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Hunting Big Timber VS Farmland
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
[email protected] 13-Nov-14
drycreek 13-Nov-14
jrhurn mobile 13-Nov-14
Beendare 13-Nov-14
MF 13-Nov-14
JamesV 14-Nov-14
Will 14-Nov-14
jdrdeerslayer 14-Nov-14
Flumer 14-Nov-14
Flumer 15-Nov-14
rattling_junkie 12-Mar-22
Missouribreaks 12-Mar-22
Bandicooter 12-Mar-22
12yards 12-Mar-22
timex 12-Mar-22
TonyBear 12-Mar-22
Pat Lefemine 13-Mar-22
Pat Lefemine 13-Mar-22
Mike in CT 13-Mar-22
Genesis 13-Mar-22
KSflatlander 13-Mar-22
jjs 13-Mar-22
Squash 13-Mar-22
drycreek 13-Mar-22
Grey Ghost 13-Mar-22
Rocky D 13-Mar-22
Rocky D 13-Mar-22
rattling_junkie 13-Mar-22
grizzly63 13-Mar-22
Rocky D 14-Mar-22
timex 14-Mar-22
Missouribreaks 14-Mar-22
DanaC 14-Mar-22
timex 14-Mar-22
WV Mountaineer 14-Mar-22
groundhunter50 14-Mar-22
Woods Walker 14-Mar-22
JHP 14-Mar-22
timex 14-Mar-22
groundhunter50 14-Mar-22
APauls 14-Mar-22
TREESTANDWOLF 14-Mar-22
DanaC 14-Mar-22
TREESTANDWOLF 14-Mar-22
groundhunter50 14-Mar-22
13-Nov-14
Seeing a recent thread got me thinking. I live in Northern Kentucky and have access to hunting in farming country that is fairly populated. It is common to see anywhere from 8 to 20 deer each sit and actually is the norm. Sitting on a heavily used deer trail will usually net you a 10 yard shot on a weekend hunt. I took 3 does on 3 consecutive hunts and allowed several to walk under my stand. Then My son and I hunt Lewis county. 90 miles away and like a different country. Little to no farming. Steep hills with heavy timber and mostly hardwoods. Logging is the main function of making a living here. Deer are difficult to pattern in that every hill is roughly the same. Lots of Oaks and no trails that are followed. A weeks worth of hunting may net 5 or 6 deer sighted. But we have killed our biggest Bucks down there and we love hunting the "wilderness" so we go back each year.

From: drycreek
13-Nov-14
IMO, your observations are correct. Although I have hunted very little in " farm country " , I have hunted there enough to know that normal deer movement is often dictated by the cover between crops and the areas that can't be farmed easily. Where I hunt, a deer can go anywhere he wants and still be in cover. And they do. That doesn't mean that killing a nice buck in farm country is easy, but maybe it's easier than the big woods or the thick brushy country.

13-Nov-14
I've hunted both and here is my observation. I believe it is easier to kill "a deer" in farm country, but the big deer tend to only be "killable" during the rut. While in big timber, I believe you will see more big deer during daylight hours outside the rut, it is difficult to get on them because they can wander anywhere.

James

From: Beendare
13-Nov-14
Big woods is some of the toughest bowhunting there is. I've done it a few times in canada bush....nothing to funnel them.

The rifle guys can just hunt a utility easement.....

From: MF
13-Nov-14
Same here in PA. Live down in the southeast and have a cabin in north central. Totally different ballgame. Recently I've been hunting in Jersey, a mix of crops, fields, and woods. Nice to get some action but the mountains are special.

From: JamesV
14-Nov-14
I hunt big woods in the south and it is hard hunting. Almost impossible to pattern the deer and if you see one it is usually going the other direction just out of range.

From: Will
14-Nov-14
It's all we really have in the north east - big woods. The exception are some densely populated areas that feel like farm land hunting but instead of big fields and small wood lots or strips, it's strip malls, housing developments and wood lots/strips. Get away from suburbia and you can go miles between roads.

Always made me laugh when I read "experts" in magazines talk about how you get between bedding and feeding for example. Go ahead Mr Expert, come on out to the big woods, where bedding is literally everywhere, and food is literally everywhere and lets see how that works out for you :)

Trying to narrow things down via topography, cover types converging, etc is tough!

