Mapping Whitetails with The Hunting Public: Episode 4

August 23, 2018 | Tips & Tricks

Finding bedding areas and stand locations.

The Hunting Public guys are adding more pieces to the whitetail puzzle. Armed with the information from their boots on the ground scouting trip, they’re back at the office further E-Scouting the promising looking access points they found. Learn more as they use the Hunt App to find potential bedding sites and stand placement areas.

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Video Transcription:

Good morning everybody, welcome back to the fourth episode of our Mapping Whitetail series that we’re doing in partnership with onX. On today’s episode we’re going to talk about mapping bedding areas and identifying potential stand locations from the map.

If you watched episode three, we went out to these public areas and we were scouting access, trying to predict where the hunting pressure is gonna occur this fall. We marked a bunch of points on the map. Now we’re coming back in here to the office and trying to figure out where the best bedding locations are gonna be. So, I’m gonna jump right into it here. Based off what we found in the last video, we concentrated on this one area that I’ve got marked here in the center of the screen. We drove all the way around this place scouting the access routes, and by doing that, we eliminated most of this area for likely hunting locations.

As you can see right here in the center of the map, I’ve basically excluded most of this area. It’s about 500 acres in total, this middle chunk here, and I’ve excluded 450 acres of it. Now that I’ve done that, we’re gonna go down here and we’re gonna concentrate on this one little sliver that is kind of landlocked by the private land and we touched on this a bit in the last video, but I’m gonna get into more detail right now. As you can see, when you get clear down here at the end of it, this is probably one of the more difficult pieces to access on this public area. You can start to see the habitat change a little bit.

I’m gonna kick it over to the satellite layer here. You can see, when looking real close, even over here on the private land that there is some mixed type of timber. It looks like maybe some cedars, some grass and stuff that is mixed in with the hardwood timber. And if you kick on the hybrid layer, you can tell that it’s on the side of a ridge funneling down towards that bottom.

There’s a little field in the bottom there, I’m not sure if that’s planted or if it’s just grass and CRP, but there’s lots of diverse cover right here in this area, and like we mentioned, it’s a very hard spot to access on this piece. Does will bed anywhere in here. They may bed up on top of the ridge, family groups of does, I’m kind of excluding them for the purpose of this exercise. Bucks will bed in very specific locations, because they survive by using their senses to their advantage. They gotta be in a place where they can smell what’s behind them, where they can see what’s out in front of them, or they can hear danger coming. With that said, in hillier terrain like this, they tend to bed off of these points and on the sides of these ridges. And they’ll put themselves in a spot where they’ve got cover to back, thick cover behind them, and it’s open out in front. That’s why I’ve put this pin right here, is because it’s located right at the edge of that little band of thick cover, and that deer’s gonna be watching to the south towards that open field with the wind blowing over top of the ridge, and likely there’s gonna be does bedded, young bucks bedded up closer towards the top of the ridge. But the best buck bedding locations are probably gonna be located around this elevation line.

Now, this is not an exact science. It could be close to this spot. Many times we don’t get it exactly right from a mapping standpoint, we’ll have to go in there boots on the ground and confirm, but judging by our access and our hunting pressure scouting that we did last time, this looks like the area that’s getting the least amount of attention. So, we’re gonna mark it on the map. I’ll just show it to you real quick from a bigger picture here. You can see this 500 acre chunk that we’ve got in the middle here and there’s one spot that we’re gonna pay attention to, and it’s that back ridge.

We’re gonna stick with the same piece here and I’m gonna show you a different bedding example for a buck. If you go over here to the east side, and this is a spot that we drove around, but we didn’t walk into it at all. There is some pretty steep terrain, as you can tell from the topo lines. I’ll kick my topo layer on so that you can see it a little bit better. You can tell we’ve got some hills right in here. And the road system is located down here in the bottom along the north end. That’s where the access is gonna come from. So, people are gonna have to walk up those hills, and to get to the back corner of this, I’ll actually measure it out. It looks like it’s gonna be about 9/10ths of a mile to get from the road all the way up to what I would call the peak of this ridge where all these little secondary points and stuff come together. And that walk is gonna be uphill the entire way, it’s gonna deter a lot of people from going in there, but what we’re doing in this type of situation, in hillier timber, we’re looking more at the topo lines on the map.

If you zoom in right here next to my line, that’s about 9/10ths of a mile to get to that point, and there is an obvious ditch that goes off of the back corner right here. You can see it. Kick it over to the topo layer so you can see a little bit better. Got a couple ponds right here at the head of that ditch where it’s dropping into the bottom, and this is right on the edge of the public and private fence at the back of that property. Gonna be very hard to access and I’ll go ahead and drop a way point right here so I don’t forget it. One reason I picked this spot is because it sets up well for prevailing wind bedding. Most of the time in our area, we’re getting westerly type winds, northwest winds for a cold front, for example. And in hilly terrain like this, bucks will bed around these elevation lines that I’m following with my cursor right here, and they’ll choose this spot with wind blowing over the top.

