Matt, the most successful suburban hunter I know, offered to make the 40-minute drive to my house to track down the deer my wife and I spotted on Wednesday.
We started tracking the deer right across from my front door. It wasn’t hard to follow the trail. It was the deer equivalent of a highway.
The Deer Herd Highway
It didn’t take us long to find rubs from a very large buck.
There’s a Big Buck in Them Thar Woods
I was content to see that the deer were constricted to a corridor between the river and my neighborhood. I thought, “They’re ripe for the picking right here along the river.” Matt wasn’t so easily satisfied. He was hell bent on finding their bedding area. Why? Because he knew I’d have to approach my tree stand, probably while the deer are bedded down.
As we came across some likely bedding areas, it didn’t take us long to find signs of other hunters.
The Competition Is Sloppy
The first stand we saw was a hang-on stand that was so old that it was pinching off the tree almost to the point of cutting it in half. The tree had grown over the screw-in steps so much that only about an inch of each was visible. This stand is in a very good location, but clearly no one is using it, as the screw-in steps are unusable and the stand is at a permanent 45-degree angle.
However, this area does get pressure. There is a fallen ladder stand nearby.
Mother Nature Took Down This Ladder Stand
A newer ladder stand is still in place, but across the river from where I would hunt. Then I spotted an orange reflective tack. We followed it to its owner’s stand, where we found a bottle of scent spray. We then followed the tacks to their starting point, which is a house in a nearby neighborhood.
I felt a bit discouraged by all this sign of hunting pressure, but Matt was encouraged. With suburban hunting, “it’s all about where the other guys are,” Matt said. It’s true. None of these hunters are approaching the area from the direction that I would come from (namely, my house), and their stands are near bedding areas, while mine is in a transition zone to a food source (namely, all the acorns around my house). With any luck, the other hunters will push the deer out of their beds and in my direction, especially if I take Matt’s advice in how I approach my area.
You see, my neck of the woods is quite thick, thorny, and swampy, which is a perfect place for deer to hide, precisely because it’s impossible to sneak up on a bedded deer in that type of cover.
Rubber Boots Are a Must At All Times
Matt’s advice is for me to take a canoe from my house to my hunting spot, which would make for a quiet, scent-free approach. Also, with a canoe I could scout areas that Matt and I simply couldn’t reach without chest waders and a machete. So I guess I’m in the market for a cheap canoe. Given that I’ll have to wear rubber boots at all time, and I’ll be taking the canoe 475 yards (less than a third of a mile), according to my GPS, the canoe could even be quite leaky.
We had to forge multiple streams and inlets and outlets to the main river. I even went over my boots in one spot. This type of cover will keep dogs away, as evidenced by my own dog, Bear, who could not cross beyond the area where I’m planning to hunt.
The End of the Line for Bear
As we slogged our way back to my house, you’d never know that it was January, as the thermometer had hit 52 degrees! You’d also never know that it was only about a half mile as the crow flies. We took a very circuitous route in hopes of finding more sign, which we did. We found more scrapes and rubs, but most were within sight of houses. Despite the small parcel of woods, we covered a lot of ground, as evidenced by my Fitbit stats.
Five Miles of Slogging Through the Swamp
After Matt left, I went back in to set up a trail camera. I set it up about 75 yards from my house, right where the houses come closest to the river, forcing the deer to travel a very narrow corridor. I’ll check it in a week or so, and I’ll post any good videos I get.
Until then I’ll be hunting for my boot dryer.
Desperately Seeking My Boot Dryer