John's Journal...

Study and Hunt 1/2-Mile to Take More Deer with John E. Phillips

Day 1: How Much Land Do You Need to Hunt Deer Successfully?

Editor’s Note: Instead of rambling over miles of white-tailed deer country, try concentrating on a 1/2-mile area. You may be surprised at what you’ve been missing. Once you find that magic 1/2-mile of land, you may be able to consistently take big deer from the same spot year after year.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“You may have too-much land to hunt,” I told a friend of mine one day. Immediately the color drained from his face, his chin flopped, and his mouth opened like the Grand Canyon. His eyes rolled back in his head. I already knew what he was going to say before he said it. “You’ve lost your mind, John. Nobody has too much land to hunt. Actually, most people don’t have enough land to hunt. I don’t believe there’s any place in the world where there’s enough land to hunt deer the way someone wants to hunt.”

And, this philosophy is probably one of the riddles in deer hunting that may not have a simple answer. How much land does a deer hunter need to hunt deer? In the West, he’ll require much-more land than the eastern hunter does, because often the numbers of deer are spread out, the land is more open, and the habitat is not as thick. But in the forests east of the Mississippi and in many sections of the Midwest and the Northwest, you may not need more than 1/2-mile to hunt.

Bass fishermen have much the same problem. Most professional bass anglers I know don’t fish a lake or sometimes even a part of a lake. Usually they’ll intensively fish 200 to 500 yards of shoreline. The successful deer hunter can be more effective in the areas where the terrain permits – if he learns how to set-up and hunt a specific 1/2-mile of woods. Let’s look at our 1/2-mile hunt, much like a bass fisherman targets an area to fish.

Why Shrink the Amount of Woods You Hunt?

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewA lake with 500 miles of shoreline is too big to fish, just as a woodlot with 10,000 acres is too large a region to hunt. To decrease the size of the area he has to fish, the bass angler will determine where the bass should be, because of their normal seasonal and migratory patterns. In the spring of the year, he knows the bass will be moving from deep water to shallow water to spawn. In the summer, he understands that the fish are going from shallow water, which is hotter, to the deeper water, which is cooler. In the fall of the year, the bass will be leaving the deep water to travel into the shallows again. Then in the winter, the bass will be moving into the deeper holes, while early springtime will find the bass going to structure located between the deep water into the shallow water in preparation for the spawn. So, due to the time of year, the fisherman has a reasonable idea of where the bass should be.

And, the deer hunter can pattern deer in much the same way. Before hunting season, deer have a normal routine that they follow to and from feeding and bedding areas. You can learn even more about deer-travel patterns by using trail cameras with time and date stamps. So prior to the season, the hunter can search for deer in regions that provide one of these two needs for the whitetail. During the rut, the buck deer often will make scrapes and be in places where they can breed the does. When there is heavy hunting pressure, the deer generally will go to thick cover to avoid hunting pressure. Deer have preferred foods at certain times of the year that are only in season during that particular time of the year. Therefore, depending on the time of the year that the sportsman hunts the whitetail, he can make some reasonable assumptions as to where the deer should be, based on the above facts. By knowing where the deer should be, the hunter can begin to narrow down the areas where he looks for deer.

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks "How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,”
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click on each, or 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.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) 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: How Terrain Naturally Reduces the Amount of Land to Hunt and How to Use Pressure Points to Successfully Hunt Deer

Check back each day this week for more about Study and Hunt 1/2-Mile to Take More Deer with John E. Phillips"

Day 1: How Much Land Do You Need to Hunt Deer Successfully?
Day 2: How Terrain Naturally Reduces the Amount of Land to Hunt and How to Use Pressure Points to Successfully Hunt Deer
Day 3: How to Scout for the Magic One-Half Mile to Successfully Take Deer
Day 4: Why a 1/2-Mile of Land Is Just Right for Successfully Hunting Deer
Day 5: What John E. Phillips Has Learned about Deer, Funnels and Saddles of Land

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Entry 751, Day 1