Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

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Singing Bridge
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Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:55 am

You know, I typically try not to rattle too many cages... Most hunters think they have a great understanding of Mature Bucks and snow. I've heard it all...

* "scouting for bucks in the winter and snow is useless, they are bedding in completely different areas than the fall... "

* " As soon as the snow gets deep, the big bucks move toward yarding areas on migration routes so they can survive the winter... "

* From Michigan's Upper Peninsula, countless hunters after a couple of feet of snow are on the ground... "every track I cut was moving south... " implying that the bucks are moving toward yarding areas.

* I prefer to wait to scout until just after the snow melts so you can see all the previous fall's activity... rubs / beds, etc. "

I could go on and on. Some of the above is true, sometimes bucks behave as they were taught by does when they were young.

Also, scouting right after snowmelt is very beneficial and obvious. But let's back up a minute... if you are taking those first 4 quotes as gospel, you are making some major mistakes especially in the big woods. It takes a lot, and I mean a lot, for a mature north woods snow buck to leave his secure bedding area. Northern Ontario, the snowbelt of Michigan's U.P. (fringe of Lake Superior) and northern Wisconsin and Minne where during late season can have 4 feet of snow on the level... yes, this is very problematic for big bucks. But with less snow than that we need to remember that Bergmann's rule dictates that these big bucks are longer and taller than all other whitetails. They can reach wintertime forage that no other deer can. Again, it takes a lot for many of these bucks to migrate.

Finding mature bucks through snow tracking in the winter to find primary buck bedding areas is critical to being successful in many northern big woods areas. I know many big woods hunters, including myself, that would look at you in bewilderment if you said snow tracking oversized buck tracks isn't worth your time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have to call a spade a spade on this one.

Think about it... I'm not saying that there aren't any bucks that won't follow the pattern of those first 4 quotes... I'm saying that you are missing the boat because there are many, many mature bucks that do not.

Bridge.


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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby mipubbucks24 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:15 am

You can tell the season is around the corner when singing bridge starts spitting knowledge. I don’t hunt the north and have not heard those sayings, all I know is I really want to come north one of these years and do some tracking looks like one of the most fun ways of hunting. I tried some down south here but the public near my house is so broken up tracks kept meandering onto private and it seems that our snows during Gun season are few and far between.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:23 am

mipubbucks24 wrote:You can tell the season is around the corner when singing bridge starts spitting knowledge. I don’t hunt the north and have not heard those sayings, all I know is I really want to come north one of these years and do some tracking looks like one of the most fun ways of hunting. I tried some down south here but the public near my house is so broken up tracks kept meandering onto private and it seems that our snows during Gun season are few and far between.


Excellent, follow Todd (Magic Man) closely on his site and here on the Beast... he's top gun. An excellent snow tracker.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:03 am

To further promote what Todd is capable of, to my knowledge he and I are the only hunters that have had mature bucks track us... that's right, they tracked us. Listen to the knowledge he provides... (yes, I brought it up first ! :lol: )

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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby KLEMZ » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:12 am

Good thread Singing Bridge. I hunt 25 miles south of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Three years ago I tagged out with three days to go on my early November, week long, rut hunt. That gave me three days of scouting during prime rut (with 2" of snow on the ground !!!). Great opportunity for me!

I found a currently used, mature buck bedding area, by following big tracks in an area I already suspected to be buck bedding. I found multiple beds, some old and fresh rubs.

Fast forward to the following March. I had some time off so I made the drive up to North Wisconsin. 3 feet of snow had me using snow shoes, it was still a major physical effort due to the nature of the snow. I stumbled across a set of fresh, lone tracks. I could not tell how big they were but they were heading cross country in a straight line. I followed them. They took me directly to the bedding area I had found the previous November. They walked directly through a couple beds I had identified last fall, and lead to a currently used bed in the snow I had not identified last fall.

I scouted the area after snow melt in late April and found that the snow bed was an obviously well used bed during other times. Basically, he is there all year long as far as I can tell. I did try a couple hunts in the area the next couple years. I saw a deer moving around in the bedding area on one hunt but he exited somewhere else. Another hunt was under a small grouping of red oaks near the edge of bedding during early October. I had a deer snort and run from the direction of the beds. I think the sinking thermals gave me away.

Anyways, I am definitely a fan of winter snow scouting, even in the snow belt regions.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:28 am

KLEMZ wrote:Good thread Singing Bridge. I hunt 25 miles south of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Three years ago I tagged out with three days to go on my early November, week long, rut hunt. That gave me three days of scouting during prime rut (with 2" of snow on the ground !!!). Great opportunity for me!

