How to approach big woods w/flat topography

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Northcarolinian
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How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby Northcarolinian » Wed May 09, 2018 8:28 pm

Just curious how you guys approach hunting big woods with flat ground. Do you just hunt the edges? Hunt the perimeter of thick cover wherever you can find it? Big woods just throws me for a loop with out any topography. Looking for insight to expedite scouting efforts. Thanks


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headgear
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby headgear » Wed May 09, 2018 11:33 pm

Got an aerials? I would focus on the swamps, edges, a mess of blow downs, thick stuff as you mentions, anything that breaks up the terrain. Rarely is anything 100% flat so even a small rise can make a good bedding area. Any rivers, ponds or lakes nearby? They can make a great barrier or standing water can create a thermal pull to make an average bedding spot even better.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Wed May 09, 2018 11:57 pm

Boots on the ground and a LOT of boots on the ground. I start with all my obvious edges first. Any swale edges, swamp edges, alder edges, cutover edges. Then, I look for interior edges of any sort. Sometimes they are very subtle. Look for every elevated spot you can find. Any elevated hump, knoll will hold bedded deer. Humps surrounded by water, thats another one. Deer love them. Even if its shallow water.

The toughest part with flat land? Deer can bed any of it. Those elevated humps are all over these pieces where I hunt. I spend 100s and 100s of hours scouting this type of terrain. I also am spending time in areas where I KNOW big bucks are, bucks that made the season. So my scouting is very specific to that end.

Good luck!
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NYBackcountry
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby NYBackcountry » Thu May 10, 2018 1:57 am

If possible scouting with some snow can be extremely helpful, back tracking deer and taking notes on travel patterns over the years can put together a big picture. As the other guys stated, edges, one of the big woods spots I hunt is fairly flat, a tornado came through that area about 10 or so years ago and it didn't take long before those edges were a deer hotbed.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby tbunao » Thu May 10, 2018 5:03 am

Everything Maine and headgear mentioned. This is also where your historical time bar on google earth would play and important role. If there is a map when the foliage is gone you’ll see dark areas, those tend to be the thickest areas. You can kind of look at areas like this as you would cattail marshes in a way. Those thick areas are the islands and all the open big timber are the cattails. Vegetation transition lines connect the dots. Make sure you look for the not so defined lines as well.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby d_rek » Thu May 10, 2018 7:52 am

tbunao wrote:Everything Maine and headgear mentioned. This is also where your historical time bar on google earth would play and important role. If there is a map when the foliage is gone you’ll see dark areas, those tend to be the thickest areas. .


This is a great tip. You can isolate the mature timber from the low, dense understudy just by seeing where the shadows are cast after the foliage is gone. I like to look at the forest when it's green, then toggle to a late season view. Once you know what to look for you'll find the thick areas pretty easy.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby jhpa » Thu May 10, 2018 7:58 am

d_rek and tbunao, awesome tip. I haven't considered that the thick islands in big timber would be comparable to the islands in a marsh. This will certainly help me narrow down my scouting.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby ihookem » Thu May 10, 2018 12:26 pm

I hunt a lot of big woods in northern Wisconsin. It is quite flat too. The first thing I do is find a river . There is almost always a trail on the top ridge of a river. It is a travel route and used most of the year but seems the trails are used in the rut. I decided to go to the Hiawatha National Forest in Upper Michigan 2 weeks ago. I found a small road that crossed a fast flowing river. Sure enough, there was a heck of a deer trail along the river. Trails branched off and came back on. There were deer droppings everywhere and I found a wolf kill so the wolves know it too. This is most likely the easiest way to hunt the big woods when hunting it cold turkey if you have never been there. If you find an acre of poppies that have been cut down by the beavers , you may have a buck bed in there with all the blowdowns and high grass coming up. We all know on the beast how deer like blowdowns and high grass. A spot like this will likely be passed on by from other hunters without realizing a potential spot. Also, a canoe will get to to and from the spots without working up a sweat. A lot easier paddling a canoe with a deer in it than dragging too. Canoes are quiet and dont throw your scent through the woods as much as walking.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby PK_ » Thu May 10, 2018 12:45 pm

