Having a base from which to hunt begins with locating the right property to lease or purchase. While many states provide access to public lands for hunting, nothing beats having your own place to hunt.
However, it is essential to understand what to look for when seeking land access for hunting.
When seeking a hunting place, it may seem that the top features of what that place must offer would differ based upon what species you are after. However, this is not necessarily true. It is a fact that animals of all kinds depend on at least some form of these three items to survive.
Plentiful Availability of Food
To assess the hunting potential, the availability of food on or nearby the property must be factored in. Food is a necessity for all game animals, and their dietary requirements usually take precedence over everything else.
The presence of a food source on a property means deer, turkey, and other game will be attracted if different daily needs are met. There are numerous types of food sources, but agricultural in nature are the most prominent.
On a hunting property or next door to one, an annual crop is beneficial in attracting and holding game. A large stand of corn or soybeans provides excellent summer/fall forage, followed by a cover crop that supplies food until the following spring.
Fruit or mast-bearing trees are another high-impact food source to keep an eye out for. Oak flats and orchards containing apple, peach, pear, or persimmon trees can be examples.
Because of the food produced by these types of crops and by existing natural vegetation, a property that has or is near agricultural land allows you to entice all types of deer onto your property.
When little existing food is available on a particular property, there is a need to evaluate how to provide such food. Forage plots or similar vegetation types can be planted if there is sufficient access to open space to support them.
Sustainable Water Sources
A property’s hunting value is further determined by the presence of sustainable water sources on the property. Water is a necessity for every species of game to survive. They will travel far in pursuit of water when water is not readily available.
On property, there is access to a variety of water sources, some of which are not available at all times. When it rains regularly, small watering holes and shallow running creeks can provide an abundance of water. During dry seasons, these shallow basins are often devoid of water.
In terms of water sources, rivers, streams, and ponds of considerable size are the most valuable. Game learns how to incorporate these water sources into their travel patterns as they move about on a day-to-day basis.
In areas where food and cover are readily available, water sources have a greater value to game. Deer, among other game species, are more likely to venture to a given water source during daylight hours when they are not forced to travel far from the safety of their bedding areas.
In many cases, you can build your own water source if there is no year-round water source on your property. Small watering holes by hand are pretty popular but a bit unreliable when producing relevant results all year long.
Heavy equipment can be used to excavate dedicated impoundments like ponds, though. These ponds are often dug to a depth that prevents them from drying out during droughts. Some of these water sources are fed by artesian wells, which are valuable, but the cost is usually prohibitive for personal use.
It is vital to maintain all water sources on or near your property throughout the year. If the water source dries up during a drought, game may leave your property during hunting season, thereby potentially costing you valuable numbers of trophy deer.
Adequate Security Cover
All types of game animals require cover to avoid predators and other dangers. Depending on the species, this cover may look different. Although deer prefer brushy habitat that still offers some visibility, turkeys rely on trees for roosting in the evening time.
No game will stay on your property if there is not sufficient safety cover to protect them. Security cover can be obtained in many different forms. As more people move into the country, pressure on land increases since humans want access to fresh air and open space.
When a property offers a variety of cover, it provides a favorable habitat for multiple game species, all within the same parcel. Undeveloped hardwood ridges, lowland swamps with brush-covered islands, and densely vegetated creek or riverbanks all offer cover that is diverse in nature.
Any farm or plot of land enrolled in a natural growth conservation program is another excellent source of bedding cover. Many of these programs are funded by the government, and almost all of them enhance habitat for numerous types of wildlife.
Although you may create a bedding cover in some circumstances, it is a good idea to have at least some established form of cover on a property. The presence of a security cover on your hunting property will make game feel safe enough to use it as a daily feeding area. It also provides the type of shelter necessary for you to get close enough to harvest game.
There are several methods for enhancing additional forms of dense growth in a field, such as letting it grow without clipping, refraining from hinge-cutting wooded lots, and strategically planting other varieties of plants.
In any given property, the presence of these three key factors almost assures that you will have above-average hunting opportunities. Game will generally not roam beyond what is necessary to survive.
Game animals can remain thriving in one location if they are given the resources they need for survival, such as ample food, abundant water, and a sufficient amount of security. If you have these three ingredients in place, you will quickly be successful in your hunting efforts.