Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
tundra@1
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:52 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby tundra@1 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:39 am

My forte is big woods. I shoot big deer, not necessarily big racks, compared to hunting in Wis, bluff country, where I have taken my best deer. However my heart is big woods, and after 40 years of hunting it, and seeing the changes, I do have something to add...My experience is the western portion of the UP, from Wis to Lake Superior. Having been retired for over 15 years, and having a cabin smack in the middle of it, I like it very much. Every other year it's Ontario, which is a little easier, on crown land that is more open...,. I hope what I can add to this thread, will assist younger hunters. Either way, my daughter taught me to text, and when I get in town now, on slow winter's day, it's fun for me to stay involved. I have hunted big woods since 1974, and always preferred it, compared to farm lands...


KRoss480
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:31 am
Location: South MS
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby KRoss480 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:19 pm

tundra@1 wrote:My forte is big woods. I shoot big deer, not necessarily big racks, compared to hunting in Wis, bluff country, where I have taken my best deer. However my heart is big woods, and after 40 years of hunting it, and seeing the changes, I do have something to add...My experience is the western portion of the UP, from Wis to Lake Superior. Having been retired for over 15 years, and having a cabin smack in the middle of it, I like it very much. Every other year it's Ontario, which is a little easier, on crown land that is more open...,. I hope what I can add to this thread, will assist younger hunters. Either way, my daughter taught me to text, and when I get in town now, on slow winter's day, it's fun for me to stay involved. I have hunted big woods since 1974, and always preferred it, compared to farm lands...

Thanks for stopping by. In your experience what would you say your go to strategy in early season would be for your area?

Seems like a lot of people are struggling in this type of terrain due to vast amounts of food and/or cover.
True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
User avatar
may21581
500 Club
Posts: 1173
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 12:48 pm
Location: north east ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby may21581 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:59 am

KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.
"Failure is the price for entry for achieving something great"
User avatar
brancher147
500 Club
Posts: 1131
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:46 am
Location: West Virginia
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby brancher147 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:07 am

may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.
Some do. Some don't. I just might...
User avatar
headgear
500 Club
Posts: 11476
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:21 am
Location: Northern Minnesota
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby headgear » Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:06 am

brancher147 wrote:Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Yep mostly impossible, sometimes I can do a little glassing in a fresh clearcut but the oldest bucks rarely venture out in the open outside of the summer months, nice for inventory but not really great for early season hunts because the patterns change. Observation sits are also not easy, every now and then I find a spot with a decent view of a ridge, bedding area, beaver pond but a lot of the time the surrounding area is so thick the buck could be there and you would never know. Not that it can't be done but just lower odds vs the farm country guys, early season foliage usually spoils any visuals. Even a one year old clearcut can be 3-6 feet high and make it hard to see any deer.
User avatar
may21581
500 Club
Posts: 1173
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 12:48 pm
Location: north east ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby may21581 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:58 am

brancher147 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Have you hunted over water holes early season?
"Failure is the price for entry for achieving something great"
User avatar
hoyt31786
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:20 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby hoyt31786 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:05 am

may21581 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Have you hunted over water holes early season?


I was just gonna chime in and say dont overlook water early season or anytime of year for that matter. Sometimes it can be even a little seep somewhere. Doesn't have to be a big creek or pond. Like others have said big woods is tough and in season scouting is prolly the best way to try to find the bucks. Finding them is the tough part but I think early and late season are when deer are most predictable.
User avatar
may21581
500 Club
Posts: 1173
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 12:48 pm
Location: north east ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby may21581 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:49 am

