If you’re reading this you're probably wondering what I meant by “hunt 360” right?
Well this article in particular is about my thoughts on different habitat/hunting property designs I see on the internet and quite frankly designs I’ve tried to make for my own properties based on those design theories.
When we purchase or have control over a property our first thought typically is to try getting as much out of it as possible. Meaning we want to be able to hunt it anytime we have time to hunt. For example, on any wind direction we will have a stand we can go to which essentially means we would have stands positioned 360 degrees around the property.
(360 Degree Hunting Layout. Green - Food Plots, Yellow - Access Routes, White Icon - Stand, White lines - Wind Direction, Orange Area - Bedding/Sanctuary, Red Arrows - Deer Movement)
Although that sounds good in theory and you could possibly have that ability on larger parcels or just a really well laid out one, in my experience on smaller parcels it's typically not the best option. In fact I think it does more harm than good most of the time…
For example on a 20-40 acre parcel (could be larger or smaller but you get the point) you’re already limited on space. It’s not a lot of ground to work with in terms of holding deer, by attempting to place stands, access trails, food plots, etc… around the property to accommodate your 360 degrees of stand/hunting opportunities you’re trimming a lot of acreage off that could be used for cover to hold more deer.
Having very low pressure and as much great cover as possible on a property are #1 and #2 in terms of importance on a property! Having a 360 degree hunting plan on a property that isn’t naturally set up for easy access (for example a property surrounded by ag fields) is just adding pressure and decreasing the amount of deer holding cover available.
So what am I suggesting? What’s my theory on property layouts like this?
Focusing the deer activity to fewer spots and in turn actually having fewer stand sites to choose from which would also typically mean hunting the property less often with less wind direction opportunities. I know it’s probably not what someone who owns hunting property wants to hear…
However by doing this I believe your hunting and success will actually improve! In fact it has for me on the small hunting parcels I manage.
Now here’s what I mean by focus. Rather than having multiple food plots (or long winding ones around the property) or places to feed, narrow that down to 1-2 places. Focus where the deer are headed to/from and funnel those deer right past your less numerous stand sights with excellent entry/exit routes. By doing this you can hunt these spots more often (although still not a ton) and you won’t rack your brain trying to figure out which stand you should sit in. You will know.
(Focused Hunting Layout. Green - Food Plots, Yellow - Access Routes, White Icon - Stand, White lines - Wind Direction, Orange Area - Bedding/Sanctuary, Red Arrows - Deer Movement). Notice the difference in Bedding area/Sanctuary size!
This also sets things up for better trail cam locations and with that intel you’ll be even more confident when the time is right to sit those fewer but higher odds stand sites. You’ll hunt less but actually have more success and less frustration.
And on the other end of the spectrum you’ll have added more cover and bedding area (sanctuary) which is surely going to hold more deer and more mature bucks.
Hunt less? No way. That might be what you’re thinking but I believe it’ll pay dividends on the smaller private parcels you control. If you want to hunt way more I’d suggest getting more places to hunt that are good for the wind directions that your land isn’t. This could mean buying more property, getting permission on other property, leasing some ground, or my personal favorite hunting some public ground! You can learn a lot from the public even if it doesn’t hold the caliber of deer or odds of success that the private ground does.
I hope this makes some sense and helps someone who is struggling with property design or how to improve their property. I welcome any and all comments!
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