As the sun set and the alfalfa field filled with whitetails, Michael Waddell, a cameraman for Realtree Outdoors, and I were trying to determine where we'd put up a stand for the next evening's hunt.
"See that corner down by the river?" asked Waddell.
I pointed my binoculars and replied, "Yep, four more does and another buck just popped out of it." "We're gonna hang a stand right there tomorrow."
The next day we checked it out. A willow flat rimmed the grain and melted back into the heavy timber along this section of Montana's Milk River. A cottonwood grew 30 yards off the field corner back in the thick, red brush.
Perfect! I helped Waddell hang his stand, wished him luck and hurried off to hunt another location.
Ten does passed the tree later that afternoon. At dusk, Waddell looked up and shivered. He could see a 145-inch rack bobbing and weaving above the willows. The buck came broadside at 15 yards and Waddell tagged out.
When whitetails are locked into a bed-to-feed pattern in September and early October, you shouldn't worry too much about overhunting a stand. So the next afternoon I got into the same cottonwood and bagged the buck that is pictured here.
Two good bucks from the same tree in less than 24 hours! Once again a corner stand had paid off big.
What To Look For
It might be a willow flat in Montana, a hillside covered with prairie grass in Kansas or a honeysuckle field in the East or South. Wherever you hunt, look for "transition cover" that connects a crop field with nearby bedding cover. On early fall evenings many bucks rise from their beds and follow does toward a crop field. They often stop and hang out in the chest-high brush that links the two major habitats. The bucks feel hidden and safe in such areas, but they are often visible and thus vulnerable.
You can put your stand anywhere in a transition cover and see deer. Trouble is, if you hang a stand in a scraggly tree out in the middle of a sea of brush, a lot of deer will see you too. That's why I like to hunt the corner of a field. A corner bordered by a brush-covered fence, a river or a strip of timber is a natural deer funnel.
Try to hang your perch 25 to 75 yards from a corner and within shooting range of as many deer trails as possible. But don't push too deep into the brush. Many does and bucks bed closer to a field than you might suspect.
Access your stand from the crop field in early afternoon. Test the wind first. If it is blowing into the brush, hunt somewhere else. When the sun begins to sink and you spot the first does filtering toward the grain, get ready.
Field corners often act as natural deer funnels. Place a stand about 50 yards into the cover, find a low-impact entry and exit route and, when the wind is blowing out of the foreset, get ready.