When if comes to deer hunting success the largest rate limiting factor is time. At least I believe that holds true for the vast majority of us any way. Everything that surrounds harvesting a great whitetail needs time. That and a little luck.
Three; three is the number of years that generally it takes me to hunt any given piece of whitetail property before I start to feel comfortable and confident with my approach. Although patterns change from year to year depending on crops, weather and surrounding property pressure, for the most part after spending 3 season sitting a piece of property I find that I have a pretty good idea whats going on.
Back to the former point however, time is not something very many of us have an excess of. So the purpose of this article along with our up coming video blog, is to document our approach to a new piece of property when you are on a time budget. Between the 6 different properties we have in 4 different WMUs we are up to our ears trying to just get these spots ready for the season. I look after two of them myself and with two young children and a full time job it is difficult to juggle it all.
As it is however the deer population in my home WMU’s have been stable but not thriving so additional deer tags have been eliminated once again this year. Not one to lie idle I was quick to adapt and focused my attention on a neighboring WMU some 40 mins away with flourishing whitetail numbers so much so they offer multiple additional tags.
Here I intended to share my step wise approach:
Step 1 July 2015 : I entered into the draw and drew a tag for a buck or doe in this new WMU. Success. This would be my primary hunting target, at least up until the rut. I try to keep our other two spots untouched so the hunting pressure is low leading into the rut when the entire Hunt Blog crew comes down for our annual hunt.
Step 2 August 2015: Find a property. This new zone has the bonus of having multiple public land hunting opportunities. For a small fee associated with buying a pass and proof of membership with The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters you can gain access to this public land.
Step 3 Mid August: After securing a pass I began the process of reviewing aerial maps to choose the property I would focus on. This included a mix of reviewing maps provided by the conservation authority and from google maps.
Now keeping in mind the reason for this article, time, the next step in choosing a property is important. Now there will be no doubt a tendency to want to choose the largest most vast property with the greatest amount of woods. This seems logical to most whitetail hunters. But for me this is not the right approach. I chose a relatively small plot of land which looked to have good access points, some nice surrounding ag fields and some water. Knowing that I only have a month until season a smaller property with predictable feeding and bedding areas will be much easier to scout and although it may not hold the greatest number or largest deer it will most likely be my greatest chance of success.
I should also say that I am not going to be using this tag to target a trophy, although if my trail cameras suggest otherwise the plan may change, but Instead will be using this tag to fill my freezer buck or doe.
Step 4 Late August: Put some tires on the ground. Yes I said tires. Although aerial maps will show you the basic lay of the land some drive bys of the property are both time efficient and productive. They allow you to retrieve recon on the types of crops planted and therefor the likely harvest time. Also gives you an idea of the amount of traffic around the area. Drive bys can also give you a better idea of the area topography and how dense the forest is in the area. You may also benefit by talking to near by land owners, find out the amount of hunting pressure and typical deer sightings.
So far I have committed not more than a couple hours to this new spot and have a wealth of information. I have an idea of what crops are where, prevailing wind directions, and have identified where I can park and approach the location from. I should also note that attachable tree stands are prohibited so all of my hunting will be done from the ground or climbing stand.
Step 5 First week September: Lace up your boots. Most physically demanding part but most important. I park and approach from the areas where I have previously predicted I will hunt. Keep in mind wind and stealth as you do not want to tip off the animals this close to the season. Be observant from the moment you park. Are the signs of other vehicles/multiple. Foot prints. Dog prints (people often walk dogs in these conservation areas and can certainly affect deer movement). Look for trail tap and markers. then I start my trek towards an area I have pre identified as a jumping off point for my hunting. This is almost always on a field edge well away fro where I predict the deer will be moving. I will use this as an observation set early in the season to observe the deer movement. Once I reach this location I hang a trail camera. And this is important. I hang a camera with a time lapse setting set to record first and last light. This will give mer great insight into where and when the deer are moving before I even sit in my tree.
Step 6: After setting this out I trim and clear my trail back to my approach point and mark it well with reflectors +/- tape. And that is it. That will be the last time I set foot on those grounds until hunting my first evening. I say evening for a reason. I don’t want to risk bumping deer in a spot I don’t know, traveling back to their beds in the morning. So I stick to evenings until I get a little more information.
And that is where the story ends for now. Stay tuned throughout the 2015 season and hopefully we will be able to show you another successful deer hunt webisode. Until then enjoy your hunt and be safe.