14-Nov-14
Spot on will....

From: Flumer
14-Nov-14
Was in southern Wisconsin at a 3d shoot, talking to a gentleman for a while about hunting. Was trying to explain how tough the hunting was in the big woods, (I'm OP's son). He kept giving me the, "all you have to do is hunt the transitions between bedding area and feeding area." Did he mean the 5 feet between that briar patch and that oak tree?

From: Flumer
15-Nov-14
Wow. And you know the one deer in the square mile has eyes on the back of his head! That's another thing we've noticed about the deer in the big woods, they seem to be much more wary than the farmland deer. Some of those deer probably only encounter a human a few times a year, versus the farmland deer seeing and hearing and smelling humans almost everyday.

12-Mar-22
Big woods can funnel deer. I think you just need to be a student and try and observe everything. The clues are there, but takes a long time to put them together. I'm no expert though, so I might be full of BS.

12-Mar-22
Very few bow and arrow hunters know how, and have the patience, to hunt the big woods. This is the day of expecting instant success, and on big bucks. Hunting farm country, and private land bait plots is far easier.

From: Bandicooter
12-Mar-22
White oaks. Key on those when they produce every few years.

From: 12yards
12-Mar-22
I hunted clear cuts in the big woods in the UP of MI. A couple nights of scouting and I knew where the deer were coming out to feed. Shot a couple bucks in a couple days. Not big, but it was pretty easy. Farm country, you can look at an aerial and be pretty sure where the deer are going to move through. Or scout from your vehicle.

From: timex
12-Mar-22
Jmo but to me hill country tends to have much more natural funnel areas than flatland farm country does. I grew up hunting the nw va hills & deer are easily patterned there. I now live on the coast & the deer are very inconsistent in their travel patterns.

From: TonyBear
12-Mar-22
Transition areas in the big woods. Mast (oaks) and water, logging. if that has been going on.. There are some key areas but if other hunters are there they will find them too.

I hunt archery only areas, big woods and in 800-13000 acres the focus points can be maybe 100 acres. Especially during the pre-rut when a guy finds scrapes. Shut-up about it so you don't have company and you will be successful.

Wolves, weather and water. Seems I am always dealing with one or two of those in the big woods..

From: Pat Lefemine
13-Mar-22
All big woods are not the same. So to make a statement that hunting big woods are better than farmland may be true for your locale, but not every locale.

For example, my Ohio farm has some timbered areas. They are dotted with mature white oaks everywhere. That is a really good place to hunt for daylight sightings, particularly late morning and early afternoon as they start transitioning to crop lands.

In NY, my big woods are almost entirely mature maple and hemlock. You can sit on a trail for 3 years and never see a deer. I only hunt the transition areas close to my plots because that's where the deer concentrate. There is no one-size fits all when bowhunting. Every time hunt a property you need to scout it as each property will have it's own nuance as to food sources, bedding cover, browse, mast, etc.

If you look at every property or parcel as a blank slate, rather than making wide generalizations you will be far more effective, IMO.

From: Pat Lefemine
13-Mar-22
All big woods are not the same. So to make a statement that hunting big woods are better than farmland may be true for your locale, but not every locale.

For example, my Ohio farm has some timbered areas. They are dotted with mature white oaks everywhere. That is a really good place to hunt for daylight sightings, particularly late morning and early afternoon as they start transitioning to crop lands.

In NY, my big woods are almost entirely mature maple and hemlock. You can sit on a trail for 3 years and never see a deer. I only hunt the transition areas close to my plots because that's where the deer concentrate. There is no one-size fits all when bowhunting. Every time hunt a property you need to scout it as each property will have it's own nuance as to food sources, bedding cover, browse, mast, etc.

If you look at every property or parcel as a blank slate, rather than making wide generalizations you will be far more effective, IMO.

From: Mike in CT
13-Mar-22
Having hunting both I find patterning deer in farm lands tends to be easier than in big woods overall. It's much easier to find bedding areas and then find the preferred travel routes to and from the food source(s).

