Small Tracts, Giant Whitetails

While every hunter cannot afford to purchase large tracts of land to manage for trophy whitetails, it does not mean they cannot reap the same rewards from smaller farms.  Knowing what to look for and the surrounding hunting pressure are key to locating these little giants.  Once a mature buck senses danger, he often reduces his home range and becomes almost exclusively nocturnal.  Knowing this, if you can locate a 30-60 acre farm with dense cover, water, and secluded food sources that connects to bigger tracts, it’s highly likely this farm will produce trophy whitetails.

By “little giants” I mean mature whitetail bucks that reside on smaller farms with big timber.  Often, by the time a buck reaches 4 1/2 years old he has likely encountered hunters, narrowly escaping death more than once.  Smaller pieces of timber offer much needed security for cautious whitetails.  Also, don’t overlook the importance of secluded food, which are available in multiple way.  Agricultural fields surrounded  by hedge rows, timber, or other cover.  A stand of white oaks in the big timber likewise offers secluded food. Never underestimate a good stand of white oaks. White oak acorns are the most desirable food source in the Midwest.  While a lot of emphasis is put on standing row crops, whitetails often avoid these areas until natural food sources have depleted or covered in snow.  Of course, deer will frequent row crops throughout the year, but when acorns are on the ground it’s a great opportunity to see a mature buck during daylight hours, especially during early season.

Finally, with smaller tracts, it’s important to learn as much as possible about neighboring hunters.  Are they gun hunters only?  How hard to they hunt?  Do they use scent control?  The more you know about them, the better informed you will be to make strategic decisions on your farm, such as when and how often to hunt.  It’s also helpful to know the best locations on your farm to scout and hunt at different times of the season.  For more information on small farm potential for giant whitetails, visit the links below.

– Kory