Marsh help

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mauser06
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Marsh help

Unread postby mauser06 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:09 pm

So I scouted started scouting a new marsh this week....I located likely bedding trees, I located the transition and all that.


I get out there and there is a distinct trail running just inside the transition on the hardwood side...still slightly in the thick.... distinct trail but no rubs or scrapes that I saw.

The "back end" is all tall cattails. The front half of the marsh is mostly grass with a redbrush transition and I expected the bedding to be in the back at the cattails and where there were some good looking points and big lone trees and "classic" marsh bedding.

Right before I got to where the cattails start, I find this...


Image


Image


Same trail....one pic from the woods the other from the marsh side...you can see the marsh isn't HUGE....but one would think that prime bedding and cover would hold deer....

Literally the first "fresh" (as in this past falls) rubs I came across. So I look out and there's just nothing.....why in the world are there rubs and a beat down trail there? No bed that I could see.

To the north is some big lone trees in the cattails....well, he must be bedding there and entering and exiting the woods on that trail..."boy this is a slam dunk spot if that's the case....). I go check every single tree....and there were some DANDY bedding trees in those cattails and no evidence of a bed.


So I look even harder and I can see his big ole tracks going out across the marsh. What in the world?!? So I follow them to where he jumps the creek and basically can't figure out where he's going. "Well with a SW wind he's bedding on this point and crossing the marsh....".

Same thing. Absolutely no rubs or beds or anything to be found.


I follow more of the marsh clear back around and I found ONE spot that looked like a classic buck bedding spot....and I searched a lot of great looking stuff.

The entire place has a worn trail around it...but at the same time no rubs or scraps or scat...both sets of tracks that we're fresh were mature buck tracks though...and some old rubs around....

I drove by 2 of the 3 access points nearly daily all year and pressure is almost non-existent. Like 1 guy runs beagles there and a guy rifle hunted there a few days. Other than that pressure was almost nothing. The private around has agriculture and a few places right close got pounded in rifle season....

Now....the winter was weird...not a ton of snow and it's been pretty wet and cold.

There's a pretty decent sized timbering operation on a hill above the marsh where they dropped trees and haven't done anything with them.


It's actually so wet that a lot of the GREAT classic bedding by big lone trees and red brush points etc actually had water...I'd still think I'd see evidence of the fall beds or rubs or something?



Any thoughts? I know that got longer than I hoped. Just really beside myself. I thought for sure it was going to be great.....and the one set of buck tracks....well..they are huge.

The surrounding woods have some great oaks and stuff too...nice big acorns on the ground...


I might through another day at the North end and see what I turn up....then maybe come fall just jump on that transition trail with my stand and walk till I find fresh sign that is heading towards what I think is a bedding area...I don't know...looks too good not to hold deer... actually it's probably some of the best stuff I've actually looked at....I am supreme frustrated over it...it's close to my house and looks GREAT and pressure is minimal and surrounding private is pounded...recipe for a big buck hideout in my book.....


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BAS4109
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby BAS4109 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:38 am

That area looks pretty good to me!

I am fairly new at swamp/marsh scouting. So far I have found that it is not always “text book” or blatantly obvious.

I scouted a swamp today that I think gets close to zero pressure. It takes waders to get into with a highway on the back side. No ag around either. But it has a few stands of white and red oaks on some high ground. Once I found the oaks I started working my way back to the marsh to try and find the runway. There was nothing obvious. Just one great rub on the edge of the swamp. I have found beds in this swamp but none with rubs.

The only constant I have found so far is that the deer seem to bed on the SE side of the oaks. Normally off a finger pointing SE. So they are normally walking into the NW wind heading to the food.

I think the lack of buck sign is a result of bad buck/doe ratios where I am at least.
KRONIIK
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby KRONIIK » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:26 pm

I won't suggest anything specific without a map and a better look at your big picture, except this:

Unless I missed something, you've got a relatively remote, unpressured hotspot with heavy deer sign and lots of cover.
And tracks of at least one large buck.

I'd just set up a few observation stands well downwind of the heaviest trails going into and out of that thick stuff, and just watch it close near dawn and dusk if possible, moving inward a couple times if you need to as your observations dictate.
I think four or five sits should give you a much better idea of what's going on.

