If deer numbers are a problem where you hunt, you might be doing it wrong.
For years, I’ve hunted my properties the same way. I would place my stands on trails, near bedding areas, woods edges, and all the other likely spots. As the season would progress, I would bounce around to all those stands based on expected activity and wind direction.
Deer numbers were never a problem, but as time went one, they began to dwindle. That is, until I discovered how to create sanctuary zones.
The first step in creating a sanctuary zone on your property is to study an aerial map of your location. Plot out where deer are bedding, and eating. Next, draw up how they are getting to those locations.
Pick a spot on your map that you can make 100 percent off limits to everyone. Literally. Not a single hunter for any reason is allowed in that area, ever.
Now, once you know where you can’t go on your property, take down every single stand near that zone. Don’t even tempt yourself and leave one up – just in case. All of them have to come down.
Instead, move your stands to allow you to hunt travel corridors into that zone. If your property is such that you don’t have that sort of flexibility, set yourself up on the edges of your zone and allow yourself multiple easy entry and exit routes.
Here is where discipline comes in. As the season comes in, you will begin noticing more and more deer staying on your property relating to that zone. As hunters push deer off their properties, educating them that hunters are back in the woods, any safe place is a magnet. Under no circumstance should you ever sit in a stand that will blow your scent into that safe zone.
If need be, start hunting from a moveable ground blind, like the Ghost Blind, that allows you to go mostly undetected based on where new travel routes might be generated from neighboring hunter activity, and to keep your scent away from the deer.
For hunters who have never utilized a sanctuary zone on their property, this can be a great contrast to their normal hunting style. Sitting in different locations every time will only succeed in pushing deer away, especially when you pay no attention to your scent.
Keeping to your guns and staying disciplined, all the while adhering to your self-imposed boundary lines, will increase the deer numbers on your property as soon as this season.
All images by Brad Smith