2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
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seazofcheeze
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby seazofcheeze » Fri Apr 10, 2020 4:29 pm

Looks like you found a hot spot. Just need the right age class buck in there and right weather conditions and then buck funeral music :violin:


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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri Apr 10, 2020 4:47 pm

April 8th
It was such a nice day I decided to play hookie from work after lunch time. The timing worked out real well to go re-hash the bedding my 2019 buck was using. I'd been through there on two separate occasions, but due to only being 250 yards to the parking lot (the best bed is actually 266 yards) I'd overlooked it. I thought it was doe bedding with rut sign. I remember thinking "This almost looks like the best bedding in this little area." but talking myself out of hunting it because:
1) I've shined the crap out of the adjacent crop fields and not ONCE seen a shooter on that side since I started hunting here in 2014.
2) There are other gorgeous looking points and islands on the property that I thought were better.

It just didn't make sense to me why a good buck would bed there and be on the "dangerous side" (meaning parking lot side) of the water. The last several years there have been tall crops there preventing me from seeing what exits the bedding as well. Corn, sorghum. Another year it was wheat and I don't see deer hitting wheat fields unless its regrowth in the late season. That said, the beds and rubs were still there. It only makes sense that I have been missing the boat the whole time! :doh: :doh: In the end its alright, because it taught me an incredible amount.

The biggest thing I learned is take Dan's words to heart: "Sign don't lie". This is the perfect example. The sign warranted me putting more effort into it, but I didn't. Okay... on to yesterday's findings.

THREE RUBS.

That's all I found for fresh rubs in there from 2019! Keep in mind I put on over 2 miles and was never further than 375 yards from my truck at any point. I covered EVERYTHING. Here are two of the rubs and the 3rd looked similar. SPINDLY LITTLE RUBS. Keep in mind there were 3 bucks in it the night I shot mine. There was a 4th coming but I don't know what that one was :think: #4 wasn't there the night prior.
Red are beds, yellow is deer trail, green is a rub.
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Early season bedding can be very tricky. OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE.

Here are some pics of the bedding.
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I did bump two deer out of it. One was a coming yearling. Here's one thing I talk about a lot. OLD RUBS. To me they're almost as good as new rubs. If the map says its good, there are beds, and you've got historical rubs (especially decent sized rubs), then don't ignore it. Here's a couple beds with hair in them and some real nice rubs from years back. Whatever buck was holed up in there was a little territorial.
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There is nothing exceptional about this bedding area, and I'm sure it won't take much pressure to push them out of there. In fact I thought the trails leaving bedding looked way better in September than they did yesterday. I followed the trail right where all 3 bucks popped out, crossed the water, and it led me right to the best beds back there. To make it even better, with all the extra exploring I did, I didn't find as many beds as I thought I would. If there's a shooter home in this bedding and I'm aware of it, his chances of survival are not good.


I went over to my ground blind and made a few adjustments. But after looking around, I decided I liked a different bush a little bit better. It would turn a 25ish yard shot into 20, and it was set up a little better. Last year's bush was pretty round, and I didn't like how far I had to let them get past me. It made my shot quartering away more than I liked. The new spot was sitting in between two bushes. I felt more concealed and the shot would be a little higher percentage. I didn't have much cover down low, so I shoved some sticks in the ground. When the grass grows through them this summer, it will hold them up even after it dies. The "X" is where I'll kneel. The circle is the sticks I added, shooting lane just above it.
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I normally don't like only having one shooting lane. But in this case, I have one really big window so I'm fine with it. I can shoot a few other places if I'm desperate and can stand up.





