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Hunt The Hunters: Different Tactics to Finding Pressured Deer

Brad Smith

When the area you are hunting is full of pressured deer, throw everything you know about deer hunting out the window.

If you are one of the lucky few that has a property so big you don't have to worry about other hunters mucking up your hunting spot, consider yourself incredibly lucky. If you are like the rest of us, hunting pressure is a part of hunting.

For this reason, I tend to prefer bowhunting much more than gun, just simply because there is so much less pressure in the woods. However, once gun season rolls around, all bets are off. All that patterning of deer movements, trail cam footage, attempts at not disrupting your area, staying scent free, and every other tactic is just no longer as effective as it used to be due to the army of orange that takes to the woods on opening day. However, if you follow this advice, you will still find deer even when they are under extreme pressure.

Create a Sanctuary Zone

Sanctuary zones are places that deer will go when the lead starts flying and hunters are all over the woods with scents just blowing in the breeze. Deer become educated pretty quickly when this happens and they start avoiding areas of hunter concentration. On average, it only takes a hunter hunting in the same area for three days in a row before deer will alter their movements away from that location.

If you have a sanctuary zone where absolutely no hunter hunting your property is allowed to go, deer will go there when they are pushed out of their old hideouts and out looking for a new place to go. Again, and I repeat, no matter what you do, DO NOT GO IN A SANCTUARY ZONE! Simply hunt the edges only when the wind is blowing your scent away from the zone. 

Pictured below is a corn blind facing a sanctuary woods. 

Brad Smith

Hunt Based On Other Hunter's Movements

Now that a sanctuary zone is established, how will you get deer to come to it? We all know there is a mad rush on opening morning to get to our stands before daylight. A lot of hunters will miss this deadline and be strolling out to their stands when there is light. You need to be in your stand an hour before other hunters make their journey out. As they are walking to their stands, you will be in yours and they will be pushing deer in your direction.

With this same idea, opening day hunters have a universal time to leave their stands about 10 a.m. This will create another mad rush of running deer as these hunters are walking back out to their vehicles. Again, stay out until at least 11:00 a.m. However, keep in mind deer figure this out also. Some of the best hunting for deer during gun season takes place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Why 2 p.m.? 3 p.m. is the universal time hunters head back out for the evening hunt.

More from Wide Open Spaces:

Best midday set ups for the rut

How to use a doe decoy during the rut

5 things only seasoned hunters know about mature bucks

Blind Hunt An Open Field

If you have a field near your woods that you have permission to be on, make that whole woods a sanctuary zone, don't ever go in it, and hunt the edges based on wind and the direction deer will run when other hunters are moving nearby. This will pay off dividends when deer get very nervous.

Recently, my hunting buddy and I created some blinds out of corn stalks and fencing and placed them around a sanctuary woods. Deer have already learned that a large nearby woods is full of hunters so they are avoiding that woods altogether. Guess where more deer seem to be showing up almost daily? My buddy shot this large buck walking down our woods' edge from a corn blind, never once stepping into the woods himself.

Mike Malchow

When deer are pressured, as long as you are basing your setups and stand locations on the patterns of other hunters in the area, you will be in good shape to bag a buck like the one pictured above.

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Hunt The Hunters: Different Tactics to Finding Pressured Deer