Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ask Othmar : Hunting Cornfields

© By Othmar Vohringer

Hi Othmar. A few friends and I have permission to hunt a farm. It’s the perfect piece of whitetail deer habitat with a small river bottom, hardwood ridges, pastures and several corn and bean fields. The farmer gave us permission to set up anywhere on his property except near the livestock and equipment barns and his house of course. In addition we only have permission to bowhunt, no firearms, not even slug guns or muzzleloader.

The problem I'am having is how to hunt cornfields. I've never hunted cornfields before. I could hunt the hardwood ridges but from what I observed it seems that most deer stay in the cornfields so I would like to give it a try. How do you go about hunting cornfields?

Ken from Illinois

Hunting cornfields can be a very productive way to kill a big buck. There are several options to hunt a cornfield and they all depend on the condition of the fields. What I mean by that, it depends if the corn is still standing or has been cut.

A standing cornfield is food and shelter to deer and thus they spend a lot of time in there, but not all of their time. If deer spend most of their time in the standing cornfield it can be though to hunt. The easiest way is to figure out where the deer move in and out of the field. Try to observe deer movement from a distance with a pair of good binoculars. Also check the hardwood ridge tops for available mast crop such as oaks. If there are oaks dropping then I am convinced the deer will travel from the field to the ridge top to feed on the oaks. Your job will be to figure out at what time the deer head to the oaks.

If the deer feed on the oaks during legal shooting light set up somewhere along the route the deer take from the field to the ridge top. Where that somewhere is will be revealed through scouting. It should be a narrow spot where several trails merge and funnel deer through a narrow gap past your stand.

Should your scouting reveal that the deer spend all the time, during legal shooting light, in the standing cornfield then you have no other option but to go after them. In my article Cirnfield Bucks I describe how to hunt bucks inside a cornfield.

If the cornfield is cut the game plan changes because the cover is gone. However, a cut cornfield is a deer magnet. Deer love a cut corn or bean field because they do not have to work the corn or bean out of the husk. The food is readily “pre-processed” available to them. Think of easy food intake without having to work for it. If the field has just been cut you will find that deer are difficult to pattern for a day or two. Don’t worry about it. It all will go back to normal again as soon as the deer figured out a new bedding to feeding travel pattern after their familiar pattern has suddenly been disturbed. Deer are masters at adapting to new situations.

Again, scout from a distance where and at what time the deer travel to and from the cut field. When the new travel pattern emerges find the travel routes the deer take from their bedding areas to the field and hang stands accordingly. My preference is to hang stands always a bit back in the woods where several trails merge into one, as opposed to directly at the food source. It's hard, if not downright impossible, to kill a deer with a bow directly at the food source. I recommend, as always, to hang several stands to accommodate different wind directions and entry/exit routes for you.

If anybody would like to add anything to this tip feel free and do so in the comment sections. The season has just started and if you get one with the bow let me know. Good luck and have a great time out there.

Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
Founding Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

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