Where to Start putting the Puzzle Together for Big Woods Bucks….
Growing up in Northern Wisconsin there were always challenges finding some big woods bucks to kill with so much area to hunt them in. They were about as hard to find and as a good looking woman in these parts…pretty rare find…unless you know where to look.
I can help you find some big woods bucks, but I am still working on the good woman part, so if you have some input in that area…I’ll gladly take it.
I have three main areas that I look for that will help get you on some big woods bucks faster than Usain Bolt at the Olympics.
- Waterbodies (streams, beaver ponds)
- Areas with oaks dropping acorns
The first and often the most easiest areas to look for are clear cuts. Clear cuts are areas that were once covered with trees that have been removed by logging to promote new tree growth. The young shoots that come up are tender and deer flock to em like a fat kid to a double fudge, three scoop sundae.
Talk to your county or state DNR office to find out which areas have been cut in the last 1-6 years in your area. I like clear cuts that are usually less than six years old. In the first year or two the deer will use them for browse, and will then shift to using the dense cover as bedding areas once the trees grow older.
Look for irregular edges or changes in elevation at the edge of the clear cut to help narrow down where a deer may be entering and or exiting the area.
Once I have scouted any recently logged areas, I will move on to looking near any water bodies on the land I am going to consider hunting. “Big woods bucks” will use streams or small lakes or ponds as watering areas, especially in dry years such as it is this year. They can really draw deer in.
This spot had all three attractors to draw deer in a large clearcut, full of fresh aspen shoots, acorns, a stream edge and vegetation edge, and some large rubs. I never killed a deer here, but seen a few.
The vegetation will often be different near the water’s edge…often tag alders or willow brush will provide deer with bedding cover. Deer will naturally follow the change in vegetation, and so will I, looking for sign of big woods bucks…rubs and scrapes.
Sometimes along a stream there will be a shallow area or a piece of dry ground slowing the water flow. Beavers will also create dams
that I have seen deer travel on to get from one side to the other. Speaking of beavers, they will often dam up streams creating ponds in the woods. I have seen plenty of rubs and deer sign near beaver ponds…make sure to check them out.
The last area I will check for the sign of big woods bucks are near feeding areas consisting of oak trees.
This is important depending on where you hunt. In my area there are few oaks present, often in small numbers with primarily maples and aspen as the major species. Knowing this I will seek out patches of oak trees, especially during years with a good acorn crop, such as we have this year in Wisconsin. These areas can be magnets, not only for big woods bucks, but for does that will feed there too, attracting cruising bucks during the rut. Acorns are mother nature’s bait pile, use it to your advantage.
Big woods bucks don’t have to be a mystery, if you look for clear cuts, water bodies, and a few oak trees, success can be right around the corner, or um… that big oak full of acorns.