Hill Country Saddles

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Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby thumbsmcgee » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:18 am

Good Afternoon All,

This weekend I'll be checking out some new public land which is primarily hill country. This area has a pretty large hiking trail which is primarily in the lower 500-550ft elevation of the conservation area. This hills are around 700-800ft elevation. Having the trail so low in elevation is uncommon for Missouri, so I'll take that all day long.

The piece has quite a few saddles, however the elevation from 600-700 is very steep based on the topo. At the 700-800ft range the elevation gradually increases. My focus, still being a novice Beast, is to look at the points overlooking the trails and check out the saddles for deer traffic. Any other advice y'all might have?

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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby Tennhunter3 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:45 am

Saddles attract people like bees on honey and more pressure in areas the fewer shooters will be their.

If it's your cup of tea that's cool.
The best hunting areas will be where pressure is low regardless of sign. I'd be finding a more remote area to hunt or overlooked tiny parcel.
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby Boogieman1 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:50 pm

Saddles are simply a terrain feature that doesn’t show cover or pressure. Simple enough yes.... maybe/ maybe not. But on the ground and getting curious with cams will often reveal players from wannabes.

Personally I don’t like easily defined squeezes, I like ones that take some serious thought and woodsmanship to figure out the traffic. Not often complicated, sometimes being a idiot has its advantages cause u don’t overthink the situation. Often as simple as heavy hunting pressure here, road here, and ditch here. Most others are just as easy but have a new cast of characters and I’m sure others are above my pay grade.
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby cspot » Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:26 pm

Saddles can be effective places to hunt especially in steep hill country. Most of the ones that jump out on a map tend to get pressure from my experience. Some of the ones that don't look as textbook or don't even have that much elevation change to show on a topo map can be better because of less pressure.

My best saddles that I have hunted also have other features as well.
1. A transition of habitat types that cut thru it.
2. Close to bedding areas and during the rut ideally close to 2 or multiple doe bedding areas.
3. In really steep hill country, benches from the hill that dump into the saddle.
4. Pasture field fence corners.
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby brancher147 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:27 pm

I would definitely check the saddles for traffic but I don’t think I have ever killed a good buck in a saddle. But most our saddles in WV are wide open and get hunting pressure. I would also check high points and anything where multiple terrain or habitat features come together. If you find lots of traffic in a saddle follow those trails back to bedding. I would be focusing on a combination of very steep and thick for buck bedding and hunting
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby Twenty Up » Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:00 pm

Listen to Josh Drivers podcasts, he’s done several. Aka “Autum Ninja” on here, guys a hill country guru.

My biggest advice aside from that, is seek out complimenting features to “connect the dots” by utilizing thick foliage and saddles/benches/points. Topography + Foliage = very predictable movement ;)
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby Kcbuckeye22 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:43 am

As mentioned above saddles can be good spots and they tend to get more pressure from hunters. I've had success in saddles, mostly killing does, and a couple nice bucks. A big issue with saddles is your access. Deer will travel saddles like a U, X, or I. Either hugging one side of the saddle, using it to cross through diagonally, or come up straight through it.

Unless you know where they are bedding and how they will access through the saddle you could have them cross your access if you came up from the bottom or if you side hilled into the saddle.

I like saddles for trail cameras. I do find scrapes usually at the point where most trails cross and hang cameras on them.

Saddles seem not to have as much cover, either from years of wildlife accessing through them or roads being built through them. Therefore, I feel big bucks are less likely to move through that saddle early season or late season. The rut is different, but I feel many hunters are seeking these saddles at these times and yes more bucks will be using them.

Another thing I look for in saddles is the why....Why would a big buck use this saddle? Just because the saddle is there, doesn't mean he will use it. If its not bedding to bedding, food to bedding, or food to food then why would he use it?

With that being said, when I usually check out saddles on my scouts.
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Re: Hill Country Saddles

Unread postby PK_ » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:02 pm

If they are secluded the bucks will go thru the saddles no problem. If they get pressure the bucks will skirt around them or scent check them before using them. Speaking of mature bucks.

More important than the saddles and the points is the overall terrain. I hunted in MO quite a bit and a lot of the hill country was big open timber, not so good for big deer...

If you are looking for big deer on public in a high pressure state like MO that has gun hunting during the rut, you really need to find the thickest nastiest cover. Don’t over think it. Find the cover, find the sign and hunt it smart. You will do well. If there really aren’t any sections of thicker cover then look around the very steepest sections.

Good luck.
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