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FishingWebGuy

First timer wants to take son deer hunting

83 posts in this topic

My 16 year old son would really like to get into deer hunting. He is an avid fisherman, including bow fishing. And I put him through firearms safety this past winter. He loves everything about the outdoors. We go camping, hiking, canoeing, and ice fishing together but have never been hunting.

I go pheasant hunting and am going to bring him along this year also but I have never been deer hunting.

I think I have a plan to get us out on some deer this year but wanted to run it by the forum.

We go camping in George Washington State Forest. We have a favorite camping area and plan to scout for deer this year starting in a couple of weeks. We will go up there about every 4 weeks or so to scout around, look for deer signs, and try an find a good spot for our stands. When bow season opens we will do the same except with bows in our hands. When firearms season opens we will do the same with our rifles. Of course our scouting will probably be less when season is open so we don't scare the deer.

I figure we can combine scouting and hunting with our usual camping, fishing, canoeing trips.

The keys we are going to look for are:

1. Food source

2. Water source

3. Bedding area

4. As few hunters as possible

The area we are thinking of is near Togo which doesn't seem to have a whole lot of traffic in the fall. But we wouldn't mind going further North also if we needed to.

Just not sure of what to expect on public land and looking for any advice I guess.

TIA

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sounds like a great fall....I didn't start deer hunting until about 15 years ago so I know how intimidating it seems to an adult. I think you are on the right path so far. Definitely look at your key areas you listed, remember that the further into the woods you go, the greater chance of not running into other people you will have.

I would suggest that maybe once or twice this summer, you get up before sunrise, and walk to some of those spots you have picked out. Moving in the woods in the dark is surreal the first couple times you do it. Your senses are on edge and you really have no idea how far into the woods you are since it is dark. I would say once mid august arrives, you should have your spots scouted and marked (gps, not by notching trees) give it a break and wait for opener. Get into practicing shooting your rifles sitting down, standing, leaning against a tree, in the wind, in the low light situations, squatting down on one knee, sitting down on the ground too.

Keep coming back here with questions, there are lots of people here with a wealth of knowledge. You might not get the answer you are looking for, but hopefully get you pointed in the right direction.

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Find a deer target to practice on, even if its just a photo, but familiarize yourself with how the vitals are and where a proper shot should be placed. There are some some key landmarks once you've seen a few deer.

I don't know the area you're talking about so I can't offer much help there, but I live in Eden Prairie and occasionally bow hunt in the river valley. Let me know if you want to hit the range sometime this summer. I've been hunting deer for 15yrs and started bowhunting 4years ago. Its always good to meet other hunters in the area.

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Thanks guys!

A couple more questions:

Is a climber stand too noisy for setting up in the morning? I'm still leery about setting up a stand and leaving it overnight just to find someone else sitting in it in the morning. Or the stand missing.

Powerstroke, where do you shoot? I usually practice archery (which isn't nearly enough) at the Burnsville range and rifle at Horse and Hunt.

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are you a member at the horse and hunt club? I am not, but I need to get out and do some shooting, I wasn't aware of them allowing general public using their rifle range

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FishingWebGuy,

You inquired about climbing stands being noisy in the morning. The answer is yes. They can be. I hunt mainly out of my climbing stand. I love them. They are portable and I feel much better climbing higher in trees with the climber as opposed to anything else. Generally if I know that I am going to be hunting in the morning, I will go to my spot the night before and get the stand all set up on the tree that I picked out. I usually set it up right before it gets dark. That way the possibilty of it getting stolen is pretty slim. Then in the morning all you have to do is climb. The actual climbing of the tree isn't very noisy. It is the set up that will bust you. Hope this helps.

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Pigsbigwagon,

I am a gun club member out there. That get's me access to all 3 ranges plus a nice discount on clays. And I can bring as many guests as I want at no additional charge. Its a nice easy way for me to get others into shooting.

Nik,

Any recommendations on a climbing stand? Or what to look for? Probably a topic for another thread. I'll do a search also.

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I wish I could tell you the brand name of my climber, but I have no idea. When I purchased mine, I looked for a few things.

-weight

-size

-price

-easy to use

I think the biggest one is the weight. Climbing stands are designed to be portable. If they are heavy and you are going deep into public lands, then it might become a burden. The one I have is made from light weight aluminum. Size was another big factor. I do alot of bow hunting and I wanted something with a big enough platform for me to move around on. I also wanted one that did not have a bar across the front. It is a bit scary getting 20 feet in the air without a bar in front of you, but I just make sure my harness is on good and tight. The last thing I would consider is price. Most of these stands are not cheap. So expect to drop some cash on one. You can find cheaper ones, but you might compromise on what you are actually looking for. I hope I gave you enough info to get the gears grinding in your head on what you might want.