With regard to big woods (and I do a sizeable amount in the NW corner of CT) hunting I've found over the years that the same approach successful bass fisherman employ works well. Talk to someone who consistently nails big bass and the first thing they'll tel you is they eliminate about 85% of a body of water they'll be fishing; for varying reasons it simply isn't going to produce.

The same principle applies to big woods; figure out where the wasted time areas are and look for what will attract and possibly hold deer. Know food sources like you know your name, and not just the obvious ones like acorns. Look for other good hard mast crops like beech trees and then soft mast too. As Will said, use topo maps to find land structures that can funnel deer movement.

If you're hunting big woods on state land learn escape routes and let other hunters work for you; get well off the usual beaten path and think like a deer; if a horde of shotgun-wielding pumpkins is coming for me where am I going to run?

Finally, take to heart Pat's last sentence; if you treat every property or parcel as a blank state you're more likely to scout it well, learn it well and figure out where your best chance for success will be.

From: Genesis
13-Mar-22
Big woods need a good scout job consisting of finding hard interior edge like old house places, old fences rows,cut banks ,steep hill faces,pond levees,etc.Then moving to soft interior edges like vegetation changes,blowdowns and soft changes in topography like little humpbacks or openings.

Key on change…..no matter how monotonous the tract (big timber bottoms being the worst) all will have some form of change in edge,deer are edge creatures

Find the groceries,different trees provide at different times of fall.Early vs late acorn droppers of the same species are great differentiators.Greenbrier,honeysuckle,and other plants may be in patches of poor stand.

Walk the WHOLE perimeter,sometimes the best spots are coming from an adjoining tract

Form good entry,exit routes and don’t over hunt any area.

From: KSflatlander
13-Mar-22
Last weekend I drove from Kansas to Virginia. While in WV I kept asking myself “how the hell they kill a deer in these big woods.”

Kudos to all the big woods hunters.

From: jjs
13-Mar-22
without a doubt Big Woods is tougher to to the dispersal of food and predators, farmland is similar going to the grocery store by picking out the most appeasing product.

From: Squash
13-Mar-22
Living in northern NY, pretty much all I hunt is big woods of the Adirondacks and the Tug Hill Plateau. It’s tough, but rewarding. You can find pinch points or funnels using beaver flows etc.. You need to be able to cover ground and snow helps immensely. With the right snow conditions most end up tracking bucks down. You need to be able to tell if the track is a buck worth following and when to trail fast and when to slow down. I’m lucky enough to be invited to the Adirondack Trackers, ( they have a website) annual deer party. It was held last Sat evening, there were about 60 people there including well known ADK Trackers , Jim Massett, , and Joe Dinnito. There were some great antlers on display from this past season, most were big woods bucks from the ADKs. , and a few from Tug Hill including mine.

From: drycreek
13-Mar-22
Zombie thread, but still pertinent. The Texas brush country might be tougher than the big woods. If you’ve never hunted it, you can’t imagine how thick it is and it’s just head high or a little taller. You ain’t getting twenty feet up in a tree because there’s nothing over ten feet tall, if that. It’s almost impenetrable, because literally everything will “poke you, bite you, or stick you”. If it’s warm, which it often is in December, six foot rattlers will be crawling around in there too. About the only recourse is to draw them out with corn feeders. It makes Iowa or Kansas look easy.

From: Grey Ghost
13-Mar-22
Drycreek is right. The alternative to scouting and patterning deer in thick cover is to throw a bait pile out and condition the deer to come to it, like livestock. It takes the actual hunting part out of the equation. It’s not my cup of tea, but let’s be honest, that's why a lot of guys do it.

Flame suit on..... ;-)

Matt

From: Rocky D
13-Mar-22
“ Last weekend I drove from Kansas to Virginia. While in WV I kept asking myself “how the hell they kill a deer in these big woods.”

KS, in the mountains you can base a lot off of terrain. Saddles, draws, and benches are deer magnets.

In time of plenty the deer do not move as much so they will be spread out evenly or concentrated on specific food sources.

Understanding food sources is critical. Find the only white oak producing and you can set the time for the dinner bell. The mountains will talk to you.

I can do a lot of damage with this much information in the mountains.

From: Rocky D
13-Mar-22
“ Last weekend I drove from Kansas to Virginia. While in WV I kept asking myself “how the hell they kill a deer in these big woods.”

