John's Journal...

Hunt Public Land Deer

Day 3: Take Deer Out of Heavy Brush or Swampy Places

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kevin Hutchings, from Howell, Michigan, which is located close to Ann Arbor, has been hunting deer as long as he can remember.

Click for Larger ViewMost hunters on public land won’t hunt a mile or more from their trucks. If someone shoots a nice buck, he'll be concerned that he’ll have a hard time getting him out. I have two systems that I use to get a nice buck out of the woods if I take him. First, I have my cell phone with me, and I can call friends to come help me get a buck out. They will help me because I help them, but before I have had to bring deer out by myself. I won’t leave a buck in the woods to go get help. If you leave a buck on public land, when you get back, he may have disappeared. I know dragging your buck a long way to get him back to the truck isn’t fun. The real secret is to field dress your buck and then don’t hurry getting him out of the woods. Drag him about 10 or 20 yards, rest, and then drag him some more.

Click for Larger ViewOne of the deer I particularly remember hunting and taking was my first handgun deer. I was shooting a .454 made by Taurus ( I'm kind of a gun nut, and I wanted to try a different way of hunting. I like to shoot my handgun off-hand rather than using a rest. When I took this deer, I didn’t have a scope on my handgun, however, I do now. I feel I'm accurate out to about 100 yards shooting off-hand. If I do use a rest for my gun, I've shot enough to know I can be accurate out to about 200 yards using my scope.

Click for Larger ViewI was hunting some private land north of my home and didn’t get a deer. On the way back home, I stopped at some public land that I'd hunted previously. When I got to the place where I wanted to leave my truck, I put on my Mossy Oak camo (, got my pistol and headed for my stand site. I’d only been in my stand for about 15 minutes when I saw something moving about 30 yards from my stand, but the deer spooked. I hadn’t had my .454 very long before I went on this hunt, and I made the mistake of getting a stainless-steel gun, which was bright-looking. When I saw the buck coming in to my stand, I never thought about the sun hitting that stainless steel and putting off a flash, but I'm convinced the flash of my pistol is what spooked the buck. When the deer saw that flash, he took a quick step off to the side of the trail, and I shot him just as he stepped off the trail. I always carry an old water ski rope that I’ve converted into a deer drag, and I carry other ropes with me, so I can tie the deer’s legs up to keep them from catching on briars and brambles, after I field dress the deer and start dragging him out.

Click for Larger ViewWhen I go into a swampy area, I always carry a deer drag with me, because I expect to take a deer. Also, if I have to drag the deer out by myself, I know that I'm going to have to spend a lot of time and go slow. This is the real secret of getting a deer out of a bad place – don’t be in a hurry. Drag the deer for a little ways, rest, drag him a little farther, and then rest again. Yes, you have to put in some work to drag a deer a mile or more and often through thick places. However, I’d rather have to work to get a deer out of the woods than come out of the woods without a deer. I spent about 3 hours that day dragging that buck about a mile back to the truck. Usually, I’ll drag a deer about 20 feet and rest. Then, I plan where I'm going to have my next rest stop before I start dragging again.

To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and print books on hunting deer, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “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.

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

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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: Hunt Big Michigan Deer

Check back each day this week for more about Hunt Public Land Deer

Day 1: Hunt Swamps and Other Public Lands for Deer
Day 2: Hunt Early for Deer
Day 3: Take Deer Out of Heavy Brush or Swampy Places
Day 4: Hunt Big Michigan Deer
Day 5: Take Big Doe Deer

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Entry 856, Day 3