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Hi FishingWebGuy

I hunt in the Togo area and while there is a fair population of hunters there is also tons of public and timber company land to hunt so if you are willing to go a little further than the next guy you should be able to easily find some hunting ground. If you can usually get a mile off a road or wheeler trail you should have the woods to your self. Don't be affraid to cross some rivers or swamps to get to some isolated land but also be sure you have a compass or GPS because some of swamps up there can strech on for several miles and I have heard many stories of guys getting lost.

Your food sources aren't going to be as defined as other parts of the state but I would concentrait on logged out areas that are 2-4 years old, tons of food for the deer. The deer also like to hang out in the thick popple trees that are 10-15 years old, they provide lots of cover and browse. Stay on the food in the early part of the year. Once the rut kicks in I like to focus on funnels, look for deer trails that skirt the edge of a logging area, a lake, maybe a river crossing, or look for travel routes between two patches of very thick cover. The thick patches of cover are usually the doe bedding areas so during the rut the bucks will be cruising them looking for hot does. And when I say thick I mean you can't see more than 20-30 feet in any direction.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

Quick Edit: Don't worry about a water source, there are so many lakes, beaver ponds, rivers, and swamps that the deer don't really worry about water because its everywhere.

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If you have to setup a climber in the morning just be sure to get there plenty early so you have lots of time to setup. I usually like to be at my tree at least 1 hour befor first shooting light, sometimes earlier than that if I am after a large buck. With practice you can get setup fairly quick with little noise. Take your time and get setup as quietly as possible, I have had deer under my stand within 5-10 minutes of climbing so it is possible.

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Thanks Nik and Bear55,

We have a couple areas picked out where we would cross a lake to get to a spot that would be a couple miles from a road otherwise. Hopefully that helps us find some unoccupied land.

Is there any source to find areas that were logged in the past couple of years besides simply scouting around?

I'll probably look for used stands since I'll have to get one for the boy also and don't want to beak the bank. Time to start searching that craig guys HSOforum...

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When you do finally get a couple of stands, I would go out and practice. Practice setting them up and climbing up and down the tree. Try a few different trees that are different sizes. That way, you will be prepared for any hunting situation. Good luck. Hopefully you and your son will have fun!

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FWG

I use google earth to find some of the older logging areas. Also check out this site to download 2008 aerial photos state wide. Otherwise you will have to hit the woods to find cuts from last winter and this summer.

http://www.lmic.state.mn.us/chouse/airphoto/fsa.html

When looking at climber stands there are only two names to look at, Summit and Lone Wolf. I wouldn't go cheap on a climber stand, remember these stands have your life in their hands. The extra money is well worth the quality and comfort once you get up there, especially if you plan on sitting for longer hours. Good advice nik, practice climbing and getting setup in your yard before you ever do anything in the woods. Also always carry a small fold up hand saw to cut any small limbs out of the way when you are climbing. That perfect tree is not always there.

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We hunt out of our climbers all the time. I have had the Lone Wolf Sit and Climb for 4 years. I bought it becuase it is lighter than most stands, has a wider platform, Easy to set up around the tree, and quiet when packing in and setting up.

The two complaints I had have been fixed on the new stands.

1. The old seat was uncomfortable. They put a redisgned foam seat on the new ones last year, which I purchased and put on mine and was great all year so you can sit still and comfortable.

2. The sit and climb is a little tight between the arm rests if you have bulky clothes on. They came out with the Wide Sit and Climb this year which has ample room.

If I was going to buy a new one this year, I would get the Lone Wolf Wide Sit and Climb for sure.

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Thanks again everybody. We are gonna head up there to start scouting in 2 weeks. Do any of you leave trail cams out on public land between trips? I'm thinking if I put them off any trail a bit that they might be safe for a couple weeks before we get back up there. Might also let me know if we'll run into much company in the spots we are picking out.

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My deer hunting experience mainly comes out of a book but I do think that your scouting now, while a good idea to confirm topo and habitat info, may not provide much useful info for the actual hunt. The deer change their patterns of travel as the year progresses and different factors come into play such as available food, food preference, and water. Keep that in mind and be flexible in your thinking. It would be helpful to have good topo maps of your area, maybe a GPS, and a notebook to take down some notes while you're out there or shortly after you come back. Spot A may be good for a day with a wind from the north, or Spot B may be even better. Keep those details so when you are going on the actual hunt you can make some informed decisions about where to head.

Good luck and enjoy the time with the kid. They grow up way too fast and you're only going to have a single first hunt for the memory book.

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Thanks again everybody. We are gonna head up there to start scouting in 2 weeks. Do any of you leave trail cams out on public land between trips? I'm thinking if I put them off any trail a bit that they might be safe for a couple weeks before we get back up there. Might also let me know if we'll run into much company in the spots we are picking out.

I usually have my cams out all summer/fall on public land. I've been lucky so far and no one has stolen any of them but the locations are pretty remote and I only use the cheaper cams. If you keep them away from any roads/trails/openings I think you can get away with leaving them out.

