Creek Bottom Bucks

Gary's 178We have all heard of river and creek bottom bucks. We’ve heard the “big” bucks like to hang out in these drainages. We often talk about deer crossing creeks in certain spots and setting up our ambush spot somewhere on either side of the creek. But what I mean by “Creek Bottom Bucks” is neither of these two situations. In my last blog “Scouting Whitetails From a Bike.” I mentioned I enjoyed riding my bike and taking in all the wildlife along with scouting whitetails. I have noticed something very interesting over the past couple weeks during this hot dry weather. Deer are bedding and staging in creek bottoms during the heat of the day.

You might say, well duh, they are getting water. But the deer are in areas of the creek that are dry. When I first head out at daylight, most of the deer I see are bedded down in CRP fields that include fescue or brome grass. I figure the deer are bedding here to get the cooler breeze during the night. When I return several hours later and the sun is up, the deer have moved across the road into a nearby creek that runs along the road. The creek is shaded with trees on both sides. Many of the deer are bedded down on the rocks with no water around them. Yes, some are in or around the water but many are not. On days when I don’t start my ride until late in the afternoon, these same deer are all still bedded in the creek. When you are on a bike for hours you have plenty of time to think, and I came up with two thoughts; one is that the rocks are cooler and bedding down on them may feel cooler than in the timber or in the hot sun of the open CRP fields during the day. Second is that the banks on this creek are anywhere from 6ft to 12ft tall and the cool air is being trapped in the lower creek bed, just like it does in a basement. Since warm air rises and cooler air drops this would make sense that these creek bottoms are a good bedding and staging area for deer during hot weather.

Mark Mizon Illinois WhitetailI am not sure how this would translate into hunting in the fall during hot weather. These are just my observations over the last couple weeks with 90-100 degree temperatures. I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has experimented with this more and used it in an actual hunting situation. If you have, please comment below and tell me about your experience or if you just have a thought feel free to post it.   As I am typing this, my whitetail manager just told me about a buck that one of our hunters harvested during a hot October a couple years ago. (Pictured here) The buck was bedded down in a creek bottom. Hmmm maybe there is something to this. If this weather continues to stay hot and dry into the fall, I may have to experiment with what I have seen this summer.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog, riding a bike early in the morning is a great way not only to see deer but all kinds of wildlife. Most of the does are used to me now so they just stand there when I ride by. This morning, I saw 3 different foxes, and one huge coyote that I whistled at because he didn’t hear me coming from behind as he was cruising down the middle of the road.  Get up early, grab your bike and take a ride, you will see things that most people never get to experience while they are still sleeping. The bonus is you will be getting in shape for the fall hunting season!

Gary Harpole

Last Updated: July 14th, 2012

8 thoughts on “Creek Bottom Bucks

  1. Maybe the dry creek bed channels the wind to deliver a nice breeze? would be interested in finding out if anyone knows the actual science behind this.

  2. Great observation Gary! I think that you are on the money. The thermal currents will push the cooler air down to the lowest point which would be the creek bottom. The thermal currents will also follow the dry creek channel in much the same fashion as the water creating some air movement. As far as the rocks, they would cool the deer down through thermal conduction as long as they were cooler than the deer themselves. This certainly gives me some things to think about for those early season hunts. Make sure if plan on setting up for those creek bottom bucks that you account for those thermal currents and how they will affect your own scent travel.

  3. hi gary i came up about a month ago and the night great place. I went scouting sat and sun i found the same thing three good bucks laying in a dry creek the ground was still damp i think there is still moisture in the ground i dug out a small pond sun when i got down 1 foot deep still a lot of moisture.I have found that scouting as hot as it is you can find trails and sign good just like in early spring because the veg is burnt in the woods .that is my thought thanks robbie

  4. Those are interesting observations. They call situations like the cool creek bed a “micro-climate” because the circumstances allow conditions to be different than the surrounding area. The shade, cold air drainage, and what’s left of the soil moisture are making it the best spot around on a hot day.

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