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Discussion Starter #1
Yooperkenny,

Thanks for the compliments! I was actually downstate enjoying Christmas with the family and I'm glad you like it, because I wasn't able to hear it. Our U.P. hunting can and should be so much better but I sometimes feel we have gotten so comfortable with mediocrity we don't expect or demand much. It can change and it was great to be able to have a positive platform to talk about ideas for improvement...Tim Kobasic was a great host and I have to thank him a whole lot for encouraging the diolouge and allowing for non-confrontational and professional exchange....he has a great show!
 

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I guess it all boils down to how seriously you take deer hunting, or hunting in general. I think if I took deer hunting more seriously I might put more effort into trying to see a bigger buck and do more scouting. As it is, I just don't take it that seriously and I just don't have time to take it any more seriously than I do. Within the scheme of my lifestyle, hunting is simply a minor hobby I do a little bit in October (a little duck hunting, a little grouse hunting) and November (3-5 days at camp). That's it; that's all I have time or really care to have time for. I don't really think of myself as a game manager and I darn well like to shoot a buck in gun season at camp, whether it be a spike or a 10 point.
Hunters who like to only shoot mature bucks seem to have quite a bit of success, and those who like to shoot whatever bucks have reasonable success. I guess I don't know what the push is for more mature deer.
I plan to raise my kids in my philosophies, but I will certainly expose them into QDM as well. It will pretty much be up to them; I only want them to enjoy their time afield.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
And I think part of that enjoyment should include an older age-structure of bucks within the herd. These kids read about rattling antlers, scrapes, rubs, rublines, and then go out in the woods and can't find them or even apply anything they may learn because of our lack of buck age structure.

Also, personally, I have stands that literally I scouted in a couple hours and have not been too in years..one not since 1998. Scouting long hours is over-rated. I spent a total of 14 scouting trips in 1998 to get to know the area I hunt...at less than 2 hours average over the course of several months. Since then it's been about 1-2, 2 hour trips a year. I also have averaged less than 2 days rifle hunting over the past several years in the U.P.

It can be done in much less time than you think. You look at an ariel, identify 5-10 funnel points outside of a 1/2 mile radius from any 2-track, and spend a couple Saturday afternoons scouting anytime from April to September (my favorite is late marh on frozen snow with snowshoes). If you spend more than a couple Saturdays you probably wasted too much time in between your funnel points. Pick a couple of trees for different winds in your favorite spot or two, hang some stands when legal and make a blind when legal...and have fun during rifle season. It doesn't have to be long production...you just have to make sure your efforts are planned and deliberate to make the most effecient use of your time. You might succeed the first year...might take a year or two, but even with that little time spent you will be gaining new experiences and new opportunities for consistant success. No baiting, no shacks, shoot, sometimes you can even locate a nice open-grown cedar you can just climb up and sit on a board between two branches.

If you take a kid out....HUNT DIFFERENT DEER MOVEMENTS AND OR FUNNELS. This is a common mistake hunters make and basically they end up hunting the same deer. This is a big "no-no" and not only do you burn a spot out much faster, but you cut your odds in half before you ever step foot out of your truck.

Sometimes hunting isn't how much time we have...just how we use that time. In PA on the public lands I hunt we spend the Sunday before the Monday of opening day walking for a few hours to hand our climbers, and then hunt the next day. No one has ever told me where to sit, in fact I chose the areas I hunt because no-one else from camp hunted there and I like to be away from people. Success doesn't often hinge on hours of scouting...just making the most of the little time you do have and ever increasing your experience levels. Think of it, you can have a guy that has hunted out of the same blind for 25 years, baiting the same way, walking in the same way, etc. They might have even shot 20 bucks during that time but really the only differance in actual hunting experience that person has, from someone that has only hunted a year or two...is pulling the trigger. We have a lot of those kinds of hunters...hunters basically stuck in a rut that learn very little from year to year. By taking the time to scout a couple afternoons every year and learning from your experiences you can set yourself apart from the rest.

