John's Journal...


Click to enlargeSouthern Swamps

Editor’s Note: Although outdoorsmen mainly think about hunting deer in southern swamps, swamps, bogs and flooded timber exist across most of the U.S. The deer that live along flood plains throughout the nation often have different movements and behavioral patterns than deer holding away from the water. These swamp bucks often defy reason and usually will be bagged by the men who understand why these deer do what they do. Let's look at the men who hunt swamp bucks across the country and the tactics they employ to take these animals.

Click to enlargeEddie Salter, longtime Hunter’s Specialties’ Pro Hunt Team Member lives in Evergreen, Alabama and has spent his entire life hunting the flood plain along the Alabama River. "Swamps are my favorite places to hunt -- especially late in the season in areas that have experienced great hunting pressure," Salter commented. "When most hunters look at a wet marsh and flooded timber, they'll decide the terrain is just too hard to hunt. Instead they'll hunt an area that doesn't take as much effort and where they most likely will find as many or maybe even more deer. But the older-age- class bucks that have survived several seasons have learned the water provides sanctuary for them during daylight hours."

To take trophy bucks in wet areas, Salter begins his scouting early in the season. He uses a small, lightweight canoe to paddle around the backwaters and not only look for trails entering theClick to enlarge flooded timber but also for islands and high spots out in the water. "Many times I'll discover little islands and sometimes even big islands out in the middle of vast areas of flooded timber. I've found islands 200 to 300 yards from shore and 5 to 10 acres in size. You can't reach these islands except by boat. Most hunters won't carry a boat or a canoe through the woods, put it in the water and paddle out to hunt only 10 acres. The deer understand that if they stay on those islands during daylight hours they generally won't have any hunting pressure." When Salter finds an island in flooded timber, he knows he has a late-season honey hole for a large buck. A trophy deer soon learns if he remains in sanctuaries like islands out in a swamp, he can avoid hunters and survive. The hunters who go to the trouble to take a boat through the woods to hunt these sanctuaries often will encounter some of the largest deer in a region. "I also have learned that the less human odor swamp bucks encounter the more likely you are to take them," Salter advised. "That's why I like to paddle into my tree stand about 9 or 10 o'clock a.m. and plan to hunt until dark."

Click to enlargeSalter believes that deer in flooded timber tend to move more frequently during the middle of the day and the afternoon with their peak movement tending to occur during the last two hours of daylight. "I like to get into my stand in the morning to give the woods plenty of time to settle before the deer start moving," Salter explained. Also by using a canoe, when Salter does take a nice deer, he can float the buck out of the woods without having to make a long drag through the mud. If you've been negative about hunting swamps like many outdoorsmen and said, "I'm sure big bucks live in there, but I'm not going to fight mosquitoes, snakes, redbugs, ticks and gorillas to go get them," then you have missed some of the best trophy-buck hunting in the nation. The tactics of the swamp hunters in this article have proven successful and will aid you in bagging that swamp buck of a lifetime.

Check back each day this week for more about SWAMP BUCKS ARE DIFFERENT...

Day 1 - Flooded Plains for Deer
Day 2 - Mississippi River Swamps
Day 3 - Northern Wetlands
Day 4 - Midwest Flooded Areas
Day 5 - Southern Swamp


Entry 280, Day 4