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Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

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Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Guest on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:37 am

I am fortunate that I have two huge chunks of public land relatively close to home. The one piece is a WMA that is 24,000 acres(4500ac is a no hunting refuge) and the other is a National Wildlife Refuge that is 30,700 acres and about 60% of it is open to bowhunting. There is a 10,000 acre state forest the butts right up the that piece that is open to hunting also. Both pieces have A LOT of standing water, marsh, swamp, ect. I have always done my scouting with boots on the ground, but lets get real, nobody scouts approximately 50,000 acres on foot. The whole situation seems a bit overwhelming. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Funny thing is I am going to use these smaller pieces to cut my teeth scouting large tracts of land. Once I figure it out then I am going to try and figure out the savanah state forest. My buddy has a cabin up there but the forest is so big it is hard to really utilize it without proper scouting. The savanah state forest is 238,000 acres. It is a mixture of White Pine, Aspen and peet bog.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Cbigbear on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:37 am

Here's my approach & normally all public land I hunt in MS is 10k ac minimum -

Start with Google Earth looking for creeks that run relatively close to bedding areas which could be clear cuts, select cuts, pine plantation, or willow thickets.
Next I'm mark points of interest at least a mile deep from the nearest rd. I'll be marking saddles, benches, creek splits, pinch pts, funnels, really anything that catches my eye.
After I got everything marked up I'm pick the area with the most points & go scout. My scouting is going to start by walking the creeks.
Depending on sign determines what I do next.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by bowonly on Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:47 pm

What he said! Great advice Cbigbear!
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Guest on Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:05 pm

http://www.mytopo.com/previews/preview_view.cfm?previewfn=947092&previewurl=947092&previewthumburl=947092&res=full
This is a map of the Refuge that I had mentioned. I really appreciate the help Cbigbear but I have no idea how to decide what is important and what is not. There is so much marsh and thick brush that the deer could bed almost anywhere. The entire area is small stands of oaks, surrounded by marsh grass with streams, creeks, and other open water breaking it up. There is no real reason the deer have to leave a super tiny home range. A deer could travel less than 100 yards and have everything it would ever need in almost any spot in the refuge.

I would also like to apologize for being difficult . I will openly admit that I don't have a clue what I am doing and I figure that the best way to learn is ask those that do know. I have tried for years to learn from the magazines, books and movies and they have for the most part got me nowhere. I understand the principles that I have to locate bedding areas and food sources, but unless you have been showed what they look like that info doesn't do you a lot of good. I have spent the better part of the last 12 years hunting down these answers and I've got nothin. Maybe I am slower than the average hunter, but I like to think that the major reason so many hunters are so unsuccessful is that 95% of use have no idea what we are doing and the other 5% are not jumping at the chance to train in the competition. That is where you guys(and ladies) come in. This website is filled with the finest bunch of members I have ever belonged to. Everyone of you are willing to give out every bit of knowledge you have for the betterment of the sport and because it is the right thing to do. Thank you all for your time and knowledge and with any luck we will all figure this out together.


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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Cbigbear on Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:13 pm

I'll take a look this afternoon & see what I can come up with.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Cbigbear on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:15 pm

Pm me your email address - got ???. Need these answers to get started.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by SlowBow on Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:07 pm

In the video in this thread

http://www.publiclandbowhunters.com/t68-virginia-backcountry

Dana and I took a long weekend to hunt on 64000 acres of public land that sits next to Shenandoah. Thats off limits, but its huge as well. Never having been there before, we simply looked at maps and selected areas near the off limits woodlands, then narrowed our search to places that looked to have limited access near that.

From there, we set out on foot looking for sign and food sources, and after scouting for one afternoon both had shots at deer the two days we hunted, never having set foot on the area before.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:54 pm

On new areas I do something similar to SlowBow. I like to look the map over and find restricted areas, places that might be a little different terrain or habitat-wise, and/or places that look difficult to access. Once you've picked out an area getting boots on the ground is the next step for me to get a better idea what the deer are actually doing, but I've also been pretty successful going in blind. IMO - Google Earth is great, but a lot of time aerials really only tell part of the story...to make the most educated decision you can ahead of time some topo info will be a great help.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Guest on Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:00 pm

I haven't used topo maps much because most of Minnesota is as flat as the paper the maps are printed on. Topos have to have more advantages than just showing elevation changes. Any chance you could explain how topos are beneficial to a first time in situation?

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:21 pm

62...give me a few minutes and I'm gonna post something for you.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:31 am

62, your area might seem flat to you, but I promise it isn't to the deer. Check out the map - this is just rough, but different colors are different elevations. You can see some high spots and ridges out there among everything.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:32 am

wow that destroyed the quality...send me your email address and I'll email you a pdf in the morning.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Cbigbear on Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:58 am

Apex do you find the contour maps are just as benefical on relatively flat land as they are on hilly terrain? Also can you explain what you look for in the flat terrain with very small contour differences?

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Uncle Bob on Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:20 am

I really like the Google Earth suggestion, I'll have to check that out.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Cbigbear on Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:18 pm

Uncle Bob - I'll share a great tip about Google Earth use the historical images tool to find a winter sat. image. The winter images allow you to see creeks & terrain changes better. Even if the images are old the land features don't change much.

