Hunt the "Island in the Stream"

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In the south, as in many other parts of the country, we have vast swamps that are often a maze of runs, sloughs, dead end back waters and at times, row after row of areas that are flowing water, higher ground and then flowing water again.

I hunt two of these… the Salkehatchie and the Coosawhatchie river systems.

The former system is, in some portions of the river, over a mile wide and while the latter one is less massive, what it lacks in width, it makes for with huge oxbows and twists / turns of the main run.

Both of these systems have their own unique characteristics (and charm!) but they also have two other things in common:

·      They are both filled with deer.

·      They both have islands – isolated patches of higher ground that are surrounded by acres and acres of flooded ground.

The deer love the swamp… it is a great area for travel, it has water, green browse, there are usually loads of hard mast, there are generally dense thickets along each side of the swamp and they feel very comfortable in these areas.

I profess a great love for these swamps and hunt these areas whenever I feel that I can get on some deer – either traveling or feeding…and sometimes… as a refuge area…

In these vast expanses, when you locate one of these islands, there is dry ground for bedding, green browse, all the water they want and often – thick areas for cover.

They are generally less concerned, I think, with the dense cover – because they are fairly relaxed down in these swamps anyway.

In many instances, you can spot these areas from a distance due to the green growth that accumulates on the higher ground… something the sodden and often flooded adjacent areas can not provide.

Locate one of these areas, and you have done two things… identified a potential hiding and bedding area for the deer and also found yourself a potential great area to set up a stand, be it a climber, fixed or even a ground level blind.

That is one thing about certain swamp locations – with the flooded areas – there is often less underbrush and you can see well from a lower vantage point or even from ground level.

Attached are some photos of one of these islands that I hunt… it is about 2 acres in size and you can see that it rises up just enough to offer some dry ground and green growth…

I do have to cross some very wet areas to get to this island and at times, it requires hip boots (depending on recent rains) but it is well worth it!

Try to locate one of these “Islands in the Stream” on the land that you hunt – on public land this may well be a bonanza!


ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks for the tip. In the

Thanks for the tip. In the area's I hunt there are very few if any of these type of places. If I do ever get to an area like this I will definitely keep this in mind. 

numbnutz's picture

Great tip, some of the best

Great tip, some of the best hunting here would be the islands on the columbia river but i'm pretty sure its not legal. i can hunt the islands and green spaces of the willamette river, it has some big deer as well. thanks for the pointers.

groovy mike's picture

and the opposite too!

Another good tip Ed, but another option is to watch the approaches and exits to areas like this too.  That's what I do and it seems to work well for me.

My property is on the edge of a swamp but is on higher ground.  I think I catch deer crossing my property en route to the swamp seeking refuge from other hunters around me.  I don't have the opportunity to hunt vthe swamp myself, but I have a neihbor that does.  I can count on him to be in there driving the swamp with a group of his friends every opening morning.  They usually get a shot or two and sometimes they even get a deer or two, but they ensure that anything still o its feet evacuates the swamps and comes to me.  I don't mind that one bit.  I only wish they'd come back later in the season  and do it again.  But these guys seem to congregate for one big hunt on teh first weekend and then fade away.  So after that, I think those swamps are exactly what you describe.  A safe place to hide from everyone else - myself included.  I don't even think that I'll ask permission to hunt the property.  I'll let them have it.  It's nice to know that the deer have somewhere that they can hide from the out of town hordes that come in. 

It ensures that there will be more for me every next year!

ecubackpacker's picture

Jim, don't let them know all

Jim, don't let them know all the tricks up your sleeve. Hahahaha.

I like to hunt this swamps and islands as it take more time and effort than most hunters are willing to go thru. When you hunt these places, you can find deer moving at all times of the day, regardless if it's the rut or not. The bigger bucks like to retreat to these sanctuaries after the rut.

Take the time to find these spots, pack a lunch and hunt all day.

jim boyd's picture

ECU, I love these spots...


I love these spots... sometimes the solitude is just flat worth it.

Coming from a great and patient hunter like you, that is a great endorsement!