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Author Topic: Looking for blacktail tips: Antler Rubs, private forestland, logging, clear cuts  (Read 671 times)

Offline jaybirding

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Hi everyone,

New to the hunting world and I have gotten permission to hunt private timberlands in 654 near the Elbe State Forest. I was out there opening weekend and did not see a single deer. I have seen plenty of sign of both Elk and Deer, including prints, nipped trees, scat, and antler rubs. I have been reading up on blacktails on this forum and I'm curious if there are tactics that people use for hunting on timber lands. Specifically, some of my questions:

Do most of you primarily stick to still hunting the edges of clear cuts? What is your primary strategy, sit and wait, or cover lots of territory?

There are active logging operations on the property. Do you find that logging operations impact deer behavior in adjacent plantations?

Antler rubs: I've seen a number of antler rubs - some of which have completely stripped Douglas Fir trees from knee height all the way up to nearly head height. Are these deer rubs? I've read that higher rubs may be elk. Additionally, without a tree stand, what's the best way to set up near antler rubs? I have seen smaller rubs on the property that are adjacent to a small stand of Alders, but there are no clearcuts nearby. Should I be focusing my efforts near clear cuts or would positioning myself in a densely forested area near rubs and alders be a good choice?

All this to say: if anyone would be willing to provide insight into tactics for timberlands hunting that would be appreciated!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 01:21:14 PM by jaybirding »

Offline Wolfdog2314

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Just because u donít see them, donít mean they arenít there. Iíve hunted 4 solid days so far in an area I get a mature blacktail just about every year, and I havenít seen a single deer yet. Itís a lot of repod, thick forest type stuff. I reccomend walking extremely slow and glassing around every corner. Watching areas you can see a ways. New fresh rubs should be popping up any day now. Focus your time the last week of the season if you think u may get burnt out or need to choose your time wisely. The hunting will only get better as the days go by here.

As for me i pack in a folding chair and sit on a long straight stretch of old renaturalized dead end road that goes thru repod, Iíve spent time limboing it up to where I can see 300 yards. Iíll spend around half the day here and sit until last light. When bucks start cruising they will just cross it back n forth. When Iím not just sitting, Iíll spend my time walking very very slowly. Clear cuts can be good too. Christmasís tree age with plenty of cover and feed. I could sit on those all day too. Just depends on the hunter pressure on the given clear cut.

Hope some of this helps. Has been working for me!

Offline Humptulips

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Those taller rubs especially so in the timber are more then likely elk. Horning is nice to see but I never hunt rubs. Hunt the area as you know there is a buck about but not specifically the rubs.
Deer get used to logging operations. I have never seen it bother them much. I would not do anything different because of it.
I always hunt the clearcuts, rarely the timber anymore.
If there are deer around, persistence will pay off. Try not to get discouraged when you go days without seeing anything. It happens to everybody.
Bruce Vandervort

Offline jaybirding

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Thank you Wolfdog and Humptulips! This is extremely helpful. I'm quickly learning that persistence is key and I'm a pretty stubborn person so I'll definitely keep at it.

Thanks for the tip on the Elk rubs, that was my impression when I saw them. I'm glad you don't think there'll be any issues with the logging operations, that was what I was hoping and have heard stories of deer being quite curious around active operations.

I'll be going out again likely the last week of October and, if I don't get a buck then, again for the late season. Looking forward to seeing how things change as the rut gets going.

Here's a follow up: I have the option of 12 gauge shotgun with rifled slugs or a .270. I would imagine if I'm doing more clearcuts I'll want to have the .270, but curious if anyone has experience when still hunting in thicker timber stands using a shotgun - or it the rifle is still a better option since you won't have to worry as much about closing the distance.

Additionally, when you say you're hunting clear cuts, are you hunting in a tree stand? Just curious. I probably won't purchase a tree stand until next season. Maybe it's my impatience (or too much grouse hunting), but I do like the idea of still hunting and covering more ground. Maybe once I get more familiar with the property I can take advantage of ambush/stand hunting.

Thanks again for reaching out - this is my first post and I appreciate the encouraging remarks.


Offline Humptulips

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Never used a shotgun so can't help there. I pretty much always still hunt. Never used a stand.
Bruce Vandervort

Offline Wolfdog2314

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Use what youíre most proficient with. Iíd say the 270. After u get some bucks under your belt try a different weapon.

As far as clear cuts, I find a nice stump, or pack a chair, and just sit where I have the biggest vantage point. Sitting for long as possible is all about comfort. Bring a pad or nice chair. Enough clothing, puffy jacket, snacks. I play cribbage on my phone a bit. Sure I look down and it passes the time, but it keeps me there hours upon hours longer. Take a nap even. If youíre too bored or frustrated you end up back at camp or home.

Offline fishnfur

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A rifled shotgun with good slugs would be a great gun to carry when you expect to see them up close.  If you think you may have to shoot more than 50 yards, then rifled slugs are money well spent.  The .270 is a great gun for deer at a distance, but finding a good shot on vitals in your scope at 20 yards takes more time to find than you would like when faced with  a deer in close proximity.  It's not impossible at all, but iron sights for close in hunting makes a lot of sense.  Sometimes I carry two or three different guns/rifles in my truck when I go out.  It's important that you can hide the unused guns from view when you leave your rig and hit the woods. 