I know I could take you into 3-4 of "my stand-sites" I've used even going back to the early 90's around Engadine and through the center of the U.P. and you'd love it and probably hunt their for years with great success. I'd even like to take you out there just to sit there and see what I'm talking about. But, I'd ruin an opportunity for me to use those spots whenever I wanted...and all those spots were found during a Sat. afternoon, a Monday evening, whatever-during the summer/late summer...and there are a lot of those spots just waiting for you to find out there. I pick the best one based on sign, natural features, and the absolute lowest possibility of hunter interferance...and hunt one for rifle season. If I don't see other hunters and have fresh sign, I continue to hunt it.
 

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Jeff~ You make it sound so inviting and easy! I can see what you are saying and it does make sense to me; most of what you say in your posts make sense to me and I have learned a lot that I look forward to trying in the future. To be honest, I would like to take some walks into an area with snowshoes and check it out for next year's second week of rifle season. I will never give up my first few days at my camp near Grand Marais, but I think some more serious hunting needs to be done here at home. My first step is to get a topo map of the area? What exactly are funnel areas? I think I know them as areas that constrict deer movement between two habitat areas. I could take some walks into the area this summer too; I enjoy birding so I could combine that with checking out the area for deer sign. Don't be surprised if I pm you now and again for advice. ok?
Bottom line is that I would like to offer my 3 boys an alternative to blind/bait hunting, although we will still do this the first few days of season at camp.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Some of the best ways to find funnels are using www.terraserver.com. By looking at the photos you can begin to recognize hardwoods from conifers, and big pines from cedar. I like to find large marshes sandwiched between large land masses away from roads. Often there will be islands of cover that seperate the large land masses through the marshes. I find even if guys are hunting some of those areas, they tend to sit in the woods and really they can severely limit themselves and most of the time they are relying on bait to bring the deer to them. I like to instead sit out on the islands of cover that seperate the large land masses. The deer movement through marshes is typically limited to the cover/island areas and even though a buck might not walk directly through the islands, he will relate to them. You can sometimes look at 10 of those islands and only 2 will have sign..those are the ones I key in on. Usually those few islands with sign will have old sign as well...scars on trees and annual licking branches with a depression under them. Often those scrapes are not opened until just before rifle season...but even if they are not it's not too big of deal because you are hunting funnel areas that constrict deer movement during the rut and hunting pressure. I like the large open marsh areas because they can limit hunters because you may either have to wear knee or hip boots, and at the same time you can look at a 1000 acres or more and literally limit your scouting and hunting down to a few acres of islands....you don't have to bother with the huge open areas because there is little to focus on.

Anyways, these areas are fun to hunt. You take your kids or hunting partner and even though they may be a 1/2 mile away, they are sitting on another funnel that does not connect to yours and with 2-3 covering a large area in the best spots success is just about insured depending on weather, other hunters, etc.

I'm not saying the baiting and blinds are somehow unethical or wrong...in fact I had bait out on my property this year, it's just that baiting can create a serious rut that covers decades or more and sometimes isn't the most attractive to youth hunters who want action. That action can and should also include rubs, scrapes, and fresh deer sign as well, which is a result of a better buck age structure....which can be found when you hunt with a rifle in large areas that constrict deer movements down to a few acres of traditional movement patterns.
 

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I have looked at the area on Terraserver and had a hard time distinguishing the different habitat types. I think my best bet is to get out there in late winter when things are frozen and snowshoe in and look around. I really like the idea of getting in beyond where the majority of hunters go. I just don't know if there are some hidden two-tracks on the sides or on the other side that I don' know about. This will take more exploring on my part I guess. I will wear neoprene waders when I hunt it next fall; they are warm and allow you to be mobile. This whole scenario sounds exciting to me and I believe I will give it a go! Stay tuned Jeff; I am sure I will be picking your brain between now and next fall!
 

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BlockBUD said:
I have looked at the area on Terraserver and had a hard time distinguishing the different habitat types.
Keep looking at the area on Terraserver and do so with a decent county map as well. It takes time to be able to distinguish different trees. Look for edges of woodland and openings and also edges created by different vegetation.

