Hunting Big Woods
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  1. #1
    Typical PAarchery's Avatar
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    The areas I hunt are all big woods, and the acorn crop this year in these areas is pretty much nonexistent. Last year there were acorns everywhere. Literally you could walk 100's of yards in any direction and you'd be standing on acorns.

    My problem is that it appears the deer patterns have shifted greatly due to the lack of acorns and for the life of me I cannot figure out what food source they could have moved to.

    There are no fields nearby and only a small handful of houses.

    Anyone who hunts big woods have any suggestions or tips? I'm starting to get a little frustrated.
    "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt" - Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Non Typical Spltlim's Avatar
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    more then likely there are oaks out there that are producing, you just have to find them,

    a poor mast crop year really makes big woods hunting a little easier, the deer are concentrated in the area where the trees are producing

    when you have every oak in the woods producing its harder to pattern the deer, and they just dont have to move very far from there bedding area to feed

    your best bet is just to burn some boot leather and search the woods for the oaks that are producing

  3. #3
    Dominant Buck MS22's Avatar
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    Find bedding areas, rub lines, scrape lines and faint trails. Big woods trails can be hard to see for those who aren't used to looking for them. Also use topographical and aerial maps to locate terrain features that might concentrate deer movement. This is the time that winter scouting can help pay off. The snow can show you faint trails and bedding areas that you might have otherwise missed. It also shows you where the deer head when the pressure is on.

    Find some sign and sit in the general area. From there you can go off of observed movement. The big woods aren't going to reveal their secrets in one sit or one scouting trip. It takes time to pattern deer in the area.
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  5. #4
    Dominant Buck MS22's Avatar
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    and yes, as splitlim said, there are trees that are producing somewhere in your area. you have to find them. don't just look for white oaks. since the whites aren't having a great year, deer are getting on the reds and other oaks species earlier.
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  6. #5
    Typical PAarchery's Avatar
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    more then likely there are oaks out there that are producing, you just have to find them,
    I have walked the woods endlessly looking for any trees producing and I can't find a single one. It's like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Like I said, last years crop was insane. Literally everywhere I walked there were acorns on the ground. It seems to me that 99% of the trees in the area are on the same acorn cycle. I've even started scouting across the road and down a mile or 2 and it's the same there.

    The big woods aren't going to reveal their secrets in one sit or one scouting trip. It takes time to pattern deer in the area.
    I agree, and I've been scouting since last summer. I had them patterned very well when there were acorns on the ground. Now it's as if they disappeared.

    Also use topographical and aerial maps to locate terrain features that might concentrate deer movement.
    I've done this also. The area I hunt is very rocky. I've been sitting on various pinch points created by cliffs and bolders. The deer were using all these trails throughout the summer but now, nothing.

    The deer movement has done a complete 180. I don't know what's going on. It could be anything from all the bears I've seen, someone else baiting close by that's pulling the deer elsewhere, a natural food source that I can't find....
    "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt" - Abraham Lincoln

  7. #6
    Dominant Buck nycredneck's Avatar
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    I would go with the terrain features such as saddles, benches, points or any inside corners of fields, also concentrate on any edge feature as deer are edge creatures. Is there a specific water source? How about high spots in swamp areas or a trail around or through a swamp. Do you know where they are bedding? You might want to go for broke and get in close.

  8. #7
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    Dominant Buck X7_'s Avatar
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    I can feel your distress on the acorn thing. They are the most noticeably absent in the best areas that I have hunted for over 30 years. The runs are not being used, no rubs, no scrapes, but most of all no deer crap. I guess I'll have to look in other areas of the property in hope of find trees dropping mast.

  9. #8
    Non Typical beef's Avatar
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    same problem here in zone 6. i have found beech trees producing. acorns are nonexistent. whats amazing is last years crop was so big that there are old acorns rotted on the ground. i may start baiting just to concentrate some deer movement on my property i hunt even though i know it brings more bears.
    Hunting....Its All About The Gear!!!!!

  10. #9
    Dominant Buck MS22's Avatar
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    Beef brings up a good point with the beech trees. I have seen some beeches loaded up this year. However, i don't know how much longer they'll be dropping.

    If you've done everyhting i suggested above and are still having trouble finding sign, it might be time to start looking in another area.
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  11. #10
    Monster Buck mikec's Avatar
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    i have found beech trees producing. acorns are nonexistent.Â* whats amazing is last years crop was so big that there are old acorns rotted on the ground
    Mast crops run in cycles of feast to famine. last year was a peak (feast) season for acorns so this year is the famine.

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