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Old 11-09-2017, 10:58 PM
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Default Understanding big bush bucks?

Looking for the experienced to chime in. The northern Alberta forests are home to bucks that are Lords of the forest so to speak. Bucks that die of old age that never really get hunted. Their beautiful sheds get ate by rodents and most even knows they are around cause they did see them with there own eyes. They have learned to live like rabbits in the thick chit, they dont come to the ag land, some areas have little no no logging. They have learned to survive amidst the wolves and cougars. They don't follow the same trails daily, they appear to have no pattern. They are masters of survival. Heavy snow has them in a sea of conifer and light snow has them in a sea of deciduous. Deer densities are low, sign and cams say they are there. We can't bait. How do you hunt the Lord of the forest?
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Old 11-09-2017, 11:37 PM
Z7Extreme Z7Extreme is offline
 
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I often wonder this myself. I think the best way to hunt them would be to watch a cutline with deer trails crossing it during the rut. And spend every day of November doing so. Unfortunately I wont ever get that much time so I always end up hunting near a food source on the fringe land. More of a for sure thing. Lol
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:00 AM
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I knew of one old buck that lived exactly like you mention. Using obscure trails in snarly brush and almost impossible to pattern.

My tip: Old bucks have old beds. The old big buck I knew had a bed that looked like he was born in it. If you can locate a old bucks bed then you can try and figure out how to approach it according to wind and such. I found that old bucks bed and it was situated on a ridge point with only a few deciduous trees. There were heavy stands of spruce 100 yards away down a slope and stands of deciduous and brush on the flat top land. Also a creek 100 yards away. No matter which direction I approached his bed he could see me coming. I never did get a shot at that buck but was able to catch him near his bed a couple times.

If you use doe in heat during the rut you can go 100 yards upwind from the bucks bed and lay a trail of doe in heat scent on the crosswind as you walk past his bed. Lay the scent trail at a regular walking pace. Then stop, turn around and stand there with gun ready. Stand looking down the scent trail and he most likely will come to the scent trail within minutes if he is in his bed. I had good success on other bucks with a 30 yard scent trail perpendicular to the wind and upwind of the beds. One time, by the time I laid the scent trail, I turned around and stood there for 3 minutes and hte buck was there.
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:11 AM
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I like this! My bucks seem to have many different bedding sites, i "hunt" all year long and follow the trails both ways, after the season is done. Have yet to find THE bed.
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by husky7mm View Post
Looking for the experienced to chime in. The northern Alberta forests are home to bucks that are Lords of the forest so to speak. Bucks that die of old age that never really get hunted. Their beautiful sheds get ate by rodents and most even knows they are around cause they did see them with there own eyes. They have learned to live like rabbits in the thick chit, they dont come to the ag land, some areas have little no no logging. They have learned to survive amidst the wolves and cougars. They don't follow the same trails daily, they appear to have no pattern. They are masters of survival. Heavy snow has them in a sea of conifer and light snow has them in a sea of deciduous. Deer densities are low, sign and cams say they are there. We can't bait. How do you hunt the Lord of the forest?
That's my backyard...very meticulous, don't get discouraged easily, stay the course, they do and will show themselves as I have taken a few beauties, you gotta spend the time in the woods, my best stands are hunkered in the thick stuff in low areas between scrape and rub areas, these bucks travel these natural corridors to check out the scrapes...if I play my cards right I am in the stand they pass by...grunt tube, rattling...perseverance...
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:45 AM
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Lots of midday activity, if snow conditions allow it follow game trails, do some rattling. Wear snow camo. Have many fond memories of deer taken doing this.
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:57 AM
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One area that I have hunted regularly for the past few years is big bush and scrub brush. Trophy bucks are taken in that area each year, i have been lucky enough to get one also. My tactic was knowing their travel routes and sitting on a cut line that intersects those routes and sit there all day as hard as that is sometimes. Catch them cruising through. I will walk a drag line with doe in heat of some sort down the cut line and I have found that although it doesnt necessarily fool the big guys it causes them to sometimes stop and sniff giving you time to check en out or for a shot. And to reiterate what cowmanbob said dont discount mid-day
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:33 PM
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I mostly hunt deer in the deep woods been very lucky in my harvests, I find well used trails and il sit all day, i have better luck within first hour of day light
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:44 PM
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I’ve still hunted big timber but alas have never cashed in. I usually get my deer on pipelines as they cross the same trails.

When you guys say “ in the woods” or “in big timber” .....How tight exactly is the bush and how far can you see?

I’ve watched trails through spruce and through poplar beds. Usually see them in poplar ....
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:53 PM
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I'm not a fan of big bush hunting,but have seen some dandys doing it...didn't get them because you see them quick and can't get a shot off fast enough...sometimes I could see there legs still but nothing else...got a nice cut line in mind I might try this year..it's really Wide....

as far as a big bucks bed..I think when they start chasing does every direction ,pin pointing that is a pipe dream...lol
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:42 PM
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Find the active scrapes, get off the quad and still hunt. Find a good spot and sit, rattle. Move with your eyes, not your head and listen to the bush.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:01 PM
Don_Parsons Don_Parsons is offline
 
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Maybe the old saying is true.

If a young Deer has had an encounter with a human, the crossing of paths has most likely not been friendly,,, they will avoid any further meeting the rest of their lives.

They might slip up once in a while, but the wize ones remember once again.

It's almost like they can feel our presents threw the ground. My best encounters of them is when I'm in my tree stands.

Don
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:46 PM
Bushleague Bushleague is offline
 
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I find that the key to hunting big timber, for pretty much anything but especially whitetails, is topography. For a long time I hunted them like farm deer, thinking they related to cutblocks and cut lines. Finally one year while I was chasing rigs I started keeping track of the deer I sighted while driving and which mile markers I saw the most near, at the end of the year I found that all the highest number of deer sightings were clustered around places that had a relatively major topographical feature, either a valley, hill or ridge. I then noticed that a bunch of my best hunting areas also fit this description, from then on my timber hunting has progressively gotten a lot more focused. Even if a timber area has been extensively logged you cant just hunt the cuts like fields, topography still plays a huge roll.

I now prefer to hunt in areas with rugged topography, not because I think they hold more deer necessarily but because I have a more easy time predicting where I will find them. When I start scouting a new area I generally either start at the top or the bottom, on the ridge line or down along a creek. Until about the second week of November I just make miles, looking for areas with high concentrations of deer sign. Usually I hike a ridge, ranging up and down, and then cut back lower across the face or along the bottom. Lots of times I can put together a pattern from this "live scouting", this year for example all my best areas have been on hilltops where live timber meets a big burn that's about 5 years old. Once I found the first few and figured out the pattern I could pretty much use Google earth and a topo map to accurately predict other good areas.

Second week of November rolls around and I quit making miles and slow down, just really still hunting my prime areas, just waiting for a nice buck to roll through looking to get in on my does. Furthermore I really try to unlock the area, stillhunting the deer trails rather than the cutlines will teach you more, you can really figure out how the deer are using the area. The tracks around the clearings are merely a small snapshot of deer activity, when you follow those tracks and trails further off the beaten path you can start to see the big picture. When I have fresh snow I often track, its not a really high percentage way to kill a buck (for me anyways) but following one good buck track for a day can teach me things about an area that I've hunted for years and never learned. And when everything does go right and you find the end of those tracks... its like nothing else.

The most important thing about bush hunting for me, is I find it thoroughly enjoyable. Even on those days when the wind is refusing to co-operate (some seasons this is pretty much every day) and the ground is noisy, and I'm not seeing much, and I start to feel frustration I just ask myself "What would you rather be doing?" For me the answer is always "nothing", theres absolutely nothing I would rather do than wander the timber with my rifle in hand, once I've sorted that out I just relax and enjoy myself until that buck shows up...
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:00 PM
Bushleague Bushleague is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Flight01 View Post
I’ve still hunted big timber but alas have never cashed in. I usually get my deer on pipelines as they cross the same trails.

