Advice on a Hill

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jman22
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Advice on a Hill

Unread postby jman22 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:36 am

I was fortunate enough to gain access to a new private piece of land this past winter. It's only about 50 acres wooded and 30 acres ag fields. I can only access it from the road the north, or from the ag fields. Its a nice hardwood top that drops off pretty sharply heading west into a swamp of cedars, spruce and hemlock. On the bottom is a nice saddle in between two hardwood hills with a heavy trail running through (marked in green). Lots of doe bedding in this piece and its not uncommon for 15-20 doe to be seen entering the fields at night. My scouting trips so far have revealed the majority of doe bedding in the areas circled in orange. The red circles (especially the one near the saddle) have some massive rubs and most of the buck sign. The red trail is a bench trail along the dropoff that also has a nice rubline along it.

This is new terrain for me as I'm used to hunting flat farm ground and swamps. I'm looking for some thoughts on access and stand placement. The road to the north runs through a valley. I was thinking one of my best ways to access would be to sneak up the ridge off the road and access the hardwoods from the north end. The beds in the hardwood top make me nervous about walking through the fields as I think I would get busted pretty quickly. As far a stand placement goes, would a stand along that bench be a good idea? I can't think of any good way to get near that saddle without pushing all sorts of deer around, so I think I am primarily going to hunt towards the top of the hill when the wind is coming from the west and hope the deer come up to feed in the evening. Maybe set a stand up on the trail that exits that saddle the east?

With the primary wind being out of the west, would it be common to find bucks bedding on top with wind to back and facing the field as opposed to bedding down in the bottom? I know there is a lot more to consider with the varying wind directions, but any basic insights or advice are appreciated!

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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby <DK> » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:18 am

Great job getting that intel Jman22! So you didnt find buck bedding just sign correct? Just rubs or a few tracks? Also, were you saying the cedars are swampy? Is the field ag or just grass or crp?
I wouldnt discount anything around here bc you have a high density and it looks like you have good thick area. Just an all around great network of cover to work w. Surprising for a small parcel, congrats on getting permission. Right away looks like a great rut spot, got a couple piles of does living there consistently. I would not discount anything w the high density. Ill wait for your response before i mark up or make suggestions
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby jman22 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 4:21 am

Darkknight54 wrote:Great job getting that intel Jman22! So you didnt find buck bedding just sign correct? Just rubs or a few tracks? Also, were you saying the cedars are swampy? Is the field ag or just grass or crp?
I wouldnt discount anything around here bc you have a high density and it looks like you have good thick area. Just an all around great network of cover to work w. Surprising for a small parcel, congrats on getting permission. Right away looks like a great rut spot, got a couple piles of does living there consistently. I would not discount anything w the high density. Ill wait for your response before i mark up or make suggestions


Darkknight54, thanks for the response! To answer your questions. I haven't found what I wound consider a definitive buck bed yet, but I'm new to that game. The few times I've scouted so far have been with varying amounts of snow and all I have seen was large groups (5-15) of doe beds. I did find a single bed just to the west of the doe bedding that exists up on the hardwood top. Its just a perfect spot. From the topo, you can see that a valley cuts through the hill near that higher doe bedding area. This single bed was up high, and from it I could see the doe beds and the ag fields to the east, and also down in the swamp to the west. On my first scouting trip I kicked an unknown deer out of that bed. I also wouldn't be surprised to find a buck bed down in the lower end where I found the massive rubs. I plan on going back in soon now that the snow is gone to try and decipher the bedding. But yes, I'm only going on rubs right now and not tracks.

The cedars are definitely swampy. The majority of this is large hemlocks, so there really isn't much undergrowth as you move down the hill. It's pretty open and wet. There are some dense cedars right next to the road that borders this piece to the north. As you get towards the bottom of the hill it really begins to thicken up again with cedars, spruce, pine and then you hit the hardwoods on either side of the saddle. They are young hardwoods and very dense for the most part. The red circle on the western boundary of the property was very thick had some very large rubs in it. Past the property line (heading west), is a small swampy area with cattails and then it opens into an overgrown field that hasn't been touched in years.

The ag fields to the east are actively farmed and usually a combo of corn, soybeans and wheat depending on the year and rotation.

I agree that this could be a great rut spot. I know 4 guys that hunt the adjoining piece (an additional ~400 acres of similar hilly terrain/ag fields) to the south and they regularly tell me they see a lot of bucks moving into the piece I know have permission to hunt. This is largely because these guys hunt this piece everyday from Oct 1st bow till muzzle closes in mid December. The only way they access their stands is by walking or driving down the fields to their stands. I am convinced they are pushing some deer into this little 50 acre piece.
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby <DK> » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:17 pm

Excellent intel! This will be long winded... I personally think you have done a great job and trust your gut bc you seem to be reading sign well and seeing everything compared to me guessing here. What you said about the deer being pressured in from surrounding properties and knowing these other hunters is huge! I have a few questions but I am going to bounce a few ideas your way now as well. Again I think you have a really good spot and a good handle on things w/o my input.
Can you get permission to "shed hunt" ;) across the line? Also, can you get permission to retrieve a deer if needed?

