Question: “I have a 80 acre deer hunting lease in Zephyr, Texas. This town is located in Brown County. The place we hunt has two creek bottoms going through it and we have about 65 acres of brushy habitat. Even the grassland areas are still pretty tall since the property is not grazed. We want to improve the deer hunting on the lease, so we are looking for ideas. Based on our game camera photos, we have a good number of does and some big bucks in the area, but how would I go about getting them on my place and staying around there? Thanks.”
Response: First off, an 80 acre ranch would make up only a small part of a mature buck’s home range. In fact, the good news is that it could possibly overlap of several bucks. But in short, deer will be moving onto and off of your deer lease quite regularly. This will make management efforts difficult if you are trying to go that route, but there are some things you can do to ensure that you see more deer.
If you want deer to come to you, the property you hunt must have something they want, and even better, something greater than what the neighbor has to offer them. Whether it’s protein pellets, food plots, corn, water, or bales of alfalfa hay. These deer attractants, or baits, can really help. If you have a couple of good water sources, that would be a start too. But it will take more than just good food to keep deer visiting your parcel of Texas paradise.
Human disturbance can make a a huge difference. Many hunters fail to realize how important this is. Deer can hear across 80 acres. Sometimes the hooping and hollering at camp is enough to let them know that “it’s on.” How often is the 80 acres being driven through with vehicles, 4-wheelers and the like? I know hunters who ride their entire property every day when they get there and after deer hunting in the morning just to see deer. They will even spotlight at night sometimes to, again, look at deer.
These savvy hunters end up spooking all the deer off their tracts, and ultimately changing the deer’s habits. The bigger bucks around your deer lease will not tolerate being spooked too often and they will find another place to feed, possibly where they will be shot. A hunter can cover 80 acres in very little time when driving. A deer can cover it even faster.
Another thing that will help your small acreage deer hunting is staying away from your deer feeders, bait stations and the like. How often are you checking your feeder and stand before deer season? The less human scent in the area, the more likely you will have higher concentrations of deer. Many hunters have reported deer, especially big bucks, not showing up on camera for several days after placing out a camera, only to be there like clockwork from then on. Then repeating this activity the next time the camera is checked.
Lastly, sometimes deer concentration presents problems. How many mature bucks do you see? I have an area where a big, mature 5 pointer was hanging around. He was the only mature buck we saw in the area for almost a three weeks. We removed this big cull buck from the herd on the opening day of the deer hunting season. Within two days a couple of mature 10 point bucks, as well as a nice middle-aged eight point, moved into the area. The big 5 had claimed his territory and apparently drove the other bucks off. Maybe there is an old buck in your area keeping others out. Hopefully you will get him!
Deer hunting is challenging. That’s why hunters enjoy it so much. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to use your game camera prior to the hunting season. The deer you see on camera will comprise most of the animals that you have in the area. If you see no mature bucks, then chances are they are in very, very limited numbers. Keep your deer lease quiet so that the hunting pressure appears low and that will go a long ways towards making your property attractive to deer, and improve deer hunting for you.
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