I was wondering if you would be able to do some trailcam work late spring early summer to get an inventory in sections of the forest to get an idea of which areas are holding deer early on? Would you be legal to set up a mineral sight such as a trophy rock or other source of attraction out of season? If so maybe this could help you break the area down more along with using your basic topo maps and aerials.
I'm trying to get an idea of how big these woods are you talking about. The public I hunt is generally 2-6 thousand acres. There is a little ag on the tops of some hills but to be honest it's dead because most your average hunters flock to it. It's a long shot at best and have found my success in secure cover.
It can seem like a daunting task but you need to find that one early season food source, water hole, or early season bedding areas in that large area you hunt. If your not seeing anything early season then I'm going to take a poke and say there not where your at. And this isn't always a bad thing though because maybe it just sets up for later on in the season.
Can I ask what your approach has been on these large areas you hunt? How do you determine where your first sit will be and when to move in on it?
"Failure is the price for entry for achieving something great"
User avatar
may21581
500 Club
Posts: 1173
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 12:48 pm
Location: north east ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby may21581 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:50 am

hoyt31786 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Have you hunted over water holes early season?


I was just gonna chime in and say dont overlook water early season or anytime of year for that matter. Sometimes it can be even a little seep somewhere. Doesn't have to be a big creek or pond. Like others have said big woods is tough and in season scouting is prolly the best way to try to find the bucks. Finding them is the tough part but I think early and late season are when deer are most predictable.


I couldn't agree more. X2
"Failure is the price for entry for achieving something great"
Tennhunter3
500 Club
Posts: 5486
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:54 pm
Location: Medon Tn
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby Tennhunter3 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:57 am

In my area hill country bucks get up and feed in bedding area never leaving it in daylight. A few areas I've seen them get 100 yards from bed but it's hard to figure which sits they will and won't.

Best advice would be to change your hunting areas to swamps early season where bucks need to travel further. It's not easy I know.

If theirs open hardwoods you can bet most mature bucks are avoiding them and are using edges or the thickest points around.

Pine points - points full of downed trees or near edges of transitions for escape cover would be what I would be scouting.
Never give up Freedom for imagined safety.
KRoss480
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:31 am
Location: South MS
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby KRoss480 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:20 am

may21581 wrote:I was wondering if you would be able to do some trailcam work late spring early summer to get an inventory in sections of the forest to get an idea of which areas are holding deer early on? Would you be legal to set up a mineral sight such as a trophy rock or other source of attraction out of season? If so maybe this could help you break the area down more along with using your basic topo maps and aerials.
I'm trying to get an idea of how big these woods are you talking about. The public I hunt is generally 2-6 thousand acres. There is a little ag on the tops of some hills but to be honest it's dead because most your average hunters flock to it. It's a long shot at best and have found my success in secure cover.
It can seem like a daunting task but you need to find that one early season food source, water hole, or early season bedding areas in that large area you hunt. If your not seeing anything early season then I'm going to take a poke and say there not where your at. And this isn't always a bad thing though because maybe it just sets up for later on in the season.
Can I ask what your approach has been on these large areas you hunt? How do you determine where your first sit will be and when to move in on it?


In my area we have big tracts of public, the smallest I hunt is around 8,000 acres, the largest is over 40,000 acres. My approach has generally been to hunt the fringes of known bedding areas but I don’t push the envelope due to not wanting to ruin an area before it even gets good. I agree with what you’re saying in regards to not being in the area I’m hunting in early season.

If anyone watched the THP epidoes a couple weeks ago where they were hunting in MS, it will give you a better idea of what I’m dealing with. They struggled to get on any kind of pattern in one of the better public lands in this state and at one of the better times of the year to hunt that area.
True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
KRoss480
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:31 am
Location: South MS
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby KRoss480 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:24 am

hoyt31786 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Have you hunted over water holes early season?


I was just gonna chime in and say dont overlook water early season or anytime of year for that matter. Sometimes it can be even a little seep somewhere. Doesn't have to be a big creek or pond. Like others have said big woods is tough and in season scouting is prolly the best way to try to find the bucks. Finding them is the tough part but I think early and late season are when deer are most predictable.

