John's Journal...

How to Hunt the Pines and the Lulls for Deer

Day 5: How to Hunt the Lulls for Deer

Editor’s Note: "By December 1st each year, deer have been put on alert that the hunters are in the woods," says Keith Guyse, formerly assistant chief of the Wildlife Section for Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "They've smelled human odor and heard four-wheelers running through the woods and guns popping. The deer are holding up during daylight hours and feeding primarily at night. I believe that the lull from December until the rut starts is nothing more than the deer's response to hunting pressure."

If you’ve hunted deer for very long, you know that hunters have taught the deer how to dodge hunters. Older deer learn quicker than younger deer to avoid the places where hunters hunt. Probably by December 1, some of the best bucks on your property know where you'll hunt even before you do. Here are some specific techniques to take bucks to help you overcome the difficulties associated with hunting during the lull.

How to Hunt Public Lands:

Click for Larger View"If you understand that hunting pressure is the reason for the lull in taking deer, you can use this hunting pressure to your advantage," Guyse says. "On many state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), some of the better hunters will go about 1/2- to 1-mile into the woods well before daylight and get into their tree stands. Then when the other hunters come into the woods, that hunter movement drives the deer from the front half of the woods to the back half of the woods where they wait."

Why Hunt Green Fields:

Click for Larger ViewNow's the time of year to go to the green fields that hunters in your area hunt the least, or don’t hunt at all, to increase your odds for bagging a buck. However, you may have more success by going to a green field where someone has spotted a big buck and find the trail he's used to come into the green field. Take a portable climbing tree stand with you, and follow that trail for 200 to 300 yards back into the woods. Begin to hunt there. The bucks often will come down this trail, stop and feed or browse before they move into the green field. Only go into the green field after dark.

Why Hunt Funnels:

Click for Larger ViewAccording to Dr. Larry Marchinton, retired wildlife biologist from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and still one of the nation's leading deer researchers, "One of the very best places to hunt deer at anytime of the year is at bottlenecks and natural funnels where the terrain necks down. The deer usually will have to pass through a small woodlot to get to their feeding or bedding areas." The type of funnel Marchinton describes may be a field that corners into a stream or a creek and a small neck of woods from the point of the field to the edge of the creek. Too, you'll often find a funnel where a small strip of woods along a ditch divides a clear-cut and a pine plantation. "These are natural, thick-cover corridors that the deer use to travel from one type of terrain to another," Marchinton explains. "Deer like to move along the edges of terrain breaks, and a funnel is created when two edges come really close together. Generally you'll see the most deer activity, regardless of the time of the year, at a place like this."

How to Have Small Drives:

Click for Larger ViewToo, you may locate big bucks holding during the lull in small patches of thick cover. These small, overlooked spots like a briar patch behind your clubhouse, a little thicket on the edge of the road that leads to your hunting camp, a thick-cover region by a campground or a little patch of cover out in the middle of the field can hold big bucks. Often you can take these bucks best by either putting on a one- or a two-man drive. To make a small drive in thick cover, put the stander on the downwind side of the cover, and send the driver to the upwind side of the thicket. Have the driver walk slowly and quietly from one side of cover to the other as he moves forward. He depends on his human odor to push the deer out of the cover and into a spot where the stander can get off a shot. The less noise the driver makes and the slower he moves, the better the chances he and the stander will have to take a shot at a walking, not a running, deer. Hunters who use this tactic may make from 10 to 20 drives in a day, with each drive not covering more than 1/2- to 2 acres.

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 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 5