Create a Successful Hunting Property: Access & Stand Sites
Posted on June 5, 2013
This exclusive special brings you several informative installments on the many things one must consider before creating your hunting property. In the first section, you learned about controlling pressure and maintaining a habitat. In the second section we covered the proper food plots, water and minerals necessary to maintain a successful hunting property. Now take a look at how access and stand sites can make a difference:
Access and Stand Sites
Creating good, strategic access routes to stand sites and food plots are tantamount to maximizing bowhunting success on any hunting property. Access routs should be planned to avoid areas where deer are likely to be bumped while coming and going to stands. I prefer to locate access trails and roads along my property boundaries. That way I can keep an eye on things (possible trespassing) as I come and go on hunts. I also like to avoid hunting close to my property boundaries wanting to keep far enough away so that the deer I shoot will almost always die on my property. My main access trails along my boarders have secondary trails jutting off leading to stands on the interior of my land.
Most of my trials were built so I can mow them. I even built a bridge that can handle an ATV. A rented mini-excavator was the perfect tool for building up a trial along my oftentimes wet, west boundary, which parallels an open farm field. Deer often feed in that open field and my trail, located about 20 feet inside my property line, provides cover to screen me from the always wary eyes of nearby deer.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that access routes need to be an integral part of stand site locations. You can have the best stand site in the world, however if you can’t get in or out of the setup without spooking deer, then you’re better off choosing a different spot. There are dozens of spots on my property that would be perfect to hunt if only I could borrow Star Trek technology and just have Scotty “beam me” in there. The ultimate goal though is to build perfect spots by manipulating deer movement patterns to areas where hunting efficiency is ideal.
Most of the deer in my area bed on the back (south) 20 acres of my property. I have three food plots, each with a water hole, spaced out across the remaining acreage on the front (north) of my property. The deer typically come off their beds in the evening and head for one of the food plots where they drink water and eat succulent forage. The three plots have different forage choices for the deer so they will often go from plot to plot during the evening hours and by the time they feel compelled to head off to the neighboring crop fields, it’s usually after hunting hours have concluded.
I maintain deer travel trails throughout my property where I’ve built man-made deer corridors through certain areas. I have stands all over the place so I can effectively hunt during almost any wind conditions along predictable ambush corridors. I also have stands setup right on my food plots. Two of my plots are fairly small kill-style plots, which allow me to shoot completely across the openings for optimal shot coverage. My bigger plot is 75 yards long, but I’ve spiced up the area right in front of the stand so almost every deer that feeds into the plot will eventually wander within bowrange. The main trails that I’ve created to and from that plot are also close to the stand to further influence the shot opportunity odds in my favor.
I like to add rub trees to all my food plots close to my stands. I cut down small pine trees that are growing under power lines on my land. The best ones are about 4-inch in diameter. All the lower branches are trimmed off, and the tree section is “planted” by digging a hole about 3 feet deep with a posthole digger. Every one of my rub posts has been rubbed savagely by area bucks.
My food plots also feature plenty of overhanging brush along the edges. I even prune branches and train them to create perfect licking branches at strategic spots. I make mock scrapes below those licking branches during mid-September by scraping away dirt with a stick and urinating in the scrape with my own pee. Every mock scrape I’ve ever built has eventually been turned into a hub of buck activity during the fall. During bowhunts, I’ve had dozens of bucks hit my mock scrapes over the years.
Last year, based on my observations and trail camera pictures, I knew there were several dandy bucks running on my property. One evening, the conditions were perfect to hunt my west food plot. One side of the food plot is lined with apple trees that were bursting with fruit. The Imperial Whitetail Clover was so thick and lush that many of the deer that showed up were actually drooling as they approached.
A parade of young bucks and does filtered into the setup to feed and socialize. They were all especially nervous though, and the reason was obvious. The distant, deep guttural sounds of a distant grunting buck kept me on edge too. The unseen buck was harassing deer on my large plot located about 150 yards to the east. Eventually, he made his way toward my location. On the way, he hit my man-made water hole, then strolled through the apple trees, taking full advantage of the bounty that I provided him. Unfortunately, he really took his time. When he finally stepped into the food plot, legal shooting time had expired. The moon was full though, so I got a good show as he strolled up to my rub post and gave it a vicious raking with his substantial, non-typical rack. Then he sauntered over to each of my mock scraps and did his business with such gusto that dirt flew halfway across the food plot. With the bright moonlight, I could have easily shot that big bruiser, but that just wouldn’t have been right.
I saw that buck several more times last year before I finally used up my buck tags on other majestic bucks. That humongous non-typical buck is still alive and well though, and even bigger than last year. I’m sure I’ll have more encounters with that big boy and more like him, all thanks to a micro-managed hunting property. By taking things one step at a time, I’m now reaping the rewards of frequent close encounters with quality whitetails. It doesn’t get much better than that.
By Michael Veine