Editor’s Note: Where deer hunters hunt has changed drastically in the last several years.
Every deer hunter’s dream is having quality private land for him and his family to hunt and manage. In many states, when you look for a big piece of property to lease, if that property has an abundance of deer and turkey, the lease price is outrageous. When longtime deer hunter Vic Thayer Jr., of Bartlett, Tennessee, started riding the roads and knocking on doors to locate hunting lands, he came upon one landowner who said, “I’ve got all my property leased, except the small 20 acres right behind my house. You’re welcome to go take a look and see if it’s a piece you may want to lease.” This point in time was when Vic Thayer’s deer-hunting strategies changed.
Once Thayer realized how productive his first 20-acre plot was, he immediately began to look for another small tract. He located a small woodlot with less than 30 acres that was adjacent to a CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) field surrounded by agriculture. “After I scouted the area, I found a lot of buck sign including scrapes, rubs and trails,” Thayer explains. “Before deer season 2013, I leased this property for $ 10 per acre. On opening morning of gun season of 2013, I had an 8-pointer with a narrow rack but very-long tines walk behind me that would score 130 B& C. He came from a direction I didn’t expect him to come from, and he spotted me in my stand. I normally shoot right-handed. I knew I would have to turn to my right to get off a shot, and I’d have to shoot left-handed to get the shot. With my gun on my left shoulder, I squeezed the trigger and missed the buck.”
The CRP field had plenty of thick cover, young saplings, sage grass and briars mixed in with a few hardwoods and some ditches running through it that contained water all year long. Thayer is a big fan of locating ditches near thick cover, because he’s learned that bucks will come out of thick-cover areas, get down in the ditches and travel to and from agricultural fields or big wood lots without being seen during daylight hours. Often, deer also will cross ditches to get from one area to another. “I believe that when they’re down in the ditch, they believe they’re less likely to be seen by a hunter,” Thayer reports. “You’ll also find deer trails on the edges of ditches where deer will walk. If they see danger, they can turn around and go back the way they’ve come, or jump down in the ditch and become almost invisible. I’ve learned that a perfect spot to set up a stand on these small properties with fence rows and ditches is where I locate two or three trails less than 50-yards apart that cross the same ditch or the same fence row.”
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