The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Not sure how well this will be received but I am trying to expand my horizons and I am looking for new locations to hunt deer on public land. Currently I hunt mountain habitat and some farmland habitat that’s all public. I scout a lot and find deer sign but unfortunately I have not been finding much big buck sign over the last several years. I mostly rely on rubs to tell me if a big buck is inhabiting a area or a actual visual sighting. When it comes to rubs the telling sign for me is height not how big the tree is. Just haven’t been seeing anything that would leave me to believe there are any mature deer around.
I am looking for swampy/ marsh public areas a reasonable distance from Westmoreland County. If anyone would be willing to point me in the right direction I would be forever grateful be it by PM or even just a better way to research and locate the type of areas I am describing.
Just need a change of scenery and a new challenge.
Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,538 Posts
Completely abandon deer density which is hard for many to do. People tend to hunt deer where they exist in quantity and that kills them young.

Swamps aren't a magic elixir for big bucks, it's a whole litany of factors. Swamps work for that in the upper midwest in a scalable way because they are vast and common. Our swamps are small and geographically rare.

We assign old bucks this mythological intelligence that they don't have. They grow old by not being shot. Hunt where people don't shoot deer, even if there are very few deer there. That's where they grow old.

The sign is tough, mentioning rub height specifically. I find old bucks here don't leave many of the waist high rubs some of the experts talk about. I'm not sure why that is. I find a more consistent approach to mountain bucks is just really knowing where they call home and if I'm lucky I might get a sighting or find a huge track. Of course that's where cams can come into play also but personally I'm not into using that tool.

Also I know from your posts you know what you're doing, don't overthink it. A legitimate 110-140 inch buck is about as good as it gets in this part of the state. They get bigger but they are unicorns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I hunt pretty remote areas with low deer density. At least it’s that way in the mountains but it’s tough up there. Such a big area with very faint trails and the thermals and swirling winds make it really challenging. That’s not to say I want to quit hunting the mountains or I don’t enjoy it but it’s just so much harder. Kind of like the idea of swampy areas because you can kind of narrow things down more by finding the dry ground that’s hard to get to. Also thermals and wind can be more consistent.
I guess it has just been a while since I have shot a really big buck and it’s starting to get to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Completely abandon deer density which is hard for many to do. People tend to hunt deer where they exist in quantity and that kills them young.

Swamps aren't a magic elixir for big bucks, it's a whole litany of factors. Swamps work for that in the upper midwest in a scalable way because they are vast and common. Our swamps are small and geographically rare.

We assign old bucks this mythological intelligence that they don't have. They grow old by not being shot. Hunt where people don't shoot deer, even if there are very few deer there. That's where they grow old.

The sign is tough, mentioning rub height specifically. I find old bucks here don't leave many of the waist high rubs some of the experts talk about. I'm not sure why that is. I find a more consistent approach to mountain bucks is just really knowing where they call home and if I'm lucky I might get a sighting or find a huge track. Of course that's where cams can come into play also but personally I'm not into using that tool.

Also I know from your posts you know what you're doing, don't overthink it. A legitimate 110-140 inch buck is about as good as it gets in this part of the state. They get bigger but they are unicorns.
Elk that’s a really good observation regarding rubs. You may be on to something. I know there are big bucks in the areas I hunt but for whatever reason they don’t seem to rub much. I search hard for big rubs and rarely find them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,550 Posts
If you have some farmland/rural types of habitat already, maybe not give up on them so quick.

Are you hunting archery, gun, or both?

I hunt a wooded farm, I know deer are there, but trying to archery hunt it via conventional wisdom was not paying off.

Then I figured out I needed to be closer to the barns and buildings, not farther. I needed to hunt the wide open old logging road, not the cover 80 yards off of it. I found some of the "sneaky" travel paths the doe switch to once the bucks start pressuring them. Whole new ballgame. Some days I sit in the tree and laugh at how I spent so much time maybe 150-200 yards away in an "ideal" spot with sign and rubs and not so much luck, and how just a small move changed it all up.

Those doe go right thru the pasture, sometimes peek into the barn, and are not bothered by the people living there. And where go the doe, so go the bucks (It's our downfall, right?), big and small. It was right there under my nose the whole time.

For archery, the problems I see with swampy thick areas are the ability to get in and out undetected, and any tree suitable to climb falls over due to weak roots in the soft muck.

Good luck in the search or rethinking of your current spots!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
If you have some farmland/rural types of habitat already, maybe not give up on them so quick.

Are you hunting archery, gun, or both?

I hunt a wooded farm, I know deer are there, but trying to archery hunt it via conventional wisdom was not paying off.

Then I figured out I needed to be closer to the barns and buildings, not farther. I needed to hunt the wide open old logging road, not the cover 80 yards off of it. I found some of the "sneaky" travel paths the doe switch to once the bucks start pressuring them. Whole new ballgame. Some days I sit in the tree and laugh at how I spent so much time maybe 150-200 yards away in an "ideal" spot with sign and rubs and not so much luck, and how just a small move changed it all up.

