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Mark Twain National Forest Advice

10072 Views 27 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  MikeMurf
Hello all,

I am a new member and have been eating up all the info I can from the site. I actually have a small lease up in Kansas that has been my go to for the past 9 years, but this year for the first time I unfortunately didn't draw a tag, so I will be hunting Missouri (MTNF) for the first time this year. I came up from Oklahoma over the weekend and spent a couple days putting boots on the ground. 10.5 miles according to my GPS Saturday and 7.25 miles Sunday. This guy ain't as young as he used to be...…. :)

I have been pouring over satellite imagery, topos and MDWC maps for weeks now, so I decided to check a couple of areas in Pulaski county, because I liked the prospect of more mature bucks due to the point restrictions. My plan was to drive down the legal forest road to where the maps show you have to stop and then try to outwalk other hunters from there. I was disappointed to find that the roads/trails were well used by ATV's well past those points and I know I cant outwalk an ATV...…….

After finding this, I decided to go check the Paddey Creek Wilderness Area out, because I had studied it hard also since it is walk-in only, even though it lacks the point restrictions. I liked what I found there, although I did find evidence of other hunters in a couple places 1.5 miles in.

If some of you don't mind, this is where I have some questions. I am used to hunting big woods in NE Ok, but what I found different is that the ridgetops were so much more open in MTNF. I found areas that were thicker halfway down the sides of the ridges, on down to the bottom and in the bottoms. Do you guys who hunt MTNF see much movement(mature buck) on top of the ridges where it is open or more on the sides? I know the bottoms can be hard to hunt due to the wind currents, but have you all found that the mature bucks run those thick narrow bottoms in the rut? How is the PCWA in terms of mature buck numbers? How is the hunting pressure(bow and gun)?

I am going back up probably around the end of Oct. to do one more boots on the ground scouting trip before hunting in Nov., since there will be fresh sign then. I don't mind staying in the tree from daylight to dark in Nov., so if any of you have any tips, tricks or advice for that type of country and don't mind sharing, I would greatly appreciate it.
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Not on the open ridges no, most often they'll cruise 1/3 of the way down from the top on the downwind side. MTNF is tough hunting unless you know what you're looking for. Get to know a topo map well. ID the doe bedding areas, then find the acorns. Look for diversity in habitat. Open woods don't hold deer. Look for cover and clearcuts or disturbed areas. I like to hunt pipelines and/or power lines that get cut every few years or so since many deer feed there when there's no ag fields for miles. Plus bucks like to cruise along powerlines/pipelines for does bedded and feeding in them. Look for brushy hollows that go up to the ridge and connects with another brushy hollow on the other side, I've had luck hunting the top of those hollows for cruising bucks. Look for several ridges meeting together. Good luck.
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Haven’t deer hunted paddy creek but have hog hunted the area a lot around Plato. It used to get hit hard during rifle season. Archery you might be better off. Beautiful open forests but it used to get pounded. That could have changed.
Thank you for the help. I do appreciate it!
I've never deer hunted Paddy Creek but I did turkey hunt it a few years back. I didn't kill anything but did have a couple off missed opportunities. I do remember seeing some sign of deer hunting quite aways up in there from the road.

I always wanted to give deer hunting there a try but haven't been able to get back. I realize this isn't much help to you but good luck and keep us posted on how it goes for you.
I’ve found that one of the best times for boots on the ground in a new area as vast as MTNF and as isolated as PCWA is post season. Scrapes, Rub-lines etc are easier to locate and flag on your gps. Also take note of sign left by fellow hunters. Take all of that info and create a plan the takes advantage of both data sets collected. Are you planning on hunting alone or with a partner or group?
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Thanks Flatlander. I will let you know how it turns out. Yes WBF, I would have been in there scouting in January or February (that’s when I like to scout a new area) if I had known I wouldn’t be drawn for Kansas this year. Unfortunately you are not notified of your Kansas draw result until usually sometime in June........ I will just be hunting alone. Thank you guys for the help.
I’m agreeing with CY912. I hunt Pulaski county, Phelps, Texas, and Laclede counties.

