Big Buck Movement On Public Land

John W. writes from Delaware to ask about his hunting area on 1,000 acres of state-owned land. It seems that there are roads that crisscross the area dividing it into about 10 plots. John wants to know why he sees bucks in the early season, but not in the late season. He wants to know where the big bucks have gone.

Dr. Dave Samuel
Dr. Dave Samuel

John, there is no magical answer to this question. Roads definitely do affect deer movement, however, hunting pressure does, too. My guess is that since this is public land, hunting pressure is fairly high. If I were hunting this area, knowing as little as I do right now, I’d look for the very thickest cover there.

An aerial photograph of the area will really help in that regard. But the thickest cover is probably where the big bucks bed. Then skirt that area and hunt scrape and rub lines leading out of it. Small ridgelines are dandy places to look for rub and scrape lines. I’d do one more thing. Get a copy of “Mapping Trophy Bucks,” by Brad Herndon at Krause Publications. This book is filled with great information and where to look for bucks and where to set your stand.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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