Boots on the Ground

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Buck Rub

Boots on the Ground

If you’re like me you’ve been getting antsy ever since hunting season has ended.  Hopefully you have been satisfying the itch by doing some cyber scouting and maybe, if you’re really motivated, you have already started knocking on some doors to secure shed hunting permission or better yet, bowhunting permission.

Sometimes, due to the logistical problems of schedules, distance and time in general, it is hard to set foot on some of the properties we want to hunt in the fall.  But, in short, right now is the most important time for your whole hunting year.  This is when plans are made and promising areas are located.  Although some experienced hunters can look at a Topo or and Aerial and go into a parcel “blind” and set up at the right spot, I feel it is almost always preferable to put the boots to the ground and verify your hunches during the late winter and early spring when there is no need to fear spooking the buck you are trying to hunt.  Its also a lot easier to get around the woods without all the vegetation of late summer, not to mention the bugs.

One of the most rewarding things in hunting, aside from connecting on a mature whitetail, is getting confirmation that the hunches you developed during your cyber scouting sessions panned out to be true.  This Winter I had a chance to put myself to the test on a fairly sizable piece of public swamp.  I previously wrote about narrowing the property down by eliminating much of from consideration and focusing on high percentage areas.  Not all of my areas of interest wound up containing deer sign, but much of what I believed to be true about the deer movement on the property was confirmed.

Although I didn't get a chance to fully investigate the small island in the swamp due to heavy rains and the water being higher than usual for the time of year, the sign coming off the island via the points and the rubs indicate that a buck is traveling this area regularly. Because no beds were located on the point, it stands to reason the buck is bedding on the small island of trees and coming onto the point to stage amongst the red oaks on the mainland.

Although I didn’t get a chance to fully investigate the small island in the swamp due to heavy rains and the water being higher than usual for the time of year, the deer sign coming off the island via the points and the large rubs all indicate that a buck is traveling this area regularly. Because no beds were located on the point, it stands to reason the buck is bedding on the small island of trees and coming onto the point to stage amongst the red oaks on the mainland.

Although I was a bit unprepared for the depth of the swamp and need to go back with hip waders, I did find some promising sign off of the points of timber protruding into the swamp.  These peninsula points and several pinch points were some of the main places I wanted to investigate, and while I wasn’t able to make it to some of the small islands in the swamp just off of those points, the fact that I found trails entering the swamp in the direction of these points coupled, with several good rubs nearby, leads me to believe I am very much on the right track to locating the buck bedding in this area.

Buck Rub

This buck rub was located just off a point that has a small island of high ground 50 yards beyond it into the swamp. See the aerial photo included in this post for where the rubs are located relative to the suspected buck bed in this area.


 One of the other areas that excited me was a prospective rut funnel on this parcel.  Some large trees that showed up on the aerial made me believe that there was a small portion of high ground running through the swamp for about 50 yards, which served to connect two larger pieces of timber (one with a destination food source beyond it).  When I got to this location it was even better than I suspected.  The woods necked down to only 10 yards wide with deep swamp water on either side of the high ground and the amount of deer travel through this area over the years has created a furrow in the soft ground.

Swamp Funnel

Here is the deer trail running along the narrow strip of high ground which connects two larger pieces of timber.

Additionally, there is another thin funnel connecting a third piece of high ground to the other two and there is a good chance that any bucks cruising for early estrous does will naturally walk this path of least resistance.  A North wind will give the opportunity to set up in close proximity of the convergence of all the trails and this should offer a productive sit with all-day movement once the time is right.

Swamp Funnel

Three pieces of timber connected by two narrow funnels which allow the deer a natural path of least resistance through this area. It will be important to be patient and not burn this spot out until the rut starts to kick off and bucks are cruising later in the morning looking for the first estrous does. Waiting until the latter part of October/beginning of November will also provide more Northern prevailing winds for this area, which typically experiences many SW/SSW winds earlier in the year. Accessing the stand from the south for a morning hunt will allow for an undetected approach from deer feeding in the destination food sources.

Needless to say, I am excited about the potential this area holds for both early season bowhunting and the rut.  While these are spots I would key in on even if I were going in blind and hunting the first time I set foot on the property, putting boots on the ground allowed me to confirm some of my suspicions, select some stand locations and pinpoint where other hunters’ stands where in order to avoid those areas and not waste a hunt come Fall.

Are you finding some promising areas for next year?  I would love to hear about your post season scouting successes in the comments below, or email me at commongroundbowhunter@gmail.com

-Reuben Dourte

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