As far as scouting - since you are new the whole thing I say get our there and scout as much as you can to get a feel for the area, no amount of maps/aerial photos can beat getting out there. Also once the hunting starts I wouldn't have too high of expectations, the deer density numbers are not very high. Most guys I know are very happy to see a deer a day and that is during the peak of the rut. You might go several days without seeing a deer, try not to get too discouraged if you don't have any luck right away, it can take many years to learn how the deer use the land. You might even consider doing some in season scouting if things are slow, that way you can find the fresh rut sign and maybe find a hot spot to hunt the next day or the next season.

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I scout in season all the time, especially if you aren't seeing deer & sign indicates they're in the area. You just might not be in the right spot. They may be coming to where you are after dark in the evening or before light in the morning. Topo maps are good, but I mostly scout by getting out & walking the ground. The agriculture you can usually pretty well figure out from the road & field roads, just seeing what crops are where & what wind would allow you to setup downwind of a trail approaching the food.

I agree with whoever said it can take years to figure out a property, although I'm speaking more from a bow perspective than a firearm perspective. You can be close to the right spot for firearm & often that will still get the job done.

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You should be ok with leaving cameras out on public land. Like Bear55 said, keep them away from any roads/trails/openings. Also cheaper cameras are good. I once had someone take my film out of the camera, but left the camera it self. I guess they wanted to see what was in the area, but didn't think it was worth stealing a $40 camera. Oh well. There must have been nothing good on that roll of film, because I never saw anyone hunting even close to where I was.

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I have set my climber up many times in the morning both for archery and rifle. There are good climbers made that will be quiet and there are a few things one can do to the noisy ones to quiet them down.

Probably the most well built, and comfortable climber and also being rated high for being quiet is the Lone Wolf products.

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Lots of good info in this thread, and I think Bear55 really has some good advice for hunting in the woods. I hunt the big woods also, not in the Togo area, but where I hunt is all national forest and state land and paper company land. Hunting the big woods is not like hunting in more open country or farmland, where a lot of the info and tips come from. Scouting for food sources and water sources is not really pertinent for hunting in the big woods. Look for loggging activity as was mentioned, and scout for terrain features that concentrate deer movement and will help you spot deer - ridges, draws, funnels, openings like beaver ponds and swamps, etc. Don't be afraid to get into thick, wet areas like tamarack and cedar swamps, the deer use them.

I also wouldn't worry about setting your climber when you're ready to hunt. Try to do it quickly and quietly and a few minutes later you should be set.

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Thanks again evryone. And thanks Tom for reminding me of all the pressure with only getting one first hunt with the kid smile

Hopefully we will have fun since we are looking at hunting as an excuse to go camping and get into the woods. That way even if we don't see or shoot anything we'll have fun camping.

Which brings up another question. We were planning on sitting in the stands for 3 or for hours each dusk and dawn. But in talking to a friend of mine the other day, he recommended staying in the stand all day. He says a lot of deer move at mid day also. Sitting in the stand all day might get a little tough for the boy.

Also, I'm sure I'll find it in the regs but how can we communicate when we are each in separate stands? I'm picturing that we would setup 100yds apart or so along the same trail or overlooking the same bedding area. Or should we not setup so far apart?

Thanks again

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some sit all day and other sit for a couple of hours, for me and my group. we sit till like 10 am then get down go relocate everyone, then we skin and quarter the deer that have fallen. then we move a couple miles from where we hunt and push the woods tward our land. then after that drive we go sit again. I love to sit for like 5 minued then i get stir crazy but i wish i could do it all day while others are driving, the girls that usally dont drive with us hope in our stands and by the time we get back they usally have deer. so sit or not its your choice but both are good options

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As far as sitting all day that depends on what time of the season it is. If you are in the early season bow hunting I would just be concerned with sitting in the mornings and nights like you said. As you get closer to the rut the bucks start moving more dduring daylight and alot of times right in the middle of the day to chase does. Once rifle comes around you get the rut moving deer along with all of the other hunters pushing deer around when they are getting out of their stands or making drives. So if you are going to pick any time to sit all day I would wait until rifle season. Its easier said then done though it takes alot to sit all day long especially for a kid. But if you think you can pull it off it could pay off big time, ive seen some nice deer running around at noon during the rut.

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You have to have an open mind when bring a child or young adult hunting you can not just drop them at a tree and tell them you will be back after dark this will ruin the experiance for them don't ever get mad at them for being back at the truck at 7:30 opening morning because their cold and have not seen anything you have to let them take it at their own speed I allways let them no that the keys are in the truck and food is in the cooler so if you get cold or hungry you can go to the truck warm up and get somthing to eat if you want to go back to your stand thats fine if you want to take a nap in the truck go ahead and if you have any problems just honk the horn and I will be right their.

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