Once you locate your area on Terraserver, use the zoom in and out feature to take a closer look. This makes for a great winter time activity.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Blockbud,

If you email me a terraserver page, or pm me the address you can give me your number and we can talk about the different habitat types and I can try and figure it out for you. Also, do what Whit said and get a county map. Those county atlas books from the gas stations are great and I've found they contain 2-tracks and grades on those that aren't even in operation anymore. Combine the county map with topos and ariels and you can really narrow down the roads in the area unless there has been recent cuttings.
 

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Jeff~ When I get around to doing this I will be in contact. Do you recommend topo maps from sporting good stores or the Forest Service?
 

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I broke this off the youth, first deer thread, there is good management information to be had here and I didn't want it to get 'lost' in the other subject -

Thanks -

ferg....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Blockbud,

I like the topos from the forestery...and the topos on the terraserver page are O.K., but do not show a lot. The forestery topos seem to show a few more 2-tracks or grades on them but since so much of the area is flat, I mainly concentrate on those county atlas books and the ariel photos. What's nice about the ariel photos is they can tell you alot on elevation and habitat types, as well as funnels and roads.

For example:

A dark black smear is usually cedar. A little more broken is usually spruce, maybe a little jackpine and tamerack thrown in with the occasional white pine. Clumpy dark is usually mature pine and that tells you it's either a ridge, or at least high enough and dry soil to grow mature pines. Hardwoods are usually easy to tell and that will again tell you that it's good elevation. Wide open areas/marshes usually mean higher water tables and tough travel, and mixed low areas with small cedars, junk black spruce and tag alder may be O.K. for travel...but tundra-type tough to walk in. Also, the ariels usually will show water fairly well, or beaver drainages/trails. You can see drainage/water areas adjacent to ridges and can plan ahead for them when scouting. Of course pine plantations are easy to see and that typically means more hunters and closer to a road. Basically when you are looking at the ariel in marsh areas you are just connecting the more solid black areas through the marsh...or areas of hardwoods which if the photos are in early May, you can typically tell the hardwoods because of all the straight trunks and no leaves. When you get out and actually see some of this stuff the ariel can almost be a type of topo map for you as well. It allows you to see the countours of ridges as well.

Another thing that shows up incredibly well are beaver dams. Beaver dams ARE VERY good to relate to! Cross the first dam, the tougher the better, and you eliminate most of the hunters. Cross a 2nd dam and typically you'll have the place to yourself. Cross these dams and have a large area of high water blocking others from approaching the opposite way...and that's what you want to look for! If these features allow you to come in from the east..going into the predominantly westerly winds during hunting season while most of your potential deer activity is the further west you go and you've got the perfect set-up and I know of set-ups like this, and guys that have hunted them for 40 years...and literally they will go a decade without seeing another hunter and it's only gotten better, as far as hunter contact, as the reliance of baiting has gotten stronger.

Anyways, once you stare at this stuff for a while and learn to like it....you are officially a couch-scouting idiot! :) In the past I've spent a lot of time with on the ground scouting before really being able to fully use the ariels to the best of my advantage. But now, I spend a whole lot less time on the ground...and a lot more staring at maps at home planning tree-stand sites. Then, when you are in the woods your 1-2 hour walks become more of a mission to search very specific features...instead of an aimless walk. When you go to specific scouting funnels or points, and don't waste much time in between unless something "jumps out at you", you learn the woods incredibly fast and the area becomes much, much smaller. For you, a 1/2 hour quick and direct walk to your favorite stand site is a 90 minute wander for someone else. The further you go, the more someone else has to be going precisely to the same point to get their anywhere near in the same time you did. I took a very close friend into a secret spot this year and we talked and took our time on the way in because I was trying to show him the way...a left turn at a grade here, a right turn around the base of a ridge here, a left between the mature pines here...pretty non-denfinitive unless you really know the way. We took about 90 minutes getting to the back of the spot going in. When we were done in the back I told him we'd be back at the car in 25 minutes...he said, "No-Way!". And he was right...we were back in 20. The point is, when you have a direct route, and know the area, 20 minutes for you, and 20 minutes for someone else might be the differance of a mile, and a 1/4 mile.