KS, in the mountains you can base a lot off of terrain. Saddles, draws, and benches are deer magnets.

In time of plenty the deer do not move as much so they will be spread out evenly or concentrated on specific food sources.

Understanding food sources is critical. Find the only white oak producing and you can set the time for the dinner bell. The mountains will talk to you.

I can do a lot of damage with this much information in the mountains.

13-Mar-22
Manitoba has a lot of areas with inconsistent food sources. The bigwoods I hunt has food everywhere, so I can't really key in on food sources. Terrain/vegetation features seem to be really important here, even on flat terrain.

From: grizzly63
13-Mar-22
Sometimes you hunt the water in the big woods. Food, water, security and that eternal drive to reproduce. Gotta be something in there to work on.

From: Rocky D
14-Mar-22
Just wondering, how many people on this thread has killeda buck 3/4ths a mile from the nearest road or trail and in woods of greater than two thousand acres?

Just wondering about what we’re considering big woods since we were commenting about walking around the perimeter.

In hill country it is relatively easy to figure out where and how the deer move. The real challenge in mountain country is the physicality and the constantly shifting wind.

From: timex
14-Mar-22
Absolutely more than 3/4 mile When I was young hunting wva & nw va it was nothing to be miles from the truck. 2000 acres in one large tract no or rarely. I posted earlier in this thread that (to me) hill country deer are easily to pattern than flatland deer. In hill country deer move up & down with the thermals. Cross the tops in the saddles. Lay just off the downwind side of ridge tops. Feed on the oak flats during the middle of the day. Etc. Flat land deer in my area just seem to roam & have no real set land contour travel patterns. Here one day there the next. Carried many a deer out the mountain in pieces back in the day. Loin,backstraps,heart & liver in a plastic bag in the game pouch in my jacket and a shoulder & hind quarter on each end of a wide nylon strap slung over my shoulder.

14-Mar-22
With today's deer herds and available equipment, a good bow and arrow deer hunter can be successful in many situations. They can hunt, and kill whitetail deer in the east, west, mountains, hills, swamps, big woods, farm lands and everything in between. Let's not make it more difficult than it really is. Things were far different when modern bow and arrow hunting seasons became a reality. My family has bow and arrow hunted since the first mid western archery seasons came to be. Back then, seeing a deer, any deer, was quit an accomplishment. Today's hunters have far different expectations.

From: DanaC
14-Mar-22
What Will said.

The 'problem' with big woods is that 'cover' is so easy for the deer. Smell something funny? Move 50 yards. Hear something out-of-place? See a flash of movement? Move 50 yards. Or just wait a half hour.

I hunt a lot of places where if you have 50 yards of visibility you're on a logging road, or in an oak flat where they *may* feed late afternoon. That's if the oaks produced acorns this year...

From: timex
14-Mar-22
Agree with mb. When I was young yes there were deer but nothing like today. One of my favorite & productive ways to hunt back then was to sleep in late get to the top of the mountain around 9-10 & walk the ridge top. You could hear the deer kicking off the down wind side. Then drop down that side a few 100 yards & still hunt back across from hollow to hollow. In those days seeing a dozen deer up in the mountain was a good day.

14-Mar-22
Big woods needs defined. Big woods is big woods. It’s isn’t a 690 acre section of woods. It’s thousands and thousands of acres of big woods. Tens of thousands of acres.

In Appalachia, that means there is a food source on every ridge. That means the deer are very scattered. And, it means you’ll be looking at few deer. The rut is often what makes them visible. So, you spend the first month of season looking for sign. Then you hunt the freshest sign during the rut and you’ll see deer. Sometimes one. Sometimes 10. It’s all about the day and how the deer moved.

They’ll be years when certain areas are the key. Deer will use a certain saddle, or be keying on the oaks on a certain water shed. The key is finding those areas.

There are few white oaks where I hunt sometimes. So early season food is always soft mast. If you are lucky, the red oaks or beech hit in these areas. If not, lace your boots up and find where they did. You’ll find deer then. When you do, you’ll be in an area that allows you to see as many deer as farm country. Next year, that area might be 10 miles from there.

