A hunter can have the opportunity to take big bucks on what’s considered a small amount of land by following these tips:
• Intensively scouting and learning 20 to 30 acres that’s part of a larger area.
• Leasing small acreages next to public lands.
• Identifying small hot spots for deer.
Why hunting small tracts of land makes sense:
• They are easy to set up trail cameras on, identify the bucks on these properties and make a hit list of bucks you want to take.
• They have little or no hunting pressure and many hunters drive past them.
• They might home small patches of woods that are sanctuaries where big bucks concentrate during daylight hours.
• They might have the land around them intensively hunted, pushing big deer onto the small property.
• They might be present but not visible on maps of public-hunting lands.
• They are simple to police and protect.
Learn 20 to 30 acres well on big properties
A wildlife biologist years ago told me that often deer hunters didn't take big bucks because they tried to hunt too much land. Instead they needed to scout 20 to 30 acres thoroughly — even if it was public land. He recommended pinpointing the nut trees, the thick-cover areas and any streams and then determining the most productive places to stand. He emphasized that always we should remember that plenty of deer sign seldom produced deer. Then if you wanted to, you could study another 20 acres on that same property.
Lease small lands next to public lands
My friend Ernie Calandrelli loves to hunt deer on small lands and says, “I have a 30-acre farm I’ve been hunting for 50 years that backs up to 1,500 acres of state-owned land with plenty of food for the deer. Even though the state land has numbers of public land hunters, which often can be a negative, I’ve made my 30 acres almost a sanctuary for deer. I’ve got it posted, too. These deer receive very little hunting pressure, and I have a very good idea of where the deer will travel on my property and where I need to be to take them.
“I’m seeing more hunters hunting small properties, often only five acres. If a bowhunter has five acres to hunt and it’s the right five acres, he can have some of the best hunting of anybody anywhere. The right five acres is a funnel area that funnels deer from one large tract of woods to another large tract of woods, or a trail that leads to a food source that goes through that five acres, or if that five acres has a great bedding site for deer.”
Use information from little land hunters
Scott Sharp in Tennessee owns three acreages near Nashville of 15, 40 and 56 acres that produce two shooter bucks each year for him and his brother. They plant food and protect the deer on their land.
Vic Thayer Jr., also from Tennessee, started riding the roads and knocking on doors to locate hunting lands a couple of years ago. One landowner told him, “I've got all my property leased, except the small 20 acres right behind my house.”
Thayer looked over the 20 acres and realized that this small tract was a funnel area between several large agricultural fields. Besides the fence rows, it had a number of ditches running through it that also were travel corridors that the deer used to move from field to field. Over eight years, Thayer and his son took several deer scoring in the 130s on Bonne & Crockett and even a 168⅞-inch B&C on that 20 acres.
Learn another way to identify small hot spot deer lands
Identify small places adjacent to large hunting clubs that might provide productive hunting, because hunting clubs with several members will apply hunting pressure all around these little properties. The older bucks will be the first to move into the small sanctuaries when they feel hunting pressure from the big clubs surrounding these places.
If the landowner will permit you to cut small paths through the thick cover, then you can get in and out of these thick places without making any noise. These trails soon will become deer trails, since deer don’t like crawling through briars and thickets either. Mowing paths to your tree stand allows sunlight to get into that thick cover and creates new growth that you can fertilize for deer.
Never forget this about large older-age-class bucks on small tracts
• They the most-intelligent deer in any herd.