When you guys say “ in the woods” or “in big timber” .....How tight exactly is the bush and how far can you see?

I’ve watched trails through spruce and through poplar beds. Usually see them in poplar ....
In the timber I generally hunt I can see anywhere from 100 yards or a little better on a poplar ridge, to less than 10 yards in a willow choked bottom. Generally if I can see/ shoot 20-30 yards I am pretty happy, more is always welcome. If ground conditions are noisy, or the wind unpredictable I might purposely hunt areas I can see further.

One more advantage to hunting rugged country is that you can see further, when you look across flat country you generally cant see very far. If you are on a ridge looking down, or at the bottom looking up at a hillside you are looking into the terrain, not across it, and the distance you can see increases greatly.
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bushleague View Post
I find that the key to hunting big timber, for pretty much anything but especially whitetails, is topography. For a long time I hunted them like farm deer, thinking they related to cutblocks and cut lines. Finally one year while I was chasing rigs I started keeping track of the deer I sighted while driving and which mile markers I saw the most near, at the end of the year I found that all the highest number of deer sightings were clustered around places that had a relatively major topographical feature, either a valley, hill or ridge. I then noticed that a bunch of my best hunting areas also fit this description, from then on my timber hunting has progressively gotten a lot more focused. Even if a timber area has been extensively logged you cant just hunt the cuts like fields, topography still plays a huge roll.

I now prefer to hunt in areas with rugged topography, not because I think they hold more deer necessarily but because I have a more easy time predicting where I will find them. When I start scouting a new area I generally either start at the top or the bottom, on the ridge line or down along a creek. Until about the second week of November I just make miles, looking for areas with high concentrations of deer sign. Usually I hike a ridge, ranging up and down, and then cut back lower across the face or along the bottom. Lots of times I can put together a pattern from this "live scouting", this year for example all my best areas have been on hilltops where live timber meets a big burn that's about 5 years old. Once I found the first few and figured out the pattern I could pretty much use Google earth and a topo map to accurately predict other good areas.

Second week of November rolls around and I quit making miles and slow down, just really still hunting my prime areas, just waiting for a nice buck to roll through looking to get in on my does. Furthermore I really try to unlock the area, stillhunting the deer trails rather than the cutlines will teach you more, you can really figure out how the deer are using the area. The tracks around the clearings are merely a small snapshot of deer activity, when you follow those tracks and trails further off the beaten path you can start to see the big picture. When I have fresh snow I often track, its not a really high percentage way to kill a buck (for me anyways) but following one good buck track for a day can teach me things about an area that I've hunted for years and never learned. And when everything does go right and you find the end of those tracks... its like nothing else.

The most important thing about bush hunting for me, is I find it thoroughly enjoyable. Even on those days when the wind is refusing to co-operate (some seasons this is pretty much every day) and the ground is noisy, and I'm not seeing much, and I start to feel frustration I just ask myself "What would you rather be doing?" For me the answer is always "nothing", theres absolutely nothing I would rather do than wander the timber with my rifle in hand, once I've sorted that out I just relax and enjoy myself until that buck shows up...
Good stuff right there, thanks for taking the time to properly share that. This is the type of imput that I am hoping to chime in. The animals move through the woods with purpose, albeit seeming sometimes random.
Time spent in the woods is never wasted.
I love to track in fresh snow. It does not always leed to a shot opportunity but it does usually lead to some type of encounter and another peice of the puzzle. I am always surprised how close the animals are even when you are not seeing them visually.

Have tryed rattling for 15 yrs and have yet to have any success at it, it obviously works it just hasent worked for me yet. I force myself to sit but I would really rather make something happen. I have had more success rolling around road hunting but that is not the experience that I am wanting or the caliber of buck. I really want to figure out all the peice of the puzzle and gain the upperhand.
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:46 AM
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The area I hunt has a mixed forest, there are stands of over mature spruce mixed with in grown fir. There a stands of overmature poplar, there are big mature willow runs that are often wet. Some 15-20 year old log blocks that are scarified. There is a mixer at the edge of these forest types. Blow down and ingrowth are the norm, its a real challenge to stay the coure but my 6 cameras in the 5 km radius them me they are there.
There are some small ridges here and there. I need to learn to identify pinch points in a forest that they are not so obvious in, and identify the preferred food scources for the time of year.
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Old 11-12-2017, 11:00 AM
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I completely agree with Bushleague, topography plays an important part in the lives of big bush deer. I personally love picking up a big track and following a biggun, it teaches you a lot of what they do in a day. As with fishing I look for signs of life in the bush. You can travel for miles with hardly any sign and then find a pocket of activity around a ridge or creek. They are there for a reason and the biggest of the bucks will be in the best spot for food, security and access to his harem. I have found big bucks are homebodies, preferring to spend most of their time in a small home range, like their bed as mentioned before, find it, be willing to do what it takes to get there quietly, with good wind and things might get interesting.
The rut changes things when they begin to think with the second head and disappear when they get hooked up with a hot doe but we can all relate. They will return to their pattern when resting. The area I tend to hunt has a few seismic lines cutting across and I travel these in search of a big track and then follow it. I have a compass and hand held gps (with extra batteries)to help find the truck, make sure you do as well. Fresh snow is awesome for tracking but can fill in your path back out as well.
Don't overpressure them, going into the same spot over and over is not a good idea, wait for the right wind and make your move.
When scouting look for areas with good activity and then circle out from there and this time of year anything can happen.

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Old 11-12-2017, 04:54 PM
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I appreciate this forum and the knowledge I gain from reading the posts such as the one that Bushleague masterfully shared. This is the first year back hunting since the mid 90's when I was a teenager on Vancouver island and didn't realize how much I enjoy being out there and experiencing it all. The best part of it all is that my 20 year old son got his license 2 weeks ago and is also genuinely enthusiastic about learning to hunt. We have a 4 day hunt planned around the Edson area next week. Our first father son hunting trip! I would certainly consider us newbies at learning the skills required to get the best out of our hunts. We are essentially on our own to eduacate ourselves which is definetly something I look forward too. Learning this together is probably the one thing I will value the most. I sent Bushleagues post to my son to read. It's the type of post that help us gain the knowledge in planning our hunts down the road.
Thanks again you guys.
Cheers,
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Old 11-12-2017, 05:10 PM
Brbpuppy Brbpuppy is offline
 
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Very interesting read in this thread, I really enjoy reading other people’s strategies, and how they execute a hunt. Solid info, just wanted to thank you guys.


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Old 11-13-2017, 09:39 AM
dmcbride dmcbride is offline
 
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Default Good thread.

IMO Big bush bucks do have a core area where they bed the majority of the time. (Rut not included) These areas are bigger than farm land deers core area. They are also harder to find, it seems big bucks will feed into the wind or a side wind with a good field of view down wind most of the time in big bush. They don’t have a set travel pattern and travel where the wind takes them. It is a good idea to make note of the wind direction when finding fresh tracks or spotting a big buck and then hunt accordingly. Keep in mind that the buck could be traveling the same direction in the same area 300+ yards away on a different day with the same wind. Hunt natural funnels when possible.

There have been many long conversations at the camp fire about the kings of the forest and how to hunt them. I’m still learning and will never learn everything, hope more chime in with some more knowledge.

Not a king of the forest, but a big bodied, unique mature deer that lived miles from any road I took years ago. (I couldn’t pass him up, the deers body was massive) Sorry, can’t find any field pics.

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Old 11-14-2017, 09:07 PM
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Fulmer Fulmer is offline
 
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Sweet character buck mcbride! Love that.
And this is a great thread. Appreciate the quality info.

I remember one time stumbling upon what seemed like an ancient buck trail while wandering through the woods. I had to keep doubling back it was so vague and hard to follow. But some of the rubs I was finding you could tell had been made year after year for many years. It was along a marsh and was not well traveled.
Since then when ever I find one of those knarly old rubs I check for the indistinct trail or try and guess his direction to see if there are more rubs. Cause if that buck is still alive he's likely still using that trail.

(Here's a cool shed I found near that trail)


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Old 11-14-2017, 11:05 PM
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They don’t have a set travel pattern and travel where the wind takes them.
I followed one last year for a few hours. I had spotted him for a few seconds walking away. He clearly waked away a few moments ago from the very place I spotted him from. To this day I am amazed he just walked away so nicely and quietly. If I did not lift my head to look up the hill, I would have never seen him (would probably be for the better because I cannot find him or any evidence of him being there). Yes, I followed him for a few hours. He always walked against the wind all that time, although I am assuming he knew I was following him. As wind changed, he would change direction immediately. He he did not take any existing deer trails, with a couple of exceptions, and the exceptions were quite brief. I did not catch up to him that day, he was always ahead of me just a little bit. There was a place where I could have easily taken him out if I knew the terrain, but the area was completely new to me and I had no idea. What happened was, as I was following him, he crossed a creek and started moving in the opposite direction. In other words, as I was going west on one side of the creek, he started moving east after crossing, and it happened as the wind changed direction. That was a huge mistake on my part. Lesson was know your terrain.

Great thread, by the way!

P.S. That's a dandy deer, dmcbride!
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Old 11-14-2017, 11:18 PM
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So just the other day came across a set of fresh scrapes in the woods, told my son to sit on them 30-50 yards away, I placed myself further roughly 100 yards, a little rattling, grunting after an hours sit drove a buck insane as my son said he came not to me but straight to the scrapes, son passed him up...just another idea.
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Old 11-15-2017, 07:35 AM
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That's a really cool buck. I can't imagine how that guy would look in velvet! Nice work!
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Old 11-15-2017, 01:30 PM
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Lord of the forest
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Old 11-15-2017, 01:39 PM
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wow good pic
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Old 11-15-2017, 02:22 PM
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Lord of the forest
Oh my god.
That is a beautiful buck!
I am loving this thread
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Old 11-15-2017, 02:30 PM
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This is an excellent thread. Thank you all that have contributed some great information here.
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Old 11-15-2017, 06:23 PM
Bushleague Bushleague is offline
 
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I can go a little further into the topo thing I guess. IMO deer are drawn to topographical features because they allow the deer to better use thermal drift for better scent coverage. When I scout a good ridge there is usually a bunch of sign on top, and again at the bottom. The more pronounced (steep) the ridge the more concentrated I find the sign to be. So when the thermal draw is up, under stable weather conditions usually from about mid morning until early evening hunting the high trail is a better bet, when the draw is down, the low trail is better. A prevailing wind obviously changes everything. Speaking of thermals, I've often seen a spike in activity when the thermal drift switches, or that switchy morning wind settles down. I think the deer adjust their bedding positions a bit to take advantage of whatever the wind is doing once its settled in for the day.

The other advantage of rugged country is it can show you where a deer wont travel, and it can show you where a deer will travel. In places where the face of the ridge is steep deer will usually be moving along the ridge, top and bottom like I said. In places where it is less steep, often on finger like points extending out in a gradual grade, the deer will use these to go up or down the ridge and trails moving along the ridge will be less concentrated.

Another feature that can concentrate deer movement is drainage ravines, the amount that they factor in depends on the size and number of them. A drainage ravine will be shallow near the top of the ridge, get deeper as it decends, and gradually even back out again. If you're on a ridge with lots of deep nasty drainage ravines deer are not going to be climbing in and out of these rugged windfall choked hell holes all day, so there is usually a good trail just above them, and once again at the swampy bottom.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:25 AM
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Thanks for all the info, big timber hunting is no joke! I grew up in the south hunting prairie coulees/farm land and never had trouble filling my tags. Since my recent change to hunting the big timber, it blows my mind how difficult finding a good WT buck is.

This info has definitely changed my thought process and hunting style. Great thread!
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