In the most recent issue of “Quality Whitetails” from the QDMA, Don Higgins wrote an article titled “6 Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make”, in which he discusses several of the biggest mistakes you can’t make if you want to hold and kill mature bucks on small properties. It’s a great article and he made a few really important points that I thought I should share with the Wired To Hunt Nation. In addition, I’d also like to add my 2 cents on four more mistakes you can’t afford to make if you want to effectively hunt mature bucks on a small piece of land. Lets first examine Don’s six points.
- Too Much Hunting Pressure: Having too many people hunting on your parcel of land is obviously going to make it more difficult to harvest an old timer buck. Pressure, or rather the lack of it, may be the single most important criteria in holding and hunting mature bucks in a location. You absolutely have to minimize it in any way possible. Don recommends limiting the number of family and friends that hunt your land. If you’re goal is fun times with your fam and friends, then invite them all out. But just manage your expectations accordingly. You won’t be consistently killing mature bucks on a 40 acre parcel with 8 other people hunting it.
- No Sanctuary: Mature bucks need thick, untouched cover to feel safe and move in the daylight. If you want these mature bucks to be moving around on your land, you need to provide that safety zone. Delegate a large piece of land to be a sanctuary and leave it alone.
- Sanctuaries That Are Too Small: Having a sanctuary is great, but it also has to be substantial in size. You want a piece of land where deer can retreat to and not be bothered by people traveling around the outskirts. The bigger the better. Also keep in mind the quality of your sanctuary. The thicker and nastier you can get it, the safer a mature buck will feel.
- Food Plot Issues: When it comes to food plots, you have to think strategically. Don points at errors in both crop choices and size as being the most detrimental to your success.
- Too Many Trails: Having a property laced with frequently traveled atv trails and two tracks is not going to be conducive to holding mature bucks. This is just one more example of putting too much pressure on deer. You want to stay out of their hair, so they will feel safe and hang out on your land. Driving your atv all over tarnation is not going to make your bucks happy.
- Failing to See the Big Picture: Look at the larger area surrounding your land and figure out where your land fits in. Is there significant agriculture on the adjoining properties, but no cover? You can develop your land as the top destination for bedding and great cover. Figure out what is lacking around your area and provide that for your herd.
So obviously those are all important issues to consider, but I thought I would throw in a few more for consideration.
- Too Much Pressure On One Stand Location: So many hunter’s hunt the same stand over and over again. No matter where you hunt, this is going to significantly hurt your chances of ever seeing a mature whitetail deer. If you’re hunting a small piece of land, your mistake will be that much more detrimental. There is very little room for error. Rotate your stand locations as best as you can and leave your hunting areas as unpressured as possible.
- Not Thinking About How You’re Getting To and From Your Stand: It’s important when planning out your land or stand locations to consider how you will get to and from your hunting area. You need to be able to travel to and from your stand without spooking deer, so think through your travel plan strategically. Keep in mind wind direction and where deer will be at that time of day, whether that is bedding or feeding areas.
- Not Considering Pressure on Surrounding Property: In addition to managing the pressure on your own land, you will need to consider what pressure there might be surrounding it. If you hunt a small piece of land, this issue is even more relevant. Consider where the hunting pressure might be coming from outside your borders and develop your hunting plan accordingly.
- Hunting Your Stands At The Wrong Times: This ties back to over hunting a particular stand location, when you’re hunting a small piece of land or in a pressured area you just can’t afford to put too much pressure in one location. That being said, it is ideal if you have certain stands that are designated for specific times of the year. For instance if you have a great set up that is over a primary scrape area in a travel corridor, you may want to hold off on hunting this spot until the rut. Keep it free of human intrusion and hunt it only during the very best circumstances. Too many people find a great spot, but then hunt it over and over throughout the whole season. Save your best spots for the rut and hunt them strategically.
Remember these 10 “mistakes” when you are planning your hunting strategy on your small property and you will have much more success. A small piece of property can still be a great place to hunt mature deer, but every mistake you make is magnified. Play it smart and plan strategically. Your hard work will pay dividends down the road, hopefully in the form of giant racked bucks and bloody arrow shafts.
Do you have any other big mistakes that you’d like to add to the list? Please share them with the Wired To Hunt Nation!
Visit the QDMA website to download your own copy of Don Higgin’s original article.