This is the year I’m going to hunt differently.
It’s easy to get stuck into the same old hunting routines year after year. Same general stand locations, same old properties, same old results (well, maybe). While I’ve had some success in the past, I felt like hunting was getting a little stale. And no, I’m not sick of the property I hunt, it’s just time to change some of my tactics and look at the property with a new set of eyes. Not just for potentially more success, but also to learn more, and add a higher sense of adventure.
After listening to some of my favorite hunting podcasts, this one, in particular, triggered an urge to hunt differently. It was a Whitetail Watch Podcast hosted by a couple of good friends, Aaron and Greg, from the Midwest Whitetail team that focused on hunting standing corn early in the season. Their guest for this episode was Bryce Lambley, an accomplished traditional archer from the state of Nebraska.
It was a fascinating listen, as Bryce recapped one successful hunt after another – most from within the depths of large corn fields. This is when my brain began to spin and aerial photos of hunting properties began to appear in a different light than they had in the past. I can’t be sure these new tactics will prevail this coming fall, but hey, if they worked for Bryce, it’s worth giving them a shot.
If anything, I hope it opens some eyes and that others might find success in these overlooked hunting tactics.
Grassy Drainage Ways within the Corn
Like any hunting tip, its application and effectiveness depends on the area. Obviously, if you’re in an area lacking large corn fields, this tip may seem irrelevant. On the other hand, if you do have a lot of large ag fields around (a.k.a. most of us in the Midwest), maybe it’s something to look for.
The Tip: Setting up over grassy drainages or conservation strips between fields to kill big bucks.
Here’s the hidden intersection of grassy drainages within the corn I plan on hunting.
There was a portion of the podcast where Bryce details a hunt that took place from an irrigation pivot overlooking a grassy slough that ran eastward all the way through the half-mile long corn field. I strongly urge you to give the podcast a listen, but long story short, Bryce was able to observe a buck come out of the corn into the tall grassy slough. He climbed down, acted like a deer rustling through the corn as he stalked his way closer, and was able to get a 20-yard shot on the buck.
This was only one instance, but his observations are telling. These grassy strips are major travel corridors and social hubs during the early season while corn is still up.
Why Deer Like Corn
Listening to the podcast you’ll soon figure out Bryce has had a lot of success from within the depths of corn fields – probably spots most of us overlook for the simple fact that there are no trees to hang a stand (more on that later). His repetitive success is telling. There’s a reason these hidden grassy drainages are frequented by big bucks and deer in general.
As you dissect the reasons why deer, especially mature bucks like these areas, several factors come to mind. The most obvious is that these corn jungles serve as a safe haven for deer. When’s the last time you went for a walk or drove an ATV through the middle of a cornfield? I’m guessing you haven’t, which is exactly why these deer feel comfortable moving throughout, especially during daylight hours.
A closer look at the secluded drainage ways
Second, bucks prefer traveling these grassy strips during the summer and early fall months as a way to prevent banging their sensitive velvet antlers as they browse for food. Also, it’s no secret that most deer prefer the path of least resistance…especially if they feel safe.
Perhaps, one final reason deer like to stay hidden within the corn is that there are fewer mosquitos and flies around compared to field edges and woodlots. All of these factors combined, make it a pretty appealing place for a buck to call home while the corn is still standing. Now, how the heck do you hunt them in there?
Small Trees/Surprise Attacks
As you can imagine, most of these drainages or conservation strips tucked within the corn don’t have large trees or any trees at all. Therefore, you’re left hunting from super small ones or the ground – two options that typically go against the common bow hunter’s preferences. For the most part, we like a big trunked tree with adequate branches for cover.
Hunting from the ground is probably the best and most suitable option, especially since you can use the corn to your advantage. Not only is corn the perfect place to hide out, but the rows and rustling leaves can be “stalker-friendly” during windy days.
Small trees, on the other hand, have plenty of limitations – body weight, treestand size, the height of the stand, and lack of cover provide plenty of challenges for bow hunters. You’ll likely have to pick and choose a small and lightweight lock-on stand with sticks to make it work – I prefer the XOP Vanish. Obviously, you’ll have to be ready at all times and keep movement to a minimum when you’re hunting from these small trees. The one benefit you have as the hunter is that the deer won’t expect you to be there.
Hopefully, that opened your mind and got you thinking about your hunting property in a different way. Now, get out there and try something different, you never know what you will encounter in new areas!