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Need help with a game plan

coosa1

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Aug 6, 2019
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85
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AL
I will be hunting this block of limited access public land (special draw permit) in the end of January. I will be inside the red and will have the whole area to myself for the weekend. This will be prime time middle of the rut for this particular area. I have hunted this block once before so I know the general layout but I need help figuring out how to get on top of these big bucks. The last time I was down there I saw plenty but they were tough to pin down plus I was hunting from a climber so my tree choice was much more limited than it is now. the main bulk of the tract is young planted pines/sage/briars. Some of the pines are big enough to get in with my saddle. The main hardwood bottom down the middle is thick as all get out and pretty much impossible to get into or have a shot. Private land across the dirt road to the south has food plots and feeders.

Where would you expect to find a big rutting buck in this section based on topo and aerial images?

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coosa1

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Aug 6, 2019
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AL
Forgot to mention, this will be an archery only hunt so pinpoint stand location is going to be key.
 

CptFrank

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May 22, 2019
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Edited after reading the second half of your post**

Even if its too thick to shoot into i would try to be as close as i could to the hardwood bottom cause thats where the bigger deer will be cruising. If you cant shoot in the bottom try setting up on the downwind side of the funnel (that i marked red) connecting the fingers (blue) and calling out a deer if you see one. If you look up the southern outdoorsman podcast they have a few episodes with a man named Adrian Farley who talks about blind calling bucks out of thickets you couldnt walk into.
 

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coosa1

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Aug 6, 2019
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AL
That's kind of what I was thinking. The other time that I hunted this area I could hear bucks grunting and chasing down in that thick bottom and the few that I got to actually lay eyes on were randomly cruising through the sage/pines. What I think I may plan on doing is easing in along that bottom/sage transition and looking for hot spots of sign. Gonna have to be aggressive with them since I will only have three total days to hunt it.
 

DaveT1963

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Dec 2, 2014
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N. TX
This late in the season i would suspect most mature bucks will be in the nasty stuff you can find or an overlooked spot. Without knowing how much and where it gets pressured, my advise would be to go to most remote or thick stuff you can find.
 

CptFrank

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May 22, 2019
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If you have 3 days all to yourself i would try to "scout" day 1 by either doing a few observation sits or still hunting the edge of that thick stuff until i found the activity/sign i was looking for. Day 2 i would set up on the edge and by day three you have nothing to lose if you jump right into the middle of it all. It might be a good opportunity to get creative as well. Try some calling especially if the deer are out of range or try sneaking in and hunting from the ground. No reason to worry about ruining the spot if you wont be back in there after three days.
 

gcr0003

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Nov 1, 2018
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Not Not Public Land, Alabama
This late in the season i would suspect most mature bucks will be in the nasty stuff you can find or an overlooked spot. Without knowing how much and where it gets pressured, my advise would be to go to most remote or thick stuff you can find.
This will be prime time middle of the rut for this particular area.

South Alabama late season is more than likely nothing like your late season. As he mentioned, this area will likely be rutting in January.
I wouldn't argue that mature bucks will likely always be in thick stuff, but for the rut I'd figure they'd be cruising like was mentioned by CptFrank ealier.

This is a Special Opportunity Area Hunt put on by the ALDCNR and is one section of maybe 15 to 20. Each section will get hunted about every other weekend by 1 or 2 folks. I am not sure about the area Coosa got chose for, but most are broken out into Archery and Gun Hunts. As he stated, he was selected for the archery hunt. This area is closed to the public outside of the SOA hunts so my guess is that is far less pressured than you typical public land.
 

gcr0003

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Nov 1, 2018
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Not Not Public Land, Alabama
If you have 3 days all to yourself i would try to "scout" day 1 by either doing a few observation sits or still hunting the edge of that thick stuff until i found the activity/sign i was looking for. Day 2 i would set up on the edge and by day three you have nothing to lose if you jump right into the middle of it all. It might be a good opportunity to get creative as well. Try some calling especially if the deer are out of range or try sneaking in and hunting from the ground. No reason to worry about ruining the spot if you wont be back in there after three days.
@coosa1 I read somewhere that we weren't allowed to scout during hunt days? Can you confirm? Would you think that they would try and enforce that? I missed the scout days so I'm SOL if they don't allow me to scout.
 

coosa1

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Aug 6, 2019
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AL
@coosa1 I read somewhere that we weren't allowed to scout during hunt days? Can you confirm? Would you think that they would try and enforce that? I missed the scout days so I'm SOL if they don't allow me to scout.
The only rule that I have heard that is close to that is that you can only travel to and from your section between the hours of 10am and 2pm. But that is only to keep you from coming through someone elses section during prime hunting time. I have not heard anyone say that we couldn't walk around and scout within our section during the hunt. The last time I was down there I got down and scouted/moved stand locations a good bit.
 

DaveT1963

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Dec 2, 2014
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N. TX
I understand it is peak of rut for that area. When did season start and how pressured is it? Just because it is peak of rut does not mean that a lot fo intrusion hasn't driven the deer to thick cover. If your season just started and with little pressure look in traditional rutting places. But if you season started in early fall and this place has been hunted - I will still say you would be best to look for thick nasty stuff and overlooked areas over traditional bedding areas. Just MO
 

kyler1945

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Dec 4, 2016
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Baton Rouge, La.
I’d be hard pressed to get in a tree if I had that whole block to myself for three days. I’d walk the whole thing, and only get in a tree if the sign screamed that a specific spot assured really high odds of success.

Especially if I were gun hunting, and still probably if I was bow hunting.

There’s not much advantage to sitting in a tree if the deer aren’t positively going to pass in range of it during daylight hours.

Spend most of your allotted time walking, and set up only if it’s really fresh sign. By fresh I mean you see deer in a spot.
 

coosa1

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Aug 6, 2019
Messages
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Location
AL
I understand it is peak of rut for that area. When did season start and how pressured is it? Just because it is peak of rut does not mean that a lot fo intrusion hasn't driven the deer to thick cover. If your season just started and with little pressure look in traditional rutting places. But if you season started in early fall and this place has been hunted - I will still say you would be best to look for thick nasty stuff and overlooked areas over traditional bedding areas. Just MO
Since this is a special draw area on a wildlife sanctuary it will only get hunted a total of 8 weekends throughout the whole season (mid Oct - mid Feb) and the way they set up their sections they try to alternate them so my section may only get hunted three or four times before I get there. Now with that being said, the land bordering it to the south and east is private land and lord only knows how often it gets hunted.
 
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