In a few short days (and getting shorter all the time), September will be upon us and summer will be all but over. I won’t lie. I’m going to miss it. I love fall. But I hate what comes after.
It’s hard to believe that when I kicked off this flurry of land-management activity, I was cursing the knee-deep snow drifts that remembered from the Winter of Hell. And yesterday I cursed the wretched humidity and heat index. Go figure. But the end is in sight. The time when all of this effort pays off and we get to see whether the best-laid plans really do pay off.
But, now, it’s time to hang stands. Last week, I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to sow the food plot corridors that I’m hoping will steer deer around the property and away from neighboring hunters. Each trail was laid out in a manner that allowed the deer to remain in security cover while passing by suitable stand locations.
I promised myself back in March that, come September, I’d wrap up the land work and give the property a solid month of zero intrusion. The time for that is nearly upon us. I have 6 stand locations selected on the 17-acre property. One for each wind direction – North, South, East and West plus one “go-for-broke” rut stand and a late-season box blind. Each location, save for the box blind, is located less than 40 yards from the property edge.
And before you even go there, I can assure you that I’m not infringing upon any neighoring hunters. Three sides of the property are bordered by unhuntable ground – they are the backyards of homes. The final remaining side borders property I have permission to hunt (but won’t) and includes a stand of wide-open timber that no one should expect deer to utilize. None of my stands face the neighboring lands and none offer a shot opportunity anywhere but onto my land.
So why hunt so close to the edge? Simple math.
If I intrude 75 or 80 yards into my property, I’m greatly reducing the remaining area of unmolested ground, and I don’t have much to begin with. The last thing I want to do is make the place hunt smaller than it is. Each stand location was also carefully chosen to allow for a fast, silent entry. I’m quite confident that I’ll be able to get from my truck to the stands with spooking a single deer. When hunting a small piece of ground, that’s essential.
I intend to hang all of the stands in a single marathon session and, while there, I will complete any final prep work for the man-made trails I want the deer to utilize while also clearing shooting lanes and access paths to the stands. And I’ll also install my “secret” weapon: A trail camera that sends images wirelessly. I won’t be able to stand not knowing what kind of deer are showing up to sample the food plots and enjoy the unhunted security of the property. But checking cameras would defeat the purpose of leaving the land alone. It’s small. The only chance I have for success on older bucks is to make the area as pressure-free as possible.
My goal here is simple: I want local deer to feel that my chunk of land is a sanctuary, free of humans and hunting pressure. And it will be – except for the outer perimeter where my stand locations will be. Using a trailcam that sends images to me allows me to “scout” without ever stepping foot into the interior of the property.
The plan is coming together. The day of reckoning is nearly upon us. Bring it.