Stumped

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
mauser06
500 Club
Posts: 1828
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:11 pm
Status: Offline

Stumped

Unread postby mauser06 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:38 pm

I've been scouting a marsh a few seasons now.


I actually killed my 2020 buck in there.


I've logged a number of days and who knows how many miles. Today was another one of those days.


I am certain there has to be some great bucks in there.


I just can't find buck sign. The lack of rubs is disturbing.

I don't remember finding any scrapes.

I've found VERY few beds and they weren't well used and didn't scream hunt here.


The overall deer sign is good. Good trails. Lots of scat.

Lots of "edge". Little points and nubs, big points, little islands...typical marsh but mostly phragmites not cattail. Lots of red brush/dogwood etc.

Lots of classic trails leading out to the lone trees and off tips of points and nubs and they just dead end...wherea bed should be.


I do see big tracks every time I am in there which keeps me going back.


I feel like I am missing something but I don't know what.


I don't see much hunter sign at all. I've found some...but nothing really from recent years.


Any thoughts??



Only thing I can come up with is the ample bedding, spread out food and decent doe supply keeps buck sign suppressed. But if that's the case, I still don't know how to find the bigger bucks.



Last year I shot a 80-100" probably 2 or 3 year old. Good buck. But I want to step up my game. I feel like it's a good place to do that...and its close to the house so I can spend more time there opposed to behind the steering wheel.

Killed my buck there figuring there would be a buck bedding on a real small island. Walking in I came across a few oaks that were dropping and a small fresh rub. I hunted the food. After walking all day, I realized I may have just gotten lucky I picked the right oaks. They aren't plentiful. But there's some scattered all along...I think finding the big buck hide outs will be beneficial.


Scratching my head after today. Especially seeing the overall deer sign and bumping countless deer.


User avatar
Lockdown
Moderator
Posts: 8678
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:16 pm
Location: MN
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby Lockdown » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:00 pm

If the oaks aren’t plentiful, I think they would be a good starting point. Find all of them. Relate them to bedding. Find the producing oaks each season, then hunt the nearest bedding.

You already touched on it, but my first thought was if there’s lots of bedding then that would explain why the beds themselves don’t show lots of wear. It’s pretty common for me to not be able to narrow things down to 1 or 2 bedding areas on a property. Normally I’ll have a favorite or two, but there will be multiple others that I can’t rule out. I have some spots where the beds (mostly does) are seemingly random and you can find them all over the place.

Another recommendation is don’t put much emphasis on rubs if you don’t find many out there. Concentrate on tracks and trust the map! As a general rule, whichever bedding is the hardest to hunt... that’s typically where the biggest deer are ;)

If the big bucks are there, then it is worth hunting that property. I’ve said it at least a dozen times now, but in 2018 I almost gave up hunting the property I call the sugar patch.

I decided I needed to do things differently, I did, and the stars aligned. I killed my 2019 buck there opening day, and had a chance at my #1 buck there in 2020. It’s properties like this that will teach you and make you a better hunter.

Leave no stone unturned. One puzzle piece can change the game completely.
UncleBuck3268
500 Club
Posts: 580
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:52 pm
Facebook: NONE
Location: Sheboygan County
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby UncleBuck3268 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:03 pm

I have the same struggles. It certainly isn’t as easy as it seems. It isn’t just pick a point off of an island and whammo.

I have come to notice that everything Dan has taught us is absolutely true in every facet, but each terrain is different. Cattails vs Marsh grass vs dogwood vs tamaracks. Bucks still use these features, but may change with available cover. Dan always says cattails work best.

Also just imagine the hours Dan has put into learning these deer bedding habits and patterns. You have to consider it as second nature to him. It really does take a lot of miles, hard work and drive.

As you probably know already, a lot of these lone trees are used as navigation points. I have also fooled myself countless times chasing every lone tree in a Marsh but when you do find it, it makes a lot of sense taking all things into consideration. Hunting pressure, predator pressure etc.

Don’t forget that just because there aren’t a ton of rubs and a lot of buck sign in an area doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nice buck in the area. A lot of times a buck doesn’t have a rub any further than 10 yards from his bed. At the same time if you feel that you have walked every square inch of the place and can’t find sign, there may not even be a mature buck using the area. Continue to keep moving to new areas.

It really is tricky. I don’t mean to be speaking like I’m a BBSK but am just speaking from my own experiences and of course a lot of what the Beast has taught me.