This area holds water practically all year. I’d lose my mind trying to hone in on one water source :lol:
True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
User avatar
brancher147
500 Club
Posts: 1131
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:46 am
Location: West Virginia
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby brancher147 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:14 am

KRoss480 wrote:
hoyt31786 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:
may21581 wrote:
KRoss480 wrote:
brancher147 wrote:I struggle with early season in the big woods mountains I hunt. I have no experience with flat land. But early season I am looking for fresh rubs and scrapes and tracks usually near acorns. Then I revert to previous scouting to narrow down bedding and setup as close as possible. Usually early season bucks are not real far away from the sign but are easily spooked. Pay attention to the wind and how you access not to spook anything. I have never killed a good one early season but I do see them and that’s what I have learned.


Man that’s me. I hear all these other people say that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck but it dawned on me that I’ve never killed, much less seen a mature buck during the early season. Its normally pushing 80 degrees that time of year down here so it’s tough hunting for sure.


Early season is all about finding one stuck on his summer feeding pattern still. You can either get on a good one by glassing the areas in the evenings or by your scouting in the off season when you would locate a good early season food source and their bedding and connecting the dots. In the second scenario you would have to know when he is using a particular bed either through savy trail cam work or by past history and intel. Mature bucks wont bed far away from good food sources in the summer. Find the low pressure spots, good feed, water, and good summer bedding and your on to something. Just remember though you will only get one or two at most cracks at him this way before hes on to you so hunt smart and pick your sits wisely.


Early season for me doesn’t start until after acorns are falling and deer are off summer patterns unfortunately. Glassing in big woods is not an option either.


Have you hunted over water holes early season?


I was just gonna chime in and say dont overlook water early season or anytime of year for that matter. Sometimes it can be even a little seep somewhere. Doesn't have to be a big creek or pond. Like others have said big woods is tough and in season scouting is prolly the best way to try to find the bucks. Finding them is the tough part but I think early and late season are when deer are most predictable.

This area holds water practically all year. I’d lose my mind trying to hone in on one water source :lol:



Yeah, same thing with the mountains I hunt, water everywhere. The two areas I hunt mostly are about 75,000 acres and over 100,000 acres and there are many waterholes and springs and water in a creek in every hollow. I have seen deer walk over water, around water, swim through water, pretty much everything but drink water. It's just not a big draw as our early season temps are usually in the 60's or 70's day and 30's and 40's at night. I really don't have trouble finding sign and big bucks to hunt early season, but killing one is just real tough. I mostly use the early season to figure out where I need to be pre-rut and rut. Early season big bucks just don't move too far in day and even then they are usually bedded in laurel cover with acorns. We don't have any early season hunting pressure to get deer moving either. And the way the food is on big woods early season deer are usually grouped together with the big bucks in the most secure bedding and smaller bucks and does around them, so you have to get past the does and young bucks a lot of times which is just not possible. And early season wind and thermals does some real crazy things in the mountains. Our season opens last Saturday in September and you do have a few days or maybe the first week to catch a buck off guard in a late summer feeding pattern but that's real hard to figure out when you can't glass and are relying on cameras-it's possible but like all big woods hunting it's tough-but a lot of fun to try!
Some do. Some don't. I just might...
User avatar
E72
500 Club
Posts: 1163
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:47 am
Location: SE Ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby E72 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:05 am

I’m looking at finding remote buck beds right now . Look around for oaks . Then will check back in mid August / Sept for the acorns , tracks and the first rubs . Find hottest food source leading up to the opener , which is the last Saturday in September . Changes every year with acorns .
User avatar
may21581
500 Club
Posts: 1173
Joined: Mon May 28, 2018 12:48 pm
Location: north east ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Early Season Big Woods Hunting

Unread postby may21581 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:13 am

Yeah sounds like you got your work cut out. I think I would be relying heavily on trailcams and observation stands. In a tract that big are you keying in on terrain features such as ox bows, s bends, saddles, and points? Sounds like with that much water they will definately be using this to their advantage. Perhaps with all this water it is creating some nice funnels?
"Failure is the price for entry for achieving something great"


  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: American_Regular, Hutchy17, Jdaukontas, Nolte, perchsoup, Wolfshead and 11 guests