Photo by Lance Krueger
Nothing draws deer like fresh-cut corn. They’ll seemingly come from miles around as soon as the farmer parks the combine. In those first critical days after the cut, corn beats out mast, fruit, and nearly everything else on a big buck’s grocery list. I killed one of my largest whitetails, a 160-class deer, by carefully hunting a corn farm last fall. Here’s how I put it all together, and how you can do the same thing this September.
Hunt the First Cut
Deer will hit a picked cornfield for weeks, but the first days after the harvest are best. Whitetails are always jazzed by a fresh food source, and the smell of fresh-cut corn is intoxicating (the field I hunted smelled like a distillery the first night I scouted). Plus, modern farmers are quick to chisel-plow fields, which spoils them as feeding areas.
Listen to Farmers
I lucked out when a farmer friend and hunting buddy told me he’d spotted a big buck from his combine. Alan knows deer, so I took the information seriously. Never hesitate to ask farmers about the deer they’re seeing as they work. They often have the best vantage, as corn-country bucks rarely spook at the sight of a tractor or combine.
Glass to Begin
It’s almost impossible to know exactly where a buck enters a field until you see him do it. Instead of hunting the first evening, set up an observation stand that allows you to watch secluded corners and other covert routes a buck will use to slip in and feed. I chose a huge white oak that let me glass the dogleg corner where Alan had seen the buck.
Find an Escape Route
If you bump your buck even once, it’s game over. They don’t get big by taking risks. Even before your observation sit, find a way to get out of your stand and away from the field without spooking deer. After spotting the buck from the white oak, I belly-crawled back to my truck through some pastured woods downwind of the field.
During your glassing session, pay attention to specific trees the buck walks by as he enters the field. When the wind is right, hang a stand on the best tree and hunt it immediately. Two days after seeing this buck I finally got my opportunity. The wind was perfect and the deer showed up like clockwork, giving me a textbook 30-yard shot.
From the September 2013 issue of Field & Stream magazine.