Thursday, December 16, 2010
Do not overlook small tracts
I was reading an article about the deer population in NC. It stated that there are 45 deer per square mile. The key word in that sentence is SQUARE. Before you react - realize that one square mile is equivalent to 640 acres…this means one deer for 14 acres.Most of us either lease or hunt private land. We do not have the luxury hunting several hundred or thousand acre tracts. It is vital that we do our homework. Remember the figure is based upon the population over the entire region. Like any averages – there are some areas that will have a higher population and some that will have a much lower. Know your area and the herd that you are hunting.
One of the areas that I have hunted for years is a very small 20 acre tract of land in Sampson County. This little area is nestled in the “middle of nowhere” in a highly agriculture area outside of Roseboro near the Sampson/Cumberland County line. This land is the old “home place” for my family. My grandfather lived her for the majority of his life until his passing a few years back. As a kid I would walk through the woods looking for sign of deer. (Truthfully not something I fully understood how to do until much later in life) I was the only one in the family that had the innate desire to hunt. When I was old enough to venture on my own, I built a deer stand just on the inside edge of the woods. I hunted relentlessly for years and harvested one doe from this tract. I grew discouraged from what I perceived to be the lack of success and moved my ventures to “greener pastures”.
A few years passed before I ventured back to the old home place. One evening while walking the edge of the field I began to notice scrapes, rubs, trails, and bedding areas. I grew excited and realized that something had changed and changed drastically. Driving down the road that evening I began to realize that the habitats surrounding this land had changed. There were some new homes, new barns, and pastures in areas that previously had been swamps and fields. The deer had found a sanctuary on our land. I have since harvested several deer on this little tract.
My best friend works for a steel company in Raleigh NC. The is a very small 5 acre tract of woods located behind one of the fabrication shops. After spotting some deer activity in the area, he and his team inquired about hunting the area. Armed with proper permits they have harvested several nice bucks…one of which is pictured above.
I am trying to make a couple of points here:
1. Understand the odds – While you may very hunt a region that is known for its whitetail population there is no guarantee that the small tract you hunt actually holds deer. You may be hunting a “pass through area”.
2. Know your surroundings – The habitat you hunt today can change for the better or for the worse with no notice. Housing developments can move deer into your areas as they did in my situation or natural disasters, loggers, and farmers can cause your herd to adjust. (A farmer switches from soybeans to cotton or tobacco)
I have heard it said that time changes all things. This is true and especially true for those of us who hunt. The habitats that we hunt do morph on a constant basis. This is not always a bad thing. If you are looking for a new place to hunt do not overlook the small tracts but pay attention to the signs and be mindful of the surroundings….you never know – you might find a honey hole.