John's Journal...

Hunt Public Land Deer

Day 5: Take Big Doe Deer

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 ViewA few years ago, my friend, Mike Adams, and I went to Colorado to hunt mule deer. We really lucked into this hunt. Mike’s friend had land leased, and he guided in Colorado. Mike’s friend called him and said, “I've had a cancellation. Would you and a friend like to come out here and hunt? Y’all will have the camp to yourselves.” So, of course Mike said, “Sure.” Then, the guide told Mike, “Okay, we’ll see you here next week.”

Click for Larger ViewThis guide had 400 acres in Colorado. He had told us earlier that mule deer were all over the place. He had left his stands up for us to use. But when we arrived, we didn’t see many mule deer from the stands. So, I found a place with numbers of pines on the edge of a grass field. The woods were thick and there was a river about 100 yards on the other side of the field. I’d seen some deer walking down the edge of this field, but they were too far away for a shot. I decided to come out of my stand, move down to the pines on the edge of the field and pinpointed a perfect little pocket to sit in, so the deer couldn’t see me. A very steep mountain was directly behind me. The edge of this grass field was a natural place for deer to travel. I found this spot on the last day of the hunt. I wasn’t looking for horns as much as I was looking for meat to put in the freezer.

Click for Larger ViewAt that time, I never actually had shot a deer with my bow. Although I saw some does coming through the grass field, they were too far to take a shot. Finally, I saw this big doe coming down the grass field. If she stayed on the same line of travel, she would pass within 2 feet of me, but something spooked her, and she ran about 40 yards out into the field. When she turned broadside to me, I put my pin where I knew it needed to be, so that my arrow should land right behind her shoulder. When I shot, I got a heart shot. Because this was the first deer I ever had taken with my bow many years ago, I guess this was my most-memorable doe deer.

Click for Larger ViewThe biggest deer I've ever taken was a 9-year-old doe. She was bigger than any buck I'd ever taken. I'm not a trophy hunter. I like to have one or two deer in the freezer to eat during the winter months. Because we have so much hunting pressure here in Michigan, taking an older-age-class buck on public land is extremely difficult. I hunt the lower end of Michigan where we have a tremendous amount of hunting pressure. Usually, by the end of the first week, if there’s a big mature buck on the public land I hunt, he’ll be pushed off that property within the first day or two of deer season. Most of the really-big bucks taken in Michigan are harvested on private lands. Michigan does have some very-successful public land hunters who take big bucks, but most of the big bucks taken in Michigan are taken on private lands with agriculture. I love deer hunting. I enjoy hunting public lands, and I like to find places where I can see deer on public lands that most other hunters won’t see.

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.

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 5