With cooler temperatures and shortening days changing, so too is the landscape. Lush green soybean and corn fields are starting to turn. Deer behavior is changing dramatically. Even with all the changes, there still remains a mild pattern with deer and standing crops. For those seasons already open, or opening soon, the time to get on those bucks is now, before it’s too late.
Of course it’s not going to be as easy as seeing the bucks way before dark parading one by one out into the lush fields. In fact, by now, many of the bucks may have expanded their home range so much that they rarely show in those same fields. But for some “home bucks” there is still a pattern to be recognized and taken advantage of in order to tag a buck early.
Just recently, Randy Birdsong and Nate Hosie, of HeadHunters TV both capitalized on early season patterns in Montana’s alfalfa crop area.
“We were hunting these bucks on patterns to and from the alfalfa fields in the river bottoms,” Birdsong said. “They have been on this pattern for a while now.”
One thing to be looking for on the edges of these fields are fresh rubs and scrapes. With purposes different than what you will see in a couple months, the rubs are from shedding velvet and the scrapes are community and often used to separate out the hierarchical structure before pre-rut activity begins. All that said, these are often high traffic areas, and can help you get a buck in bow range while the crops are still standing.
In much of corn country, the outside rows will be removed to help allow air to pass through the remaining corn in order to expedite drying process. Setting up where the combine has made this pass can be a great place to spot bucks, and set up close for a shot either from a stand or ground blind.
In some cases, the only time to be efficient at hunting large agricultural fields is when the crop is still standing. Because somewhat of a bed-to-food pattern still exists, the opportunity to get into position is greater. Once the crops are gone, it’s by chance that a buck will cross in your area, especially when you are sitting on a field more than 25 acres.
Lastly, and one that is often missed by hunters, is it often makes getting into and out of some stands easier. In the morning, getting into a stand close to bedding areas is much more likely to be undisturbed as deer will be out feeding in the fields. In the evening, as deer enter a field, they will be able to continue to feed out further, allowing you to slip out along the wood edge.
So if you are able to get into the stand with some crops still standing this month, there are some major benefits. But as the season progresses and the crops or gone, be ready to adjust your strategy.