Here's from the trail looking back at the blind. If you're on the ground, don't let yourself get skylined. Or "river-lined" :lol: I've had that happen. Dot will be approximate height of my head.
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That blind will cover everything from a NE, SE, and most likely SW would be fine. I made a blind on the opposite side for North through W winds. This one turned out pretty sweet. I have a nice natural lane to shoot through. I didn't like how open it was though, so once again I jammed sticks in the ground to add cover. Sometimes I will add on hunt day as well, especially when pulling grass so I can move quietly. No need to be exposed from arrow height and lower. I broke a few branches to make a 2nd lane on my North side. This would help me see them coming and gives me a 2nd option to shoot should he hang up and stage before my lane. My other lane is small and I'm back in the brush, so with limited shooting there, options are always a good thing to have.
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Here's a look from the closest trail. I've got one at 10 yards (which is plenty close) and another at 20. In the first pic, I'm looking toward the blind but I'm just a foot or two shy of my shooting lane. I will be at full draw and let him walk in to my pin. In the 2nd pic, even if he sees me, it will be too late by then. I try to conceal myself really well, but even if they looks my way like something is wrong, I'm ok with it. If the arrow hasn't been sent yet it will be shortly. In adequate cover like this, I've never had look down my lane and see me before fully exposing their vitals.
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Now... I'm not saying I didn't make mistakes when I was younger. I can remember having deer look through my shooting lane in a cornfield and bolting immediately. I can remember many times when cover is questionable and they get to close. It will happen if you hunt on the ground enough. But in this case, these sets will work if I'm hunting early season with foliage on the branches. After leaf drop? Still very do-able but a ghillie wouldn't hurt my feelings at all.

Well, regarding whitetails, its been an awesome start to 2020! To make it better I have tomorrow off too. Not sure where I'm heading yet but I'll be putting the miles on. I'm getting to the point where I'm wondering if I should still scout new ground, or start prepping my best stuff that I know needs to be done? :think:
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:19 pm

April 11th
I decided to do some recon and get some sets prepped at Location X. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is my best piece of public. I couldn't observe it last fall due to standing corn, and I never hunted it because I tagged out on opening day. Tagging out was bittersweet because I was after a mature buck out there the year prior. I had no idea if he'd made it through the 2018 season. He had huge burrs on his bases, and since Bill Burr is my favorite comedian, I nicknamed him "Bill" :lol:

On the way there I decided to stop at the Sugar Patch and figure out my observation tree situation. Long story short I'm glad I did because it wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. Feels good to have that spot 100% ready to go.

The plan for location X was to check on several existing sets and make a few new ones. The first stop was a field edge set with THICK bedding next to it. Phenomenal doe spot and I'm in the game for a buck as well. I wear waders and utilize a drainage ditch for access, then its about 20' to my tree. I sat this tree once and killed a doe from it (2017). Due to the thickness and some blowdowns it took a while to get that set back to rock star status.

I then passed a tree I'd been eyeing up for the last couple years. Some big limbs had been cut off it a couple years ago, but it didn't appear to have been used last year. There is a big banana shaped low spot filled with cattails that's got insanely thick bedding on both sides. This set sits right at the tip, and the trails from both sides come right past this stand. On top of that there's a parallel trail as well. Rubs, beat down trails, it works perfect for the prevailing wind... I'm gonna hunt it despite the fact someone else might too. 3-4 years ago there was a bachelor group of bucks hitting the hay field slightly north of this set. I watched them do it twice pre-season so I set Dad up on them opening day and a shooter came out, looped around, and went right past this set. I haven't seen any shooters in this particular spot since, but now I've got this tree ready and a ground blind north of it 75 yards just in case. Options... they're a good thing to have ;)

Here are a few pics of the trails around the new set. It would be perfect for the wife or to bring Elli with :D It's a slammer of a doe spot.
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Next I headed for the bedding Bill was using. This area is super frustrating to hunt, but I'm slowly getting it figured out. Its all low lying willows, dogwood, cattails, and cane. I watched Bill enter the field 3 times the summer of 2018, and he was in the same low spot (not visible from the road) every time. He was out there 5 days before opener :shock: . But the problem is, I have reason to believe he didn't always use the same bedding (bedding area is huge) day to day. I saw the most movement in one area though. I hunted it opening weekend in 2018 and passed one of the 110-120ish bucks I'd been seeing... but no Bill. I hunted him several other times, but no sightings of him. I knew I was right on his heels. The question is how much pressure would send him packing?

