Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
User avatar
Ognennyy
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Status: Offline

Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby Ognennyy » Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:37 pm

There's so much great info on this site, specifically on hunting bucks in close proximity to their beds. I've read many of the articles, and done plenty of google searching. There's been no shortage of brainstorming either. But I can't come up with a good strategy for observing bucks leaving the beds I've scouted without alerting them that they're being hunted.

I'm hunting deep sub-alpine timber (~1900 ft elevation), mix of hardwoods and thick evergreen scrub, in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. The bedding area in question is nestled within very tight, 25-30 year old evergreens that have abandoned all their lower branches. The kinda terrain you walk through and come out looking like you got your kicked by a badger, sticks and twigs in your crack and clothing. The beds are in little islands of open pockets within this evergreen scrub, about 20-25 square feet in size.

I have scouted that they enter from the S / SE side of this area which makes sense given that the predominant wind is W / NW. I have also observed tracks going N, coming out of the bedding area across the muddy banks of a tiny stream on the N side of the bedding area, approximately 100 - 120 yards from the beds themselves. So I have a general idea of where they're coming out. There is a long strip of hardwoods on a ridge rising up to the N of the bedding area, another 150-200 yards up the slope from the stream. Makes sense why they're leaving that way. I'm not sure about the rest of the year but I know they're bedding here pre-rut and during the rut. There is a single scrape about 100 yards upwind / to the W of the beds, and rublines running perpendicular in a N-S fashion, skirting the W side of the bedding area.

I'd like to determine the conditions under which they're leaving the bedding area out across the stream to the N of the bedding area. What time of day? What winds? What weather conditions? It's public land but no one really goes in here until muzzle loader season begins, 2-3 weeks after the October 1st archery opener. I want to go in there on the first day after the archery opener, on which I'm confident that the conditions are right to nail one of these bucks. But I'm failing at putting together a strategy for observing the said conditions.

There are old skidder tracks leading into the bedding area from the N, from the S side of the small stream. A week or so ago I went scouting and found sign from last year along these skidder tracks. The deer tracks were too old to read direction, but I assume they were running to the N, away from the bedding area to the tracks I used to see across the stream. I had trail cameras with me, but I dare not place them that deep into the heart of their bedding area. How would I get in to check them without the bucks knowing I was there? For that matter I'm hesitant to use trail cams at all.

I've listened to so many podcasts where Dan talks about glassing from an observation stand at a safe distance. The idea being that even though he has no chance to kill a buck from the stand, he can gain the intel he needs to move in and kill a buck on the first sit. I can't see 50 yards in that landscape, let alone 150-200 yards.

The only option I've come up with is to sit way out to the East of the bedding area on the N side of the stream, 80-90 yards E of the closest set of tracks I've ever observed crossing the stream. Just sit very still and quiet with the binoculars and hope that a buck makes enough noise that I can know with confidence it was a deer. There's no way I'll be able to identify a deer from that distance through that vegetation during twilight minutes.

Is there no other way? Am I overestimating how careful I need to be with trail cameras?

Pic legend:
LDSPUR-SAWBUCK: I jumped a buck here from point 14 while looking closely at tracks crossing the stream. I pulled my boot out of the mud too fast, and saw brush and branches flying in the distance. This is the furthest out to the East I have observed tracks crossing the stream from the bedding area.

LDSPUR-HRDWDS-A: Hardwoods to the N mentioned above. A thin strip - 60-80 yards North to the South, about 200 yards from W to E, of mature beaches.

BEDRUB-A and BEDRUB-B: The rubline mentioned.

LDSPUR-SCRAPE-A: The scrape upwind of the rubline.

Anything with "VRFD" in the name, or other various points in, "4 / BB", "15": buck beds I've discovered.





Imageimage hosting 20mbcertificity.com


mainebowhunter
500 Club
Posts: 3448
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:45 am
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:36 pm

Its why I use a pile of trail cams to do my observation work. :D If I could use observation sits, I would. I had bucks move around me last year based on the reaction of another smaller buck and trail cams telling me the bucks bedded there that morning. They were within 50-60yds. I never saw them.

You can count on hill country being wind based bedding. Unless of course, its super thick and there is no visibility advantage. I hunt mostly flat land and many spots are just thick with 0 visibility wind advantage.

The other issue with the Adirondacks really is the lack of deer numbers, the lack of hunting pressure and the vast amounts of cover. Deer have so many options to bed. My observations are its simpler to narrow it down to primary food sources in heavy cover. Acorns, apples, clear cuts. When that buck leaves his bed, where is he going?

Once I find a food source I start putting out cams. Figuring if I see a buck show up at a destination food source right after dark, I am guessing deer may be using the bed you scouted early in the season. Sometimes, I get lucky and that buck is frequenting that food source in daylight.

Put the trail cams up at the crossing. Put them high. And leave them. Put them in a spot where you can check them on your way into hunt if your worried about too much intrusion. I personally see mature bucks tolerating trail cams more in a low pressure environment especially in and around food sources.

If you hit this area a couple times with no success, no observed movement during your hunt and no trail cam data, at the end of the day, what have you learned about those beds?

