Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
User avatar
Dhurtubise
500 Club
Posts: 1271
Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:47 am
Facebook: dhurtubise
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Status: Offline

Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Dhurtubise » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:38 am

https://youtu.be/8PUvtpBGVAU

I want to use this video as a springboard to discussing hunting around clear-cuts. In the area I live, much of the deer activity is concentrated around clear-cuts of various ages. Some clear-cuts are more than 20 years old but still concentrate some deer activity. Young clear-cuts are a no brainer most of the time.

The above video discusses using historical funnels to set up on deer movement during the rut. Although I have spent countless hours on Google Earth looking at historical images like the man shows in the video, it never crossed my mind to actually scout those old funnels once the surrounding growth gave ample cover to the deer.

In general, I treat clear-cuts pretty much the same as agriculture, focussing on inside corners and points. There is almost always concentrated deer activity in all of these spots. I also like to pick up big tracks around the edges when it starts to snow, and then get on one!

Those of you that hunt the clear-cuts, bigwoods or otherwise, what are your thoughts on the following subjects:

1. where to hunt clear-cuts
2. when to hunt them
3. out of the box tactics...


User avatar
Zona
500 Club
Posts: 725
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:10 am
Location: Pennsylvania
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Zona » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:58 am

Great topic! I have a new property that looks very similar to the videos. Very interested to hear from some experienced hunters on this subject.
User avatar
Ghost Hunter
Posts: 3539
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:00 am
Location: South Arkansas
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Ghost Hunter » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:55 am

I'm being lazy this evening. So I copied an paste this from my journal. Hope it helps some.

When I first started bow hunting. It seem like about the time you had an area figured out. The loggers would move in an wipe it clean. I spent a lot of time being frustrated with this happening for a few years. Most of the time they wiped them clean except for the creeks that run through the clear cuts. I learned what I was actually looking at was a clean slate. It was then, that I no longer looked at a clear cut the same again.


What I started noticing, was you see the lay of the land for several hundred yards in either direction. If you wanted to have a picture of the lay of the land this would be the time. I would wait for the loggers to get out an I would give it maybe a month. I would then move in an walk the edges all the way around an make note either mental or on a GPS of all the trails, creek crossings an left standing acorn trees. I would look for the old rubs droppings an bedding areas around the cutovers. Note all the food sources such as berries, saw briers, honey suckle or anything to their liking that is near the fresh cutover. I would put trail cameras in the logging roads that weaved through the woods into the cutovers. I'll spend late summer glassing the favorite locations from a distance. You can easily put together a game plan. Then you just grow with the changes.
I live to release an arrow and watch woods grow into chaos and then grow quite as a mouse in just seconds.
User avatar
Divergent
500 Club
Posts: 753
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:18 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Divergent » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:20 pm

I only watched half of the video, so i apologize if he covered this. Ive found that the deer will use the old logging rds that have grown over. Im not talking about your typical logging rd that you can walk down. These rds are faint deer trails now that can only be seen by going back 10+ yrs in google earth. Ive also seen that if there are only a few large trees in a large cutover, the deer seem to use these as markers and the trails will usually come within a few yards before splitting off in several directions.

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image
User avatar
Ghost Hunter
Posts: 3539
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:00 am
Location: South Arkansas
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Ghost Hunter » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:37 pm

If you can find the loggers set? There are usually stacked logs nearby that have decayed over time an roads run off from there. The deer will walk the fresh logging roads in late evening during the summer. I always walk the edges of the clear cuts all the way around. Looking for old trails an fresh food sources an mark them for later reference.
I live to release an arrow and watch woods grow into chaos and then grow quite as a mouse in just seconds.
User avatar
headgear
500 Club
Posts: 11310
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:21 am
Location: Northern Minnesota
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby headgear » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:47 pm

Interesting video, not sure I totally agree with him that they are all that amazing, just natural terrain features that will have some travel clear cut or not. I don't see them as buck magnets or anything. When I hunt clearcuts I think two things, bedding and food mostly for does and the bucks will follow during the rut. You can find buck using them for food but its extremely rare to catch a bigwoods buck in the open before dark. They live in miles of cover and feel naked out the open in most cases.

