Create, Then Stay Out Of A Big Buck’s Sanctuary

Jess P. from Indiana writes to ask about holding big bucks on his hunting area. “We’ve got 180 acres we manage for deer and hunt there as well. Our problem is that the area is too small to hold the bucks there so they eat our food, but get shot on the neighbors’ property. Is there anything we can do?”

I hear this all the time, and indeed you can do some things to hold bucks on your smaller properties. First, create sanctuary cover as close to the middle of your property as possible. You can do this by plantings or cutting timber, but a 20-acre area is a great start. Second, and this is critical, stay out of that sanctuary. No exceptions to this unless a wounded deer goes in there. Third, cut down on all activity on the property. No ATVs, no recreational riding in the off season, no cars ever on the property. Park at the perimeter. Also, no biking, hiking, no morel hunting, no use of that area at all.

Dr. Dave Samuel

Watch the area from treestands on the periphery to see where to place your stands. Hunt the fringe, then move in a bit, but leave the sanctuary alone. I know this sounds severe, but for small properties, if you have some food and cover, and you stay out so they feel secure, you can harvest good bucks there year after year.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at 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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