Where's The Buck? 4

Discuss the science of figuring out our prey through good detective work.
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Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Lockdown » Wed May 04, 2016 9:16 am

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Today I scouted the two fingers of trees that I gained permission for this spring. I have a stand where the two fingers come together and did pass a stud 2 year old crab claw ten from it a couple years ago in September. I hung it in 2010 and have hunted it multiple times each season. I was aware that both fingers contained bedding but didn't have access to them. Fortunately that has changed 8-)

Anyone want to take a stab at this map? Crops are rotated beans and corn annually. The landscape is fairly flat with some VERY gentle rolling hills. Where the trees are shown, there are eroded drainages in the bottoms. Most are narrow enough they can be jumped across, some are bad enough a deer can't even jump it. If it helps, the elevation change from the lowest point of any draw to the field edge is anywhere from 5-20 feet... probably 12' on average.

There is a minimum maintenance road 500 yards South, and a county gravel road 600-700 yards East (top is North). Here are a couple pictures from my stand that I took today:





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Facing West



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Facing East


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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby KLEMZ » Wed May 04, 2016 11:44 am

I don't hunt any cover like that, but I would say with the limited places a nice buck could hide in this terrain, I might expect him to hide out in that little brush clump between the "legs" of cover (the topo map shows a small hump right there, near the field). It could give him a visual advantage, plus is off the main terrain legs that most hunters would be checking out.
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Hawthorne » Wed May 04, 2016 12:01 pm

I hunt similar terrain in Michigan. Any thicket that has an elevation where they can see out into the field. Perfect spot would be on the points jutting out into the fields with wind coming over their backs and the buck facing the fields. If those creeks have water in fall your golden. Farm country thickets with water are preferred bedding locations for bucks

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby oldrank » Wed May 04, 2016 12:42 pm

Hawthorne wrote:I hunt similar terrain in Michigan. Any thicket that has an elevation where they can see out into the field. Perfect spot would be on the points jutting out into the fields with wind coming over their backs and the buck facing the fields. If those creeks have water in fall your golden. Farm country thickets with water are preferred bedding locations for bucks

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I agree. I have hunted alot of farm land around here and watched big bucks bed right off a point that jutted out into a feild. They watch the field. Also any small cover on the highest elevation where they can watch the open fields too.

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Wed May 04, 2016 2:15 pm

RUT - cut corn
When the corn is standing, that would also figure into the mix as now you just increased your available cover by a bunch. When I look at these aerials, I am looking at this always with the corn down. So the cover is much limited. With the least amount of cover and the rut in full swing, I am looking for doe bedding. So I push through areas like this, if I do not bump does out and have any kind of evidence of new sign, I move on. Many times, with the standing corn or standing milo, it gives the deer a sense of security cover. Bucks pre rut pound the area with sign, rubs and ground scrapes BUT once the crops are cut, there is not enough cover to hold the deer in these areas.

When I am hunting KS in November, which has very similar terrain, its the only conclusion I can come to is at that the deer have abandoned some of these types of area because there is just not enough cover. Sign and rubs everywhere but not a deer to be seen.

However, if I do catch does bedding out on these points or in the fingers, golden. The bucks are going to stick to the cover and all of the inside corners up next to the valley of the 2 fingers, looks very good. Funnels, where the cover necks down. If a buck cruises into this heading into the fingers, he is probably going to cut the corner to shorten the distance between the fingers. Especially since the cover seems to go on for a ways.

PRE RUT - standing corn
With the standing corn, I would be walking all of the edges all the way around trying to put together how the deer are accessing/using the corn/soybeans around both of these fingers or any of the edges for that matter. If the deer are bedding on the fingers, you would need to know which direction they are leaving the fingers and where they want to go when they leave the bed...provided they are bedding on the fingers not in a high spot in the corn. If there are beans on one side and corn on the other, then it would change things again as deer feed in the beans early. Not sure if they are still on beans in early September?

Its also hard to tell just how big this is. And when I hunt this type of area, I have to make a really quick assessment of what is going on and how I am going to hunt it since I have limited time. Also really like the drainage ditches.

I am just throwing my 2cents in there. I don't hunt standing row crops often. But, I kind of look at this like I would any type of cover with an edge. Corn, alder thickets, marsh, swamp, all have transitions, all have edges, all have cover. Deer are going to prefer to bed in one spot and prefer to feed in another -- which will give them a direction of travel. I just have to figure out how I am going to access and what wind I can do it on. Spring scouting would definitely give me a leg up thats for sure.
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby magicman54494 » Wed May 04, 2016 2:36 pm

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Lockdown » Wed May 04, 2016 4:06 pm

Maine, the southern part of the South finger is probably 60 yards wide.

Deer do bed on these fingers after the corn has been taken out. Certain parts are thick enough that I basically had to crash it to get through.

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Wed May 04, 2016 10:27 pm

Lockdown wrote:Maine, the southern part of the South finger is probably 60 yards wide.

Deer do bed on these fingers after the corn has been taken out. Certain parts are thick enough that I basically had to crash it to get through.

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So this could be good anytime in the season. What times of year are you planning on hunting it most? Be interesting during the rut to see if the bucks would cruise these points, using the wind to scent check both fingers with one pass through. W wind buck could cruise the east finger and scent the west finger at the same time.
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Wlog » Thu May 05, 2016 12:36 am

I wish I was at a computer instead of on the phone so I could mark this up, but I'll take a shot at explaining it without a visual. A lot of the areas I hunt look exactly like this, with the crop fields being a higher elevation and the only woods, brush and cover being lower ground leading to the creek/drainage. I would expect them to bed in the spot magic marked, that's one possibility. The other places I would expect to find beds is about half way down both of those strips, it looks like there may be a hump or knoll of high ground just inside the wood line. They'll be bedded looking out over the drainage in front of them with the wind blowing across their back from the field, on those little humps or points. The third possibility is out on the end of the finger on the right somewhere on that southern most part that is running east to west.

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Lockdown » Thu May 05, 2016 1:09 am

mainebowhunter wrote:
Lockdown wrote:Maine, the southern part of the South finger is probably 60 yards wide.

Deer do bed on these fingers after the corn has been taken out. Certain parts are thick enough that I basically had to crash it to get through.

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So this could be good anytime in the season. What times of year are you planning on hunting it most? Be interesting during the rut to see if the bucks would cruise these points, using the wind to scent check both fingers with one pass through. W wind buck could cruise the east finger and scent the west finger at the same time.



I'm mostly planning on early season. For rut I have my sights set on The Hulk if he's still around, but depending what my cameras show I might give this place a rut hunt or two, especially since I can hunt the good bedding now.

I have seen yearlings and a few two year olds cruising these points, and ONE big buck. He showed up on my camera a few days prior and I had one chance at him before gun season. He came from one of the fingers toward my rut stand which is located just off the pic to the left. Grunted him to 8 yards and killed him.
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri May 06, 2016 4:22 am

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Here's what I found. Pink is my permanent stand, and the pink line is my access. Keep in mind my only option was to come from the North in the past. I hunted it with a NW wind and always considered the South finger better than the East because I saw more deer using it. From my stand I cannot see the field SE of me, so I never know what feeds out into the field from either point. I accessed as strait upwind as possible, to try and keep from winding the entire East side. How well did it work? That I don't know. I'm sure some deer bedded near my downwind side have smelled me without me knowing. Anything on the far side of the hill (North of my stand) was going to smell my entry trail no matter where I accessed, and would also be out of bow range anyway. I made sure to cross the trails that were in range where I could shoot a deer regardless of which direction it comes from.



I'll go over my experiences from this stand since 2010. I call it the "T" stand. Any morning hunt I ever had consisted of deer coming or going to the South point on the West side of me. Most were on the trails that skirt the field edge leaving me out of the game. Later on I hung a stand to catch that movement, and that's the stand I killed my biggest buck out of. I call it "The Super Highway".

In the evenings, I've had 3 different bucks (a fork and two basket 8's) come from the finger NE of me. I did have a hunt a couple years ago where two spikes came from the SE finger along the drainage. They stopped where the fingers meet and went back the way they came from.

Normally if I see does they come from the West. Half the time they stay North of me, often out of range. The other half they head to the South finger. Sometimes in range, sometimes not. As far as rut movement, 95% of it has been SW of me and has involved that South finger. I've never seen a solid shooter from this stand.

In 2013 I did have an awesome September hunt in which a fork buck came from the West and I passed him as he headed South along the drainage. 15 minutes later I could hear sparring. He came back with a spike, a smaller 8, and a crab claw 10 that I had pictures of. All four of them came by me at 18 yards. Here's the 10. He's about 15 wide... stud of a 2 year old.
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Other than that I have had a LOT of uneventful hunts in this stand. Especially mid October hunts. On to my findings...





Here is the bed(ding) strait South of my stand. There were only a couple beds but one had a very old rub in it:
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From there I headed South. I was surprised at the lack of beds right away. There were deadfalls and bedding opportunities but no beds.





On the field edge I noticed a low spot. "Thermal advantage" I thought to myself. (Go back to the topo and you'll see the dip in the field.) When I saw a deadfall in there, I knew it would hold beds. There was only one fresh rub in the area, but lots of old ones. BUCK BEDDING 8-) This is the buck bed(ding) marked with an X on the East side.
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See the flattened leaves at the base of the tree? That is a well used bed, and there were multiple other beds within 10-15 yards. He is bedding just like Wlog said. Tree and field to his back, watching the open trees with a SE wind which we get a lot of. He can get a thermal advantage from the field here, and he can also see out into the field if he stands up.

Here is a view from the bed looking West. Almost every tree in this pic has an old rub:
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View of the field to the SE:
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Bed(s) are to the left in the blowdown. This view is on the main trail facing South. There are bunch more old rubs on those trees:
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At this point I'm pretty pumped... I know its solid bedding. The beds had hair and looked pretty worn. I kept heading South knowing I would find more, as most of the bedding I find is on the SE edge of peninsulas/fingers/islands.