A lot of guys like to hunt the downwind side of the thick regrowth but I like to get right inside of them. There might be some cruising on the edge but the majority of the bigwoods bucks we see are inside the thick stuff so you have to get in there with them if you want a poke at them. These are usually my morning and evening bed hunts during the rut. During mid day I might try and setup between two clearcuts to catch bucks cruising between them, sometimes there is a travel route the bucks prefer. If you can also find remote clearcuts that are hard to access you might see more daytime and open activity, the bucks know where the hunter traffic is and will sometime show a little less fear in these far off areas.

Last but not least not all clearcuts are the same, as I just noted in another thread, what use to be amazing thick cover is now sometimes sprayed before trees are planted so they just don't grow as thick any more the deer don't use them as much. Other times you might have a small swamp or bog in the middle of these clearcuts, they are great bedding cut or not but once they are cut they heat up even more when you have natural bedding surrounded by thick cover.

The first couple years after the clearcut you also have a natural funnels around the edges, you can even see a nice square cut with 4 inside corners to hunt. Again they aren't all equal, you have to assess the terrain and travel routes around the clearcuts to determine what the best funnel might be.
SmallJawNH
Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:50 pm
Location: Texas
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby SmallJawNH » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:49 pm

A couple observations in the northeast. Cuts are a food source after a heavy snow and in late season when other options are less accessible. Moose and deer both favor maple whips before they get into the spruce and hemlock heavily. A cut two to five years old can have a lot of this type of food that deer will browse as they move through.

In New England there are thousands of miles of stonewalls that seem randomly placed in the middle of the woods. Most are a couple hundred years old and mark where a farmer's field used to be before the land was abandoned and reclaimed by the forest. These influence deer travel and bedding. The loggers left some immature trees and a large blow down leaning against a stonewall that ran a few hundred yards across the cut. All on top of a knoll. Seemed almost textbook.

I hunted that area before it was cut and never knew about the isolated bedding area along the stonewall.

This is a great thread. There is a lot of logging in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont and this topic could really open up other perspectives of how to hunt them.
User avatar
Divergent
500 Club
Posts: 753
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:18 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Divergent » Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:22 pm

headgear wrote:Interesting video, not sure I totally agree with him that they are all that amazing, just natural terrain features that will have some travel clear cut or not. I don't see them as buck magnets or anything. When I hunt clearcuts I think two things, bedding and food mostly for does and the bucks will follow during the rut. You can find buck using them for food but its extremely rare to catch a bigwoods buck in the open before dark. They live in miles of cover and feel naked out the open in most cases.

A lot of guys like to hunt the downwind side of the thick regrowth but I like to get right inside of them. There might be some cruising on the edge but the majority of the bigwoods bucks we see are inside the thick stuff so you have to get in there with them if you want a poke at them. These are usually my morning and evening bed hunts during the rut. During mid day I might try and setup between two clearcuts to catch bucks cruising between them, sometimes there is a travel route the bucks prefer. If you can also find remote clearcuts that are hard to access you might see more daytime and open activity, the bucks know where the hunter traffic is and will sometime show a little less fear in these far off areas.

Last but not least not all clearcuts are the same, as I just noted in another thread, what use to be amazing thick cover is now sometimes sprayed before trees are planted so they just don't grow as thick any more the deer don't use them as much. Other times you might have a small swamp or bog in the middle of these clearcuts, they are great bedding cut or not but once they are cut they heat up even more when you have natural bedding surrounded by thick cover.

The first couple years after the clearcut you also have a natural funnels around the edges, you can even see a nice square cut with 4 inside corners to hunt. Again they aren't all equal, you have to assess the terrain and travel routes around the clearcuts to determine what the best funnel might be.