I think you've got a potentially great situation there, you just need to scout it more.
Personally, I'd do much of that from a safe distance with binoculars, even at this time of year.
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Hawthorne
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby Hawthorne » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:51 pm

Since it’s close to your house I’d keep an eye out this summer. Run some cams leading to the ag fields. Glass and shine the ag fields if legal. The bucks could be laying sign out near the ag fields and not has much in the marsh. They could be grouped up near that logging operation to feed on the buds of the fallen trees this winter . Weird there’s no beds under the lone trees. Maybe they bed out in the cats and dogwood when it’s dry. The bed I shot one of my bucks from last fall was on the edge of red dogwood was under water the spring before when I scouted. I have found lots of beds right in the middle of cattails in dry spots with no structure but they had structure within sight distance
matt1336
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby matt1336 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:35 am

Think outside the box. Near access, places with a good view. The marsh could have been too wet this fall or maybe the water from the winter masked some of the bedding sign. Ik the marshes around me aren’t really worth scouting right now cuz of the water. We had a pretty wet fall and recently had some flooding. the marshes are full right now.
mauser06
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby mauser06 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:07 pm

Thanx for the thoughts guys....always helps keep the wheels turning.


For some reason I had it in my head that I covered the majority of the marsh.....


I just looked back at the aerial and where I actually put boots to the ground and I realized I only hit about 1/4 of the actual marsh transition....there's a few pieces of woods that break up the marsh...


What appears as a marsh right now...and where I spent a good part of my time actually shows as a pond on every aerial I can find. So either something has changed or if usually has MORE water than it does right now...which is interesting and can explain the lack of beds and lack of trails heading to what "should" be good bedding. The pics of the rubs and trail are in an area that's not water on the images I can find...so makes sense as to why that's the only place with sign...I may have been "looking in the wrong places" the one buck bed I found was on a couple football field sized piece that does show as marsh in the images....and there's a good bit more marsh that I didn't touch yet....maybe I will get back out tomorrow or Tuesday.....


I think it has recipe to be a very good thing....I just have to figure out how the deer are using it.

I found exactly 1 OLD stand so far and it's obviously long forgotten. That was the only human sign. And like I said, I monitored 2 of the only access points all year and it's VERY rare to see a truck parked there.


I think I will come in from the other side this next time and work down towards where I've already been to maximize covering new ground.


Looking at a very small island now that looks promising.


The marshes I've looked at here and in Michigan have been tough to see deer trails like I know some of you guys can see in your areas...my marshes often have small waterways that from aerial images look a lot like trails....



Will update this post as I go along.... hopefully I can start putting pieces together....the pressure the surrounding private gets was actually laughable...I picture myself out there in the middle of the public marsh in rifle season laughing as deer parade by me that we're pushed off the private lol. It really was that bad.

Big enough and enough food and cover to hold a couple good bucks for sure.
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby mauser06 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:32 am

I headed out today and came in from the north.


I planned to stay out much longer than I did....but while crossing what appeared to be a couple inch deep waterway, I ended up clean to my armpits. I was only 100yds from the road...talk about a good obstacle to keep people from accessing.


Despite it being 40 degrees and me absolutely soaked, I figured I would head out to the island to check it. Its a little over a half mile back but only 50-100yds off the "mainland".

On the way out there was good sign. Trails, scat, rubs old and new. The forest is all beech, cherry, hemlock etc. No oaks that I saw...I'd like to go back and see if I can locate some oaks.


Once I got to the island there were a number of trails heading to the island.


The island is 30-50yds wide and 50-75yds or so long. Not real big..the edges are a lot of redbrush, black berry thorn bushes and scattered trees...the island itself is a mix of hemlocks and hardwood trees.

It was loaded with deer sign. Scat everywhere. Rubs and trails everywhere.

Again, I couldn't identify a single bed. There isn't a corn field out there...the deer definitely bed out there...just nothing really stood out...they probably shift around based on wind so the beds don't get so worn is my guess???


There are a number of trails from the island to the land.


Not finding beds makes it tough...