Good luck and stick with it! What really keeps me going is just trying to figure it all out. It’s the challenge we chase. If you could shoot a new buck every day of your life it would get as old as your job.
dan
Site Owner
Posts: 39135
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:11 am
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HuntingBeast/?ref=bookmarks
Location: S.E. Wisconsin
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby dan » Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:13 pm

there is not giant bucks everywhere... when you hunt public ground you should get to know a lot of areas so when a shooter shows up your ready. But one simple rule is ALL bucks rub trees... If there are literally no big high rubs anywhere, move on to tje next spot... Not sure about the big tracks your seeing. but rubs should be presented somewhere. In low compitition they might not be in the bedding but they will be there somewhere. All bucks rub trees
Ahawk116
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:16 am
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby Ahawk116 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:59 pm

dan wrote:there is not giant bucks everywhere... when you hunt public ground you should get to know a lot of areas so when a shooter shows up your ready. But one simple rule is ALL bucks rub trees... If there are literally no big high rubs anywhere, move on to tje next spot... Not sure about the big tracks your seeing. but rubs should be presented somewhere. In low compitition they might not be in the bedding but they will be there somewhere. All bucks rub trees



I’m assuming since he is seeing big tracks that there is a big one around. Where would you check for rubs if you were dropped into that spot and found big tracks in presumed bedding, but no rubs?
User avatar
Lockdown
Moderator
Posts: 8678
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:16 pm
Location: MN
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:36 am

dan wrote:there is not giant bucks everywhere... when you hunt public ground you should get to know a lot of areas so when a shooter shows up your ready. But one simple rule is ALL bucks rub trees... If there are literally no big high rubs anywhere, move on to tje next spot... Not sure about the big tracks your seeing. but rubs should be presented somewhere. In low compitition they might not be in the bedding but they will be there somewhere. All bucks rub trees


In general you are right. But the buck I was chasing last fall has zero rubs and scrapes in his bedding, then a couple hundred yards away in his staging area there is one rub the size of a broom handle, then an apple tree that has scrapes on it. Granted, it’s very common for me to see rubs and scrapes by or on apple trees, and this one is located in a major funnel. I put a cam on it and got the buck just after dark multiple times so I knew he was close. I did an observation/kind-of-in-the-game-sit and watched him leave bedding that I’d just been through not even two weeks prior. I watched him leave that bedding twice in 3 sits, and he was back in there days after I wounded him.

I just helped a buddy two days ago... he said the spot I pinned had almost no buck sign. He was right, but I felt he was missing something. There’s one rub and a he overlooked a scrape. There were plenty of beds and look what we kicked out...

Image
User avatar
PK_
500 Club
Posts: 6516
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:10 am
Location: Just Off
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby PK_ » Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:34 am

Walk it with your gps tracking on. Grid search along the waterline and any dry below the waterline. If you truly know that good deer have to be in there somewhere, I am talking literally grid search it.

I can’t tell you how many times I nonchalantly scouted a bedding area and found nothing but doe and small buck sign(in places with good deer numbers like you suggest) and wrote off that spot(because I thought if a big buck was living in there, he would be leaving rubs all thru that bedding), then had to rescout it a 2nd or even a 3rd time to find where the mature buck was holed up. Most times I had walked within a few yards of the beds and could not see them. Sometimes you have to crawl up into what just looks like a clump of nasty bushes and once you break thru, there are small openings created by the buck living and browsing inside there. If there are small trees in there they will likely be ripped up but usually only right inside the beds, there were only a few bigger signpost rubs throughout the property nowhere near bedding. For years I thought mature bucks were only passing through not really bedding on that section of the property, I was wrong.
No Shortcuts. No Excuses. No Regrets.
Everybody's selling dreams. I'm too cheap to buy one.
Rich M wrote:Typically, hunting FL has been like getting a root canal
User avatar
Lockdown
Moderator
Posts: 8678
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:16 pm
Location: MN
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:40 am

Excellent advice from PK.

I’ve had a few situations similar to what he described. Often just taking a swing through an area isn’t good enough. I can think of a couple times when I revisited a bedding area thinking “they have to be around here somewhere” then I notice a trail that is kind of out of the way that I overlooked and it will lead to more/better bedding. For example, a remote island surrounded by cattails and water. If there’s a small clump of willows or dogwood off that island, it’s very likely that’s where they will be. A hunter could walk that island all day with a buck holding tight 75 yards away in that clump... he knows he safe.

Most of the good buck bedding I find is off the beaten path. (it is not effected by most regular deer movement). They don’t want to lay in their bed and think “what is that?!? :shock: :shock: is it coming to get me?!?” They will often be far enough away that they will be able to hear other deer or hunters, but their bedding is secure enough that they know if they need to flee or not by where the sound is or if it’s coming toward them. Like the example I gave above. A river oxbow is another good example. If something comes down the peninsula toward them, they escape out the back door across the river. If something is on the other side of the river they know they’re safe unless they hear it crossing...

I just scouted an area last weekend that I really struggled in when I first hit that property up. I couldn’t find squat for buck sign. Couple random rubs... maybe one per mile walked. Then when I found them on an island, it was ripped up. Pressure bedding. The best bedding (at least that’s what I believe for now) is out in the dogwood and lone willow trees out in the cattails where there aren’t many rubs at all.
Evanszach7
500 Club
Posts: 600
Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:00 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby Evanszach7 » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:32 am

Ahawk116 wrote:
dan wrote:there is not giant bucks everywhere... when you hunt public ground you should get to know a lot of areas so when a shooter shows up your ready. But one simple rule is ALL bucks rub trees... If there are literally no big high rubs anywhere, move on to tje next spot... Not sure about the big tracks your seeing. but rubs should be presented somewhere. In low compitition they might not be in the bedding but they will be there somewhere. All bucks rub trees



I’m assuming since he is seeing big tracks that there is a big one around. Where would you check for rubs if you were dropped into that spot and found big tracks in presumed bedding, but no rubs?


I've been working on a really similar marsh spot the past 3 seasons. I've only found 3-4 high rubs in a 30 acre section. Near doe bedding and on the transition line on exit trails. Cut big tracks the 1st year summer scouting. 2 yrs annual cam data show a bachelor group every summer, then the mature bucks show up for the rut. Its on the edge of private... pretty sure the best bedding is off public but this marsh has good enough bedding to hold does and satellite bucks.

Happened to be 3 different mature bucks there this year. A lot more rubs and a scrape popped up where there's never been one... it was also way dryer there this year, and pressure increased all around this marsh.
RiverBottoms
500 Club
Posts: 542
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:33 am
Location: MN
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby RiverBottoms » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:42 am

Are they bedding on adjacent properties, or get pushed into here after the pressure ramps up? Some other seasonal factor? Those types of factors could contribute to less sign that screams Big Buck
mauser06
500 Club
Posts: 1828
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:11 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby mauser06 » Fri Mar 05, 2021 5:30 am

Wow! Lots of great replies! Typically my long winded posts loose people's attention lol.


I looked at my GPS and ONX. I have 2 beds marked with questions marks..meaning it wasn't great.


The oaks are scattered. But enough to hinder..certai. areas have a decent bit. Some have a few here n there. But a lot of the edge has oaks somewhere close enough.


There is a pretty typical deer trail the traverses the entire edge 10yds or so in the woods. I see that same trail in other marshes I've scouted and hunted.

Rubs period...anywhere...are lacking. Usually I find them on that parallel trail...in/out of bedding..around the oaks. Same with scrapes. Usually right where they hit the mainland there is a scrape. Usually multiple. I'm just not finding it.

The amount of overall tracks, trails and scat I saw yesterday, the deer herd isn't hurting.


The big tracks I've found haven't told me anything except a deer with big feet walked through there.


I know of a 130 killed 2 years ago I'm 99% sure came from this marsh. I could be wrong. But the descriptors and everything lined up and were pretty specific.

Yesterday, my loop was a good 2.5mi.


Half of me is with Dan...bucks rub trees. Deer use scrapes. I should be seeing them. Even small ones. New ones...old ones..very minimal. Nothing I'd say a big one made.

But in 2 hunts I saw 3 bucks and several other deer this past season. Granted, 2 bucks were 1.5yos and the other I killed.


I think I will give it 1 more day this season. Then maybe carpet bomb anything that looks good with cameras..before the season and let them soak. Then try to hit it with snow on the ground.


