Tips for Choosing the Perfect Land for your Hunting Property
I’ve learned a lot from Ed Spinazzola over the last couple weeks as I’ve read his book “Ultimate Deer Food Plots” and hopefully you’ve learned a few tips along the way. We’ve covered everything from soil tests to food plot equipment, to specific planting strategies. But what if you don’t have a piece of land for these food plots? Well that’s where we’ll conclude our series on Ed’s book. For many of us, owning deer hunting land is a goal and a dream for the future. So when the time comes to choose our own hunting paradise, what should we be looking for that would indicate management success?
One of the first characteristics you want to look for are drainages. Deer love water and the surrounding areas. It’s no coincidence that some of the best deer hunting in the Midwest is along rivers such as the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Missouri. Water drainages obviously provide consistent water sources for deer, but they also produce lush forage and fertile soil.
That being said, soil quality is one of the next most important factors to consider when examining a new piece of land. The better your soil, the better chances your food plots will have. You may not have the luxury of taking soil tests before you make a purchase, but there are several visual indicators of soil quality that you can look for. One tell-tale sign of sandy, acidic soil (bad) is blueberries and sweet ferns. If all you have is a lot of bracken fern, take note of the height. Bracken fern will grow in most places, but if you have ferns above your waist that is a good sign. Another good indicator of high quality soil is goldenrod. The taller the goldenrod is, the better.
Topography is another highly desired element to any hunting property. Rolling hills, valleys, ridgelines, gullies and draws will all funnel deer movement and provide ideal cover and structure for deer to utilize. Not only will these land features help you pattern deer, but they will also increase the attractiveness of your land for deer and increase the level of comfort and safety the deer will experience.
Lastly, just as with food plots, deer need variety in their habitat. Look for a property that has a large variety of natural forage, tree growth, structure, open lands and timber. Provide many different food and cover options, with plenty of edges in between. Having this diversity will provide the best possible nutrition and living conditions for your deer, while also providing you with the best hunting opportunities.
So whenever that day comes that you get to pick out your own piece of hunting treasure, keep these pointers in mind. You can do all the work in the world to create great food plots, but if the rest of the ingredients aren’t there, your land management and deer hunting goals will be much more difficult to achieve. Ed Spinazzola went so far in his book as to say “I would recommend a 40-acre property with prime soil, hills, multiple plant types with serious drainage, over 160-acre monoculture flat, sandy, and waterless piece of land, even if it was the same price..” That’s a bold statement, but given Ed’s extensive experience, I’m certainly planning on following his advice.