A good friend of mine, used to hunt public land exclusively. When I asked him how he was taking deer on public land, he explained, “One of my favorite places to hunt is within 300 yards of the main road on public land.” Here are the strategies:
* “I walk 1/2-mile up or down a road away from my vehicle, trying to find a spot where there’s really-thick cover that no one in his right mind will try to the woods. Often, I’ll find a buck there.
* “I’ll look for deer signs next. Most hunters who find feeding or bedding sites close to the main roads will assume that deer are feeding, traveling or bedding at those sites after dark. But this may not be a correct assumption.
* “Once I find the feeding and bedding sites and the trails the deer are traveling within those 300 yards, I’ll set-up a stand site, so the deer can’t hear or see me.
* “A classic example of finding one of these spots was when I was hunting near my home at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area located in western Kentucky and Tennessee. I found a place close to the road where three ridges ran together and dropped-off into a hollow. Numbers of white-oak acorn trees were down in the bottom of that hollow, and deer were crossing this bottom to get to another section of the public land. By reading the deer sign, I knew deer were crossing and feeding here and using a nearby cedar thicket to bed and hide. I made a stand at this site and took a really-nice buck. I’m sure everyone else who saw this spot just thought this area was too close to the road to have a chance at a buck.”
Another Hunter Tells about Close-to-the-Road Hunting
Bowhunters sometimes are more intent and serious about their deer hunting than gun hunters, primarily because they have to try and take a deer at 30 yards or less. They’ll often go deeper into the woods and learn more about deer movement than other hunters. However, their Achilles’ heels are the first 300 yards of woods away from the road, like many muzzleloading hunters. So, what Simmons has learned applies to blackpowder hunters too. “When I started scouting the wildlife-management area I planned to hunt on opening morning, I found a tree dropping acorns within sight of the main road,” Jerry Simmons, a longtime bowhunting friend, explains. “I also saw fresh deer droppings and a thicket not far from that tree. I put-up my tree stand and climbed into it about 30-minutes before daylight the next morning.
“As the sun began to come up, I could see the late arrivals driving down the road. When they slowed down and saw me in the tree, I’d wave to them. There’s no doubt in my mind that the hunters driving up and down the road thought I was an idiot bowhunter who didn’t have a clue about where to hunt. About 8:30 am, the woods became quiet with no road traffic. I didn’t see another hunter. At 9:00 am, does started coming in to feed under the acorn tree not 100-yards from the road. At 9:30 am, a fat 8-point buck stepped out, and I took him with my bow. I quickly loaded him into my pickup, took my tree stand down and checked my deer in at the station without ever seeing another hunter.
“The next weekend I went back and hunted from this same place, waved at the hunters and took a 6-point buck. I believe that first 300-yards from the road may be the very-best place to take deer that no one else sees on public lands.”
By: John E. Phillips, an avid muzzleloading hunter who’s always looking for bucks to take.