If you’re a seasoned pro or a new adult-onset hunter, your goal for this fall is the same: find deer. You may be searching for one specific deer or maybe just any deer, but the tactics that you use scouting right now will be essentially the same. It’s July, and this is the time to be analyzing the properties you plan to hunt and using all available intel to “crack the code” before deer season is here.
3 Things Every Great Deer Property Needs
Every property worth hunting will have some variation of a deer’s basic 3 needs. These are food, water, and cover. If a potential property has a nice stream and 100 acres of sugar beet fields, but no cover, it is not a great hunting property. It’s that simple. I’m not saying you can’t hunt it—you can, and you may be successful. However, you will be counting on the deer not getting killed by someone else first while they are headed to the food and or water on your property.
Deer go about their day in a very predictable fashion. They go to bed at sunrise and bed down during the day. In the evening they wake up and head towards food and water. Habitual by nature, typically they travel the same basic route every day. Now in a pressured area, the deer will probably not go directly to the food source while it is still light out. They will “hang up” and wait nearby in cover for the sun to set. This is why you must have some type of cover on the property you want to hunt. You need to be able to set up at an ambush point to intercept the deer during legal shooting hours.
If your property has a lot of cover, then you might be even better off. If the deer are bedding down, you can set up in a way that you are sure to catch them on their way into or out of their bedding areas.
Think of the woods like a deer’s house. The heavy cover of their bedding area is the master bedroom. The food source is the kitchen. Your job is to set up in their hallway and wait for them to get up and head to the kitchen or to catch them in the morning on their way back to bed. By analyzing every potential property for these 3 key features you can greatly increase the chances of seeing deer. You will also be able to vet properties based on maps (without seeing the property in person). A property that contains food, water, and cover can hold deer. A property with those 3 features, low hunting pressure, and active deer sign is a spot you will want to hunt.