I don't want to burn anymore of this scouting season chasing what might not even be there. I'm planning to continue rut hunting Ohio. So I have to keep on my game in PA. Goal is to fill the PA tag before Halloween. Gives me probably 8-10 hunts or so. At the same time, I have a nice collection of 80-100" racks. I want to get into bigger deer.


I just can't see big bucks NOT being there. Good habitat for deer to get old. Seems to be plenty of deer. I'm just going to have to keep at it. But I also know I can't put all my eggs in the basket.
MichiganMike
500 Club
Posts: 669
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:47 am
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby MichiganMike » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:05 am

Not sure I would focus too much in there if there isn't sign. If does are bedding and feeding in there, there should be sign of some sort and you can try and lock in on something. You might get lucky during rut and catch something cruising through but that's about it. Doesn't sound historically like a mature buck is living in there.
Maybe rescout it though just before your opener and around prerut to see if something takes up occupancy and opens up. Maybe Hang some cameras too. But I would probably put that spot on the back burner and move on to others.
mauser06
500 Club
Posts: 1828
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:11 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby mauser06 » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:31 am

Thanx mike...thats kinda the plan.

This is the 3rd late winter/early spring scouting I've done in there. Same thing every time.

I've hunted 2 different spots in there this season. Season before I remember 1 hunt. I haven't gone in around Halloween or something. All early. But if there were rubs and scrapes, I should see them now.

With the overall amount of trails and poop, I find it nearly impossible to believe there aren't a few mature bucks on the property every year. When I look at a property for potential, I look for lots of good bedding...and a place that simply shouldn't be driven out. This piece is it for sure.

Very odd. I guess in my head I want a reason WHY there isn't sign and in my head, "they aren't there" isn't a logical answer. If I had a 200" rack on my head, I'd want to live there. I'd feel pretty good about my odds.


Oh ya....my other issue. With the seemingly healthy overall deer population, even if mature bucks aren't living there, you'd think some would rut there...and leave sign along the way.
User avatar
greenhorndave
500 Club
Posts: 9854
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:23 am
Location: SE WI
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby greenhorndave » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:41 am

Evanszach7 wrote:
Ahawk116 wrote:
dan wrote:there is not giant bucks everywhere... when you hunt public ground you should get to know a lot of areas so when a shooter shows up your ready. But one simple rule is ALL bucks rub trees... If there are literally no big high rubs anywhere, move on to tje next spot... Not sure about the big tracks your seeing. but rubs should be presented somewhere. In low compitition they might not be in the bedding but they will be there somewhere. All bucks rub trees



I’m assuming since he is seeing big tracks that there is a big one around. Where would you check for rubs if you were dropped into that spot and found big tracks in presumed bedding, but no rubs?


I've been working on a really similar marsh spot the past 3 seasons. I've only found 3-4 high rubs in a 30 acre section. Near doe bedding and on the transition line on exit trails. Cut big tracks the 1st year summer scouting. 2 yrs annual cam data show a bachelor group every summer, then the mature bucks show up for the rut. Its on the edge of private... pretty sure the best bedding is off public but this marsh has good enough bedding to hold does and satellite bucks.

Happened to be 3 different mature bucks there this year. A lot more rubs and a scrape popped up where there's never been one... it was also way dryer there this year, and pressure increased all around this marsh.

I have similar stories to Mauser. There's nothing that I feel spectacular about. But... I know I have to do more. Some of what I am looking at is hunter access and sign. I expect some decent bedding, but discover well-used human trails nearby that I couldn't see via aerials.

And like Evan said, the spots I was most excited about were ones that were surrounded by thigh-high water. The best bedding was dry and used. But the summer was dry, the water receded and then the boot tracks and pressure started appearing.

Overall tho, the deer are going somewhere. I like the grid search and I'm going to break a few places down that way and see what I can find. It may be a great find, may be a bust.

And like LD showed, there's good stuff around.

20210228_135054.jpg


Good luck to everyone in these scenarios.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
——-
Please give Brandon encouragement on his activities
MichiganMike
500 Club
Posts: 669
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:47 am
Status: Offline

Re: Stumped

Unread postby MichiganMike » Fri Mar 05, 2021 8:16 am

Yeah that is odd. you would think something is in there. well if you feel good about it- maybe it'll pay off. sometimes you just gotta trust your gut.


  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DEERSLAYER, jhenrich, Mibowhunter91, MitchB, Pager24, Snipes, Tennhunter3, thwack16, tn-bear and 10 guests