Hunting big pine thickets

Discuss the science of figuring out our prey through good detective work.
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Mathewshooter
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Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby Mathewshooter » Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:27 am

I've been reading the all time best tactical threads and can honestly say theres some great reading to be done on this site. Its almost as if I've bought a new book to read. Anyhow, one of my best public land spots has a 60 acre pine thicket as the main bedding area. Some of the thicket you can manage to walk through but with some difficulty while a lot of the thicket is solid ine branches from the ground on up...you cannot go through it. Its like a wall. I would find it extremely difficult to go in there and find particular beds. My strategy has always been to hunt the edges of this thicket in the best spots that I can. Is this the best strategy for inpenatrable thickets or should I try something else? I usually hunt where I find the best big buck sign on the perimeter of the thicket. I've found rubs as big as my thigh and also have trail cam pics of some big bucks, so I know they're in there. This also butts up to about 100 acres of private land that NOBODY is allowed to hunt, making it even more challenging. During my winter scouting, I've found the most deer and big buck sign in the 70 yard transition area between the thicket and the private land. I think this is where I'm gonna focus on next fall


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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby Wlfpckhuntr27 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:15 am

Take a good look at that thicket from an aerial map. Bing's bird's eye is my favorite. Keep scrolling in till you get a winter time view.

I would think that within 60 a/c you should be able to find a little transition edge inside there. Might be able to find a little open area or several larger trees, large enough to hang a stand in.

I have found that in seriously thick stuff, like you have described, deer bed just inside the edge on the down wind side. Not so far that they cannot look out and see the side that they cannot smell. If they bed in the middle, and the terrain is relatively flat, then they are venerable because they can only cover a fraction of the area with their nose.
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PK_
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby PK_ » Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:58 am

I know what I would do but it would take a lot of work.

It would involve blazing a narrow parallel trail all the way around the interior and some inconspicuous shooting 'tunnels' from certain kill trees to the parallel trail. I would probably blaze a diamond shape trail in the interior with the tips intersecting the parallel trail at the kill trees and try to leave an overhanging branch at those intersections. The biggest obstacle is keeping these trails and your kill trees hidden from other hunters.

Use a machete, get into the interior and gain your intel and go from there. I hear guys talking about bucks bedding on the edge of these super thick areas and looking into the open woods but from what I have found personally in the areas I hunt is that the bucks crawl deep into those thickets and hole up in little openings within them. I have been in pine thickets as thick as you describe and have found beds, rubs and dead heads on the interior. They are in there.

Another option if they aren't coming out to the edge before dark is to get in there and hunt from the ground, with a gun is easiest. Just lay on the ground and shoot from prone.
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby dan » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:22 am

Its all about transitions and edges... I get the idea you think the buck could be bedding anywhere in there, but they don't. They bed either an exterior transition or an interior transition, and on leeward hills (even small ones) Expect bucks bedded on the edge looking out wind to back, or as someone mentioned, at interior transitions. The down wind side of the pines would be the area to concentrate on, but remember he is watching the open area. The also like fingers or points sticking out of the pines...
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby DaveT1963 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:35 am

also, keep in mind, in a lot of southern pine forests there are transitions based upon age of trees planted. When you find an edge where newer trees but up to older tress that can be a travel route. Of course any creek that cuts through them is also a major travel route. A hardwood edge with pines is usually very productive and I generally find a lot of rubs and scrapes along these.

I have always found the best bedding in 2-3 year old clear cuts, especially if they leave the tops laying. Like Dan said above, in these I look for pints, fingers or bowls in the tree line as that is where I typically find the bigger bucks bedding at.

One final thought, remember deer need food, water, and security, so look for those transitions where all three are present.... that is where they will want to bed. That will reduce a lot of unproductive ground in many cases.
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby Mathewshooter » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:38 am

Thanks for everyones advice. It looks like I'm gonna have to plow through there this spring and just figure out whats what in there, concentrating on the prevailing downwind side. There are plenty of transition lines in the thicket itself. Theres alot of thick brushy treelines that disect the thicket.
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:08 am

DaveT1963 wrote:also, keep in mind, in a lot of southern pine forests there are transitions based upon age of trees planted. When you find an edge where newer trees but up to older tress that can be a travel route. Of course any creek that cuts through them is also a major travel route. A hardwood edge with pines is usually very productive and I generally find a lot of rubs and scrapes along these.

I have always found the best bedding in 2-3 year old clear cuts, especially if they leave the tops laying. Like Dan said above, in these I look for pints, fingers or bowls in the tree line as that is where I typically find the bigger bucks bedding at.
[glow=red]One final thought, remember deer need food, water, and security, so look for those transitions where all three are present.... that is where they will want to bed. That will reduce a lot of unproductive ground in many cases[/glow].


