Skip to main content Skip to main content

Location is Still King When Bowhunting for Deer

Location is Still King When Bowhunting for Deer
Unlike 15 years ago, you can scout potential hunting spots digitally long before lacing up your boots. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

bowhunting for deer Unlike 15 years ago, you can scout potential hunting spots digitally long before lacing up your boots.
(Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

Pressure is the No. 1 enemy of success when bowhunting for deer. The key is staying away from the competition, as deer do as well.

Identifying the right ground, and the hotspots within that ground, maximizes your chances of tagging out.

What if you don't have a spot to hunt? Find one.


There are mapping services, like Onxmaps.com, that will show every landowner in your county and every parcel that is public. Unlike 15 years ago, you can scout these spots digitally thanks to aerial photos long before lacing up your boots.


But what should you look for? For most of us, the best places are those that other people don't, or won't, go. This is most obvious on public land, but the dairy farmer who lets you hunt his place probably lets a few other bowhunters in as well. Hunting pressure is the No. 1 enemy of success. The key is staying away from the competition, as deer do as well.

When evaluating a piece of property, look for access points, such as old logging roads that will allow for easy hunter access. At the same time, check out swamps, rivers, great big hills and anything that might discourage the average hunter from working too hard. If there is a spot that isn't near an easy walking path, one which looks thick and gnarly — you're onto something.

Special Bow Tactics Coverage

This month, Game & Fish contributor Tony J. Peterson takes a look at effective tactics while bowhunting for deer. Previous posts:

Take your time, use the 3D view on aerial photography, and start planning out a few spots. The goal with this initial step is to develop a base understanding of a specific property and to truly start working out its possibilities.

This is imperative with new ground but is also something that can be done with a property you've hunted for years. In this case, consider using OnX, or another app like ScoutLook, to give you fresh eyes. 

deer huntingSadly, most hunters are creatures of habit. We get into a rut and hunt the places that are easiest to access. And while we often imagine deer patterning other clumsy hunters, deer in many instances have patterned us, too, as we roam the same ground season after season.


Consider this: Is there is a ridge you just don't hike to because the bluff leading up to it is steep, or is there an island of high ground in the cattails that is a pain to slog to? The average fawn can get to those places without breaking a sweat, and you can bet a mature buck or two has figured out those lesser-used spots as well.

ON NEWSSTANDS NOW

Game & Fish Magazine's 2018 Gear Issue highlights the best hunting and fishing gear for your region and state. Buy a copy at a retailer near your. Click here to subscribe

Think Like a Deer

Think about each area you digitally scout from a deer's perspective and envision it in the fall. What may be a jungle in the middle of the summer might be pretty open come October, which means the deer traffic from July won't matter much.

This is why overgrown homesteads and five-year-old clearcuts prove to be such reliable bedding areas and deer sanctuaries. Anytime you've got a couple of acres or more of cover that isn't going to thin out too much throughout the season due to the natural nastiness of the shrub and tree population, you've got a solid starting point.

Oftentimes these areas are somewhat visible via aerial photography, and if you've got a few on your deer ground, make note. You'll want to visit them or watch them during scouting sessions as the days near the season's opener.

>> Click Here: Articles about hunting gear

It also pays to look for areas that feature secondary edges of cover. Pressured deer learn quickly that if they get too close to fields and openings during the season they encounter hunters. Those same deer, which the field-edge hunters will deem as fully nocturnal, are often just staging at some point of delineation between cover off of the main food source.

This might be a point of poplar slash at the edge of a wetland, or it might simply be a hillside patch of multiflora rose in a typical deciduous forest. Pay attention to those spots that might serve as staging areas because those will be your best bets to take advantage of deer movement during mid-season.

You should take a look at brushy fence lines, necked-down woodlots that are obvious funnels, and anywhere you might want to sit from Halloween on. Rutty bucks are predictable, and if there is a terrain feature that funnels movement far away from where most people will hunt, you've got yourself a killer November spot.



GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Trigger Time

Trigger Time

If there is one thing that can make a hunter a better shooter, it's a better trigger. Triggers with heavy pull weights, and excessive creep and overtravel can ruin a shot—and a day—in the deer woods. The Lupo's trigger is designed to help hunters place their shots accurately. Let's look at the details on episode nine of Beyond the Rifle.

Crash Course: How to Fish Bass-Rich Shoreline Points

Crash Course: How to Fish Bass-Rich Shoreline Points

In this episode of "Crash Course," host Shane Beilue covers techniques for catching bass on shoreline points. When your time is limited, target points to intercept bass throughout the day.

Umarex The Modern Air Rifle: Air Rifle Hunting with the Umarex Surgemax Elite .22

Umarex The Modern Air Rifle: Air Rifle Hunting with the Umarex Surgemax Elite .22

.22 Caliber air rifles are becoming more and more popular and this front loading, single shot rifle is easy use and very dependable. Discover all the features of the Surgemax Elite .22 and see how it can become a great training tool that's a lot of fun at the same time.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now