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Suggestions on hunting overgrown fields?

hickslawns

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#1
Looking at a new piece of property. It has minimal trees. There are some trees, but not really tons of acres of woods. 50+acres, but mainly overgrown weeds. Almost like CRP land but it isn't in the CRP program. Suggestions from the pros here? My initial thoughts (other than the obvious topo maps and walking it) are early season to setup a couple days in some observation type stands. This will help, but I guess the real thing I am wondering is if you guys have hunted this type of land what areas should I focus on? Fingers of trees coming off the woods on the topo map seem like an obvious choice. There is a creek on the property which is an obvious section too. Other than the blatantly obvious choices, what would make a buck choose one section of overgrown weeds vs another? Am I just making this too hard on myself? Should I just stick to the obvious places and just see what happens from the stands? Will the deer stick to the traditional hot spots when everyplace they go is essentially cover? I only know one thing for sure this year and this is the Nikon binoculars i purchased with shoulder straps are going to be real handy in the stand.
 

RedCloud

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#2
I have hunted fields just like this on a couple of properties now. I have found that the deer stay toward the edges of the field when they bed down. They only go out from the treeline about 40-50 yards at most so getting in to some spots may be very hard without blowing them back into the woods. I have also learned over the years that a majority of the deer will bed just off an inside corner of the woods so that when spooked they have 2 escapes back into the woods for safety. The bucks I have seen in this type of fields sometimes bed in areas as I described above but they also tend to hunker down in thick briar patches or near sapling tress even if they are out in the middle of the field. I look at hunting the bucks in fields like this almost like rabbit hunting. They will borrow themselves into some of the thickest most gnarliest spots they can find just for that cozy security blanket feel.
Just know that this type of hunting isn't easy and sometimes even harder then normal hunting areas. Some of the deer as soon as you take one step into the overgrown field will bolt and others will hunker down and not move a muscle until your right on top of them and yet others with the thick overgrowth you won't ever know they are there. Take your time and GLASS as much as you can because like I said, some will be so dug in the only time you will see them is if they get up and start walking around or if you drive the field during gun season. I would also like to tell you that spots like this can sometimes pay off if you stick with them. Some of the biggest bucks I have seen on hoof I seen in these types of fields.

Best of luck Hicks and keep us posted.
 

Matt

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#3
I say set up a stand that overlooks the field but also allows you to climb down unseen/unheard. Hunt on windy days and just glass the shit out of that field. Break it up into levels and just slowly scan back and forth looking for that antler tine, back outline, tail flicker, whatever. Then, climb down and put the ol' stalk on and jump that deer never to be seen again. ;);););)
 

Milo

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#4
I have a couple of short ladder stands that i use in these situations. Your in a real hot spot. find some fence crossings and escape routes and setup on them..deer love overgrown weedy fields. Be sure you have some good glass and use them often looking for outlines, tines and horizontal shapes. I would not however go into the field at all. just stick to the woody edges. My stands I use are like 8-10 feet tall and I you have to use the wind in your favor.
 

CJD3

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#5
A bold move:
One year I arrowed a deer that ended up dieing in a thick, over grown field w/ 1-3" saplings growing up. After hacking my way out, making a small 2-3 foot wide path I noticed a couple weeks later that the deer had started using the dang thing and did for a couple of seasons as I kept coming back and trimming each summer before season...
maybe you should consider bring the deer to you. (weed whacker or nippers???)

If its your only spot, this may be too aggressive.
Best of Luck this Season
 

rrr

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#6
maybe you should consider bring the deer to you. (weed whacker or nippers???)
This is Hicks we are talking about...he'll have a zero turn and bobcat out there.

Good question though. The field that borders the end of the woods I've hunted is very similar. I've never hunted the field persay, but take advantage of the main entrance from the field/woods as well as the atv trail that splits the two. I guess I take the find the highway route and put up a toll booth!
 

hickslawns

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#7
This is Hicks we are talking about...he'll have a zero turn and bobcat out there.
Close there Capt, but not quite. This stuff is too nasty for a zero turn. I am bringing in the tractor with the flail mower. If that doesn't work, I am not sure about getting the bobcat in there. There are some wet spots and you have to cross the creek. Maybe the backhoe? Not sure what it would do besides mash down the weeds though. Can you say dozer? hahaha

There actually are some defined trails all around the perimeters from previous atv/side by sides using it from previous owners. I think cleaning them up with the tractor will help and not be too much effort. Pretty close to the season, but this is going to take place Saturday morning. We hope to have both our tractors out there with field mowers, a couple of pole saws (chainsaws), and knock out the majority of the work all at once. I don't like it this close to season, but I will be liking it the end of October into November. I will focus most of my early season on the other property. Then I will mix this one in as well. One of my main goals this year is property/stand rotations along with mobility.

find some fence crossings and escape routes and setup on them..deer love overgrown weedy fields. Be sure you have some good glass and use them often looking for outlines, tines and horizontal shapes. I would not however go into the field at all. just stick to the woody edges. My stands I use are like 8-10 feet tall and I you have to use the wind in your favor.
We scouted fence crossings and you are right on the glassing. I figured i would have to spend many hours glassing weeds looking for that one tiny detail of a deer this year. Small patch of white, maybe an antler sticking out, or outline of the back.

Entry/exit routes are going to be our biggest problem. We need to get permission from some adjoining neighbors to truly access the best spots while concentrating on the least intrusive access. This could be a problem. Time will tell.

Guys- I appreciate all this advice. It is really what I wanted to hear. This is why the question has been posted on this site. One reason is to get the hunting questions rolling. Another reason is to get answers from guys that know their stuff. Thank you and thanks again to Joe/Jesse for getting this site rolling! Keep the info coming, this is good stuff to ponder as I stare at maps and mow on Saturday! Might try to mow down areas which will end up sprayed and frost seeded for next season's food plots. I know it might hurt us this year, but will pay off in year's ahead.
 

