John’s Note: If you live in suburbia like I do, less than 15 minutes from metropolitan Birmingham, Alabama, that homes more than 1/2-million folks, you’ll often hear reports of big deer spotted within walking distance of your house. But everyone knows you can’t hunt bucks downtown or in your own backyard, or can you? This past year, I’ve been interviewing and writing a new book about “How to Find and Take Big Bucks on Small Properties” that will be published on Kindle as an ebook the middle of October, 2014. I’ve learned from these folks that you may find a trophy-buck hot spot right in your own backyard or less than 30 minutes from your home where no one else hunts or has permission to hunt.
For example, the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, a large wildlife-filled sanctuary, forbids deer hunting. This region always has sheltered tremendous-sized bucks. However, each year observant hunters who have watched those big, Shenandoah National Park bucks frequently migrate out of and into their sanctuary area take trophy bucks from private lands adjacent to this national park. Once you’ve defined a region as a big-buck sanctuary where you definitely cannot negotiate the right to hunt, go to the sanctuary without a gun or a bow to scout. Locate the big bucks, and learn where they move and where they go. Then visit the county courthouse. Determine who owns the property around that sanctuary. Also you can use the www.mytopo.com website, and it will give you the names of landowners of properties. Carefully mark each individual plot adjacent to the sanctuary with the names, addresses and phone numbers of each landowner. Make appointments to visit the landowners first who have property near where you’ve observed bucks leaving and entering a park.
Narrow your search even more. Visit the landowners who have the smallest tracts of land where the bucks funnel off the sanctuary onto private property. For instance, a farmer may have a cornfield that corners into a draw on the edge of the sanctuary that deer use to come into the landowner’s field. Although the property owner only may have 5 to 10 acres, that spot may funnel a large number of big bucks from the sanctuary onto that farmer’s land. Because of the small size of that land, other hunters probably won’t consider trying to lease that property or obtaining permission to hunt it. Generally, the smaller the size of private lands next to a sanctuary, the less trouble you’ll have getting permission to hunt these private lands.
Children’s summer camps also provide sanctuaries for trophy bucks. These camps usually burst with activity during late spring, summer and early fall. However, in the late fall and winter months when kids are in school, many of these areas turn into sanctuaries for big bucks. Here are some secrets to help you gain permission to hunt these camp areas:
* offer to conduct a charity hunt with all proceeds going to the camp in exchange for permission to hunt the property the rest of the year;
* suggest you teach summer-camp courses such as archery, gun safety, nature or backpacking in exchange for hunting rights; and
* get permission to hunt lands adjacent to the kids’ camps, if you can’t hunt the camps themselves.
I have a friend who makes turkey calls. Each spring, when a church camp has a weekend retreat for fathers and sons, my friend attends that retreat. All weekend he teaches men and boys gun safety, how to call turkeys, how to set up on gobblers and other turkey-hunting skills. In return for my friend’s time, the camp allows him and his friends to hunt the property for one weekend during the fall. This camp has some tremendous-sized bucks living there that will score from 130 to 150 points on Boone &Crockett. The camp also lets my friend and his hunting buddies stay in the camp and use all its facilities for their weekend hunt. Numerous church and civic organization camps all over the nation rarely are hunted.
By giving up a weekend or offering to teach a course in the spring or summer at these places, you may gain permission to hunt big-buck sanctuaries that no one else can hunt. Since most hunters completely overlook children’s camps as sanctuaries, you’ll have a good chance of finding success by hunting the lands that adjoin these camps and taking the bucks as they move into and away from the sanctuary. Even if you have to lease the land next to a camp, you only may have to pay to lease a small tract where deer funnel off the kids’ camp onto surrounding farmlands. To discover when and where big bucks leave the sanctuary for private lands, you must gain permission to scout the sanctuary areas and/or the property adjacent to them.
To learn more about deer hunting, you can get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here to get these books.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors.