How to Bowhunt an Isolated Woodlot
I ran across a bowhunter who had a 40 Acre Isolated Woodlot surrounded by ag fields with corn, soybeans, hay and alfalfa. He wanted to know how to compete with all the agricultural fields to attract deer onto his property. His isolated woodlot was the only woods around for at least a mile in all directions. He had several tree stands in the woods but could not seem to connect on a mature buck in the isolated woodlot.
Do you have access to hunt property like this, or a large isolated woodlot surrounded by buildings and houses? If so, are you using the property in a way to give you the best hunting opportunities?
In a situation like this, the number one thing to do would be to turn that isolated woodlot into a place where every deer in the square mile will rush to hide when the hunting season starts and the corn is harvested. That woods being surrounded by acres of fields is your best source of sanctuary and cover to hold deer on your property, after all it is an Isolated Woodlot. You don’t want to penetrate it to access your stands, or deer will not be comfortable using it for a home base when hunting pressure is on. It would be better to reverse the thinking. Rather than hunting the center of the cover, give it to the deer, and hunt the edges. You want them living in the center of the isolated woodlot.
How to Prepare Bowhunting an Isolated Woodlot
Pull every stand out of that isolated woodlot and turn most of it into a sanctuary. You will be better off having the deer bedding in the center of that wooded area than having them at the edges as they are now. If you or anybody else alerts deer while accessing a stand, they will hunker down tighter on your property rather than departing it. This is because it is an isolated woodlot, which means the deer have no other place to go for a miles.
Make it so thick in there that you can’t see 30 yards anywhere. Make it difficult for deer to move directly into the fields from these woods. You want them to travel from their bedding areas in the thick woods, and into your food plots on the edges of the bedding areas on their way to the fields in the evening, and have your food plots be the last place they visit as they come home to bed down in the morning in the thickest part of the isolated woodlot.
You will actually find deer sneaking out in broad daylight to have a bite to eat if the cover is sufficient around the food plots.
Where to Put Your Stands in an Isolated Woodlot
Now your new stand locations will be to intercept deer moving along those fence rows and at travel routes to and from your food plots to their sanctuary, or to and from from your food plots to preferred areas of the ag fields. Check out the fields very closely. The deer will not use the whole field for the most part. They will have preferred areas where they hit the corn or beans hard. These areas are easy to pick out if you examine and few plants and see that the tips are nipped off, and they will probably be on the outer edge of the isolated woodlot.
Those are now mini food plots within the larger field, and you will be able to intercept them on their way to and from these spots and your food plots. You want both perennials like a clover-chicory mix and annuals but most importantly late season varieties that become desirable after the harvest. If it’s possible to enhance the cover to give them a more comfortable route to your food plots, great! Say autumn olives for example, or switch grass in the isolated woodlot.
Much of the successful deer and habitat strategies come from thinking outside the box. Most guys are thinking about competing with other food sources when the real advantage comes in the form of having quality bedding areas and more of it in an isolated woodlot.
The property where deer spend the most time bedded down during daylight hours wins.