It will look a lot different when everything grows back up too... everything is knocked down from the winter.


Id like to go back and continue my scouting.... running out of time quickly...I have a lot of yard work to take care of before spring and then turkey season kicks off....


Looks very promising. Some observation hunts might work well there...and I can spot check the trails and see what ones look the most active and hunt it.


Not sure if they'll leave the island before dark...but it's probably largely undisturbed back there so my gut says on the right days, they will start filtering off before dark....

Not sure I can hunt the actual island because it's small and with all the sign I feel like there's definitely going to be several deer out there.


Could be a great gun season spot too. With a rifle, I can cover probably all the trails.
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby oldrank » Wed Mar 20, 2019 12:58 pm

I have seen some spots like this.

This is what I have seen when hunting these areas.

Sometimes the deer use them as safety staging areas. It might be a "pit stop" between more secure cover. The deer will move into them when traveling from somewhere. They never really bed but more just hang out for a few hours and move to more secure bedding close by. My suspicion is they get to much pressure to have secure bedding, but are nasty enough they can use them to move through and hide in.

If I do find buck bedding it might be close but very secure and watching human access or doe travel. Might be in a thick patch or blow down very close by.
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby oldrank » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:26 pm

One more thing. Another swamp I hunt is filled with tamarack trees with every tree providing potential bedding. I hopped around in there basically checking every tree and high spot. Not one bed. When I got up to the transition area where the swamp started turning into the hard woods. This has a few cedars and some nice soft mossy ground. The beds were in the moss. Nice and soft. I could barely see them. Once I got down and confirmed with the deer hair test then I could make out how he was using them This area is about 30 acres.

Same thing with where my 7 point was bedding this year. His bed was just high ground in flooded timber. A small finger jutted out into a 2 acre piece of flooded timber. The finger was basically just a rotting tree that had fell and decayed but was still solid enough to walk on and raised enough to be dry. His bed was right at the end. There was nothing that said "bed". If the dog wouldn't have lead me to it I'd had probably just overlooked it. After I found it it made complete sense though.
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby mauser06 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:11 pm

Thanx oldrank!

My line of thinking is there are more options than deer....the marsh isn't huge...a couple hundred acres. But a lot of the transition he bedding possibilities. And like you said, off that island are more lone trees and such further out...checked them but nothing evident. I've only found 1 confirmed bed in 2 days out there....and checked probably 100 spots that looked like they could/should hold beds.

I think overall, the deer density is low just due to food sources being better elsewhere. Why live out there when there's farmland all over the place? I do think my odds of finding some bigguns out there is higher than elsewhere though.

Overall, the sign just doesn't suggest a high deer density so it all kinda adds up in my mind...the lack of pressure could also have bucks bedding on the solid ground where I haven't done any looking....why camp out in the marsh when you aren't bothered on the solid ground?


Lots of possibilities.


IF they are staging on that little island....well, that'd be probably a great scenario for me to hunt them.

Wish I would have gotten out there with snow on the ground....

Time will tell....I'm excited to see what I can come up with.... really think the potential is there.
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Re: Marsh help

Unread postby mauser06 » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:05 am

Here's a couple pics from the other day....


Image


A shot of "the island".




Image

Trails leading out to it. Those are from the north end...but there's trails in the center and south end.... really can't "cover" more than 1 area at a time with a bow... unless they come off say the south end and head towards the north ..



Image

One of the rubs on the southern end.



There were several rubs on the island and on the trails coming/going.



Was thinking of camera bombing the place this week with several cameras. 1 or 2 on the island and a couple where the trails hit the mainland and leave them there till June or something. Not sure if the Intel gained in that time frame will be relevant come fall though.


I'm all ears if anyone has thoughts. Like I said, seems like a great bedding spot...just couldn't find defined beds. You can see the island is surrounded by thick but the island itself is way elevated and shaded and open.

Observation sits might work....but at the same time, it's going to be pretty thick in the early season and I could only monitor 1 out of 3 or 4 of the areas... unless I sat in the center and climbed high...but risk getting busted...and "burning" the area....


Looking it it the other day, I think all the trails will look "equally used" come fall so narrowing it down via that method is going to be tough


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