As you can see, my red line here, my access line, there’s actually a trail that goes up across the tops of those ridges. That’s where any people are gonna be coming from to get back in here to this back corner. And if that buck is bedded where my pin is, with that northwest wind or a westerly wind coming off the top of those ridges, he’s gonna be able to smell any danger coming from the access point. They put themselves in situations like this in hillier terrain so they can watch down below them, they can smell what’s behind them, and it also offers a perfect escape route. They can bound off into that bottom, be over on private land, probably into some security cover in just a matter of seconds if they have danger coming in from behind them. If you look back at the satellite view right here, you can see that there’s kind of some broken timber right here around the top of this ridge, and I would anticipate that to thicken up a little bit where the sunlight is getting to the ground right there. Our pin is just right on the backside of that sort of broken habitat. Show you what it looks like from the hybrid layer.

Those bucks are gonna be bedded down in that ditch or on the edge of that ridge, with any type of westerly wind they can bound off over here onto the private land to the east. So, I’m gonna mark that spot as a potential location to look at to scout. Now we’re gonna jump over here to the lake, and I’m a little bit more excited about this place just because access is more challenging. To get to a lot of these areas on this lake, like we saw in the last video, you’ve got to use a kayak and odds are there’s very few people that are doing that.

Originally when we were scouting form the map, you can see the initial spots that we excluded. We thought this bridge right here was actually a bridge. When we got there, we realized it was basically just a rock levy that runs through and bisects this lake. There’s no real place for a boat ramp. There’s a symbol right there that says, “Boat ramp”, but there’s not really a boat ramp launch there, at least from what we saw. So, that’s a great sign for us. That means you can’t get a fairly decent size boat with a prop in this northern half of the lake. You’d have to go down here to the end of the road where we were parked and put in a kayak to get to a lot of this really good marshy bedding cover on the north end here. Judging by what we saw from the road, this looks like some fairly heavy marsh cover right here at the north end of this lake. You can kind of see here on the map, that looks like a bunch of willows, a swamp, if you will, that pours down into the lake.

Basically, just tons of different thick habitat coming together in one of the most hard to access areas of this piece of public land. I don’t know exactly where they’re gonna be bedding here, but when we scout it, we’ll come in and we’ll follow this bottom transition right here where this hill sort of peters out in to the marsh. We will follow that transition, scouting for trails that go out into this marshy vegetation. Then we’ll take those trails in there and we’ll start looking for bedding. I’m just gonna drop a pin there that’s telling us we need to go and scout that. If you look over here to the east, there’s a small draw of what looks like hardwood timber running out of the marsh and up here onto the hill on a private land. And this private land over here looks like it’s fairly thick. Maybe some CRP cover. Lots of little seeders, fence rows, all kinds of thick stuff that bucks love, and it butts right up against this little finger of trees that leads out of that marsh. I would anticipate there being some pretty good travel routes right there for bucks to get from the marsh bedding area to the private laying over here onto the CRP cover. And it’s possibly a spot that’s getting overlooked, ‘cause it’s just a little patch of trees right there, but if you really look at the details here, you’ve got what looks like a hay field that butts up to it on the south side. You have some topography, some terrain. So, there’s gonna be a ditch with water flowing in to the marsh right there. You got hay fields on the north side. You got some thicker cover on the north side of that ditch. Somewhere, the deer travel is gonna be funneled in that area. I don’t know if it’s gonna be a good spot to hunt necessarily, but it probably would be a good one to at least put a trail camera and definitely scout.

So, we’re gonna mark that as well. On a quick side note, we tend to find the best mature buck bedding in close proximity to water. A while ago, you saw when we were looking at the hills to the west over here on this other piece, that I picked a spot off the side of that hill right next to a pond. We tend to do that often, and right here, you’ve got these little tributary creeks that lead into this lake, and they form all these little curves, these ox bows and stuff, bucks will bed right on the tips of those ox bows. I’ll just drop a point to show you my example here. Right there’s one, right there’s one.

Any type of flat marshy river bottom type terrain, they’re gonna bed in spots like that where they have wind coming in from the land side and they can escape down through the water. They’ll either just bound off down in there and jump across the water. In some cases, they’ll even swim across it to get to the other side. But when you think about it, it’s a perfect spot for him to bed, because nothing can get to him right there. A coyote or a bobcat isn’t likely gonna swim that river, and he can lay there with the wind coming in from the land side, so if a predator comes in from that direction, he’s gonna smell them long before they even get to him. That goes back to my original point on how bucks bed in different types of terrain. They’re always gonna put themselves in a spot where they have a scent, sight, or sound advantage.