When I got to "the spot" I saw a huge rub right off the bat :oops: the top was mid chest on me.
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The whole area was tore up. Some rubs were waist height and approaching thigh thickness. I said all along I didn't regret tagging a medium sized 10 point on opener last year... but seeing those rubs poured some salt in the wound :lol: LET'S CROSS OUR FINGERS AND HOPE HE'S STILL ALIVE. If he is he'll be a monster.

Anyway, I picked out a super sketchy aspen tree for Southerly winds and a sketchy ground blind for Northerly winds. I'm 100% confident I've got the best spots if pressure is low enough that he hits the field in daylight. The question, and its a big one, is will he make it there? If he picks the close bedding its 150-200 yards. If he picks the far bedding its 300+. :think: I'm in a bean pole of an aspen only two sticks up. I will absolutely need leaf cover in order for this to work. I've got lots of little holes to shoot through and one nice lane strait out front. I'm hoping he takes the trail just behind that shrub so I can draw then.
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I did hunt him back in the thick cover, too. I decided to head back and re-hash the bedding areas and my ground blinds. I know where he's staging, but I still don't have a guarantee of which bedding he uses. They meet at the same spot and it was absolutely tore up, and I don't typically find squat for rubs. Its borderline impossible to hunt right there and not get busted, as its nothing more than the middle of a thicket with trails spider webbing everywhere. Keep in mind there are lots of does here.

On the way back to the most remote bedding, I saw a crazy tall rub. I was down in a 1' hole but the top of it was eye level with me :shock:
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That gave me confidence that he was using this bedding, hopefully more often than not. I checked a couple thick patches of brush and the beds looked real good. Long hair in one of them.
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After seeing this, I'm quite confident a nice two year old buck was using the bed in the 3rd pic the night I went after Bill. I just finished up my ground blind, I looked up and saw white. What I thought was the side of its tail/hind end, was actually the inside of his ear :doh: . Didn't know that until I brought my binos up (way too fast)… HE GONE. I knew that buck from the crop fields, and I'm pretty sure he just stood up and saw me. At that time I was hunting back there semi-blind. I got busted a bunch that hunt, but it ended with two bucks standing up 40 yards away at last light. The 6 point got way too close and busted me, meanwhile a tree was getting rubbed in the background. I never saw that buck and it haunts me to this day :whistle:




After finding those beds I started following exit trails. ANOTHER high rub! These rubs are stupid high.
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After seeing the exact location of the beds and the encounters that I had in 2018, I feel my existing blind was too close. I backed off about 50 yards and found a nice little pinch where some trails converge due to thick brush. I'll stand right in the center of this shrub. I was out of time and will have to go back to prep it.
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Just need to clear a little spot to stand
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Then make myself a small lane or two through the branches. Trails will be 15 and 25 yard shots.
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I'm hoping the history between Bill and I isn't over. Time will tell 8-) I'm feeling really good about the amount of scouting I have in so far. I'm also very happy with where I'm at both mentally and with my sign reading abilities. It's crazy how my confidence grows each season. The season I had last year played a big part. 3 public land bow kills in 10 hunts, and 6 of those hunts were as a nonresident on ground I'd never been on. Let's hope I can keep the ball rolling...
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby greenhorndave » Mon Apr 13, 2020 1:16 am

Great stuff LD. 8-) I appreciate hearing the why and how in what you’re planning for each spot.

Happy Easter!
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:43 pm

April 16th

Got out of work a hair early, called Josh and squeezed a quick scout in. He wanted to head to a different property of his, so we hit up a small farmland marsh/swamp. This property has consistently held some real nice deer in the past, largely due to the neighboring landowners. I don’t know if they manage or if the big ones slip through the cracks, but this property is a mile away and it’s small but has some serious security.

There’s some CRP and a few volunteer trees, a small pine thicket, wooded fence line, then the good stuff. 10 acre marsh with a man mage drainage heading strait down the gut. It heads 3/4 of the way through and dead ends. 8-)

It looked so good on the map I couldn’t wait to get in there.



Josh has killed there a few times during rut, but has mostly stuck to the edges. We dove in and started finding nice beds once we neared the end of the drainage.

