Clearing the Way

To whitetails, clear-cuts are an invitation to dine,

Field & Stream Online Editors

Deer season is here (or almost here). while we may be content to use the same tactics each year, a quick review of basics (and a look at new research) can only make us better hunters. Hunt hard, hunt smart, hunt safe. The deer of your dreams may be around the corner.

The key to clear-cut happiness is locating areas that have been logged not this year, but two to five years past. By now fresh vegetation has begun to emerge, attracting deer in high numbers. Here's how to hunt those areas.

Edges: Whitetails are "edge" animals, feeding along the edges of two or more dissimilar types of cover. Setting a stand along a well-used trail leading in and out of the clear-cut from adjacent stands of timber is an excellent way to get a shot during dawn and dusk. Pick a spot that overlooks a high-traffic deer area near a small corner or finger on a clear-cut edge. Bucks prefer these tight-cover areas to wide-open clear-cuts because they can quickly escape back into the standing timber should danger present itself.

Timber strips: Sometimes timber companies leave narrow strips of timber standing in a clear-cut. These are buck magnets! Deer use them as travel funnels and as shelter belts when the weather gets horrific. During the rut, you'll find them full of rubs and scrapes, with bucks visiting primarily at night but also during daylight hours as they troll for does when hormones are raging.

**Logging roads: **The best are roads passable only with an ATV or on foot. Roads provide thin strips of edge cover, giving deer an easy, open travel path. They are excellent places to still-hunt. Roads in hilly country make great stand sites, especially when they overlook both the road and a small opening in the timber or clear-cut area. When located in secluded areas that receive little human traffic, they are great places to set a tree stand and hunt midday.