Editor’s Note: Ernie Calandrelli of Orchard Park, New York, is a member of the Mossy Oak (https://www.mossyoak.com/) and PSE (http://www.pse-archery.com/) Pro Staffs and is Director of Publications and Advertising for Quaker Boy Calls (www.quakerboy.com).
I’ve been a bowhunter for over 45 years and bowhunted all over the United States. I know that in southern states bow season can start as early as late August or early September, but up here in New York and many other states in the North, our bow season doesn’t start until about October 1st. At the first of August each year, I’ll finish putting in my food plots for deer. I go ahead and plant my cold-weather food plots, because many times I’m out of state when the time arrives to plant cold-weather food plots. Whether you’re planting a late summer, early fall or winter food plot, the deer will start feeding on the first green plants to show after planting time. I plant Mossy Oak BioLogic’s DEER-RADISH and Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets (www.plantbiologic.com). Where I live in northern New York, there’s not much farming in my area, so I know the crops I plant for the deer will be utilized. Since our hunting is big-woods hunting, anytime we can plant food plots for deer, they’ll help the deer survive during winter months. I also hang my tree stands in August. I have a small 30-acre farm that I’ve been hunting for 50 years that backs up to 1,500 acres of state-owned land with some wild apple and nut trees that the deer feed on pretty heavily.
One of the advantages I have, because my property is bordered by state land, is that I hang some of the stands on state property and some of the stands on my property. Even though the state land has a lot of public-land hunters, which often can be a negative, I’ve made my 30 acres almost a sanctuary for deer, and I’ve got it posted. However, if some of the public-land hunters cross the line, I don’t make a big deal of them coming onto my property. I just ask them to move back to the state property.
The deer on my lands receive very little hunting pressure, and since I only hunt the land I own for 7 to 10 days each season, 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 probably could take a half-dozen deer off my property each year of both does and bucks, however, I only take about one buck and maybe a couple of does each season. The most deer I think we’ve ever taken off the property has been five in one season, but now we’re satisfied with only taking about two. During the days I hunt my land, I’ll see six or seven bucks coming through my land.
When I go to the Midwest, I look for large properties to hunt, but in New York I’m seeing more and more hunters hunting small properties, often as small as 5 acres. If a bowhunter has 5 acres to hunt, and it’s the right 5 acres, he can have some of the best hunting of anybody anywhere. I consider the right 5 acres to be 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 5 acres, or if that 5 acres has a great bedding site for deer. The bowhunter doesn’t require nearly as much land to hunt as the gun hunter does, because most bowhunters in the East will rarely shoot at distances more than 30 yards. For this reason, having a 5-acre property that deer have to travel through often can be a better spot to hunt than a place with several thousand acres. Another type of little plot that can produce big bucks is what I call a security zone – an area which may be small in size, but that no hunter ever goes through or rarely passes through that location. So, when you’re looking for areas to bowhunt, remember the size of the land that you hunt is not nearly as important as the quality of the land that you hunt.
To learn more about hunting deer with John E. Phillips’ Amazon Kindle eBooks, print books and Audible books (the latest Audible is “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro”) and Nook books, click here at http://johninthewild.com/books/#deer. You can type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. For a free download on how to make jerky from venison to provide a protein-rich snack, choose “How to Prepare Venison Jerky: The Ultimate Snack Food” at johninthewild.com/free-books.
Tomorrow: Taking a Monster Buck Deer on a Small Property with John Tuck