Oxbows in rivers have been really good to me. An “oxbow” is a bend in a river or creek that forms a bowl shaped loop that almost forms an island with just a small area of dry land connecting to the mainland. Bedding will be along the river in the bowl shaped area. They have one dry entry predators can enter on. Deer can monitor it with wind-blown scent.
The biggest typical buck I ever hunted lived in an oxbow in southwestern Iowa. They like oxbows where the dominant wind blows in from the dry land, they face the river and use the water as an escape. One needs to assume there is not regular canoe or kayak traffic on a creek for this to apply.
They need to have some bedding cover, too, but there usually is some good cover along river edges. Quite often, bucks leaving the beds in the evening take the safe way out. They walk into the wind thru the mouth of the bowl. This means in order for a smart hunter to kill the buck, he must hunt an off wind.
3. Isolated by Water
I just don’t know what it is about water that hunters are scared of, but you put down a couple inches of water and it seems to stop hunters in there tracks. Bucks, however, love water. It keeps out the predators, coyotes, wolves and humans. Bucks love the safety of a bed surrounded by water.
I hunt some heavily pressured marshes in southeastern Wisconsin. It’s amazing how every portion of high-timbered ground can have a hunter per acre, but hit the cattail water edge and all pressure stops. Bucks live and thrive in wet areas. All they need is some scattered high spots to lay on. In cattail marshes, these are really easy to pick out on an aerial. In timbered swamps, they can be a little tougher to see without walking it. When you look out over the cattails or swamp, look for small groups of trees or lone trees where there may be some hard ground to support buck bedding underneath. A lot of big bucks die of old age by living there lives in these wet areas and rarely venturing onto the dry hunted land in daylight.