 10 I chased on and off for 3 years. Many, many night pictures of him and only daylight pictures were after he shed. Almost shot him by mistake one night thinking he was a doe on of the last days of the second season.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby BackWoodsHunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:44 am

Wow tons of info thanks guys! We have a cut bordering our land I have permission to hunt and they selectively cut it leaving some good points that I patterned the deer on. They travel between them from bedding to food when the food is consistent (an old farm field on our land with clover growing on it) now its snow covered will they feed in the clear cut? I believe its about 4years old. Its good and thick I spent most of my rut in there and had an encounter with the biggest buck I've ever seen on our land during the rut thanks to being mobile and knowing where to expect the deer to be. The snow we had during gun season confirmed this trail they used to be in use regularly but I'm not sure if that will change now because all of the hunters on our land who baited for gun season have since stopped baiting. I guess I won't know until I dive in there. We have one area thats easy to get at grandpa has been keeping corn out at more for inventory of deer purposes and keeping them around than anything. I am pretty sure no one else in our area late season bowhunts so hopefully the corn keeps the deer around us. My biggest problem for late season is finding a tree with cover to set up in all we have is popples and jack pines. Might end up on the ground!

My next question is this, we have had cameras out since august. One was always over food, grandpas bait, and the other i bounced around between my food plot, scrape and a field edge and we had a good idea of the bucks using our land and then the day before thanksgiving my uncle said he got a picture of "a nice ten pt" and never showed us anything. Then 3 hours after gun season closed on sunday we too got a nice ten point on camera. Is this buck just passing through looking for any late does in estrous or has he been kicked out of his normal spot to our land and will he possibly stick around?
Thanks guys!

Also- hodag are those all public land deer?
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby dan » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:53 am

Then 3 hours after gun season closed on sunday we too got a nice ten point on camera. Is this buck just passing through looking for any late does in estrous or has he been kicked out of his normal spot to our land and will he possibly stick around?
Thanks guys!

Not enough information to know... I will say this though, if he was on camera on your land its within his home range and he at least spends some time there. So I would say there is a good chance he is around anytime your out there hunting.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:45 am

Backwoodshunter, The "one horner" buck was private land, all others are public land bucks.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby BackWoodsHunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:00 pm

guess I need to get to your level hodag! Thats impressive you must put in tons of work to get on that many big deer on public land that far north!
Thanks for the insight dan I'll do some serious work next weekend when I am up there next week and a little hunting with the hopes of giving one the shaft the very last weekend of season! I'm interested what the next trail camera check shows, and what the public land across the street is holding. We have a block of 4 40's to hunt but really only 2 of the 40's are any good as far as holding deer and being huntable. There is 7 40's across the road thats all public and for the first time in yrs there was no hunter pressure over there for gun season. Usually the local boys drive it but this yr they stayed out because of the no doe rules in place.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:14 pm

BackWoodsHunter wrote:guess I need to get to your level hodag! Thats impressive you must put in tons of work to get on that many big deer on public land that far north!


Yes it's a lot of work but please remember, it's one thing to capture pictures and follow tracks and a totaly different situation to actually kill the one your after.

I will humbly admidt there's a lot to learn yet. I think the key is finding all buck bed locations in the spring like Dan says.

Checked (3) cameras today....no mature buck pics from all of last week. Heading out Sunday and 3-4 additional cameras(time dependent) will be placed in different areas trying to locate a buck. Cameras stay for a couple of weeks and rotated to another area. The sooner I can get on one or two bucks the sooner I can concentrate all efforts to the specific buck vs runnin all over checking cameras.
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Re: Late Season Bowhunting NORTHERN WI

Unread postby BackWoodsHunter » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:46 pm

Well good to know! Looks like I'll be doing some tromping around on the public land here in the late season and through the off season. Our family land has been up for sale but due to stubbornness of the owners the price was too high for it to sell. There was a meeting today where grandpa petitioned to keep a 40acre piece of land and everyone of them (9 owners in total) had a different reason why he and 2 others shouldn't be allowed to keep a certain corner even though its rightfully he is. That being said, we are keeping land but its an over grown jackpine plantation with a few really wide open areas. Lots of food plotting in spring but more focus yet will be on hunting the papermill/town land across the street.

Of these spots you found how many of them were big chunks of land you had to get buried in? Were any hidden forest crop pieces overlooked by others?
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