Antlers in the Cobs

Unconventional tactics for hunting cornfield deer.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Whitetails love to eat corn at any time of year. Studies have shown that some deer in cornfield country either live in the tall corn itself or, once it has been cut, move 150 to 200 yards away from the fields into neighboring woodlots to bed. Some bucks will spend up to 22 hours per day in cornfields. One Nebraska study showed that 20 percent of the does monitored never left the field at all.

The downside is that hunting standing corn presents some difficult challenges, but here are three ways to throw cornfield deer a curveball:

(1) Ask the farmer if he will plant 10 to 20 rows of corn 30 to 60 days after the majority of the field has been planted. There are two keys: (a) to plant this corn on the field edge, adjacent to a good site for a tree stand; (b) to time the planting so the corn will tassel right about the opening few days of the early bow season. Because deer prefer tasseling corn to the standing corn already available, this new "crop" will draw deer from both the center of the field and the nearby woods.

(2) Ask for permission to cut narrow trails leading past your tree stand while the corn is green. This provides deer with unimpeded travel routes that wander past your shooting lane.

(3) If you want to hunt those deer living in the field, first scout for hot big-buck sign, then set up a tall stepladder near it. I look for small openings in the corn and sometimes attach a small camouflage umbrella to the back of the ladder to keep me in the shade. I like to prune back the stalks running parallel to the ladder to give me an open shot down the row. It sounds far-fetched-until you try it.

Another good option for hunting standing corn is to sneak and peek. Scout the fields looking for a big buck track, then spend the midday hours slowly sneaking through the rows. I spend as much time on my hands and knees as I do on my feet, getting low so I can look up and down the rows for bedded deer.

As the season progresses, drives become a good bet. Deer that are pushed by drivers have a tendency to sneak and crawl and lie low in the thick rows. Therefore, the more drivers, the better. Safety is absolutely paramount here, and both the drivers and posters should be dressed head-to-toe in blaze orange. For stand hunting, setting up at the edge of a cornfield can be a fool's game, with one exception: right after the late-season corn has been cut and the thermometer's mercury plummets, when deer return in droves to eat leftover corn.