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Deer hunting Big Branch

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I am hunting in Big Branch for deer and hogs. I hunted several times last year. I tend to stay in the western section of the NWR. So far I have seen one deer in all my hunts (Opening morning, in the dark walking to my stand) and a bunch of pig sign. I have seen a reasonable number of squirrels for those interested. I could use some help as I feel like I am a bit clueless hunting this particular habitat. I have scouted out some areas with decent oak trees, Swamp Chestnut Oaks (Cow Oaks), live oaks, and various red oaks with decent visibility. I haven't found many acorns on the ground. Can anyone provide guidance on the deer and hog patterns in the area. What food sources seem to be used and when? I have another place to hunt in MS, but I want to harvest a couple of deer close to home and save my quota of deer at the other location for guests and new hunters I'm trying to introduce to the sport. I would really like to kill a hog as I have never killed one. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
I hunted big branch for years when I lived in Mandeville. With that being said it is a very challenging place to hunt. My best advice is do your hardest hunting before duck season starts. All the shooting really drives them nocturnal during duck. I found that the deer and hogs bed in the marsh and move into the woods to feed in the early mornings and late afternoon. so hunting wood lines on the edges of large sections of solid marsh is a good bet. Acorns will start falling soon. Dont be afraid to put the hip boots on and do some walking to get away from the places the average joe would go. Pm me if you have any more questions id love to help
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
Big Branch gives up a few nice trophies every year and is like any other Public Land hunting spot-put in some time and if ya got de opportunity for mid-week hunts,go for it as it gets pressured big-time come duck season and I do a fair amount of squirrel stalking there and have spooked deer and hogs on a few hunts.One hunt,I had my shotgun sitting under some fine oaks and a heavy-body 6 pt walked almost close enough for me to hit him with the barrel of my Beretta and next day took crossbow with me and all I saw were tree rats!!!Find the oaks and find the deer/hogs but try your best to get out there when extremely light pressure and do not be afraid to use a boat or pirogue to access the thickest cover out there.I can't tell ya how many duck hunts I have seen does walking the marsh!!!

Mandevillian
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
I really appreciate the response. I don't have as much time as I would like to scout, but I do what I can. I have generally tried to follow the approach you mentioned. My scouting has taken me to the edge of the large timber/ marsh and I have followed the edge noting locations with good oak trees (swamp Chestnut oaks, live oaks, and various red oaks) with reasonable visibility. I am trying to use a climbing stand. I am trying to find locations as close to the marsh as possible where I can climb and achieve reasonable visibility (30 yards). So far I have only seen one deer that I walked up on in the dark opening day. I did see a little bobcat this past Saturday. I have not seen many acorns yet. Can you tell be when to expect them to fall? I found just a few swamp Chestnut oak acorns and a few from red oaks. Do you know when the various species drop their acorns?
Are there any signs I should pay particular attention to, Acorns on the ground, deer droppings, etc. I am not hunting for bucks. I would prefer a doe or a hog if I had my choice due to my family's preference in table fare. I am really hunting Big Branch because it is close to home, and I want to save my deer at my lease in MS for guests/newer hunters. If I can figure out the right habitat to hunt and sign to look for it would help a bunch. I really appreciate the assistance and any advice.
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
I am by no means a Big Branch deer hunting expert,just an avid outdoorsman that hunts ducks primarily and chases squirrels and deer to fill up the time between Opening Day of Archery Season and East Zone Opener of duck season.I used to take pirogue down non-motorized Pipeline to chase not only feisty bass but also hunt squirrels and have spooked some fine racked deer on West side of pipeline.There are tons of hogs in that general area and taking a paddle craft accomplishes quite a few things,primarily getting you away from those who take easy route and gets you to possibly lot less-pressured game,hint,hint.There are tons of oaks all over the Big Branch Refuge and there is a nice spot off Lucille Drive possibly worth looking at.Now dat ya got plenty of places,good luck and let us know how ya do!!

Mandevillian
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
Interesting, I'll see what I can do to check those areas out. Thanks for the input.
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
Gentlemen,
I have a question on hip waders. Do you feel they offer a real advantage in Big Branch? I typically wear knee boots. My experience with Big Branch has been that the mud is so soft that there's little advantage to hip waders. If I went where the mud was that deep then the walking was too dangerous to be carrying a climbing stand. Has your experience been different?
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Re: Deer hunting Big Branch
I do more duck hunting and always have chest waders but duck hunting Big Branch pretty much requires waders but I would suspect knee boots would be fine for deer hunting,especially the ridges that I have typically hunted there.Using a pirogue and going down the non-motorized Pipeline might put you in great spots not easily accessed by others NOT using paddle craft(hint,hint)!!
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