I found a currently used, mature buck bedding area, by following big tracks in an area I already suspected to be buck bedding. I found multiple beds, some old and fresh rubs.

Fast forward to the following March. I had some time off so I made the drive up to North Wisconsin. 3 feet of snow had me using snow shoes, it was still a major physical effort due to the nature of the snow. I stumbled across a set of fresh, lone tracks. I could not tell how big they were but they were heading cross country in a straight line. I followed them. They took me directly to the bedding area I had found the previous November. They walked directly through a couple beds I had identified last fall, and lead to a currently used bed in the snow I had not identified last fall.

I scouted the area after snow melt in late April and found that the snow bed was an obviously well used bed during other times. Basically, he is there all year long as far as I can tell. I did try a couple hunts in the area the next couple years. I saw a deer moving around in the bedding area on one hunt but he exited somewhere else. Another hunt was under a small grouping of red oaks near the edge of bedding during early October. I had a deer snort and run from the direction of the beds. I think the sinking thermals gave me away.

Anyways, I am definitely a fan of winter snow scouting, even in the snow belt regions.


I couldn't have said it better... thank you for taking the time to post this !
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Findian » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:35 am

The funny thing is that mature bucks I see nowadays That get killed up here in northern Wisconsin Ashland county, Bayfield county. The bucks seem to be less rutty smelling during the rut . It also seems that we have smaller body deer, not always but must mature bucks seem to be around the 180 pound size lately. I’ve been talking to a few old timers that used to shoot big 200+ mature bucks in the 90s thru the 2010 . Most of use don’t see a buck over 200 any more. We kinda came up with conclusion That up here that the wolves are systematically taking down the larger body deer and larger racked bucks. The theory is that the smaller more agile deer that can go thru the brush easily. So that makes deer move out of the areas in the winter earlier If we get a big snow. They ain’t there like they used to be because of the wolf pressure.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Findian » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:44 am

Also I’m not saying that you can’t figure out primary mature buck bedding from snow. The buck I kill last year was due to me tracking his track in the snow in December of 2018 when there was 4-6 inches of snow. I then spent the spring scouting 20 plus hours trying to figure him out.
After a fall of hunting him. But his track lead me over to a ravine a .25 mile away.

6.5+ year old buck 180 pounds oct 31 No fat on him at all. Ashland County no rut smell either in the heart of wolf county.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby KLEMZ » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:04 pm

Findian, I believe that the biggest, most dominant bucks are the ones that have earned the right to breed, they have beat all the other bucks (at great expense of energy). They are the ones that exert huge energy defending their place to breed against other bucks, plus, they are actually doing the breeding, finding the hot does.

What I am saying is that the biggest bucks are the ones that are most susceptable to the wolf population because the wolves prey on the weak and the young. The biggest bucks are also the weakest deer come winter. Sadly, this leaves younger bucks as the breeding bucks.

Last season I found a smoking fresh scrape on November 15th..the last day of my hunt. I set up and hunted it. 15 minutes before dark I had a 3.5 yr old buck come into the scrape. Unfortunately I did not recover that buck. However, I believe he was the dominant breeding buck in the area. I think, these days, the biggest breeding buck can be a 3.5 year old in the north woods (with the wolves).
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby KLEMZ » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:06 pm

Findian, I posted just after you. Dude!! Awesome buck!
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Findian » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:20 pm

KLEMZ wrote:Findian, I believe that the biggest, most dominant bucks are the ones that have earned the right to breed, they have beat all the other bucks (at great expense of energy). They are the ones that exert huge energy defending their place to breed against other bucks, plus, they are actually doing the breeding, finding the hot does.

What I am saying is that the biggest bucks are the ones that are most susceptable to the wolf population because the wolves prey on the weak and the young. The biggest bucks are also the weakest deer come winter. Sadly, this leaves younger bucks as the breeding bucks.

Last season I found a smoking fresh scrape on November 15th..the last day of my hunt. I set up and hunted it. 15 minutes before dark I had a 3.5 yr old buck come into the scrape. Unfortunately I did not recover that buck. However, I believe he was the dominant breeding buck in the area. I think, these days, the biggest breeding buck can be a 3.5 year old in the north woods (with the wolves).


I agree with you on that. I think that the bucks that make it up in wolf county are some of the hardest to hunt but that’s just me, I’ve never hunter mid to lower Michigan or southern Wisconsin, I’ve only hunted Ashland Bayfield and iron county in Wisconsin and cook county in Minnesota. So I guess my view is very limited.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:49 pm

Findian wrote:
KLEMZ wrote:Findian, I believe that the biggest, most dominant bucks are the ones that have earned the right to breed, they have beat all the other bucks (at great expense of energy). They are the ones that exert huge energy defending their place to breed against other bucks, plus, they are actually doing the breeding, finding the hot does.