First off I want to answer your buck bedding question from before - Bucks can bed with the wind at their back looking out toward the open field. I do not think this is happening at the spot you described. It would require the proper ingredients but mainly w/o seeing where at on the map or pic of it I cannot say w confidence. However, fence lines have been kind to me for buck beds when they are thick or early season. I like what you said about unknown solo deer being jumped so im glad to hear you plan to investigate!

*Scouting - You need to look at the bigger picture w the maps and searching for possible bucks in surrounding area. Even though you may not be able to confirm there are always suspected areas. If you get pics or see them you can guess or ask the beast. Deer could be coming from across the road as well. Inside your property lines doesnt look the greatest for a W wind like you described for hill buck beds just based off of the pics you posted. Im probably missing alot w/o being able to zoom and we dont know whats in that swamp either...but if they are pressure din here then they have to be somewhere. When you start the day check the wind and note it when you jump these does. Also take binos w you. They can bed on goofy winds in weird spots sometimes so I put a lot of weight into that info just like bucks adn you will need it to attack your spot you want to dive into. As you progress you will start knowing where might expect to jump deer like you have done.
Start w re checking your buck encounter spot. Then (if you havent yet) walk to the property line where the fields meet the woods. Look around over the line for other stands its an obvious good spot it at least deserves a trail cam. Then I would walk the transition on the cedars - cut some tracks, trails, rubs, ect... mark everything on your gps or phone. Definitely mark stand trees as you find them, it looks like it may get to be tough to find good trees down in that valley and when season gets here you might need them. You need to brush up on swamp bedding or ask for advice on this spot - I have no exp w wetland type bedding all i can say is find a dry spot :lol: :text-imsorry: There are alot of pics in the thread 2017 SCOUTING REPORT. That being said, you have a small area to check and still time to do it. Take pics or video or both or if you can remember dont.
You have easy access w the field and road but even better you have easy quick access to check trail cam and walk the field edge to catch those buck tracks man! Early season especially! AND if you can see down the wood line or the fence line going east - you can observe something coming out.

*Bedding - In the high density draw only areas I scout it can be nerve racking to read to sign properly. I have found rut beds while scouting, x2 that actually smelled like you just poured a bottle of buck urine in it. One of these instances was 5 days ago actually... something to chew on :D Sometimes they stack on top of each other in bedding areas bc of what you spoke of w pressure and high numbers. Read what you are seeing the best you can. I have asked Dan and others a few times about this situation bc its tough! The best advice I can give is what they taught me and my exp: you need to just treat it as a large bedding area bc there are for sure beds you cant or havent seen. Satellite deer bedding is always tough, but it will make you bang your head against the wall w so many doe.
With most farm bedding most intel you gather is for the future bc of crop rotation. In your situation you have a killer setup w multiple food sources in the same field so I would say you might only see minor pattern changes. I have only recently dipped into ag bedding, but so far everything the member has taught me is true.

*Set Locations - its hard for me to say specifically from the pics but for your spot you described that you want to dive into, It reminds me of a spot I hunt so here is my advice - save it for the rut, let those guys mess things up a bit go in the mornings and plan for all day sits. Sometimes you may even sit till after dark a bit to let all the deer clear out to feed - you do this to keep the pressure down. Design your access after you find all the intel, it can be tough to get in w so many noses and eyes so if you wait till the rut and the dark things can work better in your favor. But if you observe something - find a buck bed, find early season tracks, or trail cam pics in daylight or those other hunters tell you something useful then my advice changes a bit.
So i mentioned earlier about treating it as a large bedding area, this can be tough to hunt a specific bed. One of your best bets is to target a scrape in between bedding areas or set up in the zone between x2 doe bedding areas (lower or same elevation depending on the sign). Figure out your enter/exit trails and create setups all around the area for different winds and situations. You will know where to be and when.
You may be able to smoke one by playing it conservative on the field edge man and none of this matters. I just love talking hunting, I hope someone can point out locations in that bottom

By the way - Welcome to the Beast
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby <DK> » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:18 pm

Image
This is just a basic mark up for ya
Orange - Possible Buck
Blue - Stand
Green - Transition Line

Image
Generally when i see these 2 circled areas - I think does. You might want to check out the bottom circled ridge just in case.
The orange is where i look for bucks bedding off field edges.
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby jman22 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:54 am

Darkknight...wow. Thanks man! Really appreciate you taking the time to write that and make your markup. You make some great points and it really helps me to read and visualize your thoughts.

