I would like to tell you about my favorite hunting tactic and why Hunting on the edge may help you fill your tag with a bigger buck this year !
As we all know there is no fool proof single tactic for getting a boss buck in your sights. There are too many variables for that! From Weather and food to the phase of the rut and pressure. You can likely add 20 more and be absolutely correct ! But there is one tactic I use on a very regular basis that helps me consistently see and harvest bucks when other hunters are counting squirrels ! Let’s discuss them! .
Edges are a buck bonanza !
Here we go again! I’m sure some of you are thinking that right now. After all you may have harvested your biggest buck from a swamp or pine thicket. You might have been sitting in a lounge chair on top of an oak ridge, or driving a mini van on your way to work. Truth is that there is no way you can take into account every scenario. But there are ways to stack the odds in your favor. And the way I like to do that is by hunting edges.
Edges can explain many characteristics of the deer woods. It can be the edge of an open CRP field or standing bean field. It can be a power line right of way or a fire break through the forest. My favorite stand is on this little creek pictured above.
Deer like to walk edges and pathways because like us they want to take the path of the least resistance. That is one of many reasons I chose this creek to place an 18-foot ladder stand. I placed the stand down the creek about 100 yards from where I took the picture because as you can see in the background, it gets’s really thick ! There is about 35 acres that are so thick you can’t walk through it and it’s a big time buck sanctuary ! Add to that the fact that this creek is the only water source in the immediate area and you have a double bonus. I won’t even mention the grove of 5 white oak trees that line the creek edge.
At first, I placed my stand about 30 yards from the creek and about 30 yards downstream of the oaks. The thinking process was to get an early season bow shot as the deer crossed what looks like a cattle crossing. And the prevailing wind was usually in my favor. Perfect setup ! Or so I thought.
There is a rise on the other side of the creek where the deer are coming from and as a result I couldn’t stand and draw because by the time I saw the deer in the thick stuff they could see me. I got busted a couple of times by a wary old gray doe and the rest of the season she looked straight up at the stand every time she came to the top of that rise !
I reluctantly moved the stand further away and now I’m about 75 yards from the crossing. It’s great for rifle hunting later in the fall, but horrible for bow hunting early in the fall. So I added a lock on stand that I have near the old site but only 12 feet off the ground so that I’m completely camouflaged ! Now, after a couple of seasons, it is my go to stand when the wind is right and I get consistent trail camera pictures of a really nice buck that alluded me last year. It s also where I harvested my biggest 8 point to date and should be a really good spot this year and every year.
Many types of edges to increase your odds !
The types of edges vary greatly ! And finding one that can produce good results doesn’t take a rocket scientist.
In states where it is legal rail road tracks are a very good option for rifle hunters with a good aim. Some railroad tracks offer long shots on a crossing deer or one that may be browsing on the vegetation along the edges.
The railroad tracks above crosses our hunting lease in South Carolina, and offers some stretches where 300-400 yards is not at all a problem. The problem is that it is illegal to hunt railroad tracks in the state of South Carolina. But these tracks provide an extra benefit of scouting highways across our property. We will walk of ride ATV s down the track edge and find hot crossings and trails that lead to even better hunting grounds in the woods that we could only get to by plowing through the woods and leaving scent trails everywhere.
Public land edges!
If you asked any of my friends they would tell you that I love hunting public land even more than our lease and do so more than half the time .
In South Carolina and many states there are national forest lands where ATV s are allowed to ride when it isn’t hunting season. These trails are great for walking and getting deep into the woods quietly. They also provide scouting advantages and are an avenue deer will use to travel, because remember, they like the path of the least resistance like we do. Below is one such trail on a 30,000 acre piece of national forest land that hardly no one even visits after the first two weeks of hunting season.
How to get started with Public land edges.
Pretty much every state has an option to get free maps either online or the old-fashioned paper versions through the state Department of Natural Resources. You can also use the many phone apps to get the job done of finding topography and boundary information. I like the OnX app best of all ! It is a paid app, but well worth every cent you spend, because it will also give you the names and addresses of property owners so that they can be contacted in case you seek permission or leasing,
But in this case I use OnX to help find river and creek edges, clear cuts, fire breaks, or simply where a pine thicket or cut over meets a hardwood hollow or other terrain change, and scout them ! I have 2 old ladders stands that I use on public land and sometimes hunt using my climbing stand. Consult your regulations on stands in your state.
Never place a stand right on an edge! Always place it 20-30 yards off an edge where you can see intersections of trails with the edge you are hunting. And try to stick to the bedding and feeding scenario when deciding on your stand placement. I like to place my stands closer to the feeding areas because I hunt mostly in the evenings on public land .
As I started this article I want to suggest strongly to locate a creek or river, either on your hunting property or public land. Scout the creek and if it has an area where it gets thick, has good crossings, and a food source nearby, you have found a gold mine ! These stands will pay off early and late. After the deer get pressured and the rut is over, you’ll still be able to catch a wary old buck traveling through these types of places. And if you play the wind in your favor, you just might tag a big old buck from the edge !
What are some of your favorite tactics ?
We can all learn together, and learn from each other! Let’s hear your favorite tactics for hunting whitetails.
Just comment below and I’ll take the accumulated comments and make a blog post of them !
If you have any questions or there is anything I can help you with please leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you A.S.A.P.
Have a great day, and see you in the great outdoors !
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