Small Property Strategy

Sportsman94

Yearling... With promise
Looking for input from the gurus on here. I hunt a 20 acre property that my mom lives on. There is a 2.25-2.5 acre plot as well as a half acre plot in the back corner of the property. To the east of the bigger plot is a few acre section of natural regen that the deer like to bed in. To the east of that (off the property) is a pretty good chunk of thinned pines that are thick enough to provide bedding and security. I have never seen or heard of anyone hunting over there. My plots are 3/4 of a mile from the nearest food source other than corn feeders. I’m unsure of how many feeders are running around me, but know there are several. The only access is from the north of the property and our predominant winds are out of the north. There are neighbors to the west and to the north of the property.

Between this property and the neighbors I have food and cover for a large portion of the season. The deer I get on camera seem to stay most of the season. No matter how many does I leave or shoot I don’t seem to have mature bucks using this property with any frequency. The first year there was a 3 year old 7 point who showed up several times. Since then, maybe one picture of something mature per year. This year I have only stepped foot on it twice for hunting purposes and only on winds that weren’t out of the north so my scent wasn’t pushing across the whole place. My stand, which has only been sat once this year, is in the woods between the two food sources. There is a soft edge in there that bucks seem to use frequently to get to the doe bedding.

What would be your approach for improving the property for mature buck use? Less food/more cover? Food that equals cover? Attract as many does as possible to encourage bucks during the rut?

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Sportsman94

Yearling... With promise
Here’s a bigger picture to see what surrounds this property.

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Bill

Administrator
Personally I think it may to small an area to hold mature bucks.

If you’re only hunting a few times a year I’d encourage you to keep and hunt the food plots. I know that goes against the grain but a few sits a year will not let them pattern you. I hunt against the grain. I hunt food plots and stay out of the timber
 

Bill

Administrator
Also you have to bump this thread in a few weeks. Everyone is out hunting right now.
 

AtomApple

5 year old buck +
You could try planting apples, or offer them some other food nobody else has. I also didn’t notice any water, except at the bottom of the hills to the North and South. Maybe a small pond or water source by the food.
I think bucks might travel on those contour lines to the South of you. It’s risky, but you could try to establish doe bedding closer to the house and try to pull bucks off that ridge and up onto you property. You’d probably have to access staying on the West side of you property. Unfortunately , the deer probably only want to come up with a north wind. But maybe an East or NE wind could work for you.
 

Sportsman94

Yearling... With promise
Thanks for the replies guys. I am in GA if that matters for anything and primarily like to bow hunt. With that said, I will build a blind next year for my daughter and I to sit in on the big field and will probably hunt it several times during the rut. I have planted pears, crabapples, sawtooth oaks, and chestnuts so far. Nothing producing yet though. There is also a female persimmon in the middle of the bigger field that is a huge attraction every year.

There is at least one family group of does that beds on the northwest corner of the property almost exclusively. Other than that, the does seem to be hit or miss on bedding in the other young growth. It seems like early November they bed there frequently, but when the bucks start getting frisky they are only sometimes in there. This is just based on observation and cameras so could be inaccurate.

Water is a great suggestion. There is a bottom in the southeast corner of the property that holds water on wet years, but I’m sure it is bone dry on a year like this. We have talked about putting a small pond in, but haven’t made the commitment yet. The pines on the property are mature and due for a thinning if I can find someone to come out there and mess with that little bit. Will likely have to wait until a neighbor cuts and jump in with their logger. If I got the back couple acres of pines either thinned or clearcut, is there anything in that area I could do that could/would encourage buck movement? I know I’m pretty limited with the size of the property and where things lay, but I’m trying to understand the dynamics of how a buck would use the property even if only cruising for does. It seems that the little section of woods between the plots is a pinch point that can be hunted in a morning with rising thermals. I have seen both on camera and in person 2 year olds using it this way, but don’t know if the more mature bucks would have the same mindset


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Sportsman94

Yearling... With promise
Bill, I was thinking that next summer I would plant wgf sorghum in the big field and then broadcast a mix of wheat and clover in the fall. Hoping that the sorghum would provide enough cover to make the more mature deer in the area feel comfortable using it in daylight, and/or obstructing their view forcing them to come into the field to check. Would you expect that to help or would you expect them to continue to scent check that area from wherever they are doing it now?


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bwoods11

5 year old buck +
How thick is your timber ?
 

