Swamp Hunters...

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whitetailassasin
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby whitetailassasin » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:49 am

d_rek wrote:
Singing Bridge wrote:
whitetailassasin wrote:Scott, I'm not real up to speed on cedar swamps, so if there is a difference between the swamps I hunt and them, and how deer use them, I would love to hear that contrast. Also how different the food sources can be and the timing of why and how deer bed in them, as say a typical marsh or cattail swamp. Thank you.


Cedar swamps are different for a number of reasons. Other hunters are left behind almost immediately because of the lack of visibility and their fear of getting lost- gps or not... and you'd better have a lot more than just a gps when you penetrate.

The swamps I hunt will have you bleeding, literally, by the time you get on stand. That's just the way it is and most guys don't want to put up with it. Muck holes and water can be treacherous. Oftentimes walking out the only real visibility I have is a little hole above in the cedars where I can see a star or two.

Cedar swamps are the supreme escape cover for old bucks, there is nothing more daunting to hunters. They also provide the buck with food and water... he doesn't have to come out if he doesn't want to. White cedar is the only documented food source (browse) that a whitetail can eat in exclusion to all other foods and crops and survive a harsh winter. Plenty of water and food with supreme escape cover puts age on bucks.

With tremendous hunting and poaching pressure even some of the youngest bucks will move into a cedar swamp to escape. On opening day of Michigan's archery season I have had yearling bucks go by that had no chance of making it to the edge of the swamp before dark... its that bad in some areas.

Food sources are utilized outside the swamp whenever pressure allows. A couple of miles of travel for a big buck inside a cedar swamp before stepping out of its edge and being well after dark is a joke to a big buck.

Pressure dictates bedding on the edge, deeper into some islands and cover transitions, or downright scary penetration. The oldest bucks want to be left alone most of the time and will move to where that is possible... no human scent.

My swamps have local bucks that utilize them for bedding most of the year (sometimes all year) and they contain transient bucks that move in after leaf drop in the highlands, the rut, weather that dictates it, etc.

How bucks navigate these swamps, utilizing water and air currents for bedding to food, travel in between doe areas, etc. with nearly no visibility is little understood by any biologists and is something that only a few hunters have observed to this day. There is so much more to it than deer travelling within based on the tracks and scent of other deer.


Ask Kevin and Drew about their property near Gaylord aka 'Buckhorn Ridge'. The back half is cedar swamp. Ask him about the backpacking trip we did earlier in the year and how his two idiot cousins hiked from buckhorn to the Pigeon... there's a good story and some hilarious pictures we could share :lol:



Going to have to take you up on that suggestion! :lol:


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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby headgear » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:11 am

SB I'd like to hear info on how you break down large swamps, I have a few that are 4-5 square miles and I am still trying to learn the inner workings. Obviously it can takes years to learn the ins and outs of these large swamps, one I have been working on for what seems like forever but the pieces are starting to come together, bedding, does, rut, buck travel. Sometimes the areas outside the swamp play a roll in how the swamp is used but they can be so large that people don't know where to start, that would be helpful for both new and old beasts. Like dan always says, there are preferred areas bucks use and travel, we just have to find and understand them better to drag some bucks out of these spots.
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Net Guy » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:56 pm

Singing Bridge wrote:
whitetailassasin wrote:Scott, I'm not real up to speed on cedar swamps, so if there is a difference between the swamps I hunt and them, and how deer use them, I would love to hear that contrast. Also how different the food sources can be and the timing of why and how deer bed in them, as say a typical marsh or cattail swamp. Thank you.


Cedar swamps are different for a number of reasons. Other hunters are left behind almost immediately because of the lack of visibility and their fear of getting lost- gps or not... and you'd better have a lot more than just a gps when you penetrate.

The swamps I hunt will have you bleeding, literally, by the time you get on stand. That's just the way it is and most guys don't want to put up with it. Muck holes and water can be treacherous. Oftentimes walking out the only real visibility I have is a little hole above in the cedars where I can see a star or two.

