published in Canadian Deer
By Othmar Vohringer
a cold and blustery November morning in 1996 I
sat in my tree stand located on a narrow bench of a steep slope from
had an excellent view of deer activity. At the base of the slope was a
cornfield. The deer would feed all night on the corn and in the morning
towards the top of the ridge passing by my stand and eventually into a
of young pines. It was the perfect set up for a morning stand.
around 7:30 am I saw movement down at the edge
of cornfield. A look through the binoculars revealed three does and a
moving onto the trail that would bring them past my stand. Instantly
numbness in my body from the hours of motionless waiting disappeared in
anticipation. Quietly I removed an arrow from the quiver and put it on
bowstring and then attached the release. I was ready for the deer.
buck was still a small fork horn I decided to take the first doe that
under my stand.
deer were about a quarter of the way up the
slope when they heard a sound and stopped dead in their tracks. I heard
sound too and it sounded like the shuffling of a person, perhaps
hunter. The sound came from quite a distance but the deer are alert at
time of year and have grown very wise due to the immense hunting
lead deer, a mature and wise doe, flicked her ears back and forth in an
to pinpoint the exact direction the sound came from. Meanwhile the
worked overtime, sucking the air in to detect the slightest scent
would alert them to danger. After about five minutes of listening and
the air, the deer seemed convinced that there was no imminent danger
it prudent to turn back to the security of the dense cornfield.
that brief encounter I sat in my stand for
another hour or so without seeing any more deer. Since the deer had
to come to me I knew it was time to set plan B into action- I would
stalk them in the cornfield. The numbing cold that seeped deep into my
from sitting in the stand for several hours contributed to that
decision and I
looked forward to do some walking and stalking.
not only a favorite food source for deer but also offer shelter and
have observed many times that deer spend all day in a cornfield,
bucks, when the hunting pressure gets to them. Deer have learned that
cases hunters do not venture into cornfields and thus they feel quite
these large fields.
it is certainly not easy to stalk upon deer
in a cornfield it is not impossible to do. The biggest problems for a
attempting to stalk deer in a cornfield are noise from brushing against
cornstalks, limited visibility in the thick cornrows and wind
look at the above problems in detail and see how we can overcome them.
two biggest challenges a deer hunter has to
overcome are the animals keen senses of hearing and smell. To
sounds of clothing and gear brushing against the dry corn stalks it is
wait for windy weather. Deer don’t like wind because it makes
it difficult for
them to hear and smell so they will usually stop traveling and sit the
out. For the cornfield stalking hunter wind means that his sounds will
muffled amidst all the sounds of rustling cornstalks.
I said above windy weather will muffle the noise
you make but in a cornfield wind currents can be very unpredictable.
not so much an issue when the winds are strong and thus eliminate any
unpredictable breezes that may carry your scent where you
don’t want it to go.
deer hunting can be very exciting because
visibility for both deer and hunter are very limited. It is possible to
almost to within touching distance of a deer. Careful stalking and long
observation times are necessary to avoid deer spooking or you being
by a deer. Because of the short distances involved the best cornfield
weapons are bows, muzzleloaders and slug guns with short barrels. These
are easier to maneuver around in the dense cornfield. Shooting ranges
so close that the use of bow pin sights and rifle scopes are
hunters can learn to shoot instinctively at distances of up to 20
there often will not be enough time to sight the target with a pin and
sighting system. Firearm hunters can use open sights; a scope if used
should be low powered, no more than 4x power. Practice
shooting fast, as many
shots will be short and fast at alert
to successfully stalk deer in a cornfield:
consist of single cornstalk rows. Deer
usually feed, travel and rest in the narrow lanes between standing
The best way I have found to stalk a cornfield is by starting at one
the cornfield on the downwind side. Good camouflage from head to toe
hands and face are essential. The bow or gun should be held against
in a vertical position so that the weapon doesn’t brush
against cornstalks as
you cross the rows. Begin with your eyes and ears on full alert at the
side of the cornfield. Slowly sneak across the cornfield from row to
cautiously peeking up and down each row before you move on to the next
After you have reached the far end of the cornfield, walk down as far
can see within the cornrows – 40 to 80 yards depending on the
density of corn
leaves and ground weeds. Now cut back across the rows in the opposite
as described above, again slowly moving from row to row peeking up and
each row for deer. Never try to move the whole body at once through a
corn. First move your head into the row and slowly move it to either
looking for deer. If the coast is clear slowly move one foot and then
into the row. Continue this back and forth pattern until you have
whole field – or you spot a deer.
you see something that looks like a deer in the
field but aren’t quite sure take a look at it with the
binoculars since dirt,
clumps of weed or crunched up cornstalks can look from a distance like
deer. Also make sure you look not only to the sides of each row but
front of you and behind you before you move on to the next row, it
be that a deer is right ahead of you or moved behind you while you
watching your sides.
see a buck bedded down in the cornfield- now
you have identified a deer as legal game you can
take the shot immediately if the deer is within range of your chosen
you have a clear shot at its vitals. You also can stalk closer to the
before you begin your stalk use your binoculars to check the
the intended stalking route for any other deer that may be nearby.
deer will ruin your stalk and hunt for that day.
If the coast is clear
backtrack 10 to 15 cornrows; the idea is to
put enough standing cornrows between you and the deer to block its
comes the most difficult part of the stalk. Slowly and quietly sneak
cornrow in the direction where the deer is bedded. Don’t rush
your approach and
be as quiet as possible, any slight mistake you make now will result in
deer jumping up and being gone. Remember deer always sleep with both
full alert and one eye open. When you have closed some distance to the
you’re faced with the difficult task of stalking back across
cornrows. Again check frequently with your binoculars for hidden deer
targeted deer. Should the targeted deer suddenly become alert, freeze
spot - don’t move as much as a muscle until the buck relaxes
again. Once you
have closed the distance you need and have an open shooting lane - take
after bucks in standing cornfields is
a tough task but lots of fun too and you should give it a try,
areas where deer are under heavy hunting pressure. In such areas deer
standing cornfields as sanctuaries so be prepared to see lots of deer
cornfield. Before you attempt to hunt on croplands make sure you get
from the landowner first.
to my standing cornfield hunt on that
blustery cold November day: Just a few minutes into the stalk I busted
doe, she jumped up and sounded the alarm. Within seconds the cornfield
alive with deer running and jumping all around me. Although I
didn’t shoot a
deer on that day it made me realize that cornfields can be real
hot spots for
deer, holding big bucks you never thought are in your hunting area.
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