John's Journal...

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

Day 5: What John E. Phillips Has Learned about Deer, Funnels and Saddles of Land

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 ViewAfter researching why some deer hunters are successful, and where they hunt, I have learned how effective a funnel can be. A funnel is where the woods narrow-down to a small neck – usually with woodlots on either end of the neck and some type of habitat break surrounding the woodlot. I once found two magic funnels less than 1/2-mile each where I successfully bagged deer for several years. One funnel was made when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clear-cut and dug out a large section of woods on the banks of the Tombigbee River in west-central Alabama where my hunting club was. Since this large spoilage area was to be utilized for dumping the sediment dredged up from the river, it was scraped down to the bare earth. One corner of this spoilage area came within 150 yards of a clear-cut. The woods between the corner of the spoilage area and the clear-cut consisted of oaks that yielded many acorns. Discovering an area like this – if you don’t know what to look for – often can be difficult. Many times deer meander through a funnel without establishing well-used trails. However, sometimes deer on both ends of a funnel will move back and forth through a region to get from one part of the woods to the other. In one afternoon, I counted more than 40 deer traveling through this funnel near the river. Until the spoilage area grew-up in briars and heavy cover, this spot was a magic 1/2-mile. And, generally a funnel area consistently will be productive for a long time, unless the terrain changes.

A Magic 1/2-Mile of Food:

Deer in many parts of the country have preferred foods they eat at different times of the year. And, deer will come from many parts of a region to feed on one of their favorite foods when this food is in high demand and short supply. The typical example in my section of the country is the first white oak tree to drop its acorns. The deer will concentrate and come from great distances to get to that particular tree and feed on those acorns. The hunter who locates the food supply tree usually can take a stand anywhere within a 1/2-mile radius of that tree and bag deer as long as the tree continues to drop acorns. But the magic 1/2-mile only may be magical for a few days or a week or two, before it loses its magic – if the spot is dependent on food or hunting pressure to concentrate the deer.

A Magic Saddle:

A saddle is a low place in a mountain range that deer will utilize to cross the mountains. Oftentimes if you can find a saddle in a mountain, it can become a magic 1/2-mile hunting spot. Then you’ll consistently bring home deer throughout hunting seasons for many years to come.

A “Honeymoon” Suite:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIn many sections of the country, deer often will make scrapes and meet does at the same places year after year, even though the buck that originally has made the scrape may have been killed. Since there is a pecking order in a deer herd, subordinate bucks know where dominant bucks scrape and meet does. A subordinate buck may have fought with a dominant buck at a particular scrape. Consequently, when the dominant buck is removed from the herd, and a subordinate buck takes the position of the dominant buck, he may scrape in the same spots and under the identical trees that the previous dominant buck has. Therefore if you discover one of these honeymoon 1/2-miles where bucks historically have scraped, you may find a spot to harvest a buck every season for several years.

The magic 1/2-mile is the very best place in the woods where deer will concentrate or come through during the hunting season. To be a magical region, this spot must be where a hunter can take a stand and have a reasonable chance of bagging a deer with at least three-different wind conditions to hunt the area without his scent being blown into his hunting place. The magic 1/2-mile has to invoke in the hunter the feeling that he is holding four aces when he is hunting over this spot. The magic 1/2-mile consistently will produce more deer each year than any-other place in the woods.

To increase your odds for harvesting a buck this season, use these suggestions to shrink the amount of woods you have to hunt. Try, and pattern the deer as to the season, the food source they prefer, and whether or not the buck is interested in sex at the time you want to hunt him. Then don’t be satisfied with just a good place to hunt. Find the very-best part of the most-productive 1/2-mile of the land you have to hunt. Know what makes that 1/2-mile the choicest area. Understand how and where to put up tree stands, so that you can hunt that 1/2-mile – no matter what the wind condition is.

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 here 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.

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 5