Cedar swamps are the supreme escape cover for old bucks, there is nothing more daunting to hunters. They also provide the buck with food and water... he doesn't have to come out if he doesn't want to. White cedar is the only documented food source (browse) that a whitetail can eat in exclusion to all other foods and crops and survive a harsh winter. Plenty of water and food with supreme escape cover puts age on bucks.

With tremendous hunting and poaching pressure even some of the youngest bucks will move into a cedar swamp to escape. On opening day of Michigan's archery season I have had yearling bucks go by that had no chance of making it to the edge of the swamp before dark... its that bad in some areas.

Food sources are utilized outside the swamp whenever pressure allows. A couple of miles of travel for a big buck inside a cedar swamp before stepping out of its edge and being well after dark is a joke to a big buck.

Pressure dictates bedding on the edge, deeper into some islands and cover transitions, or downright scary penetration. The oldest bucks want to be left alone most of the time and will move to where that is possible... no human scent.

My swamps have local bucks that utilize them for bedding most of the year (sometimes all year) and they contain transient bucks that move in after leaf drop in the highlands, the rut, weather that dictates it, etc.

How bucks navigate these swamps, utilizing water and air currents for bedding to food, travel in between doe areas, etc. with nearly no visibility is little understood by any biologists and is something that only a few hunters have observed to this day. There is so much more to it than deer travelling within based on the tracks and scent of other deer.


Really looking forward to this. I hunt some areas that include vast acreage of extremely thick tamarack swamps. When you describe penetrating the cedar swamp, I think of the tamarack swamps I try to penetrate. Do you think the tactics you use to hunt the cedar swamps can be applied to a thick tamarack swamp? Not sure what the main food source would be out in the middle of the tamarack swamp.
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Kraftd » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:49 am

Very interested in this too. We hunt cedar swamps as well, though nothing the size you're talking. Been working on figuring bedding an approach out, but with so many good options for security that has been tricky. Based on cams and scouting seems to be more circuit based, but hard to pick up on some of those patterns being 4 hours away from these particular swamps. You're one of the guys I'm always excited t see post!
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:24 pm

Perfectionitz wrote:Thanks singing bridge! I will definitely be listening. I have a bunch of public marsh and swamp land nearby that I don't think many (if any) people hunt, so I'm looking for any tips I can get, especially because I've focused all of my efforts so far on the marshes.


Thanks for taking the time. If we don't answer a question you have on the podcast let me know.

Scott
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:31 pm

headgear wrote:SB I'd like to hear info on how you break down large swamps, I have a few that are 4-5 square miles and I am still trying to learn the inner workings. Obviously it can takes years to learn the ins and outs of these large swamps, one I have been working on for what seems like forever but the pieces are starting to come together, bedding, does, rut, buck travel. Sometimes the areas outside the swamp play a roll in how the swamp is used but they can be so large that people don't know where to start, that would be helpful for both new and old beasts. Like dan always says, there are preferred areas bucks use and travel, we just have to find and understand them better to drag some bucks out of these spots.


I always enjoy you posts, headgear. As you noted, breaking down large swamps and getting to know them can take time. After the podcast I will move toward posting some aerials and attempt to demonstrate how I break the big swamps down.

Scott
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:32 pm

Singing Bridge wrote:
headgear wrote:SB I'd like to hear info on how you break down large swamps, I have a few that are 4-5 square miles and I am still trying to learn the inner workings. Obviously it can takes years to learn the ins and outs of these large swamps, one I have been working on for what seems like forever but the pieces are starting to come together, bedding, does, rut, buck travel. Sometimes the areas outside the swamp play a roll in how the swamp is used but they can be so large that people don't know where to start, that would be helpful for both new and old beasts. Like dan always says, there are preferred areas bucks use and travel, we just have to find and understand them better to drag some bucks out of these spots.


I always enjoy your posts, headgear. As you noted, breaking down large swamps and getting to know them can take time. After the podcast I will move toward posting some aerials and attempt to demonstrate how I break the big swamps down.

Scott
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:36 pm

Net Guy wrote:
Singing Bridge wrote:
whitetailassasin wrote:Scott, I'm not real up to speed on cedar swamps, so if there is a difference between the swamps I hunt and them, and how deer use them, I would love to hear that contrast. Also how different the food sources can be and the timing of why and how deer bed in them, as say a typical marsh or cattail swamp. Thank you.


