“While hunting pinch points you have to remember the wind is a key factor.”
One of the most asked questions in hunting is where to place a treestand or blind. I have found 3 places that seem to always be successful.
It is the middle of September and I am ready to head to the deer stand but where do I go? I try my best to not hunt the field edges until late in the season. This is extremely hard for me. When you can see almost a mile in any direction, you can almost guarantee you will see a deer. In the early season, that is what keeps us pushing for those cold November days. However, the best places to have a chance at harvesting a mature buck are pinch points in the woods between the bedding areas and the agricultural fields.
Hunting over pinch points and funnels are often misunderstood. Up until two years ago, I thought of pinch points as a place to only hunt in the rut. I started setting trail cameras on pinch points and I noticed I was getting more pictures than anywhere else on my farm. The way most of the Midwest is laid out makes perfect sense as to why so many deer use those places. Most open land has been tilled under and turned into farmable acreage. The only places left are the steep 20 foot plus ravines on the edges of fields and the big timber thickets. Deer are a lot like humans, they want to take the easiest pass from point A to point B. With that being said, why wouldn’t they walk that ravine top out to the field? It provides amazing cover and is less straining than climbing the muddy creek walls.
When hunting pinch points, remember the wind is a key factor. With the steep rivenes or small cluster of trees, your scent will carry. I always try to stay with the wind in my face, with the deer travel coming towards me. This means setting up multiple stands or a blind on both sides of the pinch point. If you only have one stand or one blind, make sure you are looking at the weather forecast for that day and set it up with the wind in your favor.
Food, food and more food. As the season changes, so do the feeding habits of deer. In early September, the abundance of food is astonishing. From acorns to corn, deer have a buffet in front of them which makes locating them a little bit tougher. What I like to do is setup in the white oaks in between bedding and agricultural fields. This gives me the best chance to catch a buck that is staging before it heads out into the ag. fields at dusk. If you do not have big agricultural fields, food plots work extremely well. My choice is a good mix of rye, turnips, peas and clover. This gives you a food source for the full season. Once October rolls around, I like to hunt on the field edges as the crops are being harvested. This gives you the best chance to see to make a move if deer are not reading the script. Freshly picked corn or beans is like turning on a deer feeder. They hear that combine and know it is time to feast! November is a tougher month to hunt the food sources, as most bucks will not be coming to eat. They are coming to the fields/food plots to look for a doe. In November, hunting the sugar beets and turnips has always given me the most success. When setting a stand up, I always look for natural funnels or high spots where a buck can survey the field without being seen. December is when bucks will be refueling after 3 weeks of chasing every doe in the county. This time of year it is best to sit back on field edges or deep in the woods on a creek. The water source coming from bedding to feeding will offer the greatest chance of success in the early mornings. For my evening sits, I prefer to sit by standing beans or radish/turnips. Normally, after the first heavy frost of the year, the deer will be digging up your turnips. As soon as you see this, it’s time to hang a new stand on that field. The first time you smell a rotten turnip, you will always associate it with killing a mature buck!
In late October and most of November, I like to set up and hunt on scrapes. I start my mock scrapes in September and continually freshen them up throughout the season. Having a large community scrape is like a rest stop on I80, everyone has to stop and see it! I love setting a camera on video mode and watching bucks come in and work the licking branch and tear up the ground. In this stage, I move from using doe urine to doe estrus. Every other week I will rotate my scent dripper out with buck urine to estrus to make it seem like I have a new, dominate buck using the scrape. When setting a stand or blind, I try to make sure I am not directly over the scrape. I like to be 30-40 yards away from it. Human scent will ruin the scrape. If using a tree stand, I like to be at least 25-30 feet in the tree because the buck will be looking up for the licking branch. When using a blind, I like to make sure it is brushed in extremely well. I prefer to set the blind in October and leave it alone until November.
Use the tips above to see more deer and help you become a better hunter. As I have learned over the last five years, hunting is always evolving and the game is always changing. The best advice in the end is to be willing to adapt to the surroundings and be able to put some serious time in the woods to see what your deer population is doing. I can tell you year to year, the pattern of my deer herd has changed but a few things have stayed consistent. Deer have to have food and water, and they have to travel from bedding areas to food. Setting up in those areas are going to make you more successful.