John's Journal...

Create a Hot Spot Where You Can Hunt Deer Close

Day 1: Plant Fruit and Nut Trees to Create a Deer Hunting Honey Hole

Editor’s Note: Through the years, I've learned that focusing on the big aspects of deer hunting doesn't always bring as much success as paying attention to the small details like having food available that deer like to eat and having places where you can hunt deer close with your bow, muzzleloader, pistol or crossbow. Following through with the little things that everyone else thinks they automatically will do, but don't, will ensure success afield for bagging deer.

Click for Larger View"Gotcha," I said to myself as the fat, wide-racked, 8-point buck stepped out of the briar patch and fed on the white oak acorns under the tree I'd fertilized at the beginning the past spring. The buck could have fed under several other white oak acorn trees. But on this day and in this place, I found him right where I wanted him. As I cocked the hammer on my blackpowder rifle, I carefully moved the barrel a little, although I already had it raised and ready to shoot. Because the buck stood less than 40-yards from me, I wanted to make sure he didn't detect my presence in the woods. With a nice-sized deer that close to me, I even tried not to breathe. "Cheek against the stock," I told myself. "Head down. Quit looking at his rack. Concentrate on the spot you want to hit. Now, squeeze slowly. I don't want to know when the gun will go off."

At the report of the rifle, the big buck fell and scrambled back to his feet, before vanishing into the briars. I listened, and then I heard a crash. I knew my buck had gone down. My plan had worked. The small amount of time and energy I had spent in the woods the previous spring fertilizing and creating a hot spot for hunting deer close really had paid off for me.

The Old Man’s Philosophy of Creating Hot Spots for Deer Where You Can Hunt Close:

Click for Larger ViewAn 80-plus-year-old hunter brought a 150-class buck into my taxidermy studio many years ago when I still did taxidermy. I questioned the elderly man as to how and where he took the deer, and he shared his secret with me for bagging bucks every season. "Back before the Great Depression of the 1930s, everyone I hunted with planted an apple tree, a pear tree, a peach tree, a plum tree or a pecan tree in the woods each season to help feed the game," recalled the old timer. “Each spring, we went into the woods and fertilized the trees we'd planted. Every fall, the fruit and nut trees produced bumper crops of food for deer and turkeys. But when the Depression hit, city folks came to the country to get the fruit and the nuts out of the woods. They broke down fences, left gates open and littered the landowners' properties. To save their lands and stock, landowners went into the woods and cut-down their fruit and nut trees. But about 30-years ago, some of us have started planting and fertilizing trees like we once did. And the fruit and nuts from these trees still draw deer and turkeys into those little secret spots where we plant and fertilize the trees and then can hunt the deer close."

Hunters in northern states know that wild apple trees will lure-in bucks. Southern hunters usually depend on crabapples and acorns more than domestic fruit and nut trees. But the old practice of planting fruit and nut trees still will lure-in bucks each season where you hunt and help you to create a hot spot where you can hunt deer close.

Places to Plant Fruit and Nut Trees:

Click for Larger ViewIn every clear cut, any briar thicket and most heavy-growth areas, you often will find one or two open places where pine trees haven't grown, or, for some reason, some of the foliage hasn't reached the height of the foliage around it. These small, open spots make ideal sites to plant fruit and nut trees and create bowhunting or muzzleloading hotspots during deer season. To have a fruit and nut tree honey hole where you consistently bag bucks each season:

  • go into a thick-cover area or a clear cut where no pine trees grow, after you get the landowner's permission. Spray a herbicide to kill all the low-quality hardwood brush and keep other trees and shrubs from competing with your fruit and nut trees for 10 to 20 years.
  • purchase fast-growing and high-yielding pecan trees or apple trees, and plant one tree in each spot you've treated with herbicide. Make sure you put a piece of black or dark-colored plastic pipe around the trunk of the tree to keep the deer from eating the young tree. If you have to use white pipe, paint it or camouflage it, so other hunters won't notice the pipe.
  • put a ring of four to eight fertilizer tablets on the outer edges of the branches of the tree you've just purchased, 3- to 6-inches below the surface. Place one or two tablets in the hole where you plant the tree. Cover the roots of the tree.
  • mark the location with your hand-held GPS receiver to enable you to find the tree in a year or two when the tree starts producing fruit or nuts.

Click For Larger ViewThe more fruit and nut trees you plant each year in the areas where other hunters won't look, the more honey holes you'll create. To have success using the fruit and nut tree/fertilizer/herbicide program, don't tell anyone where you've planted the trees. The more people who know you plant fruit and nut trees for deer, the more people you'll have hunting your secret spots.

For more information, get the new eBook, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” by John E. Phillips. Go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: The Importance of Native Plants and Natural Nuts to Create a Honey Hole for Hunting Deer Close

Check back each day this week for more about "Create a Hot Spot Where You Can Hunt Deer Close"

Day 1: Plant Fruit and Nut Trees to Create a Deer Hunting Honey Hole
Day 2: The Importance of Native Plants and Natural Nuts to Create a Honey Hole for Hunting Deer Close
Day 3: Use Wildlife Plantings to Make a Deer Hot Spot You Can Hunt
Day 4: Build Stalking Trails through Thick Cover to Help You Take More Bucks
Day 5: How to Install a Stalking Lane to Hunt Deer Close

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Entry 692, Day 1