What I am saying is that the biggest bucks are the ones that are most susceptable to the wolf population because the wolves prey on the weak and the young. The biggest bucks are also the weakest deer come winter. Sadly, this leaves younger bucks as the breeding bucks.

Last season I found a smoking fresh scrape on November 15th..the last day of my hunt. I set up and hunted it. 15 minutes before dark I had a 3.5 yr old buck come into the scrape. Unfortunately I did not recover that buck. However, I believe he was the dominant breeding buck in the area. I think, these days, the biggest breeding buck can be a 3.5 year old in the north woods (with the wolves).


I agree with you on that. I think that the bucks that make it up in wolf county are some of the hardest to hunt but that’s just me, I’ve never hunter mid to lower Michigan or southern Wisconsin, I’ve only hunted Ashland Bayfield and iron county in Wisconsin and cook county in Minnesota. So I guess my view is very limited.


Sorry Findlan, I've spent decades hunting much farther north than you've ever been. I've hunted buck populations so low with wolf pressure that they were almost non-existent. Make sure you do your research.

I find your theory flawed in that mature bucks, big racks or not, negotiate cover that they can easily maneuver through. Predators cannot catch a healthy, mature whitetail, including wolves, unless they sneak in within 40 yards without being detected.

I respectfully disagree.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Findian » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:56 pm

Singing Bridge wrote:
Findian wrote:
KLEMZ wrote:Findian, I believe that the biggest, most dominant bucks are the ones that have earned the right to breed, they have beat all the other bucks (at great expense of energy). They are the ones that exert huge energy defending their place to breed against other bucks, plus, they are actually doing the breeding, finding the hot does.

What I am saying is that the biggest bucks are the ones that are most susceptable to the wolf population because the wolves prey on the weak and the young. The biggest bucks are also the weakest deer come winter. Sadly, this leaves younger bucks as the breeding bucks.

Last season I found a smoking fresh scrape on November 15th..the last day of my hunt. I set up and hunted it. 15 minutes before dark I had a 3.5 yr old buck come into the scrape. Unfortunately I did not recover that buck. However, I believe he was the dominant breeding buck in the area. I think, these days, the biggest breeding buck can be a 3.5 year old in the north woods (with the wolves).


I agree with you on that. I think that the bucks that make it up in wolf county are some of the hardest to hunt but that’s just me, I’ve never hunter mid to lower Michigan or southern Wisconsin, I’ve only hunted Ashland Bayfield and iron county in Wisconsin and cook county in Minnesota. So I guess my view is very limited.


Sorry Findlan, I've spent decades hunting much farther north than you've ever been. I've hunted buck populations so low with wolf pressure that they were almost non-existent. Make sure you do your research.

I find your theory flawed in that mature bucks, big racks or not, negotiate cover that they can easily maneuver through. Predators cannot catch a healthy, mature whitetail, including wolves, unless they sneak in within 40 yards without being detected.

I respectfully disagree.




Ok you’ve hunted but do you actually live up in wolf country currently?

Why are so many people having a hard time killing mature bucks up in northern Wisconsin in wolf county lately.

Klemz could be right. The sad truth is is that the biggest bucks are getting hunted the hardest by wolfs. Makes sense.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:42 pm

Findian wrote:
Singing Bridge wrote:
Findian wrote:
KLEMZ wrote:Findian, I believe that the biggest, most dominant bucks are the ones that have earned the right to breed, they have beat all the other bucks (at great expense of energy). They are the ones that exert huge energy defending their place to breed against other bucks, plus, they are actually doing the breeding, finding the hot does.

What I am saying is that the biggest bucks are the ones that are most susceptable to the wolf population because the wolves prey on the weak and the young. The biggest bucks are also the weakest deer come winter. Sadly, this leaves younger bucks as the breeding bucks.

Last season I found a smoking fresh scrape on November 15th..the last day of my hunt. I set up and hunted it. 15 minutes before dark I had a 3.5 yr old buck come into the scrape. Unfortunately I did not recover that buck. However, I believe he was the dominant breeding buck in the area. I think, these days, the biggest breeding buck can be a 3.5 year old in the north woods (with the wolves).


I agree with you on that. I think that the bucks that make it up in wolf county are some of the hardest to hunt but that’s just me, I’ve never hunter mid to lower Michigan or southern Wisconsin, I’ve only hunted Ashland Bayfield and iron county in Wisconsin and cook county in Minnesota. So I guess my view is very limited.


