Big woods for me is mostly all about point bedding. But in the hills and on the points it's very wind based and they have thermals plus the wind....plus typically a sight advantage...
I can find the beds very easily in the hills....I still haven't learned to capitalize on Killin them up there. Atleast not purely hunting their beds.
Outside of the points, I'm back to transitions....clear cuts, evergreen edges, etc.
I'm planning to start hunting the marshes and swamps early and hunt the hills when the rut kicks in. Rut travel in the hills is predictable and habitat and terrain makes for some good funnels...though I typically don't head for the classic funnels like saddles and such that typically are already over hunted.
I look for small things. I found a spot this fall I can almost bet my buck tag on for years to come....there's a cut in the hillside that is absolutely nasty and nearly impossible for a deer to cross. It doesn't show up on a topo. All the deer are crossing the top of it.
Benches, high walls, old logging roads....tons of good stuff in the big woods and up in the hills.
Break it down further and find the doe bedding and their food sources. Put yourself in a funnel between those areas and the buck bedding...good things aughta happen. That's why I'm always marking what I'm seeing. It's all a piece of the puzzle I might need one day.
After a few years of running trail cams I've learned something....big mature bucks on pressured lands aren't moving much in the daylight regardless of the rut...they may get up a little bit earlier...they might get back to bed a little later. But the closer you are to his bed the better your odds are of killing him. He didn't get old by running around through the hubs and saddles in broad daylight. Those bucks are dead. The mature buck has learned that.
Follow a mature buck through the snow. Find a track the size of your hand. That's one of my favorite things to do. I wish we had snow in October and November because it'd be eye opening.
I look at mature bucks on pressured lands as a totally different animal.
My other secret.....the moon. I'm a huge believer in the moon and movement times.
Opening day of archery this year I knew the odds were in my favor just based on the moon and peak movements scheduled to be an hour or so before dark. I forget the time but I knew the odds were high that they'd get up early that day.
That's about 15-20mins after I shot him. You can see there's still a good hour of daylight based on the sun.
Again...I'm no pro and don't claim to be...
I think the biggest key is putting in the time and paying attention the everything. Analyze everything. The smallest details can make all the difference...back to when I scouted that marsh spot...had I not noticed that all the tracks on the best down trail were walking TOWARDS the beds, I'd probably be standing on my head still.
The scouting is huge. And you need to find a lot of spots...some are wind based...some places I need windy or wet days because of noise...and like I said, once I hunt it, I'm probably done with it for the season. But back to scouting, if he didn't come out of THAT bed you just hunted..chances are he probably won't come back for while...jump into the next bed...and the next...and the next. You don't usually have to give up on the entire place. Just that particular set.