I’ve made many complaints to MTNF about the ATVs. It’s a crying shame that they are abusing our public lands that way. With the that said, I try to get into areas where there’s no trails.

The MTNF is a open sea if you don’t know what your looking for. Terrain, transition lines, diversity, and access. Deer density is very low 12-15 deer per square mile, however most of those deer can be found in those pockets of rich habitat. If your not in those pockets of rich habitat you’ll likely go days without seeing one deer.

The APRs have really helped in those counties. However, without excellent habitat and the poor soils it’s hard to find a old buck scoring over 135. I’ve ran 16 cameras give or take over the last 13 years and only had 4 deer over 150. See a few over that as well. I have 5 deer on camera right now that are over 6 or 7 years old that don’t score Pope and Young. The military post has good potential, more hunters, and area access issues. My apologies if I seem to be courting you off. However, there’s some realistic standards for these areas. When some guys think Missouri they think the outdoor channel. Southern Missouri is rough country for whitetail hunting. However, genetically they are the same deer as the northern Missouri deer.

Going just a few counties north will get you into more consistent deer sightings and sign, I head up that way when I have the time to burn.
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I agree with kcbuckeye22, I hunted the MTNF down there years ago. If your looking for mature deer an wanna increase the odds hunt north. Check out Lamine, rifle season is nuts but bow isn’t bad.
Kcbuckeye22, no problem with seeming to be courting me off, I appreciate honest info. I am after mature deer, but they don't have to be monsters...….. I hope for a 130+.

I own my own land here in Oklahoma, but I still do some public hunting too, because I enjoy the challenge (as long as the area is not overrun with hunters) when it is a year that big deer aren't showing up on my place. As I'm sure you guys know, it can vary from year to year on a property. I harvested the buck in my avatar 2 years ago on my place and he scored 163 2/8. That year I actually had two bucks on cam that were dandies (him and a 150" 8 point). Last year they weren't in there like that though...…..

We have some exceptional bucks on some of our public lands in OK and I have been fortunate to harvest several from them over the years. I enjoy hunting other places, there’s just something about a new area that just makes you feel good. It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure many of you know the feeling I’m talking about.

The ATV problem is aggravating! Down here on the public I hunt, they have signs posted on the roads "no vehicle access beyond this point". I was surprised the roads did not have signs like this. Of course, you still have those that disregard, but it helps. I hate it that people disrespect public land and other hunters.

I have read a lot about the hunting farther north, but had shyed away due to the fear of there being too many hunters. I have used other hunters to my advantage on public before, but I have also seen where there are too many and it just doesn't make for a relaxing/fun experience.

Anyway, I am soaking all this info in and I certainly do appreciate it! Thank you all so much.
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Get a canoe and float into an area not accessible from a parking lot.
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Most of our public land is posted for no motorized vehicle use. The violators tear the signs down.
Sandals, a canoe is something I have been mulling over. MOGC, it’s sad, but that’s the way it is I guess. It happens some here too. Thanks guys.
Sandals, a canoe is something I have been mulling over. MOGC, it's sad, but that's the way it is I guess. It happens some here too. Thanks guys.
You'll see some of the biggest deer of your life
Not to derail the thread, but how do you go about getting a list of hunting regulations for MTNF?
Flatlander, just letting you know how my hunt went. I ended up bow hunting the Truman Lake area. Drove up Sunday, started hunting Monday and harvested a dandy 10 Tuesday morning. Hopefully the pics will come thru. Thanks to all for the advice!
Trophy hunting Hunting Deer hunting Deer Elk
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Strong work. Dandy for sure. Good hunt for an OOSER!!
Great buck. Used to hunt Truman every year. Used a boat to cross the lake. Killed some nice deer there. Around Lowry city.
Nice McBuck!!!!
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