Hill Country Is Killing Me!

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checkerfred
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Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby checkerfred » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:11 am

So I just started hunting public land 2 years ago. Last year, I had a little bit of success by killing a little 6 and a little bigger 7 point (broken brow tine). I felt like last year I had made some progress. This year however, I feel like I've gone backwards. I've barely seen a deer out of about 10-11 hunts. I didn't see a ton last year either but more than this year. I would love to blame it on the weather being warm, low deer populations, being big woods etc. but I hate making excuses. I've talked to a few people from the area and the numbers don't seem as low as I thought and there have some been monsters killed this year in the areas I'm in, so I know they're out there. It just really frustrates me and eats away at my confidence. I start to question everything and even sometimes getting out of my stand earlier than I should. Constantly hauling a stand and gear a long way in the woods over and over without sightings is tough as well.

I've learned this year thought that the public hills I'm hunting gets more pressure than I initially thought last year. Also, the hills are hard to hunt due to wind/thermals. I've seen the wind swirl, seen inconsistent thermals etc.

I know 2 years isn't much time and I've got a ton to learn. I know success comes from putting in the work too. It's just frustrating. I'm not sure if I'm missing things from scouting or if I need to scout more, not setting up right, not accessing areas the right way, or simply just not hunting the right areas. I have gotten better at reading maps and walking into an area and finding buck sign, though it's rut sign. I've only found one or two buck beds in the hills and they didn't seem like mature bucks. I've found some doe beds as well. I'm getting better at seeing tracks in leaf covered ground. I'm trying to find overlooked or non-pressured areas but that's been extremely difficult though I might have found one or two.

Would love to hear some input from you guys...anything...it could be how long it's taken you to get to where you are.


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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby justdirtyfun » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:33 am

Well, going after the big mature deer is a huge challenge. And the feedback or judge of success can't only be one in the bag.

Prior to joining I have bowhunted public almost exclusively for 8 years. I kill almost every year with a high point of three in one season. One was a blind map hunt out of state. But NO mature bucks. I am also kind of a city boy, deer hunting over 20 years but no great mentor until arriving here.

What I'm saying is this: always recognize areas to improve and always honestly judge each hunt.
Beast regulars build specific skills that lead to regular success; quite approach, dead silent equipment, and choosing proper stand locations for current conditions.

Look at each of your hunts with a critical eye. I have been on at least 20 hunts but NONE were mistake free. I can't blame the deer for not being there if I haven't done my part.

You and I both are on the right path and have improved in the past two years. I'm sure of it.

So let's just keep going. And going.

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby Stanley » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:16 am

Decades and still learning.
You can fool some of the bucks, all of the time, and fool all of the bucks, some of the time, however you certainly can't fool all of the bucks, all of the time.
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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:22 am

checkerfred wrote:So I just started hunting public land 2 years ago. Last year, I had a little bit of success by killing a little 6 and a little bigger 7 point (broken brow tine). I felt like last year I had made some progress. This year however, I feel like I've gone backwards. I've barely seen a deer out of about 10-11 hunts. I didn't see a ton last year either but more than this year. I would love to blame it on the weather being warm, low deer populations, being big woods etc. but I hate making excuses. I've talked to a few people from the area and the numbers don't seem as low as I thought and there have some been monsters killed this year in the areas I'm in, so I know they're out there. It just really frustrates me and eats away at my confidence. I start to question everything and even sometimes getting out of my stand earlier than I should. Constantly hauling a stand and gear a long way in the woods over and over without sightings is tough as well.

I've learned this year thought that the public hills I'm hunting gets more pressure than I initially thought last year. Also, the hills are hard to hunt due to wind/thermals. I've seen the wind swirl, seen inconsistent thermals etc.

I know 2 years isn't much time and I've got a ton to learn. I know success comes from putting in the work too. It's just frustrating. I'm not sure if I'm missing things from scouting or if I need to scout more, not setting up right, not accessing areas the right way, or simply just not hunting the right areas. I have gotten better at reading maps and walking into an area and finding buck sign, though it's rut sign. I've only found one or two buck beds in the hills and they didn't seem like mature bucks. I've found some doe beds as well. I'm getting better at seeing tracks in leaf covered ground. I'm trying to find overlooked or non-pressured areas but that's been extremely difficult though I might have found one or two.

Would love to hear some input from you guys...anything...it could be how long it's taken you to get to where you are.

That's the key right there. You have to get out and get better at finding those mature buck beds. Doe bedding is good to know for the rut and to keep from blowing up a nearby buck bed by accidentally bumping the does by him or alerting him when snorting. Being very quiet and carefully choosing your entry route, etc are all important too. One mistake is usually all it takes to blow a hunt.
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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby checkerfred » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:48 am

Thanks guys. I have definitely worked on being quieter walking in and setting up, but I just feel like maybe I'm missing some stuff that maybe should be obvious especially to some of you seasoned veterans.


justdirtyfun wrote:Well, going after the big mature deer is a huge challenge. And the feedback or judge of success can't only be one in the bag.

