There are several hunting pressure secrets that I have found that you can use to beat the odds for consistently connecting on the top bucks in your neighborhood, even on the smallest parcels.
Although a section of land is always around 640 acres, the number of hunters within a section of land can very greatly, from as few as 1 or less, to 50 or more. In many areas that I have hunted (and still do) I would guess that an average number of hunters would be between 15 and 25 folks, often all going after the same mature buck or two. Is that a fair estimate? And if the average number of deer hunters is somewhere between 15 and 25, how can you expect to possibly beet the odds to target a specific mature buck? By having the only land in the area that does not contain hunting pressure, while you hunt.
*Make sure to check out my mature buck hunting and habitat books for both public and private lands.
It would seem like there is one big secret, because while so many hunters think that you need 200, 500 or even a thousand acres or more to consistently harvest the oldest bucks in the area; a small % of hunters often harvest the majority of mature bucks from the smallest parcels in the area. Often they do this by actually spending less time in the woods instead of more. Here is how you can use their hunting pressure secrets to do the same as well, every single year
1. More land is not always better
Until you have enough land to completely encompass the effects of negative hunting pressure, than having more land just equals more headaches to manage, and more money to spend. I often find that hunters who would spook deer on an entire 40 acre parcel, would likely do the same even if they hunted 240 acres. So what does more land often mean?
1. More Headaches
2. More Money
3. More Spooked Deer-with the same results.
These hunting pressure secrets can save hunters a lot of money: Less is often more when it comes to the number of hunting acres that you should own or lease. My personal choice is to lease or own 2-3 parcels containing less than 50 acres of cover each. With a small collection of micro parcels I can potentially tap into several different buck herds at a time in a section of land, instead of one buck herd on a larger parcel of hunting land.
2. Many acceptable hunting activities for does and young bucks, are not acceptable for mature bucks.
A mature buck pinballs to the area of least resistance. If a mature buck can find a quieter, less stressful area to live during the daytime that is close enough to a quality food source, he will find it. For example if every nearby hunter is using an ATV to access their hunting stands, then you may hear about quite a few ATV using hunters connecting on mature bucks. However it is because the bucks do not have a choice. If 1 person in the area offers a higher level of peace and quiet on their land, then bucks will gravitate to that land like flies to a gut pile.
3. A mature doe is just as hard to hunt as a mature buck.
If you believe this, than you have already lost the mindset and experience for what it takes to consistently harvest mature bucks. And if this is indeed true on the lands that you hunt, then major changes in hunting style need to take place. A doe herd is one of the greatest indicators of hunting style health. If the doe herd on your land is predictable and easy to hunt nearly any day of the season, than you are on the right track.
Doe family groups have very small home ranges, and will often react completely different on one neighbor's land vs another, by reflecting the level of hunting pressure applied to each parcel. If doe family groups will not enter food sources until after dark, hunters will be fighting an uphill battle.
*There is a distinctly different set of tactics that you need to hunt with for mature bucks, than you would mature does. However, when you employ high quality hunting tactics towards your doe population, it is easy to find a highly efficient level of success. To learn how to be a more efficient doe hunter, make sure that you check out "Buck Tactics For Doe Harvest Success".
4. Quality cover without food is dead
Every acre of cover needs to be supported appropriately by food. The basis of daily movement contains two pieces of habitat: Food and cover. Your goal shouldn't be to control a mature bucks movements over a 24 hour period, but instead only his daytime bedding to evening food source movement.
While a mature buck's daily movements may include 10-20 acres or less much of the season, his nightly movements could include 100's of acres or more. In most regions it is very hard to find 10-20 acres that does not receive hunter sight, sound, or scent. By focusing on enough Fall food and Fall cover for the daytime hours, you will be well positioned for the timeframe that matters most: Shooting hours. But in the end, more food and cover equals even more deer to potentially spook, if your access or intrusion on the land is poor.
5. You are better off doing nothing at all
It all boils down to providing cover that lacks hunting pressure. Some of the best lands across the country for holding mature bucks are the best, because no one hunts them. No amount of quality habitat improvements can overcome poor hunting practices. If you can create improvements that are away from your hunting access than that is perfect! But if your improvements invite deer to cross your access, I would strictly avoid creating them.
*How do you access your land? Getting in and out of your land like a cat will set you apart from the majority of hunters, by substantially reducing hunting pressure. To read more about using cat-like techniques to reach your stand locations, please read "Predatory Access".
6. Dare to be different
*If your neighbors use ATVs, don't use them yourself
*If your neighbors sit on their foodplots, avoidhunting on your food plots
*If your neighbors hunt during poor weather, make sure you focus on purely the best days to hunt
*If your neighbors access through the middle of their lands, make sure your access is non invasive
*If your neighbors have 5 hunters per 40 acres, have 2 or less
There are many ways to make sure that your land is the most secure in the entire neighborhood, because many hunters pressure their lands in several potential ways. I encourage you to use any and all efforts to make sure that your land is recognized as being noticeably different to the local mature buck herd. Often, that is fairly easy to accomplish and when you succeed, you can create a disproportionate number of opportunities with the majority of the bucks in the neighborhood, each year.
Perhaps the greatest hunting pressure secret of all, is that as the movement towards bedding area improvements and high quality food plots has exploded, it has become increasingly difficult for mature bucks to find a daytime home that is unpressured by hunters. That creates a HUGE opportunity for YOU, because if you can designate 20-40 acres of land that contains unpressured high quality food and cover that is not pressured, than you will have accomplished something that most likely your neighbors most likely have not. And trust me, mature bucks will take notice! They will pinball to your unpressured sanctuary predictably each season, where you can consistently harvest them.