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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I originally posted this in the bowhunting forum, but since it's not specific to bowhunting I thought it might be better put here in the general deer hunting forum.

So, my closest WMA is closing for deer in about a week. I've been hitting it almost every week this season so far and had a few sightings, but nothing where I could get a shot. I'll hit another location a few times before the end of the season in February but I'm thinking I will focus my energies on scouting the closer one when I don't have all-day windows to drive and hike in to the other one.

In reflecting on what worked and what didn't this season as one who is still very much learning a lot of this I realized that I had found some locations on maps that had some good topographic features but I didn't put enough thought into what's motivating the deer to potentially move through those features. Some good HOW, but very little WHY as to their movements. So the obvious thing to do for next season is get a much better lock on food, bedding, and water for decent season-long possibilities rather than focusing on spots that make it easy to roam far and wide during the rut.

Unfortunately, so many of the online resources that come up when trying to research how to find bedding areas are, like much of the hunting resources online in general, focused on recommendations for private land. "Go out in the snow and look for melted ovals" is fine and dandy for those that live on the land they hunt or something, but is impractical when your situation means any snow that would make tracking helpful also makes it bloody difficult to actually go to the area. And by the time the roads are clear the snow is pretty much gone.

So, what would one look for in terms of scouting bedding areas? Most of what I've seen seems to boil down to "thick, tangled messes." But there's a lot of that out there. How to pick out the bedding tangles from the run-of-the-mill tangled messes?

The other big question would be how to discern flat areas that have been flattened by deer laying there from areas that are just kind of flat because the vegetation has laid over. Get down in the spots and look for fur?

Here's what I've kind of pieced together so far:

  • In oak forests (much of NWA's land), look at the clumps of evergreen areas. In remote scouting, focus on ones that look like they're not so dense that they block out light needed for understory.
  • Most likely locations are on ridges and points - places where they can see downhill and have air moving from uphill to carry scents their way.
  • Of these locations the south, southeast, and east sides are more likely in cold weather as they will receive early sunlight and the most sunlight.


Those are the big items. What about creek bottom areas? I know of one in the area I hunted that is super gnarly and seems like it would be good based on the "tangled mess" principle... but I'd have to assume it's probably not great because it's low visibility for any creature and probably not good for having a dominant wind direction.

Another thing I've read is backtracking from food sources, but these are oak forests we're talking about. It's ALL food. :banghead:

Any insights would be appreciated.
 

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If you hunt in the hills I have some great info for you. I was in your shoes not long ago. I bought a video called Hunting Hill Country Bucks. It is all about bedding area. Food and travel does not matter. Find where they sleep and you can kill them. What I learned from that video let me ignore about 90% of the land in a piece of public land. This year was the first year I tried the tactics and they paid off. I did not get a shot, but I had chances at the two biggest deer I have ever seen in Arkansas. Both deer are on National Forrest land. The hunts were a success in my opinion. You can find the video on Amazon for anywhere between $13-$30. I strongly suggest it.

Here is a link to to some pod casts by the main guy behind the video. Awesome information! Podcast 1 covers a lot of what is on the video. Hope this helps you.

http://thehuntingbeast.com/podcast.php
 

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The hunting beast is an awesome site. Dan and all the guys know a lot about bed hunting and public land. Its a whole nuther level of deeer hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sweet! Thanks for the info. I'll definitely have to check out the video. Not enough stuff out there that actually shows you what they're talking about. Is that DVD by Blood Brothers Outdoors? I found one called "Hill Country Bucks." I assume that's the one. Just ordered it.

I think the hunting bug is finally setting in. It can be frustrating to learn at first, but I seem to have hit the point where - harvest or not - I dig on learning and trying to unravel the mysteries of the deer.
 

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That is the right one. The first time I watched it about 5 million light bulbs went off. It made me understand why I saw deer where they were in the past. Patterns that I did not notice surfaced. I end up rewatching it about once a month to review things.

I know what you mean about the hunting bug. I have killed a lot of deer over bait with a bow but just recently started chasing fair chase public land. I am not taking anything away from bait hunting(I still do it in the urban hunt to fill my freezer) but it does not compare to chasing mature bucks on public land. Much harder. I have not had much harvesting success yet but I am learning and I for sure have fun even when I come home empty handed. Good luck and tell us what you think of the video when you see it.
 

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Just walk through the woods squirrel hunting on a frosty morning and you'll see where they bed. The spots they lie down will be apparent.
Once you figure out where they like to sleep You place stands where you can get between their beds and where they travel without spooking them on the beds. And you're set to kill some.
 

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Bucks are funny about "bedding", not always obeying the rules that people set down. I once had a bachelor group of 4 walk in on me, heading dead downwind, with one stud who had already dropped one side :)rolleyes:) and 3 other smaller bucks. This was about 4:00PM. The big one layed down (bedded) about 20 yards to my left and chewed his cud for a good 10-15 minutes, as did one other about 10 yards right in front of me. This was on a slight rocky ridge with lots of low brush; good cover or screening for them.

I realize that in general, they have a few preferred topography and cover types. That's all fine and dandy, BUT, they "bed down" when they want and where they want, "just 'cause", and may be there for a good while or almost no time at all.:shrug:
 

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Bucks are funny about "bedding", not always obeying the rules that people set down. I once had a bachelor group of 4 walk in on me, heading dead downwind, with one stud who had already dropped one side :)rolleyes:) and 3 other smaller bucks. This was about 4:00PM. The big one layed down (bedded) about 20 yards to my left and chewed his cud for a good 10-15 minutes, as did one other about 10 yards right in front of me. This was on a slight rocky ridge with lots of low brush; good cover or screening for them.

I realize that in general, they have a few preferred topography and cover types. That's all fine and dandy, BUT, they "bed down" when they want and where they want, "just 'cause", and may be there for a good while or almost no time at all.:shrug:
That's kinda what I figured, I'm sure there are some common factors, but doubt there are a lot of hard and fast for certains.
 
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