Also in areas with logging it'll give you an idea how old the tree are in the thicket you're viewing. For example a pine plantation that is 5yrs old doesn't look all that different from a 10yr one on a sat image, but from the ground it can be a world of difference. Using the old images you can better pin point new growth age.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by Tiny52 on Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:20 pm

I look at the maps and find my transitions and pinch point first, The it just a matter of walking it. I can do a good assessment at about 300 acres a day. Next I look for the feeding areas and then start looking for the thickest thickets near these. Generally I will take my clippers and cut straight through these thickets while looking for trails within them. Works for me about every time

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by SlowBow on Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:22 pm

You know, I was poking around with my GPS, and found a neat feature. You can plug in your GPS to your computer, and bring up the goggle earth maps for waypoints you've marked. This can really be an exceptional scouting tool. Say you've found an area that looks good, and mark it as a waypoint. From there, you get home and can get a real good idea of the surrounding area without putting in a bunch of legwork, giving you specific targets like suspect bedding and feeding areas to look at next time you head back out. On a really large area, this can narrow down the search.


Last edited by SlowBow on Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:57 am

Cbigbear wrote:Apex do you find the contour maps are just as benefical on relatively flat land as they are on hilly terrain? Also can you explain what you look for in the flat terrain with very small contour differences?

Absolutely! You just need a small enough contour interval to show whats there. I usually look for the same type of features you'd look for anywhere, the scale and the numbers are just much smaller. Instead of a saddle in a big hill you might be looking at a low spot or break in a ridge where the deer like to cross between 2 sloughs or you might find a small ditch with spoil banks along the sides. I'd say you don't need to look for anything different, you just have to be able to see what's there. I guess I'd say in my experience there's almost always something to be seen no matter how flat you think it is.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:24 am

I'm working up a little graphic for ya'll. I'll try to have it up in the morning.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:18 am

I believe on the quads only the 30' contour is shown in this area and it's hardly accurate enough to really derive any meaning from it. I'm sorry it took me so long to get it up here, but the storm this week slowed things down a lot.http://i34.servimg.com/u/f34/17/74/68/90/exampl11.jpg
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by crooketarrow on Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:09 am

The first thing is to learn what your looking at and how to aply it into your hunting. Next where you deside to hunt means the type of deer your after.
APEX is right you may thing it's flat but it's not. All bucks on flat land bed in the same type terrain as a general rule. They bed on the high points it might only be a couple feet higher but thats where they'll be. Ad thick cover to that. That helps narrow it down a little more.
Your topo will tell so where there at. Airal photos (I GET SUMMER AND WINTER) will tell so the different,thicker veg. EDGES FIND THE EDGES YOU FIND THE DEER. I do look for the out of the way places but do'nt over look the closer areas EITHER. Most PL,NF get very little bow hunting pressure. So close don't mean bad in a lot of cases.
Look for the edges lots of water means lots of bottle necks at water crossings or around the edges, Water really bottle necks the deer down. After you pick a area then you'll just have to walk it out.
I ONLY HUNT MATURE BUCKS so I'd be right on the edges of the 4,500 acers restricted zone. I can't help you out on food scorces there. I'd learn all I could about the local plants that deer browes on and how the deer there use them.

I can give you this.
I'm sure you have some type of oaks. I always did this not just on PL,NF but everywhere I hunt. AND IT WORKS NO MATTER WHERE YOUR AT.
I fertize some oaks that are close together where I can hunt them

(A site I can get to and leave with out deer knowing I'm there or have I've been there)

Oaks are like apples good year bad year. FERTIZE those oaks you'll have good year great year. They'll be bigger ,swetter and more of them. And best of all years that have poor or no mast. You'll have a (HOT) food scorce. And beleive me the deer will know it quicky.
You'll have a food plot on PL-NF that only you know about thats always huntable. A NO BRAINER IT ONLY TAKES A LITTLE WORK.
To fertize I pick a group of oaks it might be 5 or 25 as long as there not scather over couple hundaed yards AND MOST OF ALL THERE (AREA) HUNTABLE.(closer together the bettter). I use a hand seeder. Fertize in the spring and fertize the drip line 2 springs in a row then every other.
Back when I did'nt care the age buck I killed lots of 1 1/2 ,2 1/2's died like this.Not saying mature bucks won't use those oaks. I've just learned to hunt mature bucks differently. You can't hunt MATURE OLDER BUCKS like any old deer. Why do you thing people only see or kill 1 or 2 mature bucks in there life.
Not much help on WHERE TO HUNT I could'nt get your map tp up load. But some good info on how to hunt.

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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by apexmapping on Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:27 pm

crooketarrow wrote: I do look for the out of the way places but do'nt over look the closer areas EITHER. Most PL,NF get very little bow hunting pressure. So close don't mean bad in a lot of cases.

This can be some great advice. I've killed a couple of big deer on heavily hunted lands no more than 50yds from a major road. In both cases it was very thick and close to a parking area where everyone was walking hundreds of yards past the deer they thought they were hunting.
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Re: Where do you start with monster tracks of land?

Post by flopdrop on Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:18 pm

apexmapping wrote:
crooketarrow wrote: I do look for the out of the way places but do'nt over look the closer areas EITHER. Most PL,NF get very little bow hunting pressure. So close don't mean bad in a lot of cases.

This can be some great advice. I've killed a couple of big deer on heavily hunted lands no more than 50yds from a major road. In both cases it was very thick and close to a parking area where everyone was walking hundreds of yards past the deer they thought they were hunting.

This is my # 1 ticket to State Forrest here in IL. Deer like edge for good lush food. When you have thousands of acres of mature timber roads offer openings for sunlight which allow young succulent browse to grow for deer. I haven't looked at the map of your Forrest but make a call to the Forrest Manager and ask the whereabouts of recent burns or logging in say the past few years,that's another good starting spot. Find anything which can contribute to edge where sunlight can get through.
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