Knowing your neighborhood to increase success... - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Knowing your neighborhood to increase success...

Don't post much here but thought I would share my 2018 season thinking it may help some of you reflect on your season if you struggled like I did! Kind of a long one but I really had an eye opener this past season.

I'll start by saying that our 2018 deer season on the homestead was a flop from a buck standpoint. We did quite well as far as doe harvest goes and actually met our goals for once. Buck though?.... that was a different story. Public Land hunting, on the other hand, was one of my best years ever which just added to my confusion. How could I do so good in areas that I'm not that familiar with but in my own back yard I was struggling?

We hadn't seen much worth chasing from velvet up until the last week of gun season. Hopes weren't really high going into the season and it continued to stay that way as the season progressed. Lack of stand sightings, lack of trail cam pics and an overall lack of sign left us scratching our heads and hunting elsewhere. Habitually good "rut stand" locations proved fruitless, not to mention rut activity was all but non existent!... Feeding areas were devoid of decent deer and numbers in general seemed to be down?.... What was going on? Finally, the last week of gun season we started to see some decent buck. My first real encounter with a good buck at our place came on the last Saturday of gun season. It was the first time all year that I had the bow off the hook for an antlered deer. Needless to say he got to 40 yards, the wind shifted direction 180 and so did he.

The Tuesday after gun season I met with our Forester to walk an area that I am having timbered. As we walked I noticed a TON of fresh sign that hadn't been there a few weeks before. Why? Was it our hunting pressure? What changed with food sources? Did the neighbors push them in here? I asked myself a lot of questions but didn't have the answers.....(more like I didn't do my homework.)

Fast forward to the New Year.... I was at a party talking with a friend that owns property about a mile away. Of course we talked hunting and I learned so much in that conversation that answered many of my questions, which leads me to the point of this post.....

There were a host of neighboring influences that evidently changed patterns in our area, in a HUGE way.

First, I learned that a farm one property removed from ours was put COMPLETELY in corn and beans this year! (totaling about 40 acres) Typically, this farm is in pasture/ hay/ sorghum-sudan or some other less attractive deer food. (From our border to the fields is about 1/2 mile.) Corn was extremely late coming off due to the rain this year. Guess when they finally harvested.... the first week of buck season. Guess when we started to see deer... the second week of buck season. Lesson? Scout the surrounding properties from the road every year to see what's planted, and not just immediate properties either. Deer will really shift their ranges and travel farther than you may think when offered something much more attractive than what they are used to. My entire life this has NEVER been planted in corn or beans and I just assumed it was the same old same old. Laziness on my part and it hurt me.....

Second, 2 neighbors didn't hunt this year. One neighbor had rotator cuff surgery and didn't bowhunt at all! I usually talk to him quite a bit during the season but I didn't this year, not knowing he was down for the count. Another neighbor whose son typically bowhunts was going through the State Police Academy and didn't hunt (which I found out about at Christmas time...) Essentially it turned their 150 acres and 100 acres respectively into giant sanctuaries... until gun season... Lesson? if you have decent relations with your neighbors it can be of great benefit to speak with them and keep up with them!

Third, the friend I was talking to at the party had 30 acres timbered 2 years ago. Never knew it! We got on the subject when I said we were having a harvest done and that's when I found out. This obviously changed travel patterns and gave the deer another great food source right next to the farm with the corn and beans. He said his sightings all but doubled this year and he took a great 130" ten point. His timber harvest and the neighbors crop choices had improved his hunting dramatically.

Fourth, my brother in laws father has about 80 acres just below the farm that was put in corn/ beans this year. He made mention in early October that they had never seen so many buck in their area. Had I been paying attention I should have realized it wasn't something on HIS property, but rather that they were bedding on his and heading to the corn fields in the evening, never passing through our property as they normally would to head to OUR food sources. Once the crops were pulled they hardly saw anything during gun season and our sightings increased...

My takeaway from this is that I have hunted the same areas for soooo long that I got lazy. Things change, and so should your tactics. We spend so much time looking at what we can do or improve within our own survey markers that I think sometimes you completely lose sight of what's around you! Yes, these are basic, non earth shattering observations. But, for as serious as I take my archery hunting and for as much time as I put into it I still overlooked them. Talk to your neighbors, drive around the neighborhood, make real notes on changes in patterns and behaviors and look back at them from one year to the next. And sure, there were other issues as well... the weather wasn't great this year, the wind was TERRIBLE most days from a direction/ shifting standpoint and my time on stand was less than I would have liked but had I done my homework I'm convinced that I would have spent more of my available time in areas with better potential rather than trying to rely on the "same old-same old" stuff that usually (key word..) get's me a good deer!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 12:13 PM
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"My takeaway from this is that I have hunted the same areas for soooo long that I got lazy. Things change, and so should your tactics. "


Great post. Waugh!

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 12:26 PM
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Interesting post, enjoyed it.

Question; if you had done your homework and knew what you know now, would that have made any difference? What could/would you have been able to do to adjust your approach this past season? If you knew the planting plan of surrounding land early enough this spring, would you have changed your plantings in your food plots? Could you have secured permission to hunt the properties where the deer were concentrated this past season?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 01:04 PM
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Mirrored my seasons! Wonderful eye opening post!

We had the same thing. Corn and bean left standing on most of the areas farms considerably longer than normal, partly due to too much rain preventing the harvest, some trying to decide how to deal with the molds that developed with all the rain.

I had a year on par with most others so far as numbers harvested goes, just a lttle harder getting there. Overall, the harvests were down on the farms.

Remember.... they're full time deer......we're part time hunters!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loridr View Post
Interesting post, enjoyed it.

Question; if you had done your homework and knew what you know now, would that have made any difference? What could/would you have been able to do to adjust your approach this past season? If you knew the planting plan of surrounding land early enough this spring, would you have changed your plantings in your food plots? Could you have secured permission to hunt the properties where the deer were concentrated this past season?
Absolutely.... would have changed my plans all the way around... From planting season to hanging stands to opening week to the rut..
Not that I can "compete" so to speak with 40 acres of candy but I would have stepped away from a total fall brassica/oat/ rye planting and put in half corn/ beans of my own and the balance in rye (love it for it's early spring green up when they really need it!). It would have been fine rotation wise as last year it was just coming out of a cereal rye mix. (I plant 15 total acres.) Hunting wise I can hunt the brother in laws I just chose not to because historically it's not that great and I kind of just wrote off his observations (why is beyond me ). I also would have focused harder on the other end of our property or just plain hunted elsewhere until the crops came off (which was super late anyway so that wouldn't have worked.)
Also, had I known the neighbors weren't hunting it would have opened up some totally different stand locations. There are spots that we had abandoned due to the disturbances they create while accessing their properties. This explains the shift in the travel patterns of the deer we did see and my failure to process that certainly set me back. Again, the old "I know what the deer do on my property" came back to bite me.

All in all a good year and no complaints! It was a much needed lesson, I believe, and even changed the way I started scouting some of the public that I will hunt this year.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 02:26 PM
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That was a great post to read.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 07:55 PM
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Good post, it opened my eyes!

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 09:13 PM
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Your experience this past season is the exact reason that I don't start hunting until I have a target buck located and patterned. ( other then the rut) if I don't have at least one target buck to hunt in a specific area I move on, I just keep scouting until I do. Hunting areas that you haven't located any target bucks is not hunting but hoping.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-31-2019, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ShedSeeker View Post
Your experience this past season is the exact reason that I don't start hunting until I have a target buck located and patterned. ( other then the rut) if I don't have at least one target buck to hunt in a specific area I move on, I just keep scouting until I do. Hunting areas that you haven't located any target bucks is not hunting but hoping.
We discussed this exact situation about a week ago while taking stands down....

We essentially burned out spots "hoping" something would show up, as you said. The longer you go without seeing something the more you press to find something which leads to heavy pressure which in turn leads to even fewer sightings! It's a vicious cycle that could be avoided by hunting the known as you suggest...

Always learning.....
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