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There was excavated dirt piled 4-5’ up on both sides. I told Josh “Like I said before, they’ll bed on the highest of the high and lowest of the low.”. We soon came to a point of dry ground that broke away from the channel. I told Josh this was the type of stuff we look for. The structure within.

There was a bunch of beds. Solid bedding for sure.... but only one rub. They were bedding on top of the dirt piles some, but mostly back in the brush and cattails.

I mentioned how suitable rubbing trees play a huge part. A few years ago I would have been frustrated by the lack of buck sign. But really there wasn’t much there to rub on. I see dogwood rubs often enough but they PREFER something more rigid. I see buckthorn rubs too but they PREFER softer wood.

The beds showed some use and several had hair in them. Worst case it’s solid doe bedding and a slammer rut spot. Even if Josh didn’t have the past experiences on the property I’d know this bedding was legit. Too many beds that show wear. It’s secure and makes sense on the map. Plus my gut instinct tells me the shooter bucks are back there too.

The cattails were way dryer than we both thought they’d be. Dry enough they could bed anywhere out there during a dry spell.

A beaver had the end 30-40’ of the channel dammed up, and I found a couple beds right at the tip of it.
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I looked over and started laughing to myself. I asked Josh if he realized the significance of these beds, or what was unique about them. I told him to kneel down and look down the channel.
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“He can see everything!” :lol: “Yep!” 8-)


He could see if anything crossed the channel for roughly 100 yards. I love finding stuff like that. Josh was like “Well I’d say I should cross the channel at the beginning where he can’t see me then.” And smiled.

We worked our way back down the opposite side of the channel. Way less bedding on that side but we did find one cool looking buck bed.
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Note the old rub. The bed was concave from years of use and had hair in it. I spotted it from 10 yards away. It just so happened to be on the tallest pile of dirt, too. Funny how that works isn’t it?!?

We then climbed around josh’s ladder stand that he and a friend set there recently. He put it in one of the only decent openings back there, and it ended up in a great spot regarding the bedding. If he makes it in there without blowing them out, he’ll be on pins and needles the whole hunt. Great spot. It’s probably 40-50 yards from the buck bed on the hill so he’s going to have to wait for some cover noise to access it. The brush is so thick at his back that he won’t see him climb up.

I was running late so I helped him with some ground blind ideas for an opposite wind and we high tailed it out of there. On the way out we saw some potentially high ground in the cattails. Couple clumps of brush and more beds, including a fresh rub. There were only 2 fresh rubs and 3-4 old ones found during the whole scout. Like I said before. Trust the map. If the beds are there, you’re on the right track.
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‘Twas a beautiful day to be out. Even though it wasn’t for me it was a ton of fun. I love scouting new ground, especially when you’re greeted with great bedding.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby webby » Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:09 am

lockdown, when you run out of time and have to go back to prep spots, how long do you usually wait? Or is it best to get back in sooner and give the spot more time left undisturbed?
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:22 am

webby wrote:lockdown, when you run out of time and have to go back to prep spots, how long do you usually wait? Or is it best to get back in sooner and give the spot more time left undisturbed?


I go back ASAP. I’m not worried about multiple trips into a spot in the spring. Ideally I try and have all my scouting and prepping done by July.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:29 am

April 17th
I had a spare half hour so I ran out to Josh’s public to hit up the SW side. Willow thickets line the edge of the slew, and there’s a peninsula of dry land that’s somewhat easy to overlook because of its size. It’s so big you almost don’t recognize that it’s a bedding feature... maybe this makes it less appealing for bedding?? I’m not sure but in 2014 I saw a big half racked buck in this area two different times prior to season. When the vehicle spooked him he didn’t run back to that peninsula though. He headed for some bigger cover, but possibly headed strait through and went out the back side to private land or possibly the open island I scouted the other day.

I haven’t seen a shooter here since, but like I said before I’m not leaving any stones unturned on this property.

