Deer Hunting On The Fly

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

based on a lifetime of observations gathered hunting in other states. A deer acts pretty much the same in Missouri as it does anywhere else. That's the first lesson in hunting on the fly.

Habitat Is Key

Even if you're hunting your own property, you may not be familiar with every nook and cranny. However, you may see deer in the same places every morning as you leave for work or when you come home in the evenings. Those are basic patterns that can help put you in the right place at the right time.

Now, take a closer look and see what attracts them to those places. Are there lots of acorns in that area for them to eat, or perhaps some sweet clover or succulent grasses? Are there persimmon trees or some other type of soft mast, such as muscadines or wild plums?

Widen your vision and survey the terrain and vegetation. No matter where you hunt, this is the key to finding deer.

Except at night, dusk or dawn, deer generally don't frequent open country. Instead, they prefer areas that offer concealed travel routes, such as wooded creek bottoms separating small, narrow bottomland fields and pastures.

In short, deer thrive in areas with a lot of edge habitat. Edge is any type of feature, either organic or topographic, that separates one type of terrain or habitat type from another.

Imagine a 200-acre cow pasture with nothing on it but fescue grass. That's poor deer habitat, and it would be fruitless to hunt in the middle of it. Instead, look along the edges of the pasture. If it's bordered by woods or thickets, that's edge habitat. Deer might not travel across the middle of the pasture, but a wooded border might be a veritable deer highway, especially if it leads to a larger patch of woods, an overgrown field, or a creek or river bottom. Wooded edges are even more attractive to deer if they contain a mixture of mature trees and brushy thickets. Deer use these types of areas for bedding cover, and they can also move through them virtually undetected.

Let's go back to our hypothetical fescue field. Chances are it's not completely flat, but has rolling humps, swales and shallow ravines that crisscross the plain. Now, envision those swales and ravines covered with mature trees and brush thickets that partition the open areas into 10- to 20-acre parcels. That patchwork of cover practically

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