Prior to joining I have bowhunted public almost exclusively for 8 years. I kill almost every year with a high point of three in one season. One was a blind map hunt out of state. But NO mature bucks. I am also kind of a city boy, deer hunting over 20 years but no great mentor until arriving here.

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Same here....I grew up in a mostly non hunting family. Only hunting I ever did was dove hunting. My friend got me started in deer hunting about 8-9 years ago and my first year I killed a mature 7 point out of luck. That had me hooked. Until finding this place two years ago I thought it was all just setting up in the woods somewhere along some kind of sign and getting luck with a deer just wandering by LOL. I have learned a good bit. One of my flaws is that I want it to happen fast and I know it won't....it's gonna take years of scouting, hunting, making mistakes etc. Sometimes I get so frustrated I don't wanna hunt but I am determined and I still go out there.
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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:00 pm

checkerfred wrote:Thanks guys. I have definitely worked on being quieter walking in and setting up, but I just feel like maybe I'm missing some stuff that maybe should be obvious especially to some of you seasoned veterans.


justdirtyfun wrote:Well, going after the big mature deer is a huge challenge. And the feedback or judge of success can't only be one in the bag.

Prior to joining I have bowhunted public almost exclusively for 8 years. I kill almost every year with a high point of three in one season. One was a blind map hunt out of state. But NO mature bucks. I am also kind of a city boy, deer hunting over 20 years but no great mentor until arriving here.

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Same here....I grew up in a mostly non hunting family. Only hunting I ever did was dove hunting. My friend got me started in deer hunting about 8-9 years ago and my first year I killed a mature 7 point out of luck. That had me hooked. Until finding this place two years ago I thought it was all just setting up in the woods somewhere along some kind of sign and getting luck with a deer just wandering by LOL. I have learned a good bit. One of my flaws is that I want it to happen fast and I know it won't....it's gonna take years of scouting, hunting, making mistakes etc. Sometimes I get so frustrated I don't wanna hunt but I am determined and I still go out there.

This is true, but only to a point. If you put in every minute you can spare into scouting this year and make it as targeted as possible when your out there (using aerials and topo's) you can really hurry things along. Especially if you can do most of your ground work before the leaves are on the trees.
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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby BigHunt » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:08 pm

them hills will get you ;)

keep at it :mrgreen:
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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby Bowhunter4life » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:01 pm

Hunting hills is all I've ever hunted. I had a very rough start to my hunting career. I went so many season without punching a buck tag. Just years and years of making mistakes and learning from them. That was this biggest key for me, learning and not giving up. Still learn something everytime I'm in the woods. I think the biggest learning curve is wind/thermals in the hills. Figuring out how deer use them to stay alive. Also can't leave out the terrain. During the rut focusing on terrain for buck travel will be more productive than hunting sign. Hunting the hills can humble the best of the best when going after mature animals. Some days it seems like there isn't a deer within two miles and the next day you could see 20 plus. Don't give up, hunting the hills can be very rewarding!

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby checkerfred » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:13 pm

BigHunt wrote:them hills will get you ;)

keep at it :mrgreen:

Yes, yes they will lol


Bowhunter4life wrote:Hunting hills is all I've ever hunted. I had a very rough start to my hunting career. I went so many season without punching a buck tag. Just years and years of making mistakes and learning from them. That was this biggest key for me, learning and not giving up. Still learn something everytime I'm in the woods. I think the biggest learning curve is wind/thermals in the hills. Figuring out how deer use them to stay alive. Also can't leave out the terrain. During the rut focusing on terrain for buck travel will be more productive than hunting sign. Hunting the hills can humble the best of the best when going after mature animals. Some days it seems like there isn't a deer within two miles and the next day you could see 20 plus. Don't give up, hunting the hills can be very rewarding!

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Thanks. I'm re reading mapping trophy bucks now especially the wind section. Part of my problem now is I find I have questions or notice a particular detail that I can't figure out. Like recently setting up above the thermal tunnel. The wind was fine for a little bit then I saw two does on an adjacent ridge point. They eventually busted me due to swirling winds. But I have no idea why the wind swirled.

Can you elaborate on focusing on terrain for buck travel...do you mean for example the leeward side of a ridge even though sign may be below in a valley or opposite side of the ridge?

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby tmarbut » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:19 pm

Hot & humid is making it miserable for deer hunting down here right now.
It is not just you. Keep plugging!

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby Bucky » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:28 pm

Checker... focus on the terrain just like Mapping Trophy bucks describes... saddles, drainages, benchs etc

I'm a big fan of hunting higher too on ridges sides... low and I would get winded

Don't get sucked into that bottom sign... unless it is a big wide flat bottom where winds won't swirl constantly. Throw milk weed LOTS to learn how the wind travels

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby mheichelbech » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:32 pm

It seems like every place I hear or see someone talking about deer hunting right now is that the deer aren't moving. Sunday evening I went to an area I hadn't been to all season. It's one of this type places like in fishing, if you don't catch fish there then they aren't biting, I saw 6 including a small buck by an hour before dark. I think they are moving, you just have to find those unpressured areas where they are. Maybe it's a different area altogether from where you have been hunting.

