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Midwest river bottom tactics
I've been hunting a spot in western Nebraska thats a mixture of prairie, ag fields and deep cottonwood bottoms. I've got a really good corridor that is a bottom that is about 100-150 yards wide, and 30-50 feet deep, thick cottonwoods and underbrush. This corridor is bordered by prairie grassland and big corn fields and soybean, and runs from the ag down to a bigger river bottom. The deer use this corridor as a main travel route, bedding both in the open prairie and in the bigger river bottom, and feed in the ag. The problem i have, is the wind is NEVER consistent. When I hunt it, I try to hunt the downwind side, hugging tighter to the "walls" of the bottom. Invariably however, if you sit there for a couple hours, the wind swirls enough that your scent ends up getting dispersed up/down the corridor, which is no good. How do you guys approach something like this? Get out of the bottom and try and isolate a decent trail where the wind may be more stable? The well worn trails and consistent trail cam pics down in this bottom are so tantalizing, but I feel like its futile to sit there due to swirling wind. What would you guys do?
I would definitely stay out of the bottoms. As you eluded to, the winds are extremely fickle and are almost impossible to judge where they will blow consistently. Not sure if where you are hunting has any bedding flats up above the bottoms, but if so, I would set up on the downwind side of these flats, as close to the edge of the ravine as possible, if you’re able to. If you can slip into one of these bedding flats without blowing the deer out, it can be a very productive spot all hours of the day, especially during the rut.
Your scent, for the most part, will be carried out above and over the bottoms. Not 100% foolproof, but it will help control your scent plume considerably. Also, I’ve had decent results using Nosejammer spray. Again, it’s not foolproof, but I’ve seen it work for me enough times to continue using it. I always try to stay downwind, but that’s not always possible.
Another tactic that may help is to try some calling/rattling/decoying in a spot where you have some control of the direction that the deer will most likely and least likely approach from.
How high do you place stands? Stand height can have an effect on if your air pushes down or up and out. Get a bunch of milkweed fuzz and check different specific spots around the general area you want to place your stand. You may be amazed at the difference from one spot to another only separated by 20 or 30 yards. I have had better results hunting the bottoms as far away from the transition to high ground as I can get. Further into the flat the wind gets more consistent. Try to hunt on a rising barometer also as air currents tend to rise more then. A couple spots I hunt ,which are creek bottoms in ag land mixed with pasture ,have beaten me up over the years. Can't hunt the bottom without getting busted by most of the deer because of swirly winds. I hate getting busted! If you have the trees to do it and don't mind heights , get up over 20 feet.
Hunting the bottoms is a tempting way to hunt sign but not to kill mature deer. You’ve got to hunt where you can get consistent wind which generally means ridge tops or funnels to the ridge tops. Our preferred method is putting food-plots on hilltops and staying out of the bottoms.
Thanks for the feedback. I am headed out for the remainder of the week, and I'll definitely try to approach this differently. I've been pouring over maps and I think I have a few spots highlighted that get me out of the bottom but still in their path of travel. It is difficult because several of these spots I have scouted out, the bottom is in the public accessible land, but the surrounding ag fields are private, or theres not a really good pinch point or funnel until the bottom leaves the accessible land..