Everyone wants to bag a big buck but not everyone has big woods to hunt. Far too many outdoorsmen who hunt small plots resign themselves to targeting the first legal buck that walks within range, believing this postage stamp lots are too small to attract bruisers. But with a few tricks and a little bit of preseason work you can make these areas tiny paradises.
Hunting smaller plots does limit your options – only few places to hang stands and a limit to how many deer is can hold. The key is to make the few deer that do call it home the best deer possible. You need to make your area as attractive as possible so the deer you really want will pass bigger areas to call yours home.
Whitetail deer require three things to be happy – food, water and cover. Obviously, food and water are a matter of survival and if you do not have it within the confines of your hunting plot the deer will have no choice but to leave. But having a full buffet is not enough. Cover is necessary to give the deer somewhere to hide, a place they can retreat to when they feel pressured or just want to lay down and feel safe. Without this cover the deer are likely to visit, eat and them leave again- probably at night when you are unable to hunt them.
Providing food and water is easier than you think. You could plant small, strategically located food plots and if no natural water sources exist place water tubes, like those used for cattle, nearby. For the best results plant several different plots containing a variety of food crops that will mature at different points during the season. Doing this will keep the deer close at hand all year long.
When it comes to cover you have two options – create it or wait for nature to take its course. If left alone even open fields and mature timber growth will eventually grow over and take on a more attractive feel. Of course, not everyone wants to wait several seasons for conditions to improve. For faster results get your chain saw and give Mother Nature a helping hand. Hing cut some medium to large size trees, allowing them to drop but remain attached to the stump several feet off the ground. The first season the limbs and foliage will provide the cover needed. In subsequent years natural growth will take over and continue the process.
Right now, there are several readers saying, “I do all that but still come up empty when the season arrives.” If this is the case I am willing to bet it is because you are also using the property for other activities during the off season. If the property is routinely used during the off season the deer will not find it as attractive because they will not feel secure. Think about it, if you were constantly being chased out of your neighborhood eventually you would move. Deer do the same thing.
Make sure that you limit access to the property except for hunting. If you do wish to use the property for riding dirt bikes, cutting fire wood or even hiking leave an interior portion undisturbed. Doing so will provide the deer a safe location they can retreat to and by having it at an interior location you ensure they will not simply keep walking and go next door.
For additional tips on making your property a deer haven check out this YouTube video.