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby Bowhunter4life » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm

checkerfred wrote:
BigHunt wrote:them hills will get you ;)

keep at it :mrgreen:

Yes, yes they will lol


Bowhunter4life wrote:Hunting hills is all I've ever hunted. I had a very rough start to my hunting career. I went so many season without punching a buck tag. Just years and years of making mistakes and learning from them. That was this biggest key for me, learning and not giving up. Still learn something everytime I'm in the woods. I think the biggest learning curve is wind/thermals in the hills. Figuring out how deer use them to stay alive. Also can't leave out the terrain. During the rut focusing on terrain for buck travel will be more productive than hunting sign. Hunting the hills can humble the best of the best when going after mature animals. Some days it seems like there isn't a deer within two miles and the next day you could see 20 plus. Don't give up, hunting the hills can be very rewarding!

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image


Thanks. I'm re reading mapping trophy bucks now especially the wind section. Part of my problem now is I find I have questions or notice a particular detail that I can't figure out. Like recently setting up above the thermal tunnel. The wind was fine for a little bit then I saw two does on an adjacent ridge point. They eventually busted me due to swirling winds. But I have no idea why the wind swirled.

Can you elaborate on focusing on terrain for buck travel...do you mean for example the leeward side of a ridge even though sign may be below in a valley or opposite side of the ridge?

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image

I think Bucky pretty much hit it on the head. If your reading mapping trophy bucks, using the terrain to funnel movement is what I was getting at just as Bucky said. I'm also much more of a fan of hunting high in the hills. You will have less of that wind swirling. Low wind speeds make it tough no matter what but you just have to hunt smart. I try to wait for a pretty decent wind speed to go into my most productive spots in the hills. This is just my observation but it definitely seems to hold true for me year after year, the days with a pretty steady wind or winds at least over 8 mph I see more deer.

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby checkerfred » Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:55 pm

Bowhunter4life wrote:
checkerfred wrote:
BigHunt wrote:them hills will get you ;)

keep at it :mrgreen:

Yes, yes they will lol


Bowhunter4life wrote:Hunting hills is all I've ever hunted. I had a very rough start to my hunting career. I went so many season without punching a buck tag. Just years and years of making mistakes and learning from them. That was this biggest key for me, learning and not giving up. Still learn something everytime I'm in the woods. I think the biggest learning curve is wind/thermals in the hills. Figuring out how deer use them to stay alive. Also can't leave out the terrain. During the rut focusing on terrain for buck travel will be more productive than hunting sign. Hunting the hills can humble the best of the best when going after mature animals. Some days it seems like there isn't a deer within two miles and the next day you could see 20 plus. Don't give up, hunting the hills can be very rewarding!

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image


Thanks. I'm re reading mapping trophy bucks now especially the wind section. Part of my problem now is I find I have questions or notice a particular detail that I can't figure out. Like recently setting up above the thermal tunnel. The wind was fine for a little bit then I saw two does on an adjacent ridge point. They eventually busted me due to swirling winds. But I have no idea why the wind swirled.

Can you elaborate on focusing on terrain for buck travel...do you mean for example the leeward side of a ridge even though sign may be below in a valley or opposite side of the ridge?

[ Post made via iPhone ] Image

I think Bucky pretty much hit it on the head. If your reading mapping trophy bucks, using the terrain to funnel movement is what I was getting at just as Bucky said. I'm also much more of a fan of hunting high in the hills. You will have less of that wind swirling. Low wind speeds make it tough no matter what but you just have to hunt smart. I try to wait for a pretty decent wind speed to go into my most productive spots in the hills. This is just my observation but it definitely seems to hold true for me year after year, the days with a pretty steady wind or winds at least over 8 mph I see more deer.

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Thanks everyone for the input. I'm sure this weather ain't helping any. Unseasonable temps plus rain for a week.

Bucky and bowhunter4life, I assume you guys mean higher up on the ridges? I never hunt the valleys. If you mean higher up in the tree I have contemplated climbing as high as I possibly can lol.

Funny you should mention that about stronger winds for your best spots. Reading mapping trophy bucks again that's one thing I missed. He said it would tend to swirl at lower speeds. I also missed the part about staying on stand until 1 pm. I'm bad about leaving early like around 11. Also I know I need to focus on access. That's one of my biggest challenges now too.

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Re: Hill Country Is Killing Me!

Unread postby Bowhunter4life » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:33 pm

Yea higher on the ridge. Trying to stay up above the deer and their cruising trails on the side ridges. Using milkweed or some sort of wind checker that will allow you to see what your wind is doing on out, you want to try and get above the deer trail and high enough in the tree so that your wind will go over them. Access is another big key no matter what type of terrain your hunting. One last point you made that I believe hurts a majority of hunters around this area I hunt. 90 percent or more of the guys leave their stand between 10:30-11:30. During the rut I have honestly killed as many if not more bucks midday than any other time. Is definitely worth your time to sit longer, all day if possible during the rut.

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