John's Journal...

What to Do When the Buck Hits the Water

Day 4: How to Pattern a Deer in a Swamp

Editor’s Note: Trying to take deer on a flood plain is a problem deer hunters who hunt around major river systems across the nation face.

Another easy way to pattern deer in a swamp is to realize that animals will use high points in flooded timber to cross from one region of the swamp to the other. A hunting buddy of mine, Allen O’Dell, found one of these areas as he explains that, “There was a ridge in the middle of the flooded timber that was about 2-feet under the water. That ridge was the highest point in the flooded timber from one woodlot to the other. Seeing 15 or 20 deer crossing that underwater ridge in a day wasn’t uncommon. But unless you watched the deer cross, you would never know the ridge was there, because it was invisible – just under the surface. By taking a stand on one side of the ridge, I bagged several deer there each season. However, most of the time when I hit a deer, I had to get wet to recover it.”

One of the hardest deer to recover from the water is the buck arrowed late in the afternoon or just at dark in a swamp. If you take a buck at this time of day, certain rules must be broken. For instance, as soon as you hear the deer stumble, fall or stop, don’t wait more than 5 minutes before you come down the tree and try to make the recovery. Even though you may frighten the deer and push him further into the woods by attempting to make a quick recovery, oftentimes with a good hit, you can find the deer before the woods are too dark for successful recoveries.

If I shoot a deer just at dark in a swampy area, I assume I’ll be lost before I find the deer. So, I always carry fluorescent flagging tape and my GPS with me. I mark my trail from my stand into the woods when I’m trying to retrieve the deer. I use the flagging tape to give me an easy trail to follow out of the woods and to provide a trail for other hunters if they must come in to where I am and recover me and the deer. I keep a Mini Mag Lite in my pocket at all times, so if I have to make a nighttime recovery, I’ll have a light to see my way out of the woods. Anyone who hunts water-filled regions and says that he hasn’t been lost in the water will lie about something else too.

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Tomorrow: Equipment That Can Make Recovery of Your Flood Plain Deer Easier

Check back each day this week for more about "What to Do When the Buck Hits the Water "

Day 1: What to Know Before Deer Hunting a Flood Plain
Day 2: Knowing the Area You Hunt Will Bring More Deer Hunting Success
Day 3: Tactics for Finding Downed Deer in Food Plains
Day 4: How to Pattern a Deer in a Swamp
Day 5: Equipment That Can Make Recovery of Your Flood Plain Deer Easier


Entry 586, Day 4