To answer a few of your questions. Yes I can do something off season scouting and shed hunting on the adjoining piece. And I know 2 of the hunters very well. I actually hunt a large dairy farm that is across the steet from the piece. I run a lot of cameras and I know these guys are hunting dome of the same deer I am going by pics they show me. One of my problems is going to be dealing with a tresspasser. I'm the only one hunting this new piece and have found 3 stands already but thats another topic.
I completely agree with your thought on saving this for a rut spot. Makes complete sense! I am a conservative bowhunter by nature, who usually hunts the fringes, but the beast site has made me realize that maybe there is a time to dive in when the time is right. When all the new snow (and additional forecasted 12 inches) finally melts I want to dive back in to this piece and begin to get setup. Landowner isn't big on treestands, so I need to work on that with him, otherwise I need to work on my ground game. I am still trying to figure out a way to get in the bottom of this piece without spooking deer. Your advice is sound, and I think I just need to do it when the risk/reward ratio is best.
My swamp bedding dvd just arrived recently so I need to dive into that as well. Thanks again for all the advice. Ive written down some good notes and am excited to scout and hunt this piece. Great group of people here with tremendous knowledge.
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby <DK> » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:51 pm

NP, I usually let a thread get alot of views before chiming in. Just passing on what other guys on here taught me and I am seeing. You have such a cool spot here for the size and a unique situation. I hope you get some advice form a guy in your specific region. But it Looks great!

If you have trespassing issue then it should work out for you since you said he doesnt like tree stands. Go mobile if you can, obviously private land everyone has stands, but if you tell him you are mobile I would have to think he would like you more. Think of it this way - you have unlimited hunting spots and unlimited fresh sits. If you want to dive in to center of the property then just get it all mapped out and figure out the zones they can see/smell. Pull up the map and draw on it over and over till you figure out the best way or ask on the site. Stand approach is a great topic on this site - viewtopic.php?f=4&t=261

I definitely think you can kill a early season buck here, it will just take some intel or observation. You have too much surrounding pressure, food, and cover to offer here so I hope you find a good one in there. If you can scout the other property then that is a jackpot, though I would keep the bedding thing to a minimal bc you can use them to your advantage.
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby jman22 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:02 am

Thanks again. Finding the trespasser stands was a good thing b/c when I told the landowner he was not pleased and he was thankful I am now looking over his property. I'm excited to hunt here as I know there are some nice deer around. I ran cams from Jan-Late Feb and probably got 7 or 8 bucks on cam. 1 smaller 3 yo and the rest were 1 yo. Also 2 shed bucks that were definitely mature. Always exciting to see some new turf and make a plan.
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Re: Advice on a Hill

Unread postby jman22 » Mon May 15, 2017 12:21 am

Darkknight54 wrote:Image
This is just a basic mark up for ya
Orange - Possible Buck
Blue - Stand
Green - Transition Line

Image
Generally when i see these 2 circled areas - I think does. You might want to check out the bottom circled ridge just in case.
The orange is where i look for bucks bedding off field edges.



An update on my findings on this piece of property. First off,a big thanks to Darkknight for the suggestions. Once we finally lost all our snow in late March, I put in a few trips to this piece and really walked it good. I was able to find a few solo beds on this piece. Most of them were on the eastern portion of the property toward the top of the hill. There were beds on almost every finger on the ridge tops that allowed the deer to see into the ag fields and also down in the bottom depending on the winds.

What I am most interested in the hardwood transition line towards the SW of the property. There is a very definitive transition line coming out of the swamp and into the hardwoods. There is also a saddle that runs through there. I found some very large rubs and even some big tracks down where Darkknight and I marked on the map. Just on the other side of the property line heading west there is a swampy and overgrown field that just screams bedding to me. Its thick, hard to access and a buck could bound out and cross a creek to the west, or enter my property and head into the swamp to the east. I think this may be a good rut spot to investigate. Anybody else agree? My logic is to not pressure the interior of this piece until primetime. There is a fair amount of pressure on adjoining properties, so I'll let those other guys push the deer around and hopefully into this small piece of land.

After hearing others on the forum discuss trail cam strategy and after listening to JoeRE podcast the other day I am going to put a few cams in the heart of this property and let them sit. I'm hoping to gain intel for future years by doing this. The landowner doesn't want me hunting out of stands on this piece, so I'm excited to do some ground hunting as well. Maybe even try to catch a buck coming to the ag fields early season. Always exciting to try and new property with new strategies.


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