Anyways, you are in a great spot to apply some of this stuff and I hope you do, because it will probably change the way you hunt, the way you bring up your kids to hunt, for the rest of your life.
 

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its nice to see people still hunt this way, its the best way to go and alot more fun. But instead of terraserver go to google.com and download Google Earth. It is in color and you can pick out tree species, water, roads, etc. much easier. And if you are lucky your area will be in one of thoses boxes that are even more clearer then the rest.
 

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More great info. Jeff...can't thank you enough. Is it possible to print individual posts from this site??


I have a question concerning wind direction and stand placement. I should have a couple different stands to hunt different winds, right? How close to one another should they be? Should I be able to hunt from my stand in a west wind one day, and simply be able to turn myself to face a south wind the next day from the same stand? Or should I have separate stands in the same "general" area for different winds? How about cross winds? Mostly I need to have a setup behind me where a deer wouldn't typically travel, right? I hope I'm not being a nuisance to you, but you're like a hunting textbook!
If a wind is wrong for all my stands in an area, should I just hunt somewhere else that day?
 

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Bulletproof said:
Mapcard.com as well, its a lot like terra server but has better aerials imo. Its a 10 a year charge but its a pretty good tool.
To date, I haven't found any aerials on any of these "alternative" sites that Terraserver doesn't also have. I just renewed my one year subscription to Terraserver - studying aerials is really an addictive habit. I wish somebody would update what's available for Hillsdale County - I have yet to find any sites that offer anything other than highly dated aerials for Hillsdale County.
 

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Merry Christmas to all. I have to say that this is the most interesting and informative threads I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Keep it up guys. Excellent Thread!!.......Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #17
BlockBud,

There are few different approaches you can take depending on the set.

First, if you are watching a connection of two large land masses, say, a crossing about a 100 yards out or more with the rifle, with your downwind blocked behind you, than it may be possible to have a stand on the opposite side as well, as long as it offers good access...I don't really like to cross where I expect the deer to travel but it's not impossible if you have to. Basically, if you are watching a north/south travel connection or funnel, you have one stand on the west, one on the east for various winds. You might be 100 yards out on one side...150 yards on the other but you are hunting the same travel route.

Another thing you can do is to hunt the same connection, but one further up the line and on the opposite side. Basically the same as the first set-up of east and west or north and south stand sites, but sometimes due to access and departure, even time of day or where you feel the deer will be traveling it's better to hit that funnel area in different locations.

Often, you aren't covering the points of two land masses that face each other, but instead a series of small islands or types of small cover that offer the best and most secure travel routes between large land masses that may be a 1/2 mile a part..to even 2 miles or more.

Another thing is to actually narrow down your search to a couple of your favorite spots, and have one stand set in each for different winds. So, if the wind blows one way, you hunt one area...if it blows the other, you hunt the other area. I personally like to have several areas like this picked out and when you combine those areas with some non-invasive in season scouting tactics you can narrow your 5-6 potential areas down to your two favorite that have the most sign, and then hopefully those will offer you opportunity to hunt them with different winds, or at least give you option of moving a stand to do so.

Hope it helps though, but again...I LOVE HUNTING THIS WAY, and if you can get some experience doing this even if a lot of it is on your couch looking at maps and photos...I think you will really have a great time at it and have the opportunity for consistant success.

Merry Christmas and I've enjoyed the discussion with you!

Jeff
 

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Merry Christmas to you and your family, Jeff! Thanks so much for the valuable information. I really do hope to put it to use next hunting season, even if it is only for a few days of hunting down here. I will be in touch with you in the future if that's ok with you.

Merry Christmas to all on this board!! Talk to you all next year!:D
 
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