Reprod - I think he said he takes a chair with him and sits till something moves.  Normally, that's not my style.  I like sitting reclined up on a hill on the sides of a cut, directly in front of a X-mas tree sized fir, or a bit bigger with something smaller in front of me that I can see over or around (hopefully in a spot well above the reprod so I can see down between the trees) which keeps me pretty well hidden from animals in the cut.  My back was hurting worse than normal today.   After an hour of sitting/lounging on the ground this morning, I got my little tripod folding chair out of my rig and sat on that above the tree I had been sitting in front of previously.  I may do a lot more of that in the future. 

You don't need to go too far into the reprod unless you're still hunting bigger stuff.  Finding a spot where you can see a long ways and is an easily accessed (but not too busy with other hunters coming and going) edge/landing will give you a good opportunity to see animals if you stay patient. Going farther out on gated roads and finding a spot like this is preferable.  The deer will be less pressured. Once you develop some confidence in the area you're hunting and you've seen some deer there, it is becomes easier to do a five hour sit glassing reprod.  You should be using binoculars around 80 - 90 % of the time as you search for anything that might be part of a deer that you can't see in entirety. 

Rubs:  in general, when hunting in an area with both elk and deer, expect that deer rubs will occur on the tree from the waist down.  Often at knee - crotch level.  Elk rubs often go up a tree to neck high or higher where a 36 - 40 inch tall deer couldn't reach without standing on it's back legs.  Animal hair can often be found in fresh rubs that immediately identify the animal  -  look close, you'll see them.  Fresh rubs to me means stop and hunt.  Typically, I hide and rattle sometime during my sit near fresh rubs, especially if there is reprod close by.  Grunting might be a good idea too.  If it is a really fresh rub, like one done over night or that morning, the buck is likely very close by.  If hunting on the side of a hill, finding a spot above or to the side of the area of interest (rub) should have your scent going uphill during daylight hours, once the thermals start moving uphill.  Early AM or towards last light, thermals will be going downhill and will carry your scent in that direction. Position yourself accordingly.  You don't want to spend a day over rubs, that's for sure, but hanging a trail cam in the area in the early season might give you a good idea of how many animals are living in the area close to old rubs. Spending 30 - 60 minutes or more still hunting an area of old rubs might produce a buck, even without trailcam knowledge. Seems like better odds than still hunting an area without old rubs.

Old rubs to me tells me that the area is a spot that bucks have used or claimed as territory in the past.  If you have any experience in trout fishing in streams, you know that there are certain spots that the biggest trout prefer because it gives them cover and access to good food while expending minimal energy in the current.  When the big fish in that spot gets caught, the next biggest fish in the area will take it over as it's own.  Bucks are pretty much the same. They have a hierarchy that gives the dominant buck the best bedding and general territory areas.  Subordinate bucks take what's left over. If you're finding a lot of older rubs in an area, it tells you that at least one (or more) bucks have found that spot to be good territory in the past.     

I have not seen a single deer since August.  I was out several days for muzzy elk, 5 days of DNR firewood collection, and two mornings deer hunting in the past couple weeks.  Nothing!  No worries though.  This is a warm-up for the good days in late October.  Did more star watching than deer watching today.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 08:01:36 PM by fishnfur »
ďWhen I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.Ē  - Will Rogers

Offline fishnfur

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Use what youíre most proficient with. Iíd say the 270. After u get some bucks under your belt try a different weapon.

As far as clear cuts, I find a nice stump, or pack a chair, and just sit where I have the biggest vantage point. Sitting for long as possible is all about comfort. Bring a pad or nice chair. Enough clothing, puffy jacket, snacks. I play cribbage on my phone a bit. Sure I look down and it passes the time, but it keeps me there hours upon hours longer. Take a nap even. If youíre too bored or frustrated you end up back at camp or home.

Common sentiment from hunters who've been around the block.  Relax and enjoy your time in the outdoors.  Suffering gets old quickly.
ďWhen I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.Ē  - Will Rogers

Offline Turner89

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If I were you I'd hunt the clearcuts. Glass every inch of it real slow. Look at every stump and the ground around each stump. Its easy to glass to quickly and look right past a deer.  Really concentrate on every detail and eventually a deer will appear. If its doe  I just watch her and she will usually point you towards another deer.
Patients is the key. I've gone days without seeing a buck, but if I can find a doe and have something to look at im feeling OK.  If I have a doe out in the clearcut and she doesn't know I'm there I know I've made it in there without them knowing it. This means no one else has been there before you and blew all the deer out.  If I have deer in front of me I won't leave until dark.
 Good luck
" if your a 20 year old and not a liberal, you don't have a heart. If your a 40 year old and not a conservative,  you don't have a brain"

Offline fishnfur

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 :yeah:  I think this technique is the most productive for new hunters (and old like me).  It can be painfully boring when you're not seeing deer, but if the unit has not had a lot of pressure, it is usually just a matter of time till a deer hiding out there stands up and shows itself. 
ďWhen I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.Ē  - Will Rogers

 


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