This is the method I use a lot here in the bigger stretches of timber that I hunt. You can spend an awful lot of time scouting a 1000 acre cutover trying to find beds....food sources are everywhere. With a rifle, cutovers get quite a bit smaller because you can see sometimes a long ways. With a bow, not so much. So your much better off to try and narrow down the "best" food source -- that cuts out a lot of the other stuff. Really helps put some focus on really big areas that are next to impossible to cover it all.
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby Mathewshooter » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:02 pm

mainebowhunter wrote:
DaveT1963 wrote:also, keep in mind, in a lot of southern pine forests there are transitions based upon age of trees planted. When you find an edge where newer trees but up to older tress that can be a travel route. Of course any creek that cuts through them is also a major travel route. A hardwood edge with pines is usually very productive and I generally find a lot of rubs and scrapes along these.

I have always found the best bedding in 2-3 year old clear cuts, especially if they leave the tops laying. Like Dan said above, in these I look for pints, fingers or bowls in the tree line as that is where I typically find the bigger bucks bedding at.
[glow=red]One final thought, remember deer need food, water, and security, so look for those transitions where all three are present.... that is where they will want to bed. That will reduce a lot of unproductive ground in many cases[/glow].


This is the method I use a lot here in the bigger stretches of timber that I hunt. You can spend an awful lot of time scouting a 1000 acre cutover trying to find beds....food sources are everywhere. With a rifle, cutovers get quite a bit smaller because you can see sometimes a long ways. With a bow, not so much. So your much better off to try and narrow down the "best" food source -- that cuts out a lot of the other stuff. Really helps put some focus on really big areas that are next to impossible to cover it all.


The food is everywhere in this area. Theres scattered apple trees throughout the thicket, along with scattered Oaks. The deer dont even really have to come out if they dont want to, which is exactly what happens during gun season. Outside of the thicket, the open woods are full of Oaks...theyre everywhere! Theres also grass fields in every direction. I've been hunting this area for 20 years and have done pretty well from the couple spots I sit. I think I'll have a few more areas around the perimeter set up for this fall. Heck, maybe I'll find a good spot on the interior that I can slip in a time or 2 and hunt it too.
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:19 pm

Mathewshooter wrote:
mainebowhunter wrote:
DaveT1963 wrote:also, keep in mind, in a lot of southern pine forests there are transitions based upon age of trees planted. When you find an edge where newer trees but up to older tress that can be a travel route. Of course any creek that cuts through them is also a major travel route. A hardwood edge with pines is usually very productive and I generally find a lot of rubs and scrapes along these.

I have always found the best bedding in 2-3 year old clear cuts, especially if they leave the tops laying. Like Dan said above, in these I look for pints, fingers or bowls in the tree line as that is where I typically find the bigger bucks bedding at.
[glow=red]One final thought, remember deer need food, water, and security, so look for those transitions where all three are present.... that is where they will want to bed. That will reduce a lot of unproductive ground in many cases[/glow].


This is the method I use a lot here in the bigger stretches of timber that I hunt. You can spend an awful lot of time scouting a 1000 acre cutover trying to find beds....food sources are everywhere. With a rifle, cutovers get quite a bit smaller because you can see sometimes a long ways. With a bow, not so much. So your much better off to try and narrow down the "best" food source -- that cuts out a lot of the other stuff. Really helps put some focus on really big areas that are next to impossible to cover it all.


The food is everywhere in this area. Theres scattered apple trees throughout the thicket, along with scattered Oaks. The deer dont even really have to come out if they dont want to, which is exactly what happens during gun season. Outside of the thicket, the open woods are full of Oaks...theyre everywhere! Theres also grass fields in every direction. I've been hunting this area for 20 years and have done pretty well from the couple spots I sit. I think I'll have a few more areas around the perimeter set up for this fall. Heck, maybe I'll find a good spot on the interior that I can slip in a time or 2 and hunt it too.


And that is why you are trying to find the exact beds. Much easier to start at the hub rather than chasing the spokes! Do you know where any of the beds are? Or are you treating the whole thicket as a bedding area?
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Mathewshooter
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Re: Hunting big pine thickets

Unread postby Mathewshooter » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:07 pm

The whole thicket is a bedding area. I know for sure that does bed in different areas in it, at least the parts I could plow my way through. I havent found any for sure buck beds in there but theres a lot of it thats impenetrable. I have one spot I still need to check that I have a feeling could have a buck bed in it...as a matter of fact, the last time I was there I found a cluster of big rubs and a scrape on the edge and as soon as I headed towards the thicket from there a deer took off. I didnt think to go check at the time but now that I've thought about it, I think it could have been the buck that made the rubs and scrape. He might have been bedded just inside the thicket where he could watch where the buck sign was and have the wind blowing from his back.
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