Jim Crumley's Secrets Of Bowhunting Deer is sponsored by Outfitter Tuff.
Finding Land to Hunt By John E. Phillips
Feb 26, 2008 - 9:16:57 AM
The obvious answer to locating a productive place to hunt is to talk to your friends and other bowhunters. However, if you have a good deer hot spot, do you want other people hunting that site knowing there's a good chance they may take the deer you're trying to bag?
Wanting somebody to give you directions to a good place to bowhunt is much like asking someone to borrow his toothbrush or his best squirrel dog. The exception to that rule is if you have a friend with a good region to hunt who doesn't have a bowhunting buddy.
I believe in buddy bowhunting. When you hunt an area with a friend, not only do you have someone who's in the woods who can help you if you have a problem, but also two strong backs and four strong legs can drag out a deer better. Too, you can learn more about the woods and the deer's movement patterns through the woods when two brains are working instead of just
I enjoy buddy bowhunting because it's a safer, smarter and more enjoyable way to hunt. Often a bowhunting buddy will become the best friend you've ever had, and you can discuss the joys and the tragedies of life with him. If you do have a friend with a terrific spot to hunt and nobody to hunt with, you may be able to locate new land to hunt from this friend. But by summertime with
bowhunting season approaching, betting on finding the right kind of bowhunting buddy in time for deer season is a gamble.
Realize your best chances for pinpointing a site to bowhunt will depend on your own resourcefulness and investigative powers. Make a list of all the public lands within driving distance of your home. Begin to talk to sporting goods dealers, other bowmen and conservation officers in your area to learn which of these public hunting lands seems to yield the most deer during bow season.
Also try to determine which public land has the most bowhunters. Often when hunting new lands, we only consider the number of deer harvested on that property and not the number of man-days required to harvest those deer.
For instance, if a public-hunting region near your home has 200 deer bagged during a two-week bow season, you automatically assume that region will be an excellent place for you to hunt. However, if you research the property more and learn 10,000 hunters required five days to bag those 200 deer, you quickly can see your odds of taking a Whitetail on that land are extremely low.
If another public-hunting property has 25 deer taken during a 10-day season, but 50 bowhunters hunted only for two days to take those 25 deer, your chances of bagging a Whitetail on this public region are much greater than the area that harvested 200 deer. When evaluating land to hunt and studying the statistics of an area and the harvest records, don't forget to learn how many hunter days were required to take the number of deer reflected in the harvest.
People Who Can Help You.
If you prefer to hunt private lands instead of public lands, or if you want a deer lease for you and a few good friends, you must go to the grass-roots people in the region you plan to hunt to locate land where bowhunters can hunt or people who are willing to lease land for hunting. In every country in every state of the United States, certain folks know just about all there is to know about
everybody's business in that county.
Look for a good deer crossing when you're searching for land to hunt.
The county conservation officer or game warden will know who in a county has land you either can hunt on for free, by paying a fee or by leasing the land. The conservation officer must patrol the land in the county and is acquainted with most of the landowners.
Another good resource person is the county's sheriff, who has knowledge of the landowners in his jurisdiction. Also he probably will be aware of whether or not these property owners will grant you permission to hunt.
The mailman is acquainted with just about everyone in the county or at least everyone on his route. He will be able to tell you who may lease land to you. Also because he passes by a property daily, he probably can give you a fair assessment of the numbers of deer you can expect to find on that land.
The county banker also is friends with most of the large landowners in his county. If the banker is also a hunter, he will have a good idea about the people you can contact if you're searching for somewhere to hunt.
Yet another fount of hunting information is the barber, who often is to the hunter what the hairdresser is to the hunter's wife. Usually hairdressers and barbers understand more about everybody's business than anyone else in a community. Too, the barber is aware of hunting opportunities and the personalities of the people you'll be asking to hunt their lands.
But you can locate the best private hunting land available in any county. First, cross-reference the leads you get with two or three different sources. For instance, if the sheriff tells you Mr. Sam Jones has some land he lets people hunt for free, then check out Sam Jones with the banker. The banker may tell you that yes, Mr. Jones allows people to hunt for free on his property, which
has been a tradition in the Jones' family for many years. He also may say that Mr. Jones is a nice guy who welcomes hunters with open arms. Now you understand more about Mr. Jones and the property you may get to hunt. You'll also start to have a good feeling about hunting that property with your bow this season. But the wise hunter will talk to the barber about Mr. Jones by saying, "I understand Mr. Jones lets bowhunters hunt his property free of charge."
The barber may look up and observe that, "Yes, that's true. He's had that hunting policy for many years."
Then when you ask why Mr. Jones doesn't charge to hunt and why he allows people hunt there for free, the barber may explain that, "Bowhunters only have killed three deer on his place in the last 10 years." What has appeared to be an excellent hunting opportunity on private land at no cost has become a not-so-good hunting spot.
Seeing deer on the land you are considering leasing to hunt will increase the value of that land.
If you move into a new community, one of the best places to find hunting land is at church. A minister often may hunt and generally knows every hunter in his congregation. Also many ministers hunt. Anyone in that church who's also a hunter understands what a terrible problem a man has when he moves into a new town and doesn't have a place to hunt. Sometimes church folks will be benevolent and either share their hunting lands with you or aid you in locating lands to hunt. You also can meet people and find individuals who will help you locate land to bowhunt on in service clubs like the Rotary, the Lions, Junior Chamber of Commerce, etc.
You Can Work With Landowners .
To find the best hunting land, attempt to pinpoint who has the best hunting in the county but historically never has let anyone hunt that land. When you know who these people are, make a list. Research why these folks never have permitted hunters on their lands. Once you understand their motives, you may be able to attack that problem and change the landowner's mind. These
lands are the most productive to obtain permission to hunt, because generally that landowner will have a stable deer population that either never has been hunted or has been hunted very little. Your chances of taking anolder-age-class buck will be much greater.
For example, if you learn a landowner doesn't allow hunting on his property because hunters in the past have torn down his fences, left his cattle gates open and littered his property, then go to that landowner. Offer to help mend fences, put in new gates, or do other chores to improve his property in return for permission to hunt. If you realize a landowner has stopped everyone from
hunting his land because he has had a terrible poaching problem -- patrol his land for him. Or, pay someone to patrol his land when you're not there to help solve his poaching problem. If you can determine why a man won't let hunters on his land and solve that problem for him, oftentimes you may obtain permission to hunt lands where no one else has.
One of the best ways to build trust with a particular property owner who doesn't like hunters is to ask for permission to only hunt a small portion of his land the first year. If an individual owns 2,000 acres and has had a bad experience with hunters in the past, ask if he'll allow you to hunt a
200- to 500-acre tract. Then you'll begin to gain the confidence of that landowner. Explain to him that you understand his reluctance to allow hunting on his property, but that if he'll let you hunt a small section of his land for one season, you'll prove to him you are a good steward of the land. Tell him you'll help protect the land, keep his property clean and treat his land as though it is
yours. Often by offering a reluctant landowner the opportunity to let you prove you are a good sportsman and a faithful steward of his land, you'll find a small, good place to hunt. Then each year, as the confidence and camaraderie between you and the landowner grows, you may gain the right to hunt more of that landowner's property.
Hunting on land that is home to large numbers of bucks will surely increase your odds for taking deer.
If the land you want to hunt is used for grazing livestock, by meeting the landowner and asking if he will allow you to hunt the predators on his land, you can get a foot in the door, which may enable you to bowhunt there later in the season. If you live in cattle country with a high coyote population, offer to hunt and take the coyotes off the land for the property owner in the off-
season. Don't ask permission to hunt deer with your bow until later in the year. Usually if you've gotten rid of the predators that have been creating problems for the landowner, he'll give you permission to bowhunt his land for deer.
When I was younger, I was able to have use of some excellent hunting land because immediately after deer season, I became a predator hunter for the owners. I shot groundhogs around the fields and the pastures and pigeons out of the tobacco barn. Landowners gave me permission to hunt during the season because I solved these problems for them.
When you offer to find the solution to a problem for a landowner and become concerned with his problems, then later on in the relationship, he generally will be willing to solve your problem of needing a place to hunt. Establish a year- round relationship with a landowner whose land you're hunting by keeping in touch during the off-season too. An occasional visit, a phone call, a card or
even a small Christmas gift will let the property owner know you're privileged to hunt his land and his friendship is important to you. The two of you can help each other and in so doing, help
THE IMPORTANCE OF MAPS:
Once you decide where you want to hunt, obtain a topographical map and/or an aerial photo of that land. These maps usually are available from either the U.S. Geological Survey or the USDA Soil Conservation Service. If you're hunting in mountainous terrain, the topographical map will be more beneficial because it will show the relief of the land. You'll quickly and easily be able to spot
where the hills, the valleys and the ridges are. You'll be able to locate the bottoms between the ridges and see the low spots where the deer must travel to cross the mountains.
If you're hunting in more flat terrain with very few hills and mountains, the aerial photo may be more beneficial than a topo map. On an aerial photo, you'll be able to see the lay of the land better as well as the types of trees on the land and the drainage system. Utilizing the maps that are available to study the property you plan to hunt will save you many hours of scouting time --
particularly if you're hunting public land. With the maps, you can select the areas on the hunting lands where you can concentrate your scouting to be the most productive.
Some states have maps available that show all the lands where the public can hunt. These maps are a tremendous resource for the bowhunter. Most state departments of conservation and information and education sections can tell you where to obtain maps of all the public-hunting lands in your state.
A company that makes maps for many states across the nation that shows all the roads and backroads in outdoor recreation areas is the DeLorme Mapping Company, P.O. Box 298, Freeport, Maine 04032, phone 207-865-4171.