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Q: I have been hunting Lochloosa and grove park area for over 20 yrs. Im guessing when it comes to being lucky, i dont have much of it for big bucks...One 8 pt so far and a lot of skeeter bites. How can a guy that lives in St petersburg with very little time to put into scouting due to gas and travel time improve the odds... I do fine during turkey season, but for some reason, I've got a black cloud following me around from October through January. Please Help! b4 i just hang up my bow and 3030... Douglas

A: #1 I can't give you any direction without knowing a few things first such as the land your hunting, how you're hunting it, and the quality of bucks in your area. I can tell you about scents, calling, scouting with maps, and such, but the things I suggest may be things you're already doing.

My best suggestion is to take a long hard look at your approach to the hunt, step by step. Then do something different! You know the old saying, "if you always do as you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten"?

Change the area you're hunting, the way you hunt it, and even the times you hunt. Ever pay attention to the number of big buck photos here in Woods & Water that were taken late in the morning and through the middle of the day? Ever hunt the midday? It just might be the tactic to end your big buck drought.

To really help you out, feel free to contact me direct at [email protected]

Best of luck on the hunt!

Toby Benoit



A: #2 Dear Douglas,

Man I feel your pain. Public land hunting is always tough, especially on areas that get the kind of pressure you're talking about.

My best advise is to stick with it or try and venture a little further from home and try some new areas.

If you're die hard to stay with Grove Park and Lochloosa, I would concetrate around north side of Right Arm Marsh and well south of Garrison Hammock Rd on the west side of the lake on Lochloosa.

In Grove Park I would hunt the creek between Camps Canal and 346 as well as work the area between Prison Farm Rd, and the creek north of Fish Camp or the hammock between 301 and Johnson Rd to the northeast.

Don't overlook small pockets of dense cover even though it's surrounded by lots of open land. You never know where one of those old bucks is going to hide out. Many times, the smarts ones hide in plain sight.

Short of putting you in a tree and giving you GPS coordinates, you're just going to have to scout those areas and find the sign that tells you bucks are still working those places. Best advise I can give you is the later in the season it gets, the more you should hunt thick cover close to food sources. And remember, BE UNCONVENTIONAL!

Best of luck and safe hunting.

Chuck Echenique

A: #1I may not be the one to ask, because this is my first year on Grove Park and I have yet to kill a buck there myself! I have seen bucks nearly every trip, however, and all of the guys I hunt with have killed a buck each, and I missed one during Archery Season, so I am no "expert" at killing but certainly I am at seeing them!

We have all of our stands within 10 minutes from our vehicles, and are in hardwood bottoms neat the edge of swamps. We have little hunting pressure, because everyone else seems to walk far from their trucks and scare the deer back to us!

All of the deer have been feeding on acorns so far, and when the acorns are gone, thee will be gall berries in late December and early January. I am glad to hear you have done well on turkeys, because that is why I joined Grove Park to start with!

Email me and we can trade secrets!

Kenny Gasaway

[email protected]