Deer in the wild

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You Can Hunt Deer Easier Day 5: Build Deer Trails through Thick Cover

Deer in the wild
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Editor’s Note: Hunters can use much of the equipment they have at their homes already to make hunting deer easier on their lands, including leaf blowers, shovels, backpacks, trail cameras, rakes, ATVs and flagging tape to name some. They also need to understand how to find and take big deer on small lands near their homes. 


You can open-up more land and possibly take bigger bucks on the property you hunt by installing stalking lanes in young pine plantations – 2- to 15-years old. Deer in the wildWhen landowners first plant pines, vegetation will grow up thick and lush, providing plenty of food and habitat for whitetails. But you often can’t move through these regions without spooking the deer. Once you begin to put heavy hunting pressure on the edge of a pine stand, the older, smarter bucks may remain in that thick-cover region all day and only come out after dark. Wildlife biologist and forester Mark Thomas of Birmingham, Alabama, has developed a stalking-trail tactic that deer will use as travel trails and that enables hunters to move through thick cover quietly and unseen, to hunt it much more intensively than ever before and to increase the food availability for the deer inside the young pine plantation. “Once you install a stalking trail, you can hunt a pine plantation from the time it’s 3-years old until it’s 22-years old. But you may have some annual maintenance on it.”

Deer in the wild


Thomas recommends you use an ATV with a sprayer attachment to quickly and easily put in a stalking lane through even the thickest cover without damaging the pines. “Most pine plantations are planted on an 8 by 10 foot spacing, allowing the owner to grow 720 trees per acre. Each row will average about 10-feet wide with about 8-feet between each tree, which means you should be able to move your ATV down the row easily and put in the stalking trail between the pine trees planted in the rows. Once you have the sprayer attached to your four-wheeler to spray a swath 4-feet wide, select a herbicide with the active ingredient imazapyr, and mix 1- to 2-percent herbicide to a volume of water.


Deer in the wild

  • “Determine the direction of the prevailing wind.


  • “Begin the stalking trail on the southeastern side of the young pine plantation, and use flagging tape to mark it. Have about 10–25 of these 45-90 degree turns in these trails that may run 1/2- to 1 mile deep into the pine plantation.


  • Deer in the wild“Turn between the rows of trees. Start spraying the trail, and go 40-60 yards, before making your first 45-90 degree turn. Go across the rows between the trees for 20-40 yards. Spray between the rows to the left and the right of the trail for 30-40 yards, making the ends of these two feeding areas turn back slightly to create a herringbone pattern. Later plant the two herringbone feeding areas off the main trail with green-field plantings or fertilize them to cause the natural plants to regenerate themselves.


Deer in the wild

  • “Return to the main trail, and go across the rows in the opposite direction of where you’ve already sprayed, continuing to spray and creating more feeding lanes on each side of the main trail.



  • “Use a pruning saw to cut the lower limbs of the young pines, which won’t hurt them, along the edge of the trail and the feeding lanes to allow you to see into the feeding areas where the trail turns back and to keep the limbs from brushing-up against you and collecting odor that the deer will detect.

Deer in the wild


  • “Continue to follow the flagging tape, until you’ve created a long trail with 10–20 herringbone feeding areas coming off the main trail. Deer in the wildThe size of the pine plantation and the terrain will dictate how long you need to make the trail and how-many feeding zones you can put on either side of the trail.



  • Once you’ve sprayed the trails, and the hardwood brush has died back, then come in and clear the trails. You and a friend can build a mile-long stalking trail in one morning and then be able to hunt it for 10-20 years.”


John E. Phillips’ latest deer book “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume II,” just was published  on Amazon in print at

How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume 2The Audible version should be available by mid-November. Since deer hunting and deer hunters are drastically changing each year, John interviewed some top deer hunters like Mark Drury, Dr. Larry Marchinton, Dr. Bob Sheppard, Pat Reeve, Gene Wensel, Cody Robbins, Ernie Calandrelli, Brian Murphy and Luke Brewster, who took the world’s largest whitetail, to learn their up-to-date techniques for successfully hunting deer and having more places to hunt. Also, John’s first book in that series “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro” at for Kindle, print and Audible, includes other outstanding deer hunters. Check out John’s book,Cover: How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro


“Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer” available in Kindle, print and Audible at Jim Crumley's Secrets for Hunting Deer You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. When you click on the books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of these Audible books for free. On the right side of the page for each book and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.

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