How to Hunt Small Acreages – In Town. Week 2, Day 2



By: John E. Phillips
By: John E. Phillips

With hunting leases becoming more expensive, and with the number of people required to have a good hunting lease and pay for the lease, finding quality hunting land that’s holding bucks that score 130 plus is becoming more and more difficult. However, if you consider that most bowhunters, especially in the East, only need 30 yards all the way around their tree stands to take whitetails, you’ll realize that a bowhunter doesn’t need a lot of land to hunt. He just needs the right 30 yards or so. Also, if you look for deer densities, more deer are living closer to town on small acreages where most hunters never consider hunting. By spending time looking for these small plots of land, finding who owns these small woodlots, getting permission to hunt them, putting up trail cameras and studying maps, you’ll have your best chances for taking older-age-class bucks – often in woodlots less than 30 minutes from home.


“Back in 2011, when my brother, Jim, and I took the two trophy bucks off that 60-acre plot, we decided we wouldn’t take more than one buck off that property each year,” John Scott says. “Since no one else hunts that land, we know that there are several other bucks on the about 50 acres that Jim hunts and several other bucks on the 11 acres I hunt. We can manage our deer herd on these two small properties.

“After I took Big Nasty in 2011, I’ve also taken the big 8-point running with him in 2011, and he scored over 130 on Pope and Young. This year, I plan to take the big 9-point I’ve been watching for 3 years. I know where to hang my stand, and I know where and when he should appear. We have other bucks on Jim’s side of the road and on my side of the road that we are waiting on to mature. This is one advantage we have by hunting small acreages. As long as no one knows where those bucks are, and no one else can hunt them, we can watch these bucks grow and take the mature bucks off this property each year. Since we only hunt one or two days on this land, we’re not putting enough pressure on these deer to cause them to leave the land. The food is all natural. We don’t have to depend on agriculture to provide food for the deer.”


“Today when I’m driving around and spot a small woodlot, I don’t hesitate to find out who owns that woodlot,” Jim Scott emphasizes. “I go knock on the door. I tell them I’m a bowhunter. I ask if they mind if I hunt the small patch of woods they own. Some people say ‘No.’ They don’t want me to hunt their property, but others say ‘Yes.’ The areas I hunt usually will be from 10 to 40 acres. When I scout, I search for cover, food and little or no hunting pressure. I look for those little woodlots that bowhunters drive by every day and never consider hunting. These little regions become sanctuaries for big older-age-class bucks that move primarily at night. I’m not really upset when I find a place that has a lot of little bucks but only a few shooter bucks. I know that in a year or two, those little bucks will be quality bucks. I bowhunt using this philosophy, since taking Twin Towers in 2011. I’ve been fortunate to take a quality buck with my bow every year since then. Ten years ago I considered an 8-point of any age or size a shooter. But since I’ve taken Twin Towers, the bucks I hunt will score from 135 to 150 on Pope & Young.


“I think we’re seeing a new form of bowhunting growing across the country. We’re beginning to hear more stories about bowhunters using aerial photos and plat maps to find these small acreages, which may be sanctuaries for big bucks. A new advantage that bowhunters have now is, which has a wide variety of maps to choose from, and Google maps, Bing maps, and Department of Agriculture maps. MyTopo also has plat maps to show ownership of different properties.” According to Paige Darden from, “Most deer hunters prefer maps taken in the fall and winter. The leaves are off the trees then, and you can see what the ground looks like. Some hunters want maps that show the foliage on the trees to identify the fruit and nut trees on the property. With a topo map, you can see where the elevation changes and where the creeks and rivers run. With a plat map, you can see who owns the property where you may want to hunt.”

Bowhunting small acreage has certainly paid off for John and Jim Scott.
Bowhunting small acreage has certainly paid off for John and Jim Scott.

As bowhunters acquire better maps and aerial photos, finding these small acreages that are big buck sanctuaries will become increasingly easier for bowhunters like the Scott brothers to locate quality deer to hunt. But to continue to hunt these small acreages and manage the deer on these little hunting sites, you have to become as hushed mouth about where you’re hunting as the old pirates were about where they buried their treasure.


To learn more about John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” click here for (Kindle) eBook and print book (CreateSpace) information.

For more go to: John Phillips