By Rory Fowler
Growing up in central Alabama, I saw the small town of Hoover turn into
one of the largest cities in the state. The land my dad used to hunt has
turned into the biggest mall in the state, and the creek I fished as a
kid is now surrounded by subdivisions and an interstate. The amount of
land for deer to inhabit has decreased rapidly, but their populations
haven't. The deer have adapted, why haven't the hunters?
The answer is simple - this growing trend has everyone, including hunters,
thinking bigger is better. This isn't the case at all. Don't get me wrong,
everyone would like a whole county to themselves, but in today's world,
that isn't realistic. And if you do your homework, a small piece of land
could become the most productive area you have ever hunted.
I have always been a person who liked to hunt one small area at a time,
but it was nice to know I had a few hundred acres to choose from. The
problem was that my land was 45 minutes away and school didn't let out
until three. Then my friend Sam showed me that a few acres is all you
need to fill your freezer. He attended my high school as well, but he
was determined to find a place to hunt after school. So, he started driving
along the outskirts of the city and looking for people who owned any amount
of land that could be hunted. He found a man at the end of a road that
owned a couple of acres beside his house. He was happy to give Sam permission
to bowhunt because the deer were taking their toll on his small trees
and grass. For the rest of the season, every afternoon after school, Sam
drove fifteen minutes to his honey hole. And more times than not, he left
with a deer.
Areas like the one Sam hunts are not hard to find. There are plenty of
people who own a few acres just outside the city limits. Most of the areas
are over run with deer because the deer have been pushed into these isolated
areas by the growth of the surrounding cities. As a result, the people
who have to coexist with these deer find them a nuisance. Not everyone
is willing to give people permission to hunt, but there is no harm in
asking. It is also helpful to assure the landowner you will only be bowhunting
because many of these areas are too populated to carry a gun.
But how do you find your own piece of hunting heaven within driving distance
of work or school? Here are some suggestions:
1. Start by looking at a map of the surrounding area. Street maps will
show you the areas that are least populated and help you pinpoint the
areas that the deer have been pushed in to. These maps will also show
you the city limits.
2. Drive through those areas around dusk and look for deer standing just
inside the treelines. In small areas like the one Sam hunted, the deer
would "stage" at the edges of the woodbine before heading into the fields
and front yards to eat after dark. If the area is heavily populated with
deer, you will probably see at least one or two close to the road.
3. Talk to the people who live in the area to find out about the deer
activity. Also pay attention to how they feel about the deer. Some people
view the deer as pests. Others find them a unique addition to the area.
These are not the people to ask permission from.
4. Once you have found a possible hunting spot, go there on your day
off and scout the area. Stay until dark and hunt that afternoon if possible
to see when and where the deer are moving. Remember that time is precious
after work or school so know where you are going.
Whether your next hunt is miles away or right down the road, make safety
your top priority. Respect the land owner's property and keep him or her
informed of your success. This will insure you a permanent place to hunt
for years to come.