Like I mentioned with the last piece, when you zoom out and you get to looking at this big picture, you’re skipping over a lot of land. You’re eliminating 80% of this area and just going to a very specific spot to look for bedding in stand locations. And when we find these stand locations, you’ll see it in the next video, we’re gonna find the bedding and then we’re gonna take the exit trails out of the bedding and start trying to pick trees that are very close if not in the bedding area. Now I’m gonna skip down here to the south, and this is the spot that we’re most excited about, I would say. Just from our access scouting on the last trip, we found that very few people were going down this minimum maintenance road up here. There was actually a couple deer in the middle of the road when we drove down there. There’s a whitetail right there. See it Craig? Stay quiet. There’s a little buck right there in front of him. Not a legit access point into any of this timber from that road. It was fairly thick.

Odds are it’s gonna keep the majority of people out of here. And if you use that water to access it, you can get to a fairly large area down here that is potentially getting little hunting pressure. I’m gonna zoom in here. You can see our road up here where we were parked, right there. And as we zoom in and we start to look at this back ridge, right on the edge of my exclusion square, I guess you could call it, you see that there’s a bunch of thick cover. I don’t know what it is. Probably a lot of locusts mixed in with cedars and tall grass, stuff that bucks absolutely love. And if you look at the topo lines, that’s why we love using this hybrid feature so much, is ‘cause it kind of shows you everything all in one view. If you look at the topo lines here, there’s a small ditch that runs down here. There’s another one that runs down here, right along that east fence, and there’s a pond right at the base of it. Where those two ditches run down, looks like there’s some mature trees that butt up against a lot of that cedar and hedge and locust cover along the edge of that ridge. Got a lot of habitat types mixing right there and it’s forming a lot of edge. Deer love to bed in spots like this, right up against those edge lines where there’s thick cover that butts up against open cover. And what I’m assuming is in these ditches, there’s more mature trees, the timber’s probably more open, so those bucks will bed in and around those, looking down the ditch, and they’ll actually use that ditch as an escape route.

I’ll show you what I mean here. I’m gonna drop a point. They’ll bed in these various locations on any type of a westerly, northerly wind, ‘cause that’s wind coming off of the top of the ridge, blowing over the top of the buck’s back and then he’s gonna be looking down these ditches. I like this center ditch right here the best. Looks like there’s quite a bit of thick cover in and around it those bucks can bed right there along the edge of the ditch and use that as an escape route. They’ve also got water very close right there.

I’ll kick it over to the topo map where you can see. There’s a pond, there’s a drainage coming down right there. There’s actually a more shallow pond right here that you can’t really see on the topo map, but you can see it from an aerial view. That likely funnels deer movement in and around these bedding areas somehow, so the potential for a good stand location in this spot is pretty high, I would say. There’s gonna be good buck bedding located somewhere in and around the leeward side of this ridge. What I mean by leeward is the downwind side of a ridge. You can see where the cap of the ridge is up here to the north, this little circular spot. That’s right here at the highest point of the ridge. So, with the northerly wind, the leeward side is over here where I’ve got my points marked. Now, we’ve learned a lot from the map right here, but we still don’t know what exactly it looks like, having never set foot in this bedding area before. Like I mentioned, these are just guesses right now, but we’re narrowing it down.

We’ve got these areas of interest, these very specific areas that we’re gonna walk straight to on the next video when we go out here and do some scouting. But I really like this spot right here. We’re probably just gonna walk in there from the road when we go scout it, because we’re not too worried about scent during this time of the year, but when it comes time to hunt it, that’s not gonna work, ‘cause you’re gonna blow all the deer going in that one direction. We’ll probably access from that boat ramp over there and just kayak across to get to this bedding area of interest here without alerting a ton of deer. It has the potential to be a really, really good spot. So, hopefully you see now how we’ve narrowed down these bedding areas and these potential spots of interest.

On the next video, we’re gonna go out there, put some boots on the ground, and find some actual stand locations. Can’t wait to get out there and check this spot out. It looks really, really good. But if you don’t already have the onX Hunt app, I want to remind you guys that we got a great promo code discount with them. Just go to onXMaps.com. You can save 20% if you use our discount code. It’s THP. Now, it’s case sensitive, capital T, capital H, capital P. You just put that in on onXMaps.com, save you 20% on all their app products. We use it all the time, as you’ve seen in these videos. But that’s it for this video, guys. Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you on part five when we get out there and scout these bedding areas.