As long as fields of corn are still standing, deer hunting can be difficult. Sure, the fields of corn provide a great food source. But, the problem is that these same fields offer great bedding areas for deer.
This can cause a hunter to second guess just about everything he thinks he knows about deer hunting. Deer have no need to leave the security of the corn unless it is to quench its thirst. So, what is a hunter to do? The answer could be to go in after them.
That is what I did early in October 2016 in my home state of Illinois. We had a cornfield on the farm I was hunting. The deer were spending most of their time in the corn, only leaving to get a drink from the nearby creek.
Tired of not seeing the numbers of deer I should be seeing, I decided to go in after them. I was already settled in my stand for a morning hunt. After about 90 minutes without any action, I decided a stalk was in order. Normally I would wait on stand for more time than this. But frustration was sitting in. I knew deer were in the area, but I also knew they were staying in the cover provided by the corn field.
I had one buck in particular I was looking for. My trail cam photos showed me a non-typical that was living in the area, but I had not seen him since season had begun. My only guess was that he was living within the security of the standing corn.
I put my tactics of hunting standing corn to use, and found the buck bedded on the eighteenth row of the field. With one well-placed arrow, the buck bolted out of the cornfield, only to die in a creek only about forty-five yards from his bed.
If I had not decided to go in after that buck, I might not have been able to arrow him. Shotgun season was only a few days off, and once that begins, everything I know about bowhunting whitetails just as well be thrown out the window.
At first, this might sound like an impossible tactic to consistently arrow deer. You are right, you will not consistently arrow deer with this method of hunting. But, it will provide you opportunities to arrow deer you might not otherwise have.
Stalking bedded deer in standing corn is not a new idea. I first saw this successfully done on a VHS deer hunting video more than thirty years ago. I stored the information I learned from the video in my memory bank for later use, and it has paid off for me on more than one occasion.
It is frustrating to sit in a stand, and watch deer come and go from a corn field, but not make it in the timber. It could be that you often find yourself in a situation that the deer are not even making themselves visible during daylight hours. Or, maybe the fields you have to hunt near do not have suitable areas for a stand, or even a ground blind. If you find yourself facing any of these obstacles, it might be time for a stalk.
A hunter is not able to see far beyond his target when hunting this way. And, you as a hunter will not be visible to other hunters too. For that reason, I can only recommend this style of hunting to archers. It is by far, way too dangerous for hunters using firearms.
Good camouflage is important. Try to wear camouflage that matches the surrounding you are hunting. If the corn has dried to a brown, try to find a pattern of camouflage that has a lot of brown in it. Of course, the clothing manufacturers have not come out with a corn stalk pattern for deer hunters, but there are many that would blend in well. The hunt that I have discussed within this article found me wearing the same camouflage pattern that I would wear when in a tree, but it worked out fine because the corn had not completely turned yet, and there was still enough green in the stalks and leaves that I could blend in.
In order to pull off a stalk on bedded deer in a cornfield, you have to have the wind in your face as you cut across the rows of corn. You also have to be able to walk against the direction of the rows of corn. The more wind there is, the better your chances of success will be. Wind rustling the dried corn stalks will mask the noise you make, and the moving leaves makes it tough for a deer to spot you.
Pick a corner of the field that will allow for a good wind, and move a distance down the corn field that will allow for a comfortable shooting distance in either direction before you move in. For example, if you are comfortable shooting your bow at twenty yards, walk twenty yards from the corner of the field before entering. This will allow you to shoot 20 yards to your left and right. I like to mark each time I enter the field with marking tape. That way, I know the next time where to begin.
You might step in the field and realize that the corn stalks might not let you shoot as far as you normally could. If this is the case, step out and adjust the distance. If you make it half-way through and realize adjustments need to be made, slowly and quietly move down the row in either direction to get to where you need to be,
The tactic itself is not a difficult one, but it requires a good amount of patience, and even more luck. A big corn field can several hours to cover, and let’s face it, getting close to a bedded buck takes a savvy hunter with some luck thrown in. The trick is not to get in a rush, and alert the deer.
Remember throughout the entire hunt that slow and steady is the only approach to take. You are in the deer’s home, and they will notice an intruder with the slightest mistake on your part.
When you begin the hunt, you do not want to commit your entire silhouette into the row. Instead, ease your head in far enough to look both directions. If you do not see anything close, pick up your binoculars and examine the area closely. Good optics will help you pick out a deer in the difficult background of brown corn.
A hunter is not always looking for an entire deer. Deer blend into their surroundings very well, and can be difficult to pick out. Search for the flicker of a tail, the twitch of an ear, the sun glimmering off an antler, an eye, the black of a nose, or even the straight line of a bedded deer’s back that is out of place in a field of odd shapes.
If I spot a deer further down the row than I can shoot, I step back a couple of rows and think things through. As long as the deer is bedded, and unaware of your presence, there is no need to get in a hurry and rush things.
As long as the deer does not know I am around, the odds are in my favor. I know which way the deer is facing, so I know which end of the deer I want to be on. I know exactly which row he is in so there will be no surprises there. And, because I used my optics, I know of any obstructions that might prevent me from getting an arrow in his vitals.
Hardly ever will I pass up a chance on a deer if I can locate one content on staying bedded, and the deer has no idea I am around.
If I come across some deer I cannot stalk, I will either backtrack and swing wide around them, or back out and call it quits for that day in that particular field.
The same holds true with deer I cannot, or do not want to shoot. For instance, if I have a buck bedded, and only have an antlerless only tag, I have to come up with a plan to get around that deer without alerting it. The same with an immature buck. You do not want a deer busting out of the field and taking all of the other deer in the field with it.
When I reach the end of the field without a shot, or even better, not spooking the deer out, I have to circle around the field and start all over. I circle back to the field’s edge where I started from, and move down far enough from my marking tape to cover my shooting range. Do not forget to tie up another piece of marking tape before entering the field.
Do not overdress for this hunt. Unlike hunting from a tree stand where you might have to fight to stay warm, this style of hunting could cause you to overheat. Also, carry a bottle of water, or have another source to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can set in no matter what the thermometer reads.
This tactic works great if you are looking to put meat in the freezer. It seems that corn fields often hold an endless supply of does. The problem with shooting a doe is that you don’t know if a mature buck is just a few rows up. That is a chance I am often willing to take, in order to put meat in the freezer. Also, any deer harvested with this method should be considered a trophy. They do not come easy.
Another great advantage to hunting corn fields is following the blood trail, especially if the corn has turned brown. The red crimson blood stands out very well on the brown. Even tiny drops of blood are noticeable.
There are easier ways to kill a deer, but probably none as exciting. When your stands and blinds are not producing, or you just want to change things up a bit, plan a ground attack and see what happens.