Thats just my 2cents.
User avatar
Ognennyy
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby Ognennyy » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:50 am

mainebowhunter wrote:If you hit this area a couple times with no success, no observed movement during your hunt and no trail cam data, at the end of the day, what have you learned about those beds?


I'm not sure what I would think at that point. Have I guessed where they're coming out incorrectly? Or did I get too close, they detected me, and because of my presence altered their patterns. I do like your idea of putting the cameras up near the food source though. Maybe I could do like 4 cameras every 20 yards, all facing west, up on the ridge leading up to the beaches. And maybe I can put myself in a stand something like 200 yards north of their stream crossing and 60-70 yards back to the east of it, near the cameras. I dunno I guess this year will be another learning experience!
User avatar
<DK>
500 Club
Posts: 3811
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:02 am
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby <DK> » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:58 am

Im not sure that I am reading the definitions of the terrain correctly on your pic, it looks and sounds like a tough area. Props for getting the intel to bring here!
I am sure there are guys on here used to that type of timber setting but had to look it up to verify what I was imagining...very cool youre definitely in god's country out there.

I do think the stream will be your friend on this spot at least to setup w a cam or binos to get confirmation of your suspicions and for access purposes. If you are worried about leaving scent use rainy days or consistent wind days for a pass. With it being so thick there are probably other beds that were missed so my advice is treat it as one large bedding area until you get some more clues to encroach closer to a buck. Maybe setup the cam where the trails go across the stream away from bedding along the transition of ever greens to hardwoods first? Unless you are just going to throw sets at it and see what happens or you network the deer trails in the ever greens then I wouldnt be scared to use cams. Im stepping up my tc game this year so im asking for lots of help of others but when you ask guys what the game changer is the answer is usually trail cams. W the scrape and rubline setup the way you described I would think there have have to be does bouncing around the area as well.

Im always trying to learn different regions and bedding types so I have a question for you: When you say - "The beds are in little islands of open pockets within this evergreen scrub, about 20-25 square feet in size." Is this what you are speaking of?
Image
Image
mainebowhunter
500 Club
Posts: 3448
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:45 am
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:02 pm

Ognennyy wrote:
mainebowhunter wrote:If you hit this area a couple times with no success, no observed movement during your hunt and no trail cam data, at the end of the day, what have you learned about those beds?


I'm not sure what I would think at that point. Have I guessed where they're coming out incorrectly? Or did I get too close, they detected me, and because of my presence altered their patterns. I do like your idea of putting the cameras up near the food source though. Maybe I could do like 4 cameras every 20 yards, all facing west, up on the ridge leading up to the beaches. And maybe I can put myself in a stand something like 200 yards north of their stream crossing and 60-70 yards back to the east of it, near the cameras. I dunno I guess this year will be another learning experience!


The problem with your area and much of the North is when you lack deer #s -- bucks for that matter -- your encounters with them doing everything right will be few and far between. You might do everything right -- you might do it right all season, and end up with 0. You may not even get a sighting. All the tactics in the world is not going to put more bucks in the woods. Adirondacks are what ... 6 deer per sq mile?

I tend to be a bit more aggressive with lower deer numbers. The worst I can do is booger the bucks..but whose to say they will leave the area? But if I booger them, I know at least I learned something. Its why its important to have a variety of different spots your hunting / scouting kind of all running at the same time. So if you blow one, or bucks don't show as you hoped, you move to the next.

The other other thing you can do is hunt from the outside in. Run cams on the food sources. Run cams on the crossings. Than start from the furthest point out and start and continue to move closer.
JoeRE
500 Club
Posts: 4579
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:26 am
Location: IA
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby JoeRE » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:26 pm

Sounds like you have the general travel routes figured out. You just want to gain more intel as to what conditions the bedding is used. Weather, rut, and maybe pressure related trends. Put a couple cameras out on that water and travel routes. Leave them soak long term and you will be better off the following year looking at all that intel. The trick is to leave them soak and not interfere with them.

Check them often that close to bedding and you probably will just stink up the area, waste a bunch of time tinkering with the cameras, and any pattern you might think you see will probably be a day late this year because of that intrusion. But you absolutely can leave cameras soak in there long term with little impact. I have become a big believer in using intel from this year to be a better, more precise, hunter next year.

If you hang the cameras high (8 feet or more) and far back from the travel routes, I am certain they have just about zero impact on deer in the area after your ground scent fades in a few days. You don't even need black flash - I think 99% of deer ignore just plain old IR cameras if they are hung above eye level. Black flash is kinda over rated IMO unless you have to worry about thieves at night then it certainly comes in handy. Get them out in August or September or even earlier if you really are confident in your cameras, and leave them till winter.
User avatar
Ognennyy
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby Ognennyy » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:30 pm

Hey Darkknight thanks for the advice. I think I will try to get some cams in there a little closer, just really exercise some scent control techniques as you're suggesting. Worst case scenario I get one picture of a buck on one of the cams, then no more. Then I know how close is too close!

