30 years ago everyone was whitetail hunting on large farms or public land. 1-200 acre properties were the norm and there was ample room for crops, water, and cover. Times have changed. While there are still plenty of people hunting farms, they typically require a lease agreement or ownership of the farm. More and more whitetail deer hunters are hunting smaller parcels of land. If you have 10 or 20 acres of private land to hunt it can turn out to be a great property. There are some changes you should make, though, to adapt your hunting style when hunting a smaller property.
Know The Neighbors
When hunting a smaller parcel it is critical to know the neighbors. Understanding who also deer hunts can help you plan your strategy for your property. If the neighbors on the east side of your property hunt you will want to be careful about doing anything which could pressure deer to head to that property. Also, on a smaller parcel, it is important to have tracking permission on neighboring properties for wounded deer. If the neighbors are not friendly to tracking, it means you will need to be extremely careful with your bow shot placement. The last thing you want happening is a wounded deer running somewhere you can’t go retrieve it. In this situation, you can reach out to your local DNR officer who may be able to persuade the property owner to let you get your deer, but the owner of the property is under no legal obligation to do so in Michigan.
Don’t Overdo It
You need to be especially careful about burning out a smaller property. You can easily overhunt a 20 acre or smaller piece of land. This could cause all the deer to become nocturnal or, worse, flee to neighboring land. Don’t hunt the property every day. Be strategic. Your very first hunt is going to have a high percentage of success because the deer will be taken completely off guard. After a promising start, it’s tempting to come back in and hunt over and over hoping to see those deer again. However, you need to give them enough time to let their guard back down. Waiting 5-7 days (or more) in between hunts is going to pay serious dividends. This is why it’s important to have different places to hunt. Get permission on some other private land spots. Find some public land areas you can hunt. Having promising options can help ensure you don’t burn out a small private land property.
Rely On Cameras
Cell cameras will be your best friend on a small piece of land. Get in early before the end of August and set up several cellular trail cameras, prep some trees to hunt, trim shooting lanes, and anything else you need to do. Then stay off the property. Monitor those cameras to find some target deer and try to pattern them as much as possible. Plan a hunting strategy with the mindset that you may only get 1-2 chances on a certain deer all season. When you do go in to hunt, make it count.
Small pieces of land can be overlooked by many hunters, but you should keep them in mind. More and more large mature bucks are being taken on 7-acre properties and in suburban areas. Even if you have a large piece of land to hunt, having several other smaller properties can help you have some different options depending on the wind and deer movement.