Sportsman94

Yearling... With promise
Everything you can see besides the pines on the extreme north and extreme south of the property is very thick natural regen. It’s what I would consider ideal bedding. Lots of green briar, blackberry, and other forbs and grasses mixed in with some pines and hardwoods. The pines and hardwoods in This section are probably only 15-20’ tall. The mature pines have a lot of understory obstructing view as well as some grass that came in pretty thick after burning in spring of 2021. I’ll try to get some on the ground pictures next time I’m over there


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4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
On small properties, I try to throw as much at it as possible to hope something attracts , or keeps deer on your land longer. Examples, thick bedding, where you won’t go, food plots, water, attract does, does bring in bucks during the rut. Mock scrapes, mineral pits.

Important tips, don’t over hunt it, hunt the wind, be as scent free as possible. Access is key. On my land about the only time I get bucks is during the rut, then very few any other time. So you brought up bow hunting, I would only hunt it during the prime rut. Then find some local state land to fill in other times.
 

Bill Loser

5 year old buck +
I love this thread. I have a very small parcel also. I really dont have alot to add as far as what works, but i do know all the mistakes! I've made them all!
Look forward to reading and learning! Thanks for starting this.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
I only have 12 acres so I'm in the same boat. I'm surrounded by commercial ag. Primarily soybean, corn, and a couple hay fields. I've tried to give them something different. I have three small food plots that I put in oats, rye, clover, turnips and radish. I've planted plums, pears, apples, chinkapin, and persimmons. None of mine have fruited yet either. Other than that I'm going for the best cover in the area, so when the pressure starts, they come to me. Don't worry about holding deer. At best I hold a handful of doe year long. Just make it as attractive as you can for Oct-Dec.

If others are baiting around you, you might as well too. A corn pile will out compete a food plot all day.
 

bwoods11

5 year old buck +
I have a 4 acre parcel 🤨. Just bought it. Plan to hinge cut, create more strategic trails, and add one nice water hole.

It’s too narrow for a good food plot, but will add some apple trees. I bought it mainly for potential development or re-96C7A893-5922-47EF-BB9B-2AEE76BEF1F0.jpegsale to a friend , but there are deer around.
 

Troubles Trees

5 year old buck +
I am with Atom here, if it were me I would try to establish some unique food sources that aren't already in your area like Chestnuts and maybe Pears.
 

KingLoser

Yearling... With promise
In for this thread. I just bought 24 acres here in Texas and am looking for ideas. I've got a 2 ponds and a wet weather creek that seems to hold water. From what I can tell over the last 3 weeks or so the deer like to use the edges of my property as a travel cooridor. I have some major thinning to do in the under brush but will definitely try to pull as many ideas as I can.
 

Garrett S

5 year old buck +
Small or big- the most important aspect is undetected access and egress, with a stand location or two that are prime with the same wind needed for access. The smaller the property the less forgiving. Better to have a so so stand with premium in/out than a premium stand with so-so in/out if it takes more than one hunt.

All too often missed- most deer appreciate food, water, shelter…. The older the deer the more security matters. So back to point one….
 

Natty Bumppo

5 year old buck +
On my 30 acres I try to create a doe factory. I will never hold mature bucks. I strive to create a sanctuary for does with food and cover so that from late October through the end of November I get bucks showing up looking for them. And largely that's what happens. I'll have a few resident spikes and young bucks every year...and maybe a 2.5 YO basket 8 every now and then. But during the rut I'll get bucks showing up that I've never seen before. The past 2 years have been REALLY slow though, though more typically my plan works. And by "doe factory" I'm talking MAYBE 4 to 6 does, 6 being a lot. We have a very low DPSM...no ag, no mast,....apples have been terrible the past 7 years or so. My food plots are the only game in town.
 

b116757

5 year old buck +
My home 35 acres has always held a couple bucks since doing quite a bit of canopy release and honey locust control my buck numbers have increased.
 

H20fwler

5 year old buck +
We have two small farms 12 acre and 30 acre. I'm in a very heavy ag area but both the properties are close to a good size river and that helps with the deer and turkey traffic.
What has worked well for us is adding water features, adding cover like native grasses and planting all kinds of fruit/nut/browes trees and shrubs. Focus on trying to keep the does around and bucks will check right in.
With smaller properties playing the wind is even more important, place stands close to corners if you can... easier to sneak in and out. If wind isn't right don't hunt that day.
 

Bill Loser

5 year old buck +
I have a 4 acre parcel 🤨. Just bought it. Plan to hinge cut, create more strategic trails, and add one nice water hole.

It’s too narrow for a good food plot, but will add some apple trees. I bought it mainly for potential development or re-View attachment 47471sale to a friend , but there are deer around.
How big of an area do you think a guy would need to make hinge cutting beneficial? I have a couple acres of box elder and willow that I tried to hinge cut a couple years ago and never really saw any difference. Maybe I didn't do it right?
 
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