We’re in the middle of October and two weeks into our Michigan whitetail season. With two deers down so far, I have a stocked freezer and am trying to plan out the rest of my hunting. I have been focusing on three different properties to hunt. One is a thirty-acre piece of private land and the other two spots are seven hundred acre pieces of public land. So far, I’ve seen decent groups of does on the private land spot and one of the public areas. The second piece of public I have not hunted since I scouted it in September. With my goal of getting a mature buck this fall, I am shifting my strategy from the beginning of the season to a more targeted approach. Let’s go through how I am going to approach the different pieces of land.
Private Land Spot
This thirty-acre piece of property in Washtenaw county is my best opportunity to hunt a place the way I want to. I am the only bowhunter using the land, and have not stepped foot on it since killing a doe on October 3rd. I am running a trail camera, but thus far have only gotten pictures of young bucks and does. It is a perfect place for several mature bucks to be living. There is little hunting pressure, water, lots of cover, and a two hundred acre farm next to it. In scouting the property, I avoided going into any of the thick areas and swamps. I wanted to keep my presence to a minimum and have so far only hunted areas that I could easily access.
My plan now is to go in and move the trail camera to a better location and scout for potential buck bedding areas at the same time. Before doing this I will e-scout with OnX and mark 5-10 areas that look promising for bedding zones. I am going to wear normal clothes and conduct myself as if I am just going for a walk in the woods. This property historically heats a lot as the rut gets close and I want to have locations planned out and saved for then.
Public Land #1
The main area of public ground I have been hunting is definitely holding a lot of deer, but there is also a good amount of hunting pressure. Access is difficult and involves deep hikes through thick undergrowth. Since hunting it twice so far, I have a good idea of where other hunters are setting up and how the deer are moving from the tall grass bedding areas to the open prairie where they eat at night.
I am going to start marking deep locations that provide access to the prairie and then finding the easiest way in and out of those spots. The idea is going to be to set up well back of other hunters and see if the pressure of them heading to their stands can push any of the deer back my way. As the season goes on, the pressure will increase and I know that historically the deer will move further back so I want to be ready when this happens.
Public Land #2
The second piece of public land I am hunting has not paid off yet, though I have found a ton of sign on the property. It is a spot that ticks all the boxes for ideal whitetail habitat (food, cover, water), but I have not yet cracked the code. I am utilizing it right now as my backup spot if the other public land area has too many trucks at the trailhead when I show up. This property gets some pressure, but there are never more than 2 cars at it and it is a massive property. I plan to start accessing it from the other side and setting up along a thick treeline that then opens up to the only real water source, a long, narrow stream.
As I have not yet located the caliber of deer I want to target, I need to retool, adjust my strategy, and do some more scouting. The goal now is to find where the bucks are bedding down and be ready to move in on them as we hit the last week in October.