Reading a map - where to hunt?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by gut_pile, Sep 14, 2021 at 1:43 PM.

  1. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    Admittedly, I am not very good at reading topo and terrain maps and putting the pieces together of where to hunt. I understand how to read them, but have a hard time picking out "the spot" unless they are super obvious.

    For those that hunt hilly terrain, and read maps often, where are your starting points when looking at this map?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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  3. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    One of the most obvious places for a mature buck to bed to me is the military crest of a point. Since the wind changes, the spot can change. Ideally, it would be at the break where the deer is staring downhill with his eyes and watching his backside with his nose. Some of those points that drop off to the east on a day with wind from the west are likely to have deer bedding there.

    Next find the eating spot, which can also change. It could be forbs one week, crops the next week, acorns thereafter and maybe even your neighbor's corn pile. Set up between bedding and feeding on travel lanes at a place where the wind is in your favor to hunt.

    Of course, the real world is more difficult than it is on paper - otherwise we would all be successful all the time.

    Then the rut changes everything. Secure travel areas where a lot of ground can be covered without too much exposure becomes important to bucks. Saddles on ridges are good places all the time but especially then.
     
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  4. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    East to West ridges especially for bucks in rut. Military crest as said and upper benches.
    Saddles. Especially those that connect major drainages typically at head of hollow, ravine, holler, crick, whatever you might call them.
    Side hill points especially if they can bed with back to wind overlooking downslope.
    Main ridge intersections especially where 3 or more interconnect.
    Down wind of feeding areas
    Oak flats
    Places you don't hunt, they know
    And just general observation and boots on ground
    Use a topo map rather than what you posted. Also areal photos from google maps to recognize different trees and fields
    Now find a pinch point of a major saddle with 3 connecting ridges with a main ridge running east west with steep slope on at least one side with intersection of different flora, ie, hardwood/conifer/field/ect. and you can bet your boots you will see decent bucks.
     
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  5. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    Topo w aerial. Boots on the ground will obviously be the most telling. Judging from my knowledge of topo reading, I don't see a ton of obvious saddles.

    topo.jpg
     
  6. ng270

    ng270 Active Member

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    Live in PA, Farm in NE KY
    22928_f8d089bd74221ba3bc92170e8fc60a99.jpg
    They don't have to be really obvious to impact deer travel. I marked three but there are several more.
     
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  7. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Well-Known Member

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    There are also multiple benches( a relatively flat area on a hillside)

    Check Mapping Trophy Bucks " by Brad Herndon

    bill
     
  8. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Hardiness Zone:
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    Do a boots on the ground, looking for sign at all the spots mentioned above. The best deer sign on a property is usually along the edge of the thickest cover on the property. Another almost guaranteed place that a rutting buck will travel that i look for is across the head of a hollow where ridges intersect at a right angle, often late morning or late afternoon. To scent check around a big ravine,, draw,, or hollow, a buck will often travel along the military crest of the ridge until they reach the upper end of the hollow, then they will drop down into the hollow slightly to reach the military crest on the other side. You can often find a deer trail transverseing across the head of a hollow, confirming this travel pattern. Set up on the downwind side of the hollow above the crossing trail, making sure to avoid being skylined.
     
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  9. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    The maps tell us the lay of the land...but the cover density and cover types play a big role as well. The long points and benches will be potential places of interest....but you start looking for old rubs and scrapes and looking for the soft edges and the like....

    You can also use areas of steep grades and the like as pinch points....as the deer will prefer to go around the head of a steep ravine vs dealing with the steep grade.

    The orange shows where your contours for possible benches and long points where der may use just because the terrain isn't as steep. The purple lines show where it's steep and as such the deer will prefer to move around the head of those and can create pinch points. Where you find it easiest to walk...so do the deer.
    upload_2021-9-14_21-21-1.png
     
  10. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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  11. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    How many acres are we looking at?

    G
     
  12. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    300
     
  13. ng270

    ng270 Active Member

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    Live in PA, Farm in NE KY
    So I am probably too bored (and hopefully I don't insult your intelligence) but...

    If I were starting from scratch, going into new territory, having seen only available imagery and contours, my starting assumptions would be that potential night time food sources are green fields off property to NW (assuming N is up in the pic), just south of property in bottoms, east of property in bottoms, and the four green outlines you put on the picture. No idea where the "in forest" feeding areas are without some knowledge of tree species or understory density so that intel has to be gained "on the ground".

    Orange ovals are where I'd look first for terrain based bedding. Cover, etc, plays a big part in whether they are actually there.

    Whether the road running north to south along the ridge top/across the center of the property is public is a big factor, but I'll assume it's limited to you and possibly your neighbors.

    I usually look at rut travel routes first, because they are often the longest predictable lines of buck travel for me. Bucks are generally going to skirt the downwind side of as many places where they expect to find does as they can. Where they can they will combine that with following a break in the terrain (the military crest everyone talks about, the point of a finger ridge, upper end of a steep ravine, etc). My common prevailing winds are south and west. Dark red freehand lines are a couple of routes I'd predict morning buck travel on a west wind in the rut. Yellow are routes for a south wind but otherwise same scenario. Then I go back and fill in the direct bed-to-feed routes (green).

    If scouting on the ground bears out my assumptions, potential ambush points that take advantage of as many potential routes as possible start to become obvious on my scribblish.

    On a west or southwest wind, location 1 looks great, provided I can access it unobtrusively.

    Locations 2 and 3 should be low impact access, but they assume that the road is basically private. If it's not, they are plenty close to the road for my taste.

    4 could be pretty good too, but is really in the middle of places deer have potential to be so most wind directions pose some risk of alerting deer.

    With all that said, given that this is 300 acres, you can surely fine tune those buck travel route guesstimates as you zoom in and can (potentially) see variation in cover types better.

    And all of the above might only be worth what you paid for it. :) Thanks for letting me play.
    22928_f8d089bd74221ba3bc92170e8fc60a99.jpg
     
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  14. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    It would be kind of unfortunate to have a public road running through your hunting spot?

    G
     
  15. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    It's not a public road.

    The only access to the property is gated access adjacent to the pond to the south where the public dirt road dead ends.
     
  16. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    That's good, I like that ridge, setting up high to start is easiest way to try to control stink. Are the green spots food plots? Is this conifer or a deciduous woods?

    G
     
  17. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    Green are current plots. Most of the property is big mature hardwoods. Going to thin and clear cut some areas after deer season.
     

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