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Hunting Small Properties

Posted by: Jesse Bugger | Illinois | NAP Field Staff
| Jul, 6 2011

Jesse Bugger with big 8-point buck

Jesse puts in a lot of time and effort to maximize his chances at good bucks on his hunting property.

Many of us hunt relatively small pieces of property every season. Hunting small tracts of land holds its own set of challenges. Here are a few ideas to try and maintain successful hunting on small pieces of ground.

Heavy pressure is probably the main culprit that limits success on small properties. I tend to increase pressure on small acreages in accordance with the progression of the rut. Here are a few strategies to help you keep pressure under control. 

1. Start off slowly and cautiously hunting the outskirts of most of your deer's core area. Concentrate on food sources/plots, being careful to pick the stand sites that will least likely get you busted either approaching or leaving your set up. If possible create a couple of early season food plots that are easily accessible without bumping deer on your way in or out. Take special precautions to be scent free. I personally don't do much calling during the month of October(our rut typically begins around Halloween). I do my best to never let any animals know I am in the woods. I change to more aggressive hunting tactics when the deer movement gets ratcheted up during the rut.

2. Hunt new stand sites. I like to use October to hunt locations that are different from my traditional best stands. I have two reasons for this, one I might find a new hot spot—and it also keeps pressure off of my other stands that will surely be hunted come November. I try to avoid hunting my best two or three stands until the week of Halloween.

3. Have multiple stand sites. Options will not only keep your best stands from being over-hunted, it can also keep you from getting bored. The farm I hunt the most is around 75 acres. I like to keep around 10 to 12 stands hung every season. Of the ten, probably 8 or 9 of them are in the same trees every season. The others float around from year to year. My property is in the Midwest, so location of stands can vary depending on whether the main field at the farm is in corn or beans. 

Jesse's Dad with big buck

Sharing the hunt with friends & family can make for lasting memories. Here, Jesse's dad proudly displays an excellent buck taken on their hunting property.

4. Have friends hunt with you. At times I think a lot of us make hunting too stressful. Having others in camp can make hunting season more enjoyable. They may also give you a different perspective on how the deer are moving on your farm.

5. Keep a log of deer sightings, kills and shots out each stand. This is very helpful when you are trying to decide where to hang stands or even which stands to sit in different conditions—here to sit with what wind, etc.

6. Setting goals/using cameras. Every piece of property holds different deer. The quality of deer can change from year to year or even during the hunting season. I like to use game cameras along with deer sightings to try and help me decide what kind of deer to take and how many. Mineral licks (where legal) and scrapes are great places to get pictures of the deer that are using your property. Don't let pictures discourage you, on small tracts you may not get pictures of dozens of shooters all summer and early fall, but you may benefit from the bucks travelling through your property during the rut.

Jesse with a nice buck

Hopefully tips such as these can help you get the most return on your efforts for those of you hunting smaller tracts of ground. To all of my fellow bowhunters out there, good luck this season!