Southern Public Land Site
Deer movement has been very slow on this property since rifle season. After moving stands just across the river from our previous “rut” spot, we hoped it would put us in a better location to tag a buck. However, the movement still remains very slow. We have hunted this spot six times since rifle season ended on November 20th and have seen only four does moving across the river. The main key for us right now is trying to find where the deer went. The pressure of rifle season either has them locked down in a different location we don’t know about or it has them going nocturnal. To try and figure this out we put a trail camera out next to our stands to see if most of the movement is happening during the night. We won’t be back to this location until about mid-December, so a trail camera update won’t come until later in December. Also, because we never really got to scout this property, any more than using aerial photos, we did a little speed scouting after one of our morning hunts and we found a couple areas we want to look at further and scout this spring. We also found a few other stands. When we hung our stands in this location in mid-October we were the only stands along the river and consequently that is when we had the best deer movement in this area. When we ended our hunt last week we had four other stands within a 100-yard radius of our stands. This is definitely contributing to the decreased deer activity.
It’s that time of the season when you need to switch back to food sources. So, Chance and I split up during one of our past hunts. I went to the “rut” location and Chance took his binoculars and spotting scope and headed to a spot that over looked a vast area of corn fields to see if he couldn’t spot some deer movement in the agricultural fields. He had the same results I did, NOTHING.
With the number of stands around us increasing, rifle season pressure, and no deer using the corn fields we have a hunch that most of the movement is happening after legal shooting hours. The trail camera we put out should also give us a few answers as well. With all the pressure we have seen on this property this year we know that it is very important to find the spots that others aren’t hunting. Finding those spots will be the focus of next year’s off season preparation. But with four weeks still left in the season we are going to return to this spot in a couple weeks still focused on trying to tag a buck.
Northeastern Public Land Site
It seems to be the theme of this year’s public land hunting, but, yet again, we have run into hunting pressure issues. When we started hunting this spot we believed we were the only ones hunting it. But two days ago when we decided to try and move stands to a better location on this property, we found three other stands. To understand how disappointing that it is you need to know that this property is only 36 acres, with only about 10 being woody cover and the rest being pasture ground. So, including us, that is four people hunting about 10 acres. Not good. So, instead of moving stands we packed them up and headed back to the truck and tried to come up with another game plan.
Our new game plan focuses on food. We used aerial photos and found a public land location that had a sufficient amount of food on it. Yesterday, I headed to the property to give it a quick scout and you guessed it, the first thing I saw was another stand. Although this property is not large I still think it is big enough that we can both hunt this cornfield without interfering with each other. This property consists mostly of ag fields and CRP grass with the borders being a strip of trees that parallel a small creek. The creek borders the west edge of the corn field and is very steep with sides about 12 ft. high. This means that deer crossing from one side of the creek to the other can’t just cross anywhere along the creek. So the key to scouting this location is finding the areas along the creek that have shorter sides, which will allow the deer to cross easier. This makes it easier to know where to sit along the field edge because about 90 percent of the field has a western border that’s not crossable. When I scouted I was able to find a spot on the creek where the sides were lower and in this location there is a major trail leading from the other side of the creek to a corner of the field that is part of the public land. This is where are going to set up. The aerial photo below shows our setup. Our first opportunity to hunt will be this weekend, so we will see if this corn field can bring a deer into range.
Overall, hunting pressure has affected our strategies for the rest of the season. On the southern public land site, we are trying to find out where the pressure pushed the deer and on the northeastern public land site we moved away from a smaller property with too much pressure. For the remainder of the season we will try to focus our attention on food sources and areas where the deer feel the safest. The season is quickly coming to an end. So, it is time to grind it out a little longer and finish strong. Good luck the rest of the season.