I’d been through this area before, but that was before I was good at reading sign. I found a few random beds scattered along the transition, and a few under a big willow that had some wear to them. Maybe this was where the ol’ half rack had holed up?? :think:

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I need to put the waders on and go back, as there’s one tree out in the flooded willows that I need to look at. I think it’s flooded out and dead... but we’ll see. 24 minutes and .59 miles was it for the day, but every little bit helps.



April 19th
Got the go ahead from the wife for a Sunday morning scout and prep. I wanted to take Dad back into location X and show him what was up. We finished the field edge ground blind, I showed him all the bedding in that corner and the staging rubs, we prepped the blind in that Bush I had picked out from the last scout, and we prepped a phenomenal rut stand that hadn’t been prepped for 2 years. Pretty sure someone gun hunted out of it last year as there was some new growth nipped off on the way up. That is expected as there are hardly any trees big enough for a stand on this property and it gets hit hard during gun season.
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We only had 2.5 hrs to work with but it feels good to be prepared. We’ve got 7 sets ready and they’re all legit. A couple are more for does, but they’re super high odds sets.

I’m getting the urge to rip a few lips, so hopefully I’ll squeeze some of that in this weekend. Plenty of scouting and prepping left to do too.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Quest1001 » Fri May 22, 2020 3:30 pm

The kill bush you picked out on April 5th post, are you thinking this will be an early season spot with the grass cover?
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Fri May 22, 2020 3:59 pm

Quest1001 wrote:The kill bush you picked out on April 5th post, are you thinking this will be an early season spot with the grass cover?



I’m assuming you’re talking about the bush in the cattails, correct? Technically that was from the scout on the 7th... just want to make sure we’re on the same page.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Quest1001 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:12 pm

I’m assuming you’re talking about the bush in the cattails, correct? Technically that was from the scout on the 7th... just want to make sure we’re on the same page.[/quote]


You are correct the 7th, I scrolled to the top of the post to check the date and missed it was actually the 7th.

Also, do you run trail cams for tracking when areas get active or do you rely more on observations like you’ve mentioned during the summer?
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Sat May 23, 2020 9:06 am

Quest1001 wrote:I’m assuming you’re talking about the bush in the cattails, correct? Technically that was from the scout on the 7th... just want to make sure we’re on the same page.



You are correct the 7th, I scrolled to the top of the post to check the date and missed it was actually the 7th.

Also, do you run trail cams for tracking when areas get active or do you rely more on observations like you’ve mentioned during the summer?[/quote]




Regarding your previous early season/cover question, I will hunt that at any point in the the season. There aren’t any trees around so ground blind is the only option. Due to the fact that cattails stay standing all year, they’ll provide ample cover. I would be worried if cover was sparse and I was trying to hide in grass alone. Grass lays down after it dies, so in that scenario I would definitely be shooting for early season if tall grass was a requisite to stay hidden.

The biggest takeaway from this bush set up is the bush itself. Hiding behind that will be tremendously beneficial for breaking up my outline, which is the hardest part of blending in with cattails. I have taken deer from nothing more than cattails, but it can be tricky depending on the situation.

Another thing to keep in mind is grass can be too tall for a ground hunt. Especially canary grass... It often grows to waist height. So a hunt might not even be possible until the grass lays down. Of course the remedy for tall grass is a suitable tree and a hang on ;)

As far as trail cams go, it is illegal to run them on public in MN. I do have a few private spots where I run them, some of which border public tracts that I hunt. So the overwhelming majority of public land intel i get is from scouting and observing.

Pre-season observations led to my kill last fall. Trail cameras are an excellent tool and certainly have their place, but I feel I learn more from observing (where applicable) than cameras.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Quest1001 » Sat May 23, 2020 10:54 am

Thanks for the awesome intel and detailed response.

While scouting a new area, I walked up on two trail cams this week on public. I didn’t know they were illegal.
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Re: 2020 Whitetail “Die”ary

Unread postby Lockdown » Sat May 23, 2020 6:15 pm

Quest1001 wrote:Thanks for the awesome intel and detailed response.

While scouting a new area, I walked up on two trail cams this week on public. I didn’t know they were illegal.


I should specify that I do believe they are legal on some state owned lands in MN. But I know they’re illegal on federal land.


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