Cedar swamps are different for a number of reasons. Other hunters are left behind almost immediately because of the lack of visibility and their fear of getting lost- gps or not... and you'd better have a lot more than just a gps when you penetrate.

The swamps I hunt will have you bleeding, literally, by the time you get on stand. That's just the way it is and most guys don't want to put up with it. Muck holes and water can be treacherous. Oftentimes walking out the only real visibility I have is a little hole above in the cedars where I can see a star or two.

Cedar swamps are the supreme escape cover for old bucks, there is nothing more daunting to hunters. They also provide the buck with food and water... he doesn't have to come out if he doesn't want to. White cedar is the only documented food source (browse) that a whitetail can eat in exclusion to all other foods and crops and survive a harsh winter. Plenty of water and food with supreme escape cover puts age on bucks.

With tremendous hunting and poaching pressure even some of the youngest bucks will move into a cedar swamp to escape. On opening day of Michigan's archery season I have had yearling bucks go by that had no chance of making it to the edge of the swamp before dark... its that bad in some areas.

Food sources are utilized outside the swamp whenever pressure allows. A couple of miles of travel for a big buck inside a cedar swamp before stepping out of its edge and being well after dark is a joke to a big buck.

Pressure dictates bedding on the edge, deeper into some islands and cover transitions, or downright scary penetration. The oldest bucks want to be left alone most of the time and will move to where that is possible... no human scent.

My swamps have local bucks that utilize them for bedding most of the year (sometimes all year) and they contain transient bucks that move in after leaf drop in the highlands, the rut, weather that dictates it, etc.

How bucks navigate these swamps, utilizing water and air currents for bedding to food, travel in between doe areas, etc. with nearly no visibility is little understood by any biologists and is something that only a few hunters have observed to this day. There is so much more to it than deer travelling within based on the tracks and scent of other deer.


Really looking forward to this. I hunt some areas that include vast acreage of extremely thick tamarack swamps. When you describe penetrating the cedar swamp, I think of the tamarack swamps I try to penetrate. Do you think the tactics you use to hunt the cedar swamps can be applied to a thick tamarack swamp? Not sure what the main food source would be out in the middle of the tamarack swamp.


Tactics would be similar. Tamaracs cannot give the buck all he needs to survive, however there are likely other forbes and browse the bucks utilize when they hole up due to weather, hunting pressure, the rut, or if they are simply local bucks that have spent most of their lives there.

Scott
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:42 pm

Kraftd wrote:Very interested in this too. We hunt cedar swamps as well, though nothing the size you're talking. Been working on figuring bedding an approach out, but with so many good options for security that has been tricky. Based on cams and scouting seems to be more circuit based, but hard to pick up on some of those patterns being 4 hours away from these particular swamps. You're one of the guys I'm always excited t see post!


Thank you!

Big cedar swamps are one of the most difficult to figure out habitats in the whitetail's range. The outer edges aren't too tough, but when the bucks utilize the interior, everything about it becomes challenging.

A lot of their travel is circuit based, especially after dark and outside the swamp. There are times that the bucks won't come out of a big cedar swamp, for various reasons, and even then their travel is somewhat circular... great observation.

Scott
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Josh_S » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:25 am

Really looking forward to this. How long does it take you to truly learn a large swamp and feel confident in your set ups? Do you start in a small area and branch out over a season or even several seasons?
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Jonny » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:54 am

Singing Bridge wrote:
Jonny wrote:I will definitely be listening to this one.

Would really love to hear how (if you do) cyber scouting for a swamp, and then combine it with offseason scouting when its frozen.

Just found this gem
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=29560


I've done cyber scouting for quite a while and will definitely address it if it is asked on the podcast. If it isn't I will try to answer as best I can here on the Beast. Hunters have it really good these days with the satellite photos and topo's, etc.

In the 1970's we had pictures we took from airplanes of the swamps we hunt (my family, friends and I). Many of them were black and white and not of high quality, even the color photo's weren't high quality... but they were better than nothing. To get better views we had our film made into slides and bought a slide projector. We then projected the slides onto a screen so we had a large view to examine our swamps... those were some of my fondest scouting sessions as I learned from others who were older what to look for. Even in the 1980's I had a friend fly me over my swamps in a small plane as I had very specific areas I wanted to view. In time we were able to order slides and prints from the government... again, both black and white and color.

