Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

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Bowhunter4life
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Bowhunter4life » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:25 am

I’ve been scouting the Mississippi River bottoms in Illinois as I plan to hunt there this coming season. Never hunted river bottoms so this is a new adventure to me and definitely a challenge in itself. It’s a lot of swamp land with lots of agriculture surrounding it. I’ve seen some of the biggest and tallest rubs in there that I’ve ever seen anywhere. Lots of sign in there from a few months back but I’m not seeing a lot of fresh sign (tracks rubs etc). I believe the majority of these deer have moved off into the hills where there is more food right now. So, I’m not finding hardly any bedding but if you look at the sign, the clusters of rubs near thick cover and finding the higher ground is key.

Your situation may be different D72 but if I was going off fresh sign in these river bottoms I definitely wouldn’t be interested in hunting it. Late season I think these areas are a bust here because this hills are within a few miles and deer can relocate there for better food source.


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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Jonny » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:58 am

So a couple years ago, pre-beast obviously, I was doing a drive with my family and we were pushing a creek bottom that my dad had seen deer in during the previous gun season. I found this and thought it was interesting, and not really relating it to a buck bed. Picture sucks, but I was more fascinated by the rubs instead of noticing the bed. But you can still see how worn down it is in an area that is under 8'+ of water every spring. If you look in the back you can see sand that was deposited in the last flood. I always find lots of cool stuff down there, old cans, beach balls, fishing gear, canoes, picnic tables, etc.

Image

This gives an idea of what the terrain and elevation change looks like. Wish I had better pictures but its all I got now.

Image

The bed was also about 2-3' below the river bank so that when he was laying down, his head could see over the bank into the river, but wouldn't be exposed. Also was low so it would be impossible to shoot him from a higher elevation. My dad has wanted to gun hunt here for years but its way too thick and you can't get a climber into any tree. I might try it with a lone wolf once to see if its possible. It's also very close to houses where the owners like to leave out piles of corn "for the birds".

Heres an aerial. White is walking trail although you better have some thick skin to walk on it. Never seen raspberry plants over 8' tall

Image

Purple is fema floodplain mapping. You can see it's not really accurate with topo lines, but it shows that the area is prone to flooding, which it does quite often. I've pulled grass out of branches 10' off the ground before in a high spot. Bed is on a point, but not a really drawn out point like at the top of the picture where I also gun hunt. Never went back to check if its still being used.

Hope this helps a bit. Kinda shows river bottom bedding more but flood zones can be downright nasty areas, but the biggest bucks my family sees and shoots typically come from the bottoms. Have gotten a couple nice ones on swamp edges or hardwoods, but the best deer come from the bottoms.
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Stanley » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:58 am

Flood plains can be so ticklish to hunt. One year feast the next famine. Wet flooded years look for the high dry spots there will be beds on these spot and will be used in flood and dry years. Dry years are the trickiest. Bottom grass will be tall giving lots of cover. I actually like the dry years much better than wet years. Love the thick grass cover. Buck paradise.
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby UofLbowhunter » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:43 pm

Bowhunter4life wrote:I’ve been scouting the Mississippi River bottoms in Illinois as I plan to hunt there this coming season. Never hunted river bottoms so this is a new adventure to me and definitely a challenge in itself. It’s a lot of swamp land with lots of agriculture surrounding it. I’ve seen some of the biggest and tallest rubs in there that I’ve ever seen anywhere. Lots of sign in there from a few months back but I’m not seeing a lot of fresh sign (tracks rubs etc). I believe the majority of these deer have moved off into the hills where there is more food right now. So, I’m not finding hardly any bedding but if you look at the sign, the clusters of rubs near thick cover and finding the higher ground is key.

Your situation may be different D72 but if I was going off fresh sign in these river bottoms I definitely wouldn’t be interested in hunting it. Late season I think these areas are a bust here because this hills are within a few miles and deer can relocate there for better food source.



I think one reason you may not find any really fresh sign this winter in the swamp is there has been alot of ice since christmas! This is why ive found little to no fresh sign too this winter! Im not far away from that part of the country! It really took me a week or two to dawn on me why the fresh sign wasnt there :doh: With this being said, being your a hill hunter, i do think you may start finding yourself hunting the swamps a little more! You will find the biggest bucks using it! Im surrounded by hills and o have some swamps, im gravitating to hunt swamps full time!
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby UofLbowhunter » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:23 pm

Dpierce72 wrote:Well, since finding THB, I decided to radically change my hunting/scouting style for 2018. Walked >6 miles yesterday in just over 6 hours -walking slowly, poking my head in every spot that looked like a place "I would go if trying to hide", marking my track and every waypoint that I thought might reveal something once plotted upon my return.