1. Wet edges

2. The areas with the highest number of converging habitats(edges)

3. Novelty, nuance, lowest common denominator(least available of food, water or cover)

5. The most remote areas

6. The areas that combine any number of these characteristics

Big woods to me is more about using the map to eliminate unproductive ground without having to walk it all. Simply because I don’t have time to walk it all. But if you do have time then by all means, walk it all.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby Bogle » Thu May 10, 2018 1:38 pm

Pretty much what the others have said. However, I look for the transition with in the transitions. I scouted a swamp a few months ago and I found all of the deer along the third transition line. The first transition was a field edge, second was knee high palmetto bushes and the third was palmetto bushes waste high and taller. This third transition line had blow down trees along it as well as small creeks. Every deer I jumped was bedded around a blow down along this third transition.
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby TheBuckPsych » Thu May 10, 2018 2:01 pm

I actually try to pretend all the mature trees are gone and treat all the thickets and wet areas like a swamp or meadow. Check the points of wet areas especially with water on 3 sides Briar thicket points and nasty pine thickets to any point or even bowl. Creates bedding especially long fingers thickets with semi mature trees on the tip or soft transitions into hardwoods.
Just like swamps and meadows
take sll the super tall mature trees away and scout the trannys
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby Evanszach7 » Thu May 10, 2018 10:54 pm

PK_ wrote:1. Wet edges

2. The areas with the highest number of converging habitats(edges)

3. Novelty, nuance, lowest common denominator(least available of food, water or cover)

5. The most remote areas

6. The areas that combine any number of these characteristics

Big woods to me is more about using the map to eliminate unproductive ground without having to walk it all. Simply because I don’t have time to walk it all. But if you do have time then by all means, walk it all.


Spot on. Sometimes these areas are pretty seasonal too. Early season/pre-rut are better due to cover and acorns. Once the leaves drop, I’ve had 2 areas like this dry up. However, both pieces here border private farmland so it also corresponds with moving from acorns to standing and fresh cut corn. Then, they bed in the fingers, and does move back over to the flat land in December/January for browse. If I’ve got the option within a 30-40 minute drive I hunt a piece with terrain. These flat pieces can be really unpredictable with a bow.
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NorthwoodsWiscoHnter
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby NorthwoodsWiscoHnter » Fri May 11, 2018 1:22 am

One of the best tips I have learned on Bigwoods was from one of the Beast Podcasts. Dan says don't look at a bigwoods like it's a bigwoods. Break it down. First you check one section and learn that. Then another section and learn that. Like others have mentioned, check the transitions soft and hard. It won't show up on topo's all the time but from aerials you can sometimes see them. Also a tip from Magicman on bigwoods is his tracking. If you want to learn how bucks travel in bigwoods, spend some time in the snow tracking a buck for a day or two. It probably won't be a day of hunting, but think of it of a day of learning from the best teacher. The whitetail deer. Also I will say bigwoods isn't easy hunting. You will certainly have your work cut out for you, but it's very rewarding. ;)
Northcarolinian
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby Northcarolinian » Sat May 12, 2018 7:36 pm

Thanks for all the replies, what a great community of killers. I'll try to get some aerials posted so you guys can see but I don't have a computer around and don't know how to highlight things on a picture with phone. I've been looking at all the obvious transitions around water and points but I was more interested in less obvious transitions like interior thickets you guys treat the same way as cattail marshes. Great info here thank you
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Re: How to approach big woods w/flat topography

Unread postby JakeB » Mon May 14, 2018 1:44 pm

In a few of the big woods areas I hunt looking at a google earth picture the transitions really don’t show up very well, but you get some boots on the ground and things really start to jump out at you.

In these situations you have a 2 choices, a lot depends on the amount and quality of the deer herd and how close and easy it is for you to get there (like near your home). You have to decide if it’s worth your time and effort. You can forget about the place and move to another more easily scouted area or accept it and spend some serious time in there. And it will take serious time without the aid of easily identifiable transitions. It can be done but expect to spend years learning it, lots of discouragement and one of the best feelings of accomplishment when you finally get it done!

Get in there a wear out a few pairs of boots!

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