View of the buck bedding from the SE looking NW. You can see the low spot. Feeding deer won't be visible from the road right here. The rest of the field puts them in plain sight.
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There was a "mini bench" that ran along most of the SE side and there were beds all along it. There were rubs here too but the bedding struck me as doe bedding due to the randomness of the beds. I'm sure bucks do bed here from time to time especially if Mr. Big is keeping them out of the previous bed. Here is a pic of the mini bench... all the beds are on the flat just inside the timbered edge:
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You can see the North/South trail. The beds are hard to see but they're there.





Here is a pic of the drainage on the very tip. It was probably 10' wide and 8' deep here. I marked it with a heavy blue line where it wasn't possible for deer to cross:
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Here are the beds on the very South red X:
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I marked them as buck beds, because they're more worn, and they're in a spot that I was expecting to find them off an aerial. There was a rub every 10-15 yards on the SE side. Maybe the rubs in the yellow area are made by bucks using these beds and staging to the North? :think: Very possible.




Then I headed down the West side of the drainage. There was far fewer beds here, but I did find some buck bedding where the trees jut into the field a little. These beds are noted by the red X on the West side:
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I think they're using these with a NW wind, which is the most common wind we get.




As I headed South, I didn't find much for beds although there was a few. Most of that side was at an angle with no benches or flat spots for them to bed.

I didn't pick any kill trees, as I wanted to go home, look at aerials again and re-assess everything. For now all I can say is approaching the "T" stand from down wind probably isn't going to happen with all of those doe beds on the East side.


On to the other finger...

The SE finger contained way less bedding which is what I expected. Btw MagicMan all the areas you circled are sumac. The one you marked "favorite" had a nice deadfall in it right in the middle. I thought it was guarenteed bedding but I didn't find a single bed in there! Couldn't believe it. Just to the East on the sumac/tree transition there was a big clump of brush with a buck bed in it though:
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Old rub and 2 beds in this pic. One at the bottom of the pic and one against the clump of brush. Both had hair. SE of there I found another similar situation with a bed and old rub. I'm guessing this to be satellite bedding. Both beds appear to be used with a Southerly wind.


If you look on the topo there is one nice point that juts into the bottom. I thought it might hold a bed but it ended up being too open. The farther I went East, the more sparse the cover got. There were beds here and there but definitely not anything to really key on. The South finger is DEFINITELY better bedding than the SE, which makes sense according to my sightings through out the years.


On a side note, I found big buck tracks on all sides of the T stand. I did notice that I didn't see them South of the best bedding on the East side of the finger :think: I'm thinking that my big 10 is still alive and this is where he beds. With tracks this big, its gotta be him!

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I've read about big bucks leaving a split hoof print, but this is the first time I've came across one personally :shock: Here are a couple trail camera pics from last summer. The only bummer is, as far as I can tell, he leaves before opener :snooty:

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Here is the only pic I got of him during the season:
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby mainebowhunter » Fri May 06, 2016 5:12 am

So with your findings...do you think you were off in that set?
Many of the beds marked buck beds...you looked like you were pretty close to.
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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby seazofcheeze » Fri May 06, 2016 5:15 am

mainebowhunter wrote:So with your findings...do you think you were off in that set?
Many of the beds marked buck beds...you looked like you were pretty close to.


I was going to ask the same question. Do you plan any adjustments for this fall. If so, what are you going to do and what sign/observations are leading you to make any potential changes.

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri May 06, 2016 12:20 pm

seazofcheeze wrote:
mainebowhunter wrote:So with your findings...do you think you were off in that set?
Many of the beds marked buck beds...you looked like you were pretty close to.


I was going to ask the same question. Do you plan any adjustments for this fall. If so, what are you going to do and what sign/observations are leading you to make any potential changes.

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I just realized I didn't mention the significance of the beds with the red X's. These are considered the best beds. The East bed in the middle is #1 in my mind. So the others tht are closer to the stand don't see as much use. The bed strait south was the least used out of all of them.

The T stand is in a good spot IMO, but it has a couple flaws. 1) It's over 100 yards from the best bedding and its over 200 from the South end. I'd like to be as close as possible. 2) The biggest problem is when they head North they hug the West side since their destination is that way. There are oaks and eventually water in that direction. I can't see that trail when it's early season, but when the leaves are gone I do know they use it more than the trail in range of my stand. Being able to cover it would be huge and I'm willing to give up the trails coming from the bedding East of my current set.

I think I could make something work with a SE wind pretty easily. NW will be a lot tougher. I would have to stay on the East side of the drainage, and if anything came along the East transition I'd be busted for sure. I didn't spend much time looking for kill trees, I'll do that next time in.

I'm also going to do some serious learning with trail cams right here. Might even put one 2 or 3 sticks up above the best bed. I might even camera bomb the area.

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Re: Where's The Buck? 4

Unread postby Jackson Marsh » Sat May 07, 2016 1:06 am

8-)

Looking good Lockdown! That's a dandy buck, I hope he gives you an opportunity this season.

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