How to Hunt Small Acreage for Deer

In life, many individuals seek fame and fortune. As hunters, our aspirations tend to come more in the form of acreage. We would like nothing more than a near endless tract of bountiful land on which to hunt. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right?

In reality, if you find yourself with vast tracts of prime hunting ground at your disposal, you would stand as part of a fortunate minority. A substantial number of hunters today find themselves lacking land access on an ever increasing basis. The truth is, with the rapid development of rural areas and the frequent subdivision of large farms into smaller tracts, opportunities for access to large plots of land are dwindling.

doe looking

Don’t overlook the abundance of opportunities for hunting small acreage.

Often lost in translation however, is the fact that outstanding hunting can be had just as easily on small acreage. Many of these landowners have never received any inquiries seeking permission to hunt, often leading to readily available access. With this in mind, hunters who seek permission to hunt small properties will be accessing an untapped resource of sorts, often yielding favorable results.

Hunting limited acreage does not come without its share of trials. What follows are ten tips for making the most out of hunting small scale properties. Here’s a look at how to hunt small acreage for deer.

Use Aerial Maps

 

Just as when gaining access to large tracts of land, a hunter’s first order of business typically comes down to discerning the lay of the land and how deer utilize the property’s  infrastructure. Aerial maps can be found in abundance on the internet, and often prove invaluable in discerning a starting point from which to plan successive scouting efforts. The bird’s eye view that aerial maps provide allow an individual to assess key travel features such as funnels and pinch points that otherwise would be less readily identifiable.

checking map

You can cover a lot of possibilities and narrow your search significantly with aerial maps and photos.

Burn Some Boot Leather

It is always advisable to make a priority out of visiting the property to scout in a hands-on fashion. When physically surveying a property, a hunter is able to take note of items such as well worn trails, remnants of past rut sign, and mast bearing trees. All of which potentially signal areas that warrant further attention.

Establish Travel Patterns

Whitetail deer rely heavily on a basic bed to feed routine to facilitate their survival. In knowing this, an individual is able to hunt far more efficiently when armed with a clear understanding of how deer utilize this routine in relation to the property where they reside. It is vital to establish, to the best of your knowledge, the location of prime feeding locations, frequented watering holes, and preferred security cover within the general area, as well as the travel corridors that interlink these features.

Allow Trail Cameras To Work For You

The use of trail cameras on a newly acquired hunting property can be an extremely efficient tool for securing a vast amount of knowledge in a short period of time. On properties of small acreage, even relatively few cameras can quickly yield a substantial working knowledge of how local deer utilize the tract of land. Trail cameras are also an invaluable tool for cataloging herd numbers and age structure as well.

checking trail cam

Put trail cameras to work for you to hone in on small acreage deer movement.

Efficiently Locate Stands

Much care must be taken when placing stands in order to hunt properties of small acreage. On large tracts of land, there are typically a multitude of locations to choose for stand placement that still allow deer that are utilizing the property to remain undisturbed upon your arrival and departure. In contrast, small acreage properties commonly are less abundant in potential stand sites and it is paramount that an individual carefully studies the viability of entrance and exit routes before hanging a stand.

Minimize Pressure

On any property that is hunted, with every intrusion, pressure of one form or another is imparted upon the deer of that area. With time, this pressure can result in an increase in nocturnal movement, or worse, a total avoidance of the area by deer altogether. These effects are greatly magnified when hunting small acreage due to the concentration of pressure within one specific area. Over frequently intruding to check trail cameras, being careless in choosing your entry and exit routes, and venturing too close to known bedding areas all impart excessive pressure and are practices that are best avoided.

Come and Go Unannounced

In an effort to reduce the length of travel distance to and from their stand, many hunters park their vehicles unnecessarily close to the areas they intend to hunt.  However, in doing this, deer have more than likely been made aware of your presence, whether you are aware of their presence or not. On small acreage, very little noise is required to push deer to a neighboring property of which you do not have access. Because of this, much care must be taken to minimize the sound you produce, even if this means a longer walk to the stand.