Notes about this area from yesterday:

- Before yesterday, I've never stepped foot on this WMA
- I scouted t a 375 acre section of a 15,000+ acre WMA
- It is low (~200ft elevation) and is prone to flooding (waist deep water can exist and always holds some water even when dry)
- There are many sloughs/ditches that are uncrossable even in chest waders dividing sections - requiring boats
- No cattails, but thick buck brush

What I found...

- some beds and areas of bedding, but nothing that appeared to be a primary buck bed (did find hair, but nothing like I've read about & seen on this forum (and I have all the DVDs including Marsh Bedding)
- the two largest buck rubs I've ever seen in the wild personally
- lots of scrapes, rubs, trails, etc
- limited stands (4 locations) and didn't appear well cared for (forgot to check for 'looping trails)

So, of course I'm a little discouraged to spend that much time, go to the hot zones based on topography/satellite imagery, and strike out on the buck beds. My question(s) for you all...

1. Do you notice any difference in bedding in flood prone areas vs non flood prone areas or should the bucks be in the spots and I just didn't find them?
2. Given the rub sizes (in thick areas), is it possible I just missed the beds and I should go back ...or would you move on? Both of these rubs were w/in 1/3 of a mile from each other on an eastern edge 50 yards and .1 miles off a deep ditch bank that is only crossable with a boat.
3. Clearly there are areas in this section I did NOT walk. Primarily walked the perimeter trying to follow hard/soft transitions in the interior.

Thoughts/suggestions/questions...


1- i think there is a time to hunt it and a time not to. Stanely made good sence on where to look first. If it floods but not alot, by not alot i mean 3 or 4 times a fall winter season then there is probably bedding in there especially if its as thick as you described! I got a place that probally get total flooding probably 3 or 4 times a season but i do see the deer returning to it to bed cause of cover and left over water that keeps the hunters out! You can look at it as seasonal too.
2-if you scouted 375 acres and seen big buck sign, more than likely there is a bedding area in there somewhere. Remember more times than not in swamps there are just small humps big enough for a deer that a bed can be on, a lone big tree out in the brush surrounded by water is a prime example,beaver huts can have bedding too sometimes, or just a small hump in thick brush. I scouted a pressured 15 acre island and found two beds of it after the 3rd trip. Treat finding big buck beds like finding a needle in a hay stack, your looking for a couple 4x3 foot beds in 375 you can over look them easily. There is also small bedding areas that may just have a 2 or 3 beds in a small area as well.
3- if there is sign thereid look around in and out before i would just give up on it. There are more than just edges and creek banks to a swamp Look at them all! Before you just give up on it! Give it a couple of diffrent trips!
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Twenty Up
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Twenty Up » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:34 pm

I've never had much luck hunting for mature bucks in flood prone areas, the higher land adjacent seems to offer preferred bedding though.
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Dpierce72 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:37 am

Hey thanks for all the replies, suggestions, and encouragement. I won't give up ...that's for sure! I actually have 30 years of bow hunting experience. Just not in this type of terrain.

Also, I should have stated the magnitude of flooding that can occur in this area - floods can be 20 miles long and 5 miles wide inside river levees which were built to protect surrounding towns. Deer hunting is shut down when the river level gets too high. One thing I thought of since my first post - there are levies and spoil banks that don't go under water, so perhaps some of those in secluded areas may hold consistent buck bedding.

I've already broken this track down again (via mapping) and have a new game plan. Stay tuned...
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Re: Flood zone buck beds ...STRIKE ONE

Unread postby Jonny » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:04 am

Dpierce72 wrote:Hey thanks for all the replies, suggestions, and encouragement. I won't give up ...that's for sure! I actually have 30 years of bow hunting experience. Just not in this type of terrain.

Also, I should have stated the magnitude of flooding that can occur in this area - floods can be 20 miles long and 5 miles wide inside river levees which were built to protect surrounding towns. Deer hunting is shut down when the river level gets too high. One thing I thought of since my first post - there are levies and spoil banks that don't go under water, so perhaps some of those in secluded areas may hold consistent buck bedding.

I've already broken this track down again (via mapping) and have a new game plan. Stay tuned...


I camp in a river bottom. Had flooding come through and forced everybody to pull their campers out. Wouldn't believe the amount of deer that we watched come out of it as well. Easily 50+ deer in an area maybe a couple hundred acres. But when you go hunt in there you would never notice it unless you found their areas
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