Some of the earliest satellite pics I had of my swamps were from the Russian spy satellite "Sputnik." These predated my access to satellite shots from Google, Bing, etc. Now with modern satellite pics and flyovers the clarity of the shots is remarkable compared to what I had back then. But modern shots have something missing... in my swamps I have observed points, islands, beaver ponds and huge floodings for many decades. Most of the islands cannot be seen on modern shots because the vegetation has matured to the point where they are not visible. The ability to go back many years on Google, for example, is critical to view these hunting spots.

Prior to getting pictures from airplanes in the 1970's my family walked our swamps in grid patterns and wrote down observations and created maps by hand. We have been doing this since before the Civil War.

To answer your question I certainly do cyber scout and I use winter scouting to find primary buck bedding areas within... which are very different from yarding areas.


Thanks Scott! That is really cool how far back your family has been swamp hunting. I bring up swamp hunting to my family and they look at me like I am speaking Russian to them. One thing that sticks out is using historical imagery to find spots since the pictures now don't show the whole story. I will definitely have to do that since some of the swamps in my area haven't been touched by machines.

I am really looking forward to your podcast
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby whitetailassasin » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:00 am

Bayshore has a smaller cedar swamp on the lease he has with his dad. He has been trying to figure out how to penetrate to kill some of the bucks he gets came photos of early season before the rut and they start going property to property in search of estrus does. I've had the opportunity to scout the outside fringes and have even went in some of it looking around for potential bedding zones. It's in a low spot in his land so the thermals are most likely, my theory, going directly to the bedding. And because of the size of this particular cedar swamp, it's difficult to penetrate without alerting the deer that maybe bedded there.
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:47 am

d_rek wrote:I was always curious how in areas like NLP Michigan in the cedar swamps how other large game animals - namely bear and elk - affect deer movement in cedar swamps? It seems like we find a lot of elk sign but very little deer sign in the cedar swamps up there. Or maybe the elk sign is just that much more obvious? Would be great to hear your thoughts on this.


The bear interact with deer continually inside cedar swamps and really don't influence buck travel much. If a bear's where a buck wants to be the buck will wait him out and then move in. A lot of hunters lose bucks they shoot and can't find right away inside cedar swamps. Black bears have the strength to pick up a dead buck and trot away with it like a dog does with a bone.

The elk I see in the area you mention tend to stick to higher ground and the swamp edges... at least where I scout. I don't see a lot of elk sign deep in the interior. A small swamp without much density will have elk all over it, in my experience.
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:51 am

Josh_S wrote:Really looking forward to this. How long does it take you to truly learn a large swamp and feel confident in your set ups? Do you start in a small area and branch out over a season or even several seasons?


To learn an entire swamp with a significant size takes years... but that isn't necessary to hunt it effectively for "a buck". Just like you mentioned, i start in a small area that i have identified as the most promising. Hunting pressure has a lot to do with how easy it is to set up in an area and be successful.
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Re: Swamp Hunters...

Postby Singing Bridge » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:56 am

whitetailassasin wrote:Bayshore has a smaller cedar swamp on the lease he has with his dad. He has been trying to figure out how to penetrate to kill some of the bucks he gets came photos of early season before the rut and they start going property to property in search of estrus does. I've had the opportunity to scout the outside fringes and have even went in some of it looking around for potential bedding zones. It's in a low spot in his land so the thermals are most likely, my theory, going directly to the bedding. And because of the size of this particular cedar swamp, it's difficult to penetrate without alerting the deer that maybe bedded there.


Jason, I agree with your thoughts on the thermals- a small pocket swamp makes hunting very difficult. With that situation I've found it best to work from the outside in, with milkweed, and see what you can get away with. I feel you still have to push it around here to see daylight activity from a good buck, it may take that extreme to learn what it takes to get close enough to kill the buck.

Bayshore is more than welcome to PM me some aerials / topos if he wants.

Scott
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