Those doe go right thru the pasture, sometimes peek into the barn, and are not bothered by the people living there. And where go the doe, so go the bucks (It's our downfall, right?), big and small. It was right there under my nose the whole time.

For archery, the problems I see with swampy thick areas are the ability to get in and out undetected, and any tree suitable to climb falls over due to weak roots in the soft muck.

Good luck in the search or rethinking of your current spots!
I hunt both and I am very mobile. Hardly ever have more than two sits in the same spot all season. Last year was a little different because I was seeing so many doe and had a bunch of legal bucks in range so I figured a really big one would eventually come by. Didn’t pan out. Figured there either wasn’t one around or if there was he was on to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,669 Posts
Steel, I admire your attitude. So many people today seem to think they should have deer hunting spots within a few minutes of home. The attitude of comraderie and not being willing to travel to find that, is being weaned from the ranks. I'm glad to see you aren't afraid to travel a bit to enjoy the sport. If you've ever seen my posts in the sportsman's connection forum, I can't tell you how little response I've gotten for my offers, simply because people think a 2-3 hr drive is too far. Yes maybe if you're talking just a day hunt, but they're losing the ambiance of comraderie of hunting with a group out of a camp. Sadly, the camp attitude is fading out. Darn shame!! It's a good thing. Hope you find your new "spots". Lot's of fairly large tracts of Gamelands and State Forest lands around here in Bedford Co. If that's not too far for ya, come on up and I'll turn you on to some of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Have you looked at the Corps of Engineers properties in the area ? Specifically the Loyalhanna, the Conemaugh and the Crooked Creek drainages ? All of their property is public land and it borders up against a lot of woods/farmland. The borders can be a gray area in some places so just be aware that the local landowners don't take trespassing kindly. The game commission manages the properties for the corps so there are some food plots ( see link below) and selective burn and cutting areas. You'll pretty much have the places to yourself in bow season but as soon as they stock pheasants the places get busy. There are a lot of places that are only accessible by canoe or kayak that will get you into the swamps you're looking for the only problem is that the Loyalhanna and Crooked Creek are unlimited HP for boats so canoeing can be a problem at times. Good Luck !

https://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Portals/72/docs/Recreation/CrookedCreek/CCR_CochransMillsFoodPlot.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Have you looked at the Corps of Engineers properties in the area ? Specifically the Loyalhanna, the Conemaugh and the Crooked Creek drainages ? All of their property is public land and it borders up against a lot of woods/farmland. The borders can be a gray area in some places so just be aware that the local landowners don't take trespassing kindly. The game commission manages the properties for the corps so there are some food plots ( see link below) and selective burn and cutting areas. You'll pretty much have the places to yourself in bow season but as soon as they stock pheasants the places get busy. There are a lot of places that are only accessible by canoe or kayak that will get you into the swamps you're looking for the only problem is that the Loyalhanna and Crooked Creek are unlimited HP for boats so canoeing can be a problem at times. Good Luck !

https://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Portals/72/docs/Recreation/CrookedCreek/CCR_CochransMillsFoodPlot.pdf
I do a lot of hunting on the banks of the Conemaugh and have taken advantage of the pressure from pheasant hunters. Haven’t been seeing anything really big out there for the last several years. Ever since they posted the Westinghouse property it has changed. Feel like the pressure pushes a lot of deer on to posted ground and rifle season is really crowded out that way. Still good hunting though if you think outside the box and put your time in.
Haven’t really explored the loyalhanna and crooked creek areas.
I will have to check it out.
Thanks !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
If you haven't seen the guys from The Hunting Public before on Youtube, do yourself a favor and check them out. These guys travel the country hunting predominately public land that they have never stepped foot on before and are very successful in killing big bucks. They utilize OnX maps to do their scouting remotely and then will venture into the area based off of what they find in their research. If you watch their videos from off season scouting or the deer tour you will see what they look for before going in. Just another way for you to possibly give yourself an edge and get on that elusive big buck. Good luck!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzlnaIrdxwJITyrESOReqxg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,108 Posts
Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Thanks. I follow The Hunting Public and Dan Infalt. Always have been attracted to the more adventurous style of hunting and finding nice bucks on public land that everyone has the chance to hunt, not just me and a couple other guys. It’s also a lot of fun discovering new places and trying to figure them out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,972 Posts
If you haven't seen the guys from The Hunting Public before on Youtube, do yourself a favor and check them out. These guys travel the country hunting predominately public land that they have never stepped foot on before and are very successful in killing big bucks. They utilize OnX maps to do their scouting remotely and then will venture into the area based off of what they find in their research. If you watch their videos from off season scouting or the deer tour you will see what they look for before going in. Just another way for you to possibly give yourself an edge and get on that elusive big buck. Good luck!

The Hunting Public
I enjoy watching those young, adventurous guys, but hunting "public" in the midwest ain't hunting Pa. Hunting big deer is a whole 'nother ball game. It's constant in-season scouting and tweaking and hunting smart, not necessarily a lot and even then, you can go all season without laying eyes on one....that's just how it is.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top