Jackalope

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#8
I wouldn't worry too much about it being this close to season unless there is a 200 class deer living there..

Mead came in and cut out about 200 acres of our 50 year old hardwoods one year.. They did it in early august. The season before deer were everywhere on these ridges and hollows. I just knew it was going to screw up hunting the surrounding woods and ridges... They were there for a two weeks with the skidder, loader, dozer and feller buncher working.... A week after they packed up and finished.. Deer were standing out in the open acting like the trees were still there. They were walking around out in the new clear cut like nothing changed.... That November i rattled a small 110 class 8 out of that clear cut while on the ground and let him walk. I got him to within 10 yards while using a tree as cover. All the stumps have 10 foot tall shoots off them now and it's starting to get thick.. Time to hunt the edges. :smiley_bril:
 

jagermeister

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#9
Are there any larger, isolated trees out in the middle of the open fields? One thing I've noticed over the years is deer really key in on these "islands." I don't know how many times I've walked up on deer bedded right at the base of a island tree. They seem to be hotpots out in the middle of cornfields, too. My theory is that the deer use the tree as a landmark for navigation. I mean think about it... remember the last time you were out in the middle of a cornfield walking around... it's pretty damn easy to forget which way is which. But if there's an island tree out there, you can spot it and use it as a reference point or landmark. If you know they aren't bedding nearby and you can slip in undetected, island trees make excellent observation stands. Not only can you see the entire field with binocs, but you've got a great chance at Mr. Big walking right underneath you. Even if there are no trees like this in your area, keep this stuff in the back of your mind for future reference. I can guarantee if you find one of these trees, you'll find deer sign all around it.

Don't worry about spooking the deer with mowing and cutting machinery... they won't go far, or for very long. I've walked through several woodlots literally the day after a timber harvest, and it's incredible how much deer sign is found in and among the tree tops and limbs. There was a good article in D&DH a few issues ago about a radio telemetry study that basically said deer don't run away as far as we've previously thought. It's their called their core area for a reason... so a little noise isn't going to send them running to the next county. They might change their patterns timing-wise, but you can adjust for that at least a little bit.
 

hickslawns

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#10
JBrown

Are there any larger, isolated trees out in the middle of the open fields?
I wish. This would make it even better. Closest thing we have are a couple of fingers which might have been old fencerows coming out of what woods it has and heading south towards the creek. To answer your next question, yes there will be a stand at the end of each of these "fingers". The open areas are really open. Some of the standing weeds are waist tall, but others are 6-8' tall. What trees are out there are mostly young oaks. Good for down the road but right now only 10-20' tall. Some had some baby acorns though. We will do what mowing we can to clean up the old lanes and maybe set a couple stands or at least trim some more lanes this weekend. Might mow down the areas we hope to put into food plots as well then spray them in a week or so for frost seeding.
 

jagermeister

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#11
I wish. This would make it even better. Closest thing we have are a couple of fingers which might have been old fencerows coming out of what woods it has and heading south towards the creek. To answer your next question, yes there will be a stand at the end of each of these "fingers". The open areas are really open. Some of the standing weeds are waist tall, but others are 6-8' tall. What trees are out there are mostly young oaks. Good for down the road but right now only 10-20' tall. Some had some baby acorns though. We will do what mowing we can to clean up the old lanes and maybe set a couple stands or at least trim some more lanes this weekend. Might mow down the areas we hope to put into food plots as well then spray them in a week or so for frost seeding.
Sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on the situation and are doing about all that you can do to prepare yourself. I don't think there's really any special secrets about hunting in/around these overgrown fields... just think to yourself, "if I were a deer, where would I bed, which way would I run to hide, and which way would I go to feed?" Simple as that. (yea right LOL :D)
 

rrr

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Close there Capt, but not quite. This stuff is too nasty for a zero turn. I am bringing in the tractor with the flail mower. If that doesn't work, I am not sure about getting the bobcat in there. There are some wet spots and you have to cross the creek. Maybe the backhoe? Not sure what it would do besides mash down the weeds though. Can you say dozer? hahaha
You're talking to someone that has made a corn maze in full standing, triple planted corn with a zero turn. (Yes, it was a rental). If you get your skidder stuck, don't blame me.

As far as your other concern about moving the machinery in there and changing the way things look and opening things up, deer are plenty used to that...

OH SHOOT! Buddy you are going to be pissed! I was just going to make a comment about deer being used to combines and corn coming off and using this picture as a funny but true example. I googled "deer hit by combine" and this was the first result...too funny. I was going to copy and paste the images into photobucket and not link it to this site...but it was WAY too damn funny to read what someone said about deer and machinery... :) YOU!

http://www.*************.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24492

And that, is point proven.
 

rrr

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Ahhh shoot. Sorry Jack, hope this is ok...I won't link it but I gotta do the screen print on ole Hicks here. This is going to put me in the running for asshole of the year award!



(Oh yea, and the picture to show that deer aren't terrified at the first sound of equipment)

 
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hickslawns

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#14
Nice Ernie!

I am not worried about the machines scaring them off as much as changing too much of their core areas. I guess the good part is we don't have any visuals on monsters there just yet, so we are not worried about chasing any big boys out. We know there are nice bucks in the area, but have only kicked up does/fawns in our first scouting trip last weekend. I just don't want my buddy to get too carried away until after the season. His place though. I am just the paid ranch hand. Getting paid in hunting privileges.

Hope to get the cameras we ordered to arrive by the weekend so we can put them out, but they probably won't be here until Mon/Tue.

In regards to "the running for asshole of the year award!" I would say you have some stiff competition! :smiley_champ: