Searching whitetails within the large woods is sort of a lengthy, intense exercise. It sucks whenever you’re within the thick of it, however the payoff (whenever you’re mendacity in your again after it’s over) offers you a right away sense of accomplishment that few issues in life do. However discovering success, very like health targets, doesn’t occur in a single day.
For starters, you’ll have to e-scout till your eyes fall out, dissect massive tracts of land, and get loads of boots on the bottom to find out which spots deserve sits. And that’s only the start. Whereas looking the large woods is unquestionably type-2 enjoyable, the way you strategy it isn’t fully totally different from looking typical whitetail nation or ag land. You continue to must find bedding, meals sources, and journey routes. These elements simply won’t leap off the map like they do in ag nation.
In my house state of Mississippi and different locations throughout the deep South, the monotonous and customarily flat terrain presents its personal set of challenges. Not like the large woods all through Appalachia or the West, lots of the southern large woods lack obvious terrain options that naturally funnel deer via the panorama. Whenever you’re coping with open, flat terrain, deer don’t have to maneuver via the panorama in any sure method, however this doesn’t imply they don’t. As an alternative, vegetation and habitat variety play a serious position in dictating deer motion. That is why edges play an enormous position in looking the large woods down South.
Edges or transitions are precisely what they sound like. It’s the place two or extra totally different terrain or habitat sorts meet and create an outlined edge. This may very well be the sting of a subject that meets timber or a monotonous pine stand that turns right into a hardwood backside. Typically, these edges stand out on digital maps, particularly should you’re aerial pictures captured throughout the fall. Transitions with clearly outlined strains, like old-growth hardwoods that meet a transparent reduce are often known as onerous edges. These are positively value noting. Deer journey alongside and thru these, however they’re a beginning place, not essentially a vacation spot.
Alongside and inside onerous edges, you’ll sometimes discover smooth edges or transitions. Tender edges may very well be a thick patch of cane that extends alongside a river or the sting of a swamp, massive or a number of breaks within the tree cover, or older choose cuts in a forest simply to call just a few. Tender edges are essential as a result of they’ll present each journey and canopy for deer. It’s no shock that you just discover a ton of deer register these locations.
Within the southern large woods, thinned pine stands are an excellent instance. Deer will usually mattress in these areas with thick cowl and tons of browse. For instance, when you’ve got a thinned pine stand that adjoins an open hardwood backside you’ll wish to scout simply contained in the pine stand (assuming it’s not too thick). These smooth edges are nice staging areas the place deer, particularly bucks, will browse and mill round earlier than heading into open timber.
Refined Terrain Edges
I discover lots of areas in flat land really maintain delicate terrain options that don’t present up on digital maps, and deer gravitate towards these. They may very well be previous railroad strains, random mounds in a swamp, logging ramps, busted pond levies, the listing goes on. Although these terrain options won’t appear vital, I virtually all the time discover deer signal on or round them. Should you’re scouting an space and spot a slight bump in elevation, it’s value a glance.
This previous yr, I used to be nonetheless looking a brand new large woods space close to a latest clearcut once I got here throughout a random (we’ll name it a mound?) jutting out from the clearcut into the timber. If I needed to guess, it’d’ve been 5 – 6 ft tall, and 75 yards lengthy. It stood out within the general flat terrain.
On nearer inspection, I discovered a just lately labored neighborhood scrape on the finish of this mound. You may scent the contemporary upturned grime, and the licking department had been shredded that morning. A number of trails additionally intersected close to the top of this level. I made a decision to drop again about sixty yards and provides it a while. About an hour later, a small buck circled downwind of that scrape. One other hunt on this similar space led to a detailed encounter with a superb buck. If I hadn’t scouted that space on foot, I by no means would have discovered it on a map.
Finding the precise edge takes time, however one factor most southern states have in comparison with different large woods settings is excessive deer densities. Even when a booner doesn’t cruise by your setup, you will have excessive odds of seeing deer. And if there’s something that provides you confidence within the large woods, it’s seeing deer.
Characteristic picture through Matt Hansen.