The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My brother and I have done much of our deer hunting in the past in the southern part of the state. But both of us are itching to hunt the "big woods" of northcentral Pa. When we do, we probably will go in cold without a lot of scouting. We're not looking for anyone's "honey hole", but would appreciate hearing from anyone that has some relevant tips and tactics when hunting the "big woods" that have worked for them in the past. Additionally, since we can't do a lot of scouting, are there any on-line tools that might be helpful.
This may have been asked before, but I thought I'd post this close to the current rifle season; since this might provide some lively discussion. Thanks in advance for anyone's suggestions and help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts
I think Google maps satellite layer or Google earth can help some if you know you won’t be scouting. Then assuming the area you plan to hunt will have other hunters around (which if it’s SGL in north central PA it will), I like to try to think like a deer that’s pressured and trying to escape/hide when I read the terrain and decide exactly where to sit. And at least opening day to some extent any spot can be the right spot if you’ve got other hunters around you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,958 Posts
First off I would recommend that you have topo maps, a good compass, and know how to use them, or a GPS, doesn't hurt to have both, cell phone can be spotty.
Honey holes are far apart and few, one area may be good and a short distance away will seem void of all deer.

I spent the first 40 years or so hunting Ag country, and as Bear Claw told Jeremiah Johnson, "anything you learned down below will do you no good up here, mountain has it's own way".

I made this post a few years back but it stills holds true.
1) Scout before season, spend as much time there as possible. Deer are in pockets, where they were last year, they may or may not be this year.
2) GET IN THE BEST PHYSICAL SHAPE THAT YOU CAN.
3) Learn how to still hunt. I don't spend much time sitting, an hour or so in the morning or evening if I feel like it , and a few short breaks during the day.
4) If you have snow. Learn how to track, and the difference between a buck & doe track, when that deer is getting ready to bed, or if it's just covering ground, the track along with other signs will tell you.
5) Be ready to shoot fast slowly at all time. You never know when or where when one of those big rack, large body buck will explode in front of you.
6 Hunt from starting time to quitting time. Not 5 minutes after or five minutes before. It only takes seconds to fill your tag.This means you need to become accustomed to being in the woods in the dark, don't turn on that flash light until you absolutely need to.
7)If you follow 1 thru 6 this shouldn't happen, but if it does. Be prepared to spend a lot of time hunting, and going home occasionally without ever seeing a deer. But at the same time there is a lot of monster buck there, and after killing one you will remember it for a life time. Oh, and don't expect it to happen the same way or in the same place next year, chances are it won't.
8) If for some reason your season ends with an unfilled tag, tip your hat to the deer. After all, you are on their turf, you are an outsider. Next year is another chance, and hopefully you are wiser.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,873 Posts
My brother and I have done much of our deer hunting in the past in the southern part of the state. But both of us are itching to hunt the "big woods" of northcentral Pa. When we do, we probably will go in cold without a lot of scouting. We're not looking for anyone's "honey hole", but would appreciate hearing from anyone that has some relevant tips and tactics when hunting the "big woods" that have worked for them in the past. Additionally, since we can't do a lot of scouting, are there any on-line tools that might be helpful.
This may have been asked before, but I thought I'd post this close to the current rifle season; since this might provide some lively discussion. Thanks in advance for anyone's suggestions and help.
Any ideas what area? Lots of state lands to hunt. I’m packing up my gear now for camp up in 2G, potter county, will be leaving first thing tomorrow morning, staying most of the week. I have been hunting the susquehannock state forest the last several seasons. Love it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
Hunt the ridge tops and escape routes like stated before. I sit all day on escape routes on the opening day of gun season, then after that I sneak along unless there’s snow, I have a handful of spots where I’m pretty sure I can strike a good buck track. This takes practice and above all experience, but it’s an awesome way to hunt. Big woods hunting is the most rewarding hunting there is. Good luck

edit: not necessarily the ridge tops, but close to the top, the first bench down tends to be where the bucks hang out in my experience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,958 Posts
Hunt the ridge tops and escape routes like stated before. I sit all day on escape routes on the opening day of gun season, then after that I sneak along unless there’s snow, I have a handful of spots where I’m pretty sure I can strike a good buck track. This takes practice and above all experience, but it’s an awesome way to hunt. Big woods hunting is the most rewarding hunting there is. Good luck

edit: not necessarily the ridge tops, but close to the top, the first bench down tends to be where the bucks hang out in my experience.
Especially whe it’s cold and a south facing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Country Roads

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,100 Posts
Look for trails, thickets (usually laurel where I hunt), ravines or draws, ridges, water, feeding areas. Feeding can be browsing or mast crop. Look at your topo and satellites maps and look for travel routes. Don't expect to see much sign. Typically you will see some rubs and scrapes along old trails and logging roads. Don't be frustrated if you hunt all day and don't see any deer. It can be tough hunting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,400 Posts
I have been hunting the big woods in rifle for 29 years now. Now seeing a deer that is another story lol but there is nothing like the big woods. My grandfather, brother and their friends drove all day Sat and Sun for bear and only managed to push out 7 deer in 2 days but the highlight of that was there was 5 buck bedded together in some really nasty stuff around some big hemlocks where i was already planning on hunting that area before they told me that. My brother said they dang near stepped on them before they broke out. All legal and 2 they said were absolute giants especially the one they said it had to be at least 24 wide and the base of the horns would be tough getting your hand around them. Knowing my brother, he probably exaggerated that just a little but they saw 4 buck last year in bear season in the same spot but i didnt see a darn thing in deer season in the 3 days i was there. Like many have stated, i am the same way, i will sit for an hour or 2 then i start still hunting the rest of the day. Do not leave the woods until the last minute of shooting time as the deer are not pressured at all during deer season in the area i am at and they will start moving 10-20 minutes before quitting time. Driving back to the cabin after dark, deer are crossing the road and i am scratching my head now where they heck were they during legal shooting time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,351 Posts
I wish I could tell you that I've figured it out, but I haven't. So many variables with so many other hunters in the woods. I hunt some big woods in the ridge/valley area of central pa and it's been my experience that deer feed in the fields at night and move up the mountain first thing in the morning. So particularly on opening morning, I will sit near the top of the mountain looking down. In the absence of fields and agriculture I'm not sure what my approach would be. Maybe try to find some thickets and hunt the edge.
In big woods I feel its important to move around a bit. Mostly importantly, be prepared! Very little cell phone service in the big woods. Make sure you have a GPS, compass, etc... as well as water and some first aid/survival supplies. I've unfortunately been in situations where I became temporarily disoriented/lost, dehydrated, etc... in the big woods and it's scary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,588 Posts
First off I would recommend that you have topo maps, a good compass, and know how to use them,
(y)(y)
Yes indeed, first that.
Then. All parts of the Pa big woods hold deer. some a lot more than others but all have some. I cold hunt (no scouting) new places in the ANF almost every year. Study your topo maps. That morning look at the weather, your topo, and then try to figure where deer might be where they might be and why. Point your nose into the wind and still hunt those locations. Stop in likely places and watch a while, then move on, slow slower slowest. Ive shot many a buck this way and no other way of hunting is more satisfying to me. No stands, no cameras, use what you know about deer and go find them. You'll never go back to hanging off a tree.
Good luck JumpTrap. Good hunting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,299 Posts
The other great thing about the Big Woods is when you end up having heart disease like me you can still find places where you can kill them almost in sight of the truck. I used to go so far back in I'd be coming out the other side but no more. I'll only venture a good distance away from the Truck if there is a trail for my game cart
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top