I agree with you Headgear. The clear cuts are definitely one of my favorite rut spots. The cold mornings seem to be more active than the evenings for me. My guess is bacause the deer can sun bathe without being in the open. A lot of the clear cuts in the south arent replanted. The owners just want to turn some quick cash. Ive also seen that the smaller (10ac or less) cuts see more action when it comes to bucks

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image
User avatar
Hodag Hunter
500 Club
Posts: 3834
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:14 pm
Location: Northern WI
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:00 pm

I treat cuts as food sources.

Tracked quite a few mature bucks in the snow and never had any bed in the cut. Good daylight activity for deer around cuts, not so much for mature bucks in shooting hours.

Deer bed in the cuts, big bucks don't in my area.

Good areas to find bigger bucks but not areas to kill them.

[ Post made via Android ] Image
User avatar
headgear
500 Club
Posts: 11310
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:21 am
Location: Northern Minnesota
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby headgear » Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:17 am

Yep I've never found a buck bed in clearcut unless they had a reason to bed there anyway, one was a cut up to a beaver dam area and a little knob/point so it was a nice setup but they would have bedded there clearcut or not. I mostly use them as doe magnets and rut tactics.
User avatar
DaveT1963
500 Club
Posts: 4886
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:27 am
Location: South
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby DaveT1963 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:29 am

A common practice in some of the areas I hunt is the loggers leave a lot of the tops laying/stacked in these clear cuts, especially along the border edges. After a year or two and the area grows up this is the preferred bedding areas in a lot of the pine thickets I hunt in E Texas..... I have found numerous big bucks that use these jungles to bed in - but it will usually be on an edge, close to an edge, on a point where timber extends into the overgrown clear cut - or on an isolated island of new growth young trees like maples or willows. I seldom find them bedding in the middle of clear cuts.
SEMObowhunter
Posts: 367
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:47 pm
Location: SE MO
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby SEMObowhunter » Sat Oct 10, 2015 1:40 am

I love to hunt them. There aren't many on public ground anymore in my area though. The Forest Service made a lot of them in the 80's but they are getting grown up enough to not hold as many deer any more. I hunted one a few years back that was on 1200 acres owned by a timber company and it was open to the public. They cut everything for ties then cut the rest for pulpwood. It was the best hunting I have ever seen once it was a year old and grown up enough to provide cover. They provide good cover and new growth for browse and there were always acorns in it from the few trees that were left. No doubt the deer used it like they always had before, but we saw increased daylight movement, I think due to the fact that the deer felt secure to move in the thick cover. The does loved it which brought in the bucks. But we jumped bucks out of it year around so I know they were bedding in it also. Why wouldn't they when that was the thickest cover anywhere around. I think they are deer factories and hunt one whenever I can find one.
User avatar
Hodag Hunter
500 Club
Posts: 3834
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:14 pm
Location: Northern WI
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby Hodag Hunter » Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:09 am

SEMObowhunter wrote: Why wouldn't they when that was the thickest cover anywhere around.


Where I hunt they are not the best bedding cover around. My guess is the same as Headgear's and Dhurtubise's areas either. (Northern big woods settings)

[ Post made via Android ] Image
drew13
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:08 am
Status: Offline

Re: Hunting clear-cuts - a tactics thread

Unread postby drew13 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:19 am

Nice topic. Also nice to see that many have already expressed my thoughts on clearcuts.

I agree that a cut 1-5 years old is a great food source. If you can find one back in the woods with just a skidder trail or two into it from the road, that is even better. In the northeast, deer will feed and bed in them all day long. I have not seen big bucks feed or bed in them all day BUT they WILL walk right through them during the rut while cruising for does or if locked up with a doe. It's amazing how a buck who wouldn't come out of cover in daylight will go right through what is essentially a giant field in the middle of the day with the proper "motivation"...

As stated, they are also a great place to start on a track in the snow. A little off topic, but... one important tracking tip from the Benoits - don't track anything less than a truly big buck. The reason is because if you're tracking a medium buck and it intersects with some does or other small buck tracks, it will be a chore to figure out which way your buck went. If you're following a big buck track then it's a lot easier to pick his track out from the mess of other tracks.


  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ahawk116, Google Adsense [Bot], Mountain man 89, Ryan549, tuff4x4 and 19 guests