If you can kill deer with any weapon consistently in big woods, you are a very good hunter. It’s also the reasons I think when we started otc elk hunting, we had so much luck. Same concept. Different and much noises ani Al though. So, it was a lot easier to find them. That’s the thing, Big woods hunting doesn’t start until you find what you need. Some years you just don’t find it too. It’s a game of moving until you find a reason not too. Same as hunting anything else. Except you can’t see that far. It’s all boot tread. No glassing to eliminate areas.

14-Mar-22
I hunt the UP, and although most of the deer are in the ag areas, I prefer to match wits, with the few deer in the Ottawa N F, were talking thousands of acres, but lots of closed walking logging roads. some open, at certain times.....................

Mike Noskoviak, currently a land mgt specialist for Whitetail Properties, in Ashland Wis, was a guide in that county, and ran a camp for many years. He is by far, the best woodsman I have ever known, and trapper...... He was interviewed one year, either by Outdoor Life or Field and Stream at the time, if you can find the article in the archives of the internet, its was all about hunting "Big Woods",,,,,,,, He is still nocking them down,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Greg Miller, who has moved on, since the wolves grew in N Wis. and is on TV hunting the Dakotas etc, from North American Whitetail, is another authority on hunting Big Woods. He has authored a book on it, the guy, knows what he is talking about, and his brother is still, hunting those areas,

These are some of the solid references I can give you, for something to read, on the topic,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I will post my tips, so that this does not get too long

From: Woods Walker
14-Mar-22
I haven't done a whole lot of big woods hunting, but when I have it was with a firearm. What was a game changer for that was snow. As my hunting buddy once said....."With snow, they can run but they can't hide". Well, they can, but not quite as well!

After I did do some big woods hunting, I became a BIG fan of the Benoits.

From: JHP
14-Mar-22
Where we hunt in Lewis it is very remote. Spots you can walk 10 miles or more to hit a road and most likely a dirt one at that. And it is all forest hardwoods. Some pretty steep hills as well.

From: timex
14-Mar-22
Not to argue & yes I fully understand the difference between big timber & not. But one of my favorite mountains back home if ya wanted to be on top to watch the sun rise ya had to leave home by 3am. & although probably only a mile long across the top & perhaps a 8-10 mile circumference around the base. You'd be hard pressed to explore every hollow thicket & laurel patch in a week's time. I'd definitely not consider cobbler mtn big timber but it's far from 690 acre section.

14-Mar-22
I never hunted Ky, my area is so different of vast swamps and timber, my tips would probably have no use to you. One thing though you have no predators, that is a fact, Maybe some coyotes, but do not ever bring in wolves,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

From: APauls
14-Mar-22
The most important hunting you can do when it comes to being consistently successful with whitetails is hunting for a good spot.

In a great spot a mediocre hunter can have great results. In a poor spot a great hunter will only have mediocre results. I feel like I've done a decent job of finding good spots, though not every year. But it always amazes me how many people will tie themselves down to crappy spots.

Big woods are completely different a 30 minute drive apart never mind state to state. But overall, they will have less food, and less deer/acre. Less nutrition means on avg less deer reaching maximum potential. I salute those that choose to take the beating. I tried it for a few years because the solitude from other hunters was nice, but I just couldn't have the success I was looking for. Maybe a different big woods would be better, but I honestly look up to guys that get it done consistently in big woods. Time (lots of it) will help, and that just doesn't appear to be in my wheelhouse at the moment.

14-Mar-22
WV Mountaneer and the Benoits.

Big woods hunting defined.

A few tough places I’ve hunted for years where The Catskills, Adirondacks, and Wallenpaupak to name a few. They don’t compare to the farmlands I hunt now.

A big deer from big woods is a true trophy. They are far and few between.

From: DanaC
14-Mar-22
Don't forget Hal Blood from Maine

14-Mar-22
I agree Dana

14-Mar-22
What is the legal limit for bait in KY... Just watched Bone Collector,,,, Mike Waddell and his goofy partner, with the flat brim hat sideways, like he is a bowhunter/gang banger, were hunting over corn................. and alot of it

All the food plots they had there, yet tons of corn spread all over,,,,,,

I like T Bone and I like Waddell, but that other guy seems like a goof

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