John's Journal...

How to Hunt the Pines and the Lulls for Deer

Day 4: Hunting Deer During the Rut in a Young Pine Plantation with Larry Norton

Editor’s Note: Many hunters consider pine plantations biological deserts where nothing exists except pine trees and pine straw - or that's what outdoorsmen have told other sportsmen for years. Honestly, I truly hope you believe that, because the majority of hunters who accept that idea will stay out of some of the best big-buck territory in the nation, leaving the prime hunting spots for those who know how to hunt the pines. Pine plantations generally home some of the most-productive places I know to take big deer for three reasons. Pine plantations provide food and browse for the deer to feed on, cover they can hide in and a barrier most hunters won't penetrate to search for deer. For instance, I've never had another hunter walk through my hunting site when I've hunted inside a pine plantation. Deer hold in pine plantations from the first year after the planting of the pines until the last year when foresters cut the mature trees, generally a timeline of about 30 years. Let's look at some secrets for hunting a pine plantation.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewLongtime, avid deer hunter and guide, Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama, recommends that when you're hunting during the rut in a young pine plantation, you need to put your tree stand as high as you feel comfortable on the edge of a clear-cut. "Bucks like to chase does out into clear-cuts because their chances of running them down and catching up to them are much better in clear-cuts than in a mature forest. Most of us when we see a buck chasing a doe 500-600 yards from us start watching the buck and looking for a place to get a shot at him, instead of watching the doe. But I've learned that if a the doe is 5 or 10 minutes out in front of the buck in a pine plantation, I need to watch that doe to learn where she's going. If I spot a doe going across the end of a ridge, a hollow, a firebreak or a road relatively close to me, I'll quickly and carefully climb out of my tree stand and move to the place where the doe has crossed. I get ready because I know that buck will be coming along shortly on the trail the doe's left. I've taken several nice bucks with this technique."

Norton also mentions that if you're hunting a young pine plantation during the rut, grunting and rattling will pay off for you, although when he hunts in his home state of Alabama, he seldom rattles due to the vast majority of does in the deer herd. "Grunting for deer and using a run-and-gun tactic like I do when I hunt turkeys is deadly effective for taking rutting bucks in the pines. During the rut, I want the wind in my face, and I either will climb in a tree stand or sit in a ground blind and grunt for a full minute or two without stopping. I'll point the barrel of my grunt call in several different directions and move it around to sound like a buck that's grunting and chasing a doe all around my stand. If I don't see a deer within 10 minutes, I'll move about 50 yards and repeat the same grunting sequence. These actions help me sound like a buck that's chasing a doe, then loses her and later catches back up to her at about 50-yards away. I've grunted in quite a few bucks with this strategy. A buck that's chasing a doe grunts continuously. Often you won't see spot the buck instantly when you start grunting. That's why I stay on my stand for about 10 minutes before I start grunting again when I'm hunting in a pine plantation during the rut."

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewYou'll enjoy hunting pine plantations and find them highly productive, if you're willing to learn how to hunt them. Much more feeding, breeding, sparring and moving takes place inside pine plantations than most hunters realize. If you learn to hunt the pines, often you'll have your own hunting honey hole where you can hunt undisturbed by other hunters and see and take older-age-class bucks that other hunters never spot.

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 to Hunt the Lulls for Deer

Check back each day this week for more about How to Hunt the Pines and the Lulls for Deer"

Day 1: From Dirt to Thickets: Hunting a Pine Plantation for Deer from Years 1 through 5
Day 2: Prime Time Hunting for Deer in the Pines: Years 6 through 15
Day 3: Still Good Hunting for Deer in the Pines: Years 16 - 30
Day 4: Hunting Deer During the Rut in a Young Pine Plantation with Larry Norton
Day 5: How to Hunt the Lulls for Deer

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Entry 753, Day 4