John's Journal...

Big Bucks Where No One Can Hunt Them but You

Bucks in the Pines & Bucks Where No One Wants to Hunt

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Thousands of acres of land throughout the country home trophy bucks. Often the landowners don't hunt these properties. But they also may not allow anyone else to because they've had bad experiences with hunters in the past or can find no benefits in letting someone hunt their lands. To have a trophy, big-buck hotspot no one else but you can hunt, solve a landowner's problem before you ask permission to hunt. Here are a few ways to hunt lands no one else can hunt by solving the landowner’s problems first.

All my life hunters have told me, "Pine plantations are biological deserts where no deer can live." However, I've learned pine plantations can provide plenty of cover, food and sanctuary for a trophy buck. Some years ago, I hunted a pine plantation on the edge of a major highway. The pines stopped 20 yards short from the edge of a creek in a hardwood bottom. Most sportsmen would opt to hunt the creek. No one hunted in the pines because they assumed the road noise would spook the deer. Besides, the hunters believed the deer had nothing to feed on in thClick to enlargee pines. When I discovered a well-worn deer trail leading into the pines and some large scrapes on the edge of the creek, I knew a trophy buck held in those pines and would come out of the pines to work his scrapes at night. Several other hunters had put up tree stands near the scrapes but had had no success bagging the deer. More for curiosity than any other reason, I decided to enter the pines to try and determine where the deer bedded. I had walked less than 20 yards into the pines when I discovered a space where no one had planted about four rows of evergreens. Workers had piled up stumps and logs in this area when they had cleared the land to plant the pines. This windrow had grown up with Japanese honeysuckle and greenbrier, two of the deer's favorite foods. On the edge of the windrow, the pines shaded the fertile ground, allowing mushrooms to grow. I could see where the deer had eaten the mushrooms. For the next two weekends, I hunted in these pines. I spotted two bucks with antlers that would have measured more than 18 inches between their beams. But I never had the opportunity to get off a shot. I plan to hunt in the pines again this season. Hopefully I'll get a buck then.Click to enlarge

Bucks Where No One Wants to Hunt:
To find big bucks, also hunt in areas where no one else wants to hunt. Bo Pitman, lodge manager of White Oak Plantation in Tuskegee, Alabama, explains, "We take the biggest bucks on our property from the spots that most hunters believe are the worst stands. "For instance, we have one stand near the highway in an open field. Hunters can see cars going up and down the highway. All they have to look at is the edge of a pine plantation. But big bucks do come out of the pines and move across the road at this particular stand site. However, whenever I put a hunter on this stand, he'll think I've given him the worst stand on the property. He doesn't realize that some of the biggest bucks we've ever taken have come from this stand." Hunters also hate to hunt a small neck of woods not 100 yards from the back door of Red Oak, another lodge on the White Oak Plantation property. Sportsmen sitting in this stand can see the housekeepers going in and out every morning when they clean the rooms and the hunters who've slept late getting up and going to breakfast. The sClick to enlargetand sits so close to the house that reason dictates you'll never see a buck there, especially a big buck. However, because some hunters who know honeyholes for big bucks can exist close to houses and White Oak only allows hunters to hunt this stand one or two times a year, they bag monster-sized bucks from this stand each season.

Other big-buck stand sites on the property hunters hate lay in the middle of extremely-dense cover where the sportsman may not be able to see more than 20 yards. "Most hunters assume that if they can't see for a long distance they can't spot a big buck," Pitman said. "Although older-age-class bucks rarely expose themselves in open woods during daylight hours, they will walk through little openings in thick cover during the daytime throughout most of the season. Our property produces big bucks each season at what hunters consider bad stands." White Oak lets hunters hunt the very worst stand on their property only during January. Because this stand sits on a small island, the hunter must wear chest-high waders and walk through a deep, muddy swamp for 1/2-mile to get there before daylight. If he takes a buck at this stand, he understands he'll have to drag that buck through the swamp for 1/2-mile before he can get to his vehicle and carry the deer out. Few hunters choose to go to this stand site. But the brave hearts who do often take trophy bucks.

To learn more about White Oak Plantation, call 334-727-9258 and visit

Tomorrow: Weird Places to Find Trophy Bucks Where No One Can Hunt


Check back each day this week for more about " Big Bucks Where No One Can Hunt Them but You"

Day 1: Coyotes for Bucks
Day 2: Bucks Through the Mail Service
Day 3: Bucks in Wide-Open Spaces
Day 4: Bucks in the Pines & Bucks Where No One Wants to Hunt
Day 5: Weird Places to Find Trophy Bucks Where No One Can Hunt


Entry 374, Day 4