Darkknight54 wrote:Im always trying to learn different regions and bedding types so I have a question for you: When you say - "The beds are in little islands of open pockets within this evergreen scrub, about 20-25 square feet in size." Is this what you are speaking of?


Those pictures are definitely in the ballpark of what I have there. The vegetation is much, much tighter in the bedding area I'm hunting. I think there were several oaks there many years ago and the state sold timber rights to someone who clear cut the areas dense with oaks. So pines grew up very thick. All the pines are thin, and very tightly packed. The trunks are no more 6-8" on most of them, and on average there is 24"-36" between the trunks. The canopy is up about 20' or so, but all of the abandoned / dead branches are still below. So it's almost an impenetrable wall to get in there from the North along the stream. I mean, it's literally impossible to walk in there without making noise. No wonder the bucks are bedded there.

The open spaces that they're bedding in are much smaller than those in your pictures. 3, maybe 4 adult deer maximum could fit in one of the beds if they were all crammed in there.

I'll have to take pictures next time I'm up there. It's still early enough in the season to get away with that I'm sure.
User avatar
Ognennyy
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby Ognennyy » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:34 pm

mainebowhunter wrote:The problem with your area and much of the North is when you lack deer #s -- bucks for that matter -- your encounters with them doing everything right will be few and far between. You might do everything right -- you might do it right all season, and end up with 0. You may not even get a sighting. All the tactics in the world is not going to put more bucks in the woods. Adirondacks are what ... 6 deer per sq mile?


It's actually 4 deer per sq mile according to a ranger I run into up there each year on the rifle opener! I do hunt other areas; my hometown is 120 miles west of here, north of Syracuse. There's agg land there, and lots of abuts public land. Last year I located a great bedding area in there with literally 10x as much deer sign as I've ever seen up North in the Adirondacks. I think I'll put in some time scouting for buck beds in that area this Spring. I love the solitude and challenge of the Adirondacks, but thanks for the reminder to balance my hunting activities.
JoeRE
500 Club
Posts: 4579
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:26 am
Location: IA
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby JoeRE » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:36 pm

Yea it does help to minimize scent when hanging cams - not so much human scent, that you will be leaving regardless but the stupid stuff like handling a cam after you put your wife's lavender scented lotion on your hands. I'm not kidding, I have smelled scented hand lotion on other peoples trail cameras, sitting out there for days before I saw them by the look of it, and tree steps/ladders for that matter. Just makes me laugh every time. Might as well leave a boom box blaring music by that camera in the woods if you do that...


Wow, 4 deer per square mile. That is another world for sure....
mainebowhunter
500 Club
Posts: 3448
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:45 am
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:58 pm

My grandad guided in the Adirondacks. But the main way they hunted was organized deer drives.

4 deer per sq mile is pretty low. Its why you don't find much info about bowhunting these areas during October. Same with Maine. When you talk bed hunting with some of these guys -- successful guys -- they look at you like you have 3 heads. Because for many, October hunting is just a way to get out in the woods before the real season starts -- rifle season. Thats when most of them kill good bucks.

All that to say...you come to the beast, your going to learn a lot of great tactics...but you will have to figure out how to make them work for you. Its tough because you have to believe in yourself. Its miserable hunting if every time you sit and don't see something you doubt yourself because you think you made a mistake..too much noise. Too much scent. Cameras too close. But thats low deer density hunting.

I have enough trail cams so I do a combo of both. Leaving cams out on properties that I really have no plans on hunting that year. And I also use them on properties that I do plan on hunting this year. Cell cams are another great tool if you utilize them.

The hardest part about low deer densities is the fact that annual patterns in October can really change drastically from year to year and sometimes its a challenge just to find deer on that property that you want to hunt. You can plan on all of your post season scouting only to show up and the buck that made those beds is dead. And there is not anymore good bucks moving in to take their place. I see it every single year. Many times you may be chasing the only good buck 3+ sq miles.

Just one more thought about the water crossing. Tracks are your friend. If those bucks are leaving their beds and crossing that stream with any regularity, you should be able to see it.
User avatar
Ognennyy
Posts: 375
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Getting intel on buck beds in thick sub-alpine timber

Unread postby Ognennyy » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:51 am

Thanks for the uplifting words all, and especially Mainebowhunter. What you described about miserable hunting is something I really experienced last year. About three weeks after the archery season opener I came onto the beast one night really looking for a pick-me-up. It was losing faith in myself due to never seeing deer while on stand. Fortunately I did kill my first deer ever last year so I'm hoping that will help my resilience out this season.

I will definitely continue to pay attention to tracks up there. I'll combo that up with cameras further up the ridge across from the stream, out away from the bedding area and toward the hard woods. I think my strategy will be to go in there right up the middle of the stream looking for tracks. When I find them, back up 30 yards or so, and go up the ridge and check my cameras. Hopefully I'll get enough confirmation of that a buck / bucks are using that bedding area and crossing the stream toward the hardwoods at nightfall, on a given wind direction, that I can get in there and stick one on a first sit.

Thanks again.


  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], theAdmiral, tn-bear and 8 guests