Always Have a Backup Hunting Location

By: Quinn Keon

I am always looking for new places to hunt.  I was lucky this year and was granted archery-only access to some new land.  I hunted that piece for the first time 7 days ago.  It was amazing and even better than I had hoped.  In total I saw 32 deer, 4 of which were bucks.  My highest deer count ever!  I haven’t been back.


Why haven’t I been back?  How is it that I can see the most deer ever of any sit and just walk away?  It’s because I have other properties to hunt.  I prepare and maintain several stand locations; last I counