It was good news but in a way it made me feel bad, especially in the wake of learning two co-workers had lost their places to hunt. A friend of mine had just purchased a 40-acre farm and said I could bowhunt deer if I wanted to. So last week I made time to check it out. Unfortunately, my first short scouting trip revealed the land was primarily occupied by corn and soybeans. The only significant cover was an eight-acre woodlot in one corner and an overgrown pasture in another.
Although I was a bit disappointed, I can’t say I was totally surprised. Small tracts of land are becoming more and more a fact of life for hunters. Now a day it seems there are either huge parcels owned by the same person or corporation (and already leased to groups of hunters) or many segmented smaller tracts. Most suburban hunters are limited to these smaller lots, what I call “hobby or recreational farms.”
It seems here in Indiana, and the entire Midwest for that matter, some large wooded areas are becoming fragmented as large landowners sell off parcels. People are gobbling them up in any increment they can afford, sometimes as small as five or 10 acres.
Is it possible to have decent hunting on a small tract of ground? Sure it is. Each season, many quality deer are harvested in areas not much larger than a couple city lots. But, to do this you need a dedicated plan and approach.
The first step is to spend some time and figure how the deer use the area and when to hunt it and when to stay out. Google earth is a great tool. I could tell the small woodlot on my friend’s property should be a perfect staging area for bucks waiting for the cover of darkness before coming out to feed on the corn and beans. But, because it is surrounded by fields, getting to it in the morning could be risky because of the good chance of spooking deer when going in. So if I hunt it, I will do so only in the evening.