Wayne Fears10/26/10 – How much land does a deer hunter need to hunt deer? Western hunters require much-more land than eastern hunters, because often the deer are spread out, the land’s more open, and the habitat isn’t as thick in the West. But in the forests east of the Mississippi River and in many sections of the Midwest and the Northwest, hunters may not need more than a half-mile to hunt and will be much-more effective in those areas, if they learn how to set-up and hunt a specific half-mile.

  • * Shrink the Amount of Woods and Water – A woodlot with 30,000 acres is too large a region to hunt. To decrease the size of your hunting area, determine where the deer will be, because of their normal seasonal and migratory patterns. Before hunting season, deer have a normal routine they follow to and from feeding and bedding areas. Prior to the season, search for deer in places that provide one of these two needs for the whitetail. During the rut, buck deer often will make scrapes and be in places where they can breed does. When heavy hunting pressure is present, deer generally will go to thick cover to avoid hunting pressure. Deer have preferred foods at certain times of the year that only are in season then. Depending on the time of year, you can assume where the deer should be and begin to narrow-down the sections of land where you look for deer by also studying the terrain. One terrain break that drastically shrinks the woods you have to hunt is a clear cut. My book, “How to Hunt Clear Cuts,” available at www.jwaynefearsbrand.com, will give you many-more ideas on shrinking the area you hunt.
  • Use Pressure Points – The places with the most hunters often will have the fewest deer, while the areas with the least number of hunters will home the most deer. Understanding hunting pressure will help you decrease the amount of woods you have to search to try to find deer.
  • Scout for the Magic Half-Mile – The magic half-mile is a place in the woods where big bucks should appear. But locating that half-mile is not an easy task. No shortcuts exist to learning what the magic half-mile is where you can take deer. You diligently must search for it.
  • Have a Half-Mile to Hunt – If you’ve done a careful and efficient job of scouting, you should be able to see and take a deer within a half-mile. Set-up as many as four tree stands in that half-mile. Then no matter which way the wind’s blowing, you can go into that region and hunt. If you’ve scouted properly, you can hunt more confidently. If you thoroughly understand what the deer do in that one-half mile, and there’s a buck in that area, then your chances of success are 100-times greater than someone who stumbles around in the woods hoping a deer will appear.
  •  Know What the Magic Half-Mile Looks Like – Although the magic half-mile will look differently in various parts of the country and can be found in several types of terrain, magic half-miles have some similar characteristics. These five types of magic half-miles can be hunted during an entire season and often even for several years.
  1. A magic thicket – I once hunted a thicket in the middle of a river-bottom hardwood swamp that often flooded during hunting season for several years. This thicket was productive, because it was protected from hunters by water. The woods that flooded during the rainy season contained water oaks, white oaks, willow oaks and red oaks. The thicket was on high ground, which meant that even when the river rose, the deer had sanctuary. Inside the thicket were plentiful blackberries and greenbrier.
  2. The neck of a funnel – In a funnel, the woods narrow-down to a small neck – usually with woodlots on either end of the neck and some type of habitat break surrounding the woodlot. Discovering an area like this – if you don’t know what to look for – often can be difficult. Many times deer meander through a funnel without establishing well-used trails. However, sometimes deer on both ends of a funnel will move back and forth through a region to get from one part of the woods to the other. Generally a funnel area consistently will be productive for a long time, unless the terrain changes.
  3. A magic half-mile of food – Deer in many parts of the country have a preferred food they eat at different times of the year. Deer will come from many parts of the woods to feed on one of their favorite foods, when this food is in high demand and short supply.
  4. A magic saddle – A saddle is a low place in a mountain range that deer use to cross the mountains. Oftentimes if you can pinpoint a saddle in a mountain, it can become a magic 1/2-mile hunting spot and home deer throughout hunting seasons for many years to come.
  5. A honeymoon suite – In many sections of the country, deer often will make scrapes and meet does at the same places every year. If you discover one of these honeymoon half-miles where bucks historically have scraped, you may find a spot to harvest a buck every season for several years.

The magic half-mile is the very-best place in the woods where deer will concentrate or move through during hunting season and consistently will produce more deer each year than any other place in the woods. To learn more about deer and their habits, go to www.jwaynefearsbrand.com, and see my “Deer Hunter’s Pocket Reference” book.