Sorry Findlan, I've spent decades hunting much farther north than you've ever been. I've hunted buck populations so low with wolf pressure that they were almost non-existent. Make sure you do your research.

I find your theory flawed in that mature bucks, big racks or not, negotiate cover that they can easily maneuver through. Predators cannot catch a healthy, mature whitetail, including wolves, unless they sneak in within 40 yards without being detected.

I respectfully disagree.




Ok you’ve hunted but do you actually live up in wolf country currently?

Why are so many people having a hard time killing mature bucks up in northern Wisconsin in wolf county lately.

Klemz could be right. The sad truth is is that the biggest bucks are getting hunted the hardest by wolfs. Makes sense.


This is going in the wrong direction, and I am as much to blame as anyone.

Can I offer to you that I have been fascinated by wolves since the 1990's... they are extraordinary predators and their population is cyclical based on the populations of their prey. Anywho, wolves are very efficient. Their time is better spent hunting vulnerable prey, which means young... stupid whitetail bucks and deer that are sick or wounded. When they hammer this population, very few bucks make it through to maturity. It isn't efficient for wolves to hunt a couple of bucks that have somehow made it through to maturity in a huge, wilderness area. Until they are too old to fend for themselves the wolves have little chance of killing them and wolves waste little time doing so. They run a circuit of cruise trails throughout their territory and look for prey that is weak. They don't go out of there way to hunt mature bucks that are very isolated from the rest of the few whitetails around. The cruise trails take in the areas where the most deer spend time to try to find one that is sick or vulnerable. If a whitetail is bleeding, has an infection that the wolves smell, or is young and in a vulnerable position the alpha male and alpha female position themselves accordingly for an attempt at taking them down. Older bucks are exhausted by the rut but they are in "non-productive areas" when they recover. Some don't make it.

A healthy, mature and experienced whitetail buck, even after the rut and at their weakest point, is nearly last on the list for what wolf instincts tell them to pursue. Again, the few mature bucks in a region isolate after the rut. The reason there are so few mature bucks is that so few of them get there in the first place... seemingly almost non-existent. The numbers of older bucks taken by hunters declines rapidly with this scenario, but not because wolves are targeting the big, mature animals on purpose. Hunters simply do not have access to the numbers of mature bucks that existed previously.

Yes, some mature bucks are killed by wolves but typically because they were dying anyway. A wolf has a much better chance on killing mature bucks that are dying anyway or they eat bucks that recently died. Just because a mature buck is at or just after the end of the rut does not mean wolves will automatically kill him... or find him which is why those very few bucks exist in the first place.

If you disagree, know that I respect that. We can have alternate opinions and still learn from each other.
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Re: Big Woods Snow Bucks - Think Again

Unread postby 1STRANGEWILDERNESS » Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:13 pm

I have probably used all 4 of those statements at one time or another :lol: however I do get the snowshoes out and go scout anyways. ThereS no always and never in the deer woods right? I’ve noticed a few things this summer that I’m probably going to need snow to have a shot at figuring them out.

It’s seemed to me that there are pockets up along superior where deer hold out and many areas they do not. I can’t attest to that personally cus I don’t go up that way much in winter except maybe ice fishing Coho a time or two. That’s just what I gather talking to my friends. It’s exciting late season knowing anything can show up down this way.

My (Possible) theories on bigger bucks. The wolves preying on worn down bucks from the rut.. I subscribe to that because it just seems logical but I really don’t know.

The other thing I notice is the federal Govt has not done squat for logging in my area in a very long time. The deer still show up down here every winter but how much is left? The browse line is up there boy. If they log the cedar it’ll really be shot I suppose.. They haven’t logged squat though not a dang thing for many miles surrounding me. I would bet 20-30 yrs have gone by since any of this federal has been logged. Can’t help matters..

People winter feed a lot too and I’m not sold on that being a real positive in the big scheme of things. I doubt back in the day people winter fed as much. Now the hay farmers can’t even keep alfalfa bails in stock. I just worry people get these deer Yarding up in areas that aren’t that favorable, they get walked in and then the guy gets tired of buying feed, can’t find more, or really isn’t giving them enough. Not to mention if it’s just corn they’re feeding.

I notice deer eating balsams in November which I’ve always read is a starvation food. Seems pretty bad to already be on it in November.

Back in the day. Little baiting, lots of logging, few to 0
Wolves? Many bucks over 200lbs. Just spit ballin’ I’m no authority on northwoods deer by any means.
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