Hunting Big Woods Bucks in Wilderness Settings
Tricks and Tips for Finding and Hunting Big Woods Bucks
There’s nothing quite like a truly remote, wilderness hunt for whitetails. After traversing miles on foot, you settle into a hunting site with promising sign. You can’t hear or see any sign of humanity – nothing but the sounds of nature around you. When you do see a deer, you know it probably hasn’t seen many people in its lifetime. That’s the beauty of hunting big woods bucks.
What is Wilderness?
While you can still find some remote wilderness areas out west and certainly further north, it’s harder and harder today to find a truly remote area in the eastern half of the United States. Development and increasing road and trail networks are shrinking the natural areas of the world. But you owe it to yourself to seek the remaining ones out. You don’t have to make a trek to Alaska to find one either. We’ll define a wilderness area here as a spot without human disturbance (e.g., building, road, or trail, etc.) within one mile. Most people aren’t willing to walk a mile through the woods to get to their hunting spot. In fact, most stay within ¼ mile of a trail. So in many ways, hunting big woods bucks opens up additional hunting opportunities for you.
It might seem like going through all the extra work would actually limit your hunting opportunities. But remote areas often have “good hunting” for hunting big woods bucks for a few reasons. First, the deer there are mostly unpressured since nobody takes the time to hunt them. As long as you hunt them smartly, that doesn’t have to change either. Two, since they are unpressured, they follow pretty normal and easy-to-distinguish patterns. This makes them a little easier to hunt in the long run. And third, these areas can often act as sanctuaries for gun-shy deer. By being in the right place at the right time, you could find yourself surrounded by deer when they get pushed from the easily-accessible areas.
How to Deer Hunt in Remote Areas
Let’s look at a few details you should consider when you decide you want to start hunting big woods bucks. Whether you’re completely new to the area or you’re somewhat familiar with it, there are a few things you shouldn’t overlook.
Getting to Your Destination
Depending on where you’ll be hunting big woods bucks, you may be able to simply walk out your back door to a remote area. More than likely, though, you’ll have to drive somewhere first. You may be able to take an ATV down a trail to where you want to park it for the day, and then set out from there on foot. But no matter what, you’ll be walking. A lot. Make sure you have good hunting boots and break them in before the season starts. A mile walked through the woods is very different than a mile walked on a sidewalk. There are obstacles to navigate around and uneven terrain to trip you up. Practice with a loaded backpack in the pre-season months, so you know what to expect.
The other thing about hunting big woods bucks is that the places they live are usually very hard to get to. Not just because they are a mile back in the woods, but because they are often separated from the trail or road by a marsh, stream, or river. In these cases, the sanctuary effect is even more pronounced. Big whitetail bucks love these areas because they know they should be secure there. Make sure you bring waders or a canoe so you can cross the obstacle and get where you need to be. Again, that might seem like a lot of work to commit to for the chance to see a deer. But that’s the reason the deer hunting should be better on the other side; nobody but the ambitious wants to go through that work.
Navigating a mile back in the woods does require some basic woodsmanship skills. You should be comfortable using a map, compass, and terrain/topography features if you’re going to do this, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory. Otherwise, wandering around a remote section of woods could turn into a very long and potentially dangerous day. Alternatively (and where legal), you could cut a small access trail or mark it with reflective pegs or flagging tape so you can find your way back and forth easily. But the problem with that is that it just opens up the possibility that someone else will follow it. Making it easier for you will also make it easier for everyone else. And the last thing you want to do is clue everyone else in on your plans to go deer hunting big woods bucks.
What Kind of Tree Stand?
During typical tree stand hunting, you can easily pack a lot of gear with and be comfortable all day. But hiking a mile or more back into the woods means your options are somewhat limited. Since you can’t carry a lot with you, you need to be able to either hunt on the ground, using a ground blind or relying on excellent camouflage clothing, or carry a lightweight climbing tree stand with you. You could also use lock on stands if you want another lightweight option. It is critical in these situations to hang the stands carefully and quietly. You can quickly alert every deer around on a calm morning if you’re not careful. That would defeat the purpose of even having a tree stand for hunting big woods bucks in the first place.
The Stalker Climber is a very lightweight climbing option by Muddy Outdoors that anyone who plans on tree stand hunting can appreciate. It is crafted from lightweight aluminum and features sturdy backpack straps to haul it with you wherever you go. This versatility and ability to bring it with you on remote trips makes it one of the best tree stands for hunting.
Finding the right tree will be just as important if you’re tree stand hunting. You need to be able to see a good distance from up in the tree, and have enough openings to shoot through when the opportunity arises. Particularly when you’re bow hunting, you’ll need enough room to thread arrows through the brush. However, all of this is really hard to see in the pre-dawn blackness. For that reason, it would be much easier to do all of this if you could go out and scout before your hunting season starts, so you know what the area looks like.
Scouting whitetail deer in these areas is a delicate process. You don’t want to tromp around so much that you leave lots of human scent everywhere. That would again ruin your chances of sneaking into and hunting a remote area. The king of big buck hunting tips is to remain as invisible as possible, including when you’re scouting. Try to find out as much about the area from aerial photographs as you can, so you can target only the best-looking spots to hunt. If you find a couple promising trees that would work for tree stand hunting, you could flag them or use reflective pegs to easily find them with your headlamp. If you’re using climbing stands, you’ll also need to find a straight-trunked tree with few or no branches in the lower half in order to climb it well. Whereas, if the area you’re hunting in had lots of mature trees with branches along the trunk (e.g., white oaks), lock on tree stands may be a better option.
How to Hunt Deer
Bear in mind, you’ll have to leave very early in the morning to get to a spot and get your stand hung before daylight in one of these areas. The sheer distance and effort required is something you’ll underestimate the first couple times, so add 10-20% onto whatever time estimate you come up with. Otherwise, you’ll probably show up at your hunting tree stand after the sun is up. Similarly, it will take a long time to get back in the evening, so plan accordingly. Because they are so far away, it really only makes sense to hunt a spot like this if you hunt all day. That way, you can make the most use of the effort it takes to get there.
In order to do that and remain comfortable all day, be sure to bring along high-nutrition foods and snacks, as well as enough water. Especially if you’re bow hunting big whitetail bucks in the early season, you may also need to bring insect nets or repellents. And please don’t forget to bring a urinal bottle and toilet paper! There are no outhouses in the wilderness.
Packing Deer Out of Public Land or Wilderness
If you follow the steps above and luck out while hunting big bucks, take a moment and congratulate yourself! You’ll have accomplished something few can do. But the reality is that the real work now begins. Remember how hard the walk in was? Now you get to do it while dragging a mature buck behind you, plus your hunting gear. There are no ATVs, side by sides, or trucks to make the journey any easier. And dragging a deer across the ground for a mile can ruin the hide and introduce debris into the chest cavity, compromising the meat quality. Besides that, it’s a heck of a lot of work. The Mule Game Cart by Muddy Outdoors is a perfect companion for a trip like this. You can haul your tree stand and other hunting gear with you on the way in. And if you manage to tag out while bow hunting big bucks, the game cart is rated to 500 pounds, so you can haul the deer and your gear back out at the same time. As long as you don’t have to thread the cart through dense brush or tree cover, it’s a great option.
If you were wondering how to go deer hunting in remote areas, hopefully you’ll be more encouraged to try it now. It does take more work to hunting big woods bucks, but the reward can often be worth the effort.