Big-Timber Hot Spots

Posted on March 5, 2013

Here’s just what you need to know about finding success when hunting mountain whitetails.

bow hunting

Imagine trying to arrow a mature whitetail buck in tough, unforgiving terrain that tests the determination and stamina of even the most gristled bowhunters. Imagine trying to pinpoint his bedding and feeding areas, which by design, can change as often as the direction the wind is blowing. Now, imagine trying to select the one tree, out of a possible thousand or more, that will put you within a stone’s throw of this particular buck. Sound difficult? If you can see that scenario in your mind then you’ve most likely experienced first-hand the trials and tribulations of bowhunting “big-timber” whitetails first-hand.

For many years, I struggled with the task of pinpointing locations that offered the highest odds of success on these elusive animals. With so many spots to choose from, and so many variables affecting each one, the idea that I could somehow come to a decisive decision about where to hang a treestand seemed drastically out of reach. However, I eventually learned that in order to locate good hunting areas I simply needed to employ the process of elimination.

You see, while the vastness of big timber may seem intimidating, the truth is, there really are only so many areas a mature buck will occupy. The trick is to understand what those areas are, how to go about locating them, and ultimately, the most effective method for hunting them. Do that, and your days of falling short on mountain whitetails and eating tag-soup will be over.

Focus on Funnels

When you’re dealing with big timber and the task of locating preferred whitetail travel routes, you should concentrate heavily on one thing…the terrain; more specifically funnels. Funnels are nothing more than terrain features that naturally force deer movement into a smaller, more clear-cut area. Along with hunting pressure, the lay of the land will greatly influence where and how a buck travels. Funnels will also shrink that area of travel down to a manageable size. This may sound like elementary advice, but unless you know what terrain features to look for and how they influence stand placement, you’re really just guessing when it comes to selecting a good mountain stand site.

Perhaps my favorite funnels are those that are created when steep and gentle terrain collides with one another. When that occurs, a perfect “pinch point” is formed. Furthermore, if I can locate a gentle slope which is sandwiched between steep terrain above and below, then there is an even better chance that deer will use that particular funnel.

Other funnels and pinch-points include saddles, bench-flats, and drainage ditches. Saddles are simply low spots along a ridge-line that deer use to cross from one side of the mountain to the other while expending the least amount of energy and keeping a low profile in the process. Depending on how wide or narrow the saddle, deer movement can literally be squeezed down into areas of 30 yards; often times less.


By Steve Flores


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