Author: Al Wisnefske, Land Specialist
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned outdoors lover, there’s nothing comparable to bowhunting on a newly acquired property.
The idea of hunting whitetails on your own land is nothing short of thrilling. With the ground under your feet and the crisp snap of morning air in your nose, first outings feel like trekking into unfamiliar territories. However, it’s important for bowhunters to treat new hunting grounds with patience and careful land management in order to maximize years of rich deer population.
Consider these keys to successful bowhunting on new land.
Patience is Golden
Initial outings can be hotly exciting. But don’t let the thrill of harvesting a big buck sweep you away. Your new property may not be flush with bucks. That’s why it’s important to bide your time and develop an understanding about the deer population on this beautiful scratch of land. Cull from the herd with years of rich bowhunting in mind.
Contrary to the popular hunting shows on TV, bowhunters do not sit in a tree stand for a half-hour and bag an 8-point buck. In fact, the scouting occurs well in advance of bowhunting season.
As a new property owner, you will be tasked with ongoing reconnaissance missions to map out deer trails, feeding locations and watering holes among others. Key factors may include things like gaps in fences that herds travel through and thick cover where deer prefer to bed down. Last but not least, sightings matter because that is, literally, where the deer are situated. Do your homework. Recon rules!
Talk About It
If your property makes for good deer hunting, chances are the abutting land is also ripe. It’s entirely unlikely that neighbors and local hunters haven’t already scoped out the deer opportunities.
That’s why it behooves you to have a friendly conversation with other property owners and outdoors people in the area. Find out where the best bowhunting is and who is having success. Boots-on-the-ground information from like-minded people can be invaluable. As the saying goes, “good hunters make good neighbors.”
The key to long-term buck hunting begins and ends with deer management excellence. In order to maintain a healthy herd, practice these tried-and-true conservation measures.
- Let Young Bucks Mature: Allow 1- to 4-year-old bucks to pass through your field of vision unscathed. Young bucks have far fewer points in their racks than 5-year-olds. But more to the point, allow bucks to grow the herd before taking one down.
- Harvest Does: That’s right, it’s not all about trophy bucks. A strong, vibrant herd does best when the male-to-female ration is closest to 50-50. Bring home the venison often. Save trophy bucks for balanced herds.
- Safe Zones: Believe it or not, designating no-hunting zones on your property can improve opportunities. In over-hunted areas, deer can go nocturnal and that defeats vision-based bowhunting.
- Food Matters: By seeding the land with clover, chicory, cow peas and wildflowers, deer will be drawn to your property. Planting tracts with excellent feed doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Just toss seeds while you scout during spring. The bowhunting benefits can be remarkable.
If you are excited about bowhunting a newly purchased property, take the time to map out a long-term bowhunting plan. The key to successful remains land and herd management. Keep in mind, hunters were the first conservationists.