Editor’s Note: Avid, longtime deer hunter 44-year-old Alan Benton of McDonough, Georgia, enjoys bowhunting and has learned that using trail cameras, watching his odor, hunting small properties and understanding the importance of nuts to deer are all factors making him a better deer hunter.
Alan Benton says he’s often asked when he puts down his bow and starts hunting with his gun. “Well, I never completely put my bow down and take only my gun. Georgia also holds a muzzleloader season, and then rifle season starts.
“I designate the properties I have to hunt into either rifle or bowhunting lands. I have some bowhunting places as bowhunting-only places, just because I want those lands to be only bowhunting spots. On some other sections of land, I only use a bow, since I must hunt that way there. I’m not afraid to pick up a rifle and go hunt larger properties where my likelihood of seeing a big deer is greatest at more than 30 yards. Some of the places I bowhunt are where I just enjoy hunting with my bow. Other areas the landowner may restrict as bowhunting-only due to the smallness of the property. Or, if I’m hunting close to a subdivision, I’ll designate it as a bowhunting-only. I have some lands where I hunt in other counties that are restricted only for bowhunting. In some counties, I can’t fire a rifle. One of my bowhunting-only lands is about 25 acres, and another is 10-15 acres.
“On the larger lands I hunt, I’ll usually rifle hunt. My general rule for designating whether I’ll hunt with a bow or a rifle is the size of the property, and whether or not the county allows rifle hunting. However, I tend to prefer to hunt my bowhunting lands rather than my rifle lands. Another reason I set-up these properties this way is because when I’m asking a landowner for permission to hunt, I’ve found getting permission to hunt somewhere is easier if you tell the landowner you’ll only bowhunt his land. With this approach, I can get numbers of small properties to hunt that other hunters won’t even think about hunting or never can get permission to hunt.
“Remember that the mindsets of most deer hunters is that the larger the piece of property they have to hunt, the greater their odds are for finding an older-age-class buck. But I’ve discovered that the smaller lands I hunt often produce the most big deer. Generally over the years, no one has hunted those small places, making them sanctuaries for older-age-class bucks. If someone has 5 acres, and you’re bowhunting, you even can hunt in someone’s back yard.
“One of the biggest bucks I’ve ever taken was in a neighborhood. I had permission to hunt about 20 acres that backed-up to a subdivision. When I took that big buck, I’d been watching a little girl off in the distance swinging on her swing set earlier. This 5-1/2-year old buck was a 129-7/8 inch 8 pointer. When I’d previously driven home late in the afternoon after work, I’d see two big bucks crossing the road to feed on an apple tree in a lady’s front yard. Once a friend of mine bought that nearby property, he gave me permission to hunt those bucks on his land. Then I got a call two weeks before bow season arrived and was told the big buck (scored in the 160s Boone & Crockett) had been hit by a car and killed. The people who hit the buck, picked him up, put him in their trunk and took him home with them.”
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at (http://amzn.to/1vIcj4m). You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read 10% of the book for free).
Tomorrow: Alan Benton Asks – What or Who Do You Smell Like