Keep Scent To A Minimum

Proper scent control is of utmost importance when trying to get the most out of your small acreage hunting. A deer that has winded a hunter will likely retreat to the nearest security cover in the area. Unfortunately for most hunters on small tracts of land, this is all too often on a neighboring property. A pre-hunt shower in scent eliminating body wash, the proper treatment of clothing, and thorough application of scent eliminator are all important key points of odor reduction that come highly suggested.

hunter checking wind

Don’t think you can get away with poor scent control on small acreage. Deer still know when their territory has been invaded.

Time Hunts Efficiently

Sure, every hunter wants to be in a stand as much as possible. But when hunting farms of minimal size, the thought of being in a stand every daylight minute needs to be metered with caution. When hunting a tract of land that might only hold two or three stand sites, deer quickly become aware of your presence. Soon daytime movement plummets and you are left to wonder where the deer you previously had on camera have gone. For this reason, it is best to pick and choose the times of highest value to go afield. Prevalence of deer movement based on trail camera checks, presence of proper wind, and the presentation of optimal weather conditions are all worthy of careful consideration.

Change Things Up

Do to a lack of area to cover when hunting small parcels of land, deer quickly begin to pattern the human intrusion they witness. Inevitably, try as you might, you will be busted on stand at some point. Very few of these occurrences are required for deer to start varying travel patterns, rendering stand sights ineffective. If deer begin to become wise to your location, and suitable alternative locations for a stand exist, don’t be hesitant to move a stand or even pack in a climber to throw the local deer a curve ball.

How to Hunt Small Acreage for Deer

While farms of vast proportions offer much in the way of elbow room, this does not always equate to superior hunting. Even a property as small as five acres can produce excellent hunting if ideal in nature. When we as hunters look past the perceived limitations of small tracts of land, and begin to formulate a steadfast and thorough strategy for hunting such properties, we often find an overlooked and unexpected slice of hunting heaven.

Josh Boyd

Josh Boyd

Josh is a die-hard hunter, free-lance writer, and adedicated proponent of all areas of conservation. His main species of outdoor pursuit are whitetail deer, eastern wild turkeys, and waterfowl. Above all other outdoor pursuits, he relishes his time 20 feetin a tree with bow in hand, chasing Kentucky whitetails every fall. He is the president of the Barren River Branch of QDMA and a committee member for the KY Three Rivers Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited. He resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife and two children.
Josh Boyd

Comments

  1. George fredell says:

    Most of my hunting is done on small Trac of land . Most of bigger buck`s hang out there less pressure.
    When hunting is in that I like it biggest buck I ever took was on a small plo t of land . That’s why it’s
    Good to hunt small in mettle of the season.

    Reply
  2. CHRISTOPHER SCOTT SIMMONS says:

    I have a chunk of land in BC that i hunt with my uncle. Its about 28 acres. We do pretty dang well there. Decent white tail bucks and elk.

    Reply
    • George fredell says:

      When hunting small yardage you don’t have a lot of stand placements where you can change a lot
      You might not have one or two so sent control is a must and being unnoticed more than larger land I hunt a 7 arc spot so mes up your done you can’t change stands.

      Reply
  3. Nate VanDynHoven says:

    Seems this article is based on all the same principles as any type of bow-hunting. Low impact efforts, employing basic woodsmanship, and all common scent control efforts. I’m not sure why this applies more so to small property and warrants a title having anything to do with property size, other than being something many other hunters may overlook making access easier MAYBE.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Mulder says:

    I have spent the last 20 years primarily hunting parcels of 5 and 10 acres. I have shot many 2.5 and a few 3.5 or older bucks on these properties in heavily pressured areas. Contrary to popular opinion, my advice is to hunt the property at least 3 times a week during the last few weeks of October through the first few weeks of November. You cannot hold big bucks on small parcels. So the key is to be there early and often for the one time a big buck might travel through around the rut (primarily). Currently, I hunt a 10 acre parcel that I live on. I try to leave my best stand vacant until after October 20. Then I hunt it at least 3 times a week. This has been a recipe for success for me. Over the last few years, I have planted an acre of oats and that helps tremendously to keep does coming through every day. Before it was made illegal, I used to run mineral sites on my property all year round to keep deer coming through. That is my advice based off of my experience hunting small parcels for 20 years. Take it for what it is worth.

    Reply

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