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Big Woods Bedding Area

10/9/15 @ 3:37 PM
User since 4/29/05
Hello all,

I have always struggled with this. I hunt some larger tracks of public land with not a whole lot of variation. What do you look for to get an idea of where bedding areas are?

Google earth does not show any areas that stick out to me as where deer may bed. I have done some scouting and plan on doing more but I get frustrated when I feel like I have no idea where to start. How do you know when you found bedding areas?

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks all and good luck!

10/13/15 @ 6:11 PM
User since 11/29/01
Fishnfreak., for what it is worth I can tell ya about hunting the big woods public lands. I hunt in Price and Sawyer co.. Hunting those woods are the toughest hunting there is for a big buck. I have been at it for 28 yrs now for bow and gun. I have yet to figure theses deer out and have came to the conclusion they are completely random with little or no pattern. If they develop a pattern the wolves figure out the pattern and disrupt it. I have found buck beds that have been used for a while and then not used again the rest of the year. Most likely they smelled me when they came back to bed. This will end the use of that bed for several months. Buck, especially older ones will bed in a particular place for a particular reason. It is usually wind direction from a direction they can't see but can smell, and face a direction that they can see without being seen. The older the buck, the fussier the bed location. I have discovered there are bucks that you just cannot get to the stand without them knowing it almost every time. The best chance you have is finding buck beds in the late winter and spring. Then, you know where they are and try to figure where he will go IF he decides to move during shooting hours. In the big woods , this is super hard and I have never done it. I have done it a few times to find they were does though. Don't go there to see if he has been there lately, you will spook him every time with my experience. Dont bother trying this in the morning, they circle around and will smell you. Scent block is futile. The evenings are your best chance and slim at that. To make matters worse ( I dont know what county you are hunting ) the big buck numbers are so low where I hunt that I decided to believe there is not a 2 1/2 yr old buck in many miles squared. I say this cause we have 5 cameras out scattered in a sq . mi. and last year was the first time we didn't get a buck on the camera that was 2 1/2 yrs old. The year before we had one buck one time and that was it.This yr we have one 10 pt. on the cam and have no idea where he came from. A few yrs will be better though. Hope tis helps , and good luck.

10/13/15 @ 11:26 AM
User since 5/2/05
south side of the hills, around lakes, creeks, slash, wind fall areas...that's what I have learned over the years. also 3-5 deer can make a lot of tracks, so if you see the beds, that maybe all the deer in that given area. sometimes its just a guess as well.

10/13/15 @ 8:44 AM
User since 7/14/09
Sounds like you have a good plan. Google earth and Bing are great places to start to pinpoint spots. What I have learned is that it takes many seasons to really start to figure it out, so you kind of have to commit to a long-term plan to figure the area out.

One thing I have found as well is that Bing maps some times show fall images (I think Google Earth has a time setting as well), but if you set it for the fall you can really see transitions really well. That has been helpful for me.

Good luck and have fun with it.

10/13/15 @ 8:16 AM
User since 4/29/05
From using the Google I can see that there are some edges and some areas that look pretty thick. I know I am behind the 8-ball here and do not plan on doing too much heavy scouting at this point. I have a trail cam that I am going to set up and try and get an idea of where they are coming from. I would like to hunt the area during the rut so i do not want to push the deer around at this point. I will just play it safe for now and and get out after season with some snow on the ground and get some better intel!

My step dad use to hunt this area and he did very well, so I know there are deer there. His dad offered to take me out and show me where they hunted but I would kind of like to try and figure it out on my own, that is part of the fun!

Thanks for all the comments on this. It does help me formulate a game plan.

Good Luck all! Cool

10/12/15 @ 10:55 AM
User since 7/14/09
That's another good point by scoutking that is applicable to any terrain I think. I have wasted too much time scouting places that just flat out didn't hold deer because it didn't offer the cover that the deer needed.

10/12/15 @ 10:35 AM
User since 10/25/07
If the area you are planning on hunting does not have any type of variation or edge with thick cover, I would personally not hunt that area. On any land, especially public land, you can't hunt areas where the deer don't feel comfortable moving in daylight and expect to see anything. Good luck and keep us posted.

10/12/15 @ 9:28 AM
User since 4/29/05
Thanks all for the comments! This gives me food for thought and some things to look for.

Thanks again!

10/12/15 @ 8:42 AM
User since 7/13/01
Wait for snow and follow their tracks around.

10/9/15 @ 9:54 PM
User since 7/6/09
I agree with both posters. If it is high ground, they will generally not be grouped up, and they will bed in any cover that provides them protection from the rear and allows them a clear view out front. If there are cutovers, young aspen thickets, briar patches, blowdowns, young pines, etc. they could bed in there. Again, they are likely to be single deer or just a doe/fawn combo.

If it is low ground, they will bed in any cover where they are not laying directly in water, usually the thickest stuff they can find. Red willows are awesome, or tag alder thickets with a little grass in them. Small fingers or islands of slightly elevated ground. You can sometimes find large groups bedding together in these areas.

To me, though, it seems that big woods deer are less about a pattern and more about a home range. Within their home range, they generally go about in a fairly random pattern because they aren't disturbed all that often, so they might bed just about anywhere they find a bit of cover. If you find fresh sign, though, including beds, that is when we try to start determining ambush points along trails where we have the wind in our favor and good visibility, along with enough cover to stay hidden. If you find that stuff, then I say hunt there.

10/9/15 @ 6:40 PM
User since 2/2/09
As the leaves cover the floor more, actual deer beds should be more visible. Smarter/ older deer will like to bed using the wind to there advantage to "watch" their blind side. If there is no thick cover around, blow downs, berry patches and even a few low pines will do the trick to hide a deer for a nap.

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