Who's hunted Big Oaks NWR??
Contributors to this thread:
patience2spare 20-Sep-10
hoosiercat 21-Sep-10
patience2spare 21-Sep-10
PuffDaddy 22-Sep-10
pav 22-Sep-10
patience2spare 22-Sep-10
18javelin 27-Sep-10
William Kersey 08-Nov-10
18javelin 31-Jan-11
fullrut 24-Feb-11
patience2spare 28-Mar-11
18javelin 29-Mar-11
patience2spare 29-Mar-11
18javelin 01-Apr-11
patience2spare 03-Apr-11
TD2 04-Apr-11
18javelin 07-Apr-11
fullrut 24-Apr-11
I drew for the archery hunt Oct 23rd & 24th and am pretty excited since a true hunting trip was not in the cards this year considering all of the changes going on with my school system. The fact that the 23rd and 24th are a weekend has me even more excited since I'm not sure how my new principal would respond to my taking time off to hunt.

I was hoping that someone might be able to share a little info from thier experience at Big Oaks. I won't be able to scout (I don't think that they allow that from the hunt info) and it's a pretty good drive from Fort Wayne. Evidently, I'm supposed to reserve a hunt area before coming down there. Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a bunch. I hope that you all have a great season. Pete

From: hoosiercat
Well, there are some deer there, not like it was back in the hay day. I hunted once, and was not overly impressed. Don't want to bust your bubble. Just my experience. Others may and probably will differ.

I appreciate your honesty. I figured that it would be like a lot of the park reduction hunts.... once upon a time really easy hunting with incredible numbers but now maybe just another chance to hunt.

Without being able to scout, I'll just see how it shakes out unless someone has any suggestions. Thanks again. Pete

From: PuffDaddy
Ya Patience; I hunted there 3 days last year with my bro inlaw. Was NOT pleased at all .. All the deer seemed to be on the Private Leased out Area on the South End.. However there was some action along the West boundry areas. Look for places in the fence where deer cross under the fence and hit the crop fields.. Not too hard to find..Then set up on approach trails if you can find any.. Also the areas on the south west side seemed to produce the best results.. Im telling these secrets because Ill never hunt there again. They have overhunted that place to death..We hunted 3 days, and saw 2 deer , between us.. Not Much Sign eather, (rubs,scrapes,trails,tracks, -nothin much - I dont want to rain on your parade, It could have been our bad luck.. You might try the areas I told you, its the results of 3 days of hunting/scouting.. GOOD LUCK BROTHER -- You will need it. Puff

From: pav
Most of the crops are already gone due to the drought.

North end has some good timber with oaks....and the oaks in SE Indiana hit hard for the first time in three seasons this year.

Since you can't scout in advance, I'd be finding a good stand of acorn bearing oaks Saturday morning. Deer sign in the oaks is good....buck sign in the oaks is even better.

Good luck!

Thanks for the info guys - it's always good to go in with realistic expectations.

I killed my urban buck on the 15th over white acorns (he was a scrubby 6 but I hunt within 200yds of one of Ft Wayne's more heavily travelled roads - they plunk deer there all the time). I suppose that I will focus on the acorns on Saturday and if that doesn't pan out I'll try an area along the West side as Puff suggested.

Thanks. Pete

From: 18javelin
I Killed a 130 inch 8 there last year but only seen 3 deer in 3 days of hunting. First was a Brute of a 6 point i passed on my one day hunt first 30 min in stand... Kid killed him and without Brows he was 120 inches HEAVY MASS....

The 2 day Hunt i hunted with a buddy and shot my 8 point... these were shotgun hunts i have never hit the bow hunts although i was drawn this year but i will be in Canada Goose hunting. Now the gun hunts i will be there......

Just got back from the youth hunt. I took my 14 yr old nephew over for the first time. We chose unit 5 which is at the upper northeast corner. We had the unit to ourselves (approx. 650 acres). Almost zero deer activity. Hardly any rubs, one old scrape and only 3 deer sighted. He shot a 1.5 yr old at 1:00pm. and we were happy to get him. Most of the middle strip of the refuge is off-limits and the hunt units are around the outer edge. There definitely are some older-age bucks coming out of the off-limits areas, but the potential to travel all the way down there just to sit and not see hardly anything is pretty high. Between gas, a motel room, food and everything, it was a pretty costly hunt for a little buck. But the refuge is 58000 acres and has a very unique feel compared to anywhere else I've hunted in Indiana. My nephew had a great time and was thrilled with his first real buck and couldn't stop talking about coming back next year. We plan to put in for the spring youth turkey hunt and use that as an opportunity to explore and scout a different unit in the spring. Anyway, that was my experience. BK

From: 18javelin
Talked to a manager there and he said one area that burned they found 37 sheds one day the next went back into the very next area and for 23 more... This was a few years back in a safety zone area. the deer know those areas very well when pressure starts up.

I will go back even though numbers arent prolific there is alot of BIG deer killed there in very few days afield. the key is to get first dibs in areas they live in. LOL

From: fullrut
Big Oaks just keeps going down down down. I hunted in there one time this year and saw only 3 deer. A 147" 12pt that I killed, a 140" 8pt that I passed and a doe that I killed. There are still some giants in there. They are just far and few between. Its hard to pass the place up though when it offers you another buck.

fullrut - would love to see the pics of your buck! I ended up passing on the trip to Big Oaks last fall. I killed 3 deer with the bow up in my corner of the state but no mature buck for me this year. Had a lot of time in the field and the freezer is full so a good season even without the antlers. Pete

From: 18javelin
he is saying its not worth hunting after seeing 2 deer over 140" does that tell u anything? If you put in for these hunt TRY to go as many guys apply and dont get picked.

a 140" buck is worth going after in my book and every year somebody kills a MONSTER so in essance say a 1 in 150 chance of killing a BIG buck is better odds than ANYWHERE in the US you can go. Just have to show up and hunt to get the chance.

18javi - I did catch his sarcasm in the post, but in my research of the hunt, I found fullrut's experience to clearly be the exception, not the norm. My guess would be that this was not fullrut's virgin trip to Big Oaks. Also, not to make light of a 147inch buck since it is a great deer, but I'm not willing to drive 5 hours to only see 3 deer. I have seen and killed deer that big and bigger on the land I hunt in Lagrange county in years past. I wasn't going to be able to do any scouting or visit the property before the hunt, so I made the call to pass on the hunt I drew. I can assure you that it was not my original intention to take away from someone else's chances. I just decided that my chances of seeing numbers of deer and killing deer were better where I knew the land. Good luck with your 2011 season. Pete

From: 18javelin
That is fine and i understand, This hunt is for a EXTRA buck tag to though and EXTRA doe tags in case you wasnt aware. So that 2 days of hunting in the "Blind" results in a 1 in 150 chance of killing a BIG Buck makes it worth the drive and 2 days of giving up hunting my own land up. Also gives my properties a chance to rest a few days.

To each his own just figured i would let ya in on a great hunt even though number arent what they used to be.

18javi - first, let me say thank you... for reminding me of why I put in for that hunt in the first place. I had A LOT of optimism when I drew the hunt and then let some bad or mediocre reports here and elsewhere talk me out of going down to hunt. Second, let me apologize if I came across as haughty or negative... I try to be as positive as I can and normally I'm up for a challenge or adventure. If I draw that tag again, I'll definitely come down and see if I can't at least see some new ground and maybe get a chance at another buck... Between my urban zone and regular tag that would make a chance at 3.... One certainly couldn't be disappointed in having a chance at 3 legal bucks in our state!! Good luck with your hunts and prep this year. Pete

From: TD2
yall need to hunt east central Indiana if you think only seeing a handful of deer sux. Its a good hunt here when anything is seen, let alone shot.

I aint complaining, much. LOL

Thats why its deer HUNTING.

From: 18javelin
I wasnt trying to Force anything either i have been lucky and been drawn the last 3 years BUT i have few buddies not so Lucky and them driving up for a no show drawing isnt worth their time. I even have buddies who put in for all of them then Dont show up for any. Kind of chaps me they do that when there is guys who would love to go.

I understand things come up sometimes just wish if guys know they Cant go dont put in for them.

Hope to meet you there someday, few years ago i 3 peted with a state park buck Military buck and reg state buck. It was a Awesome year. LOL

From: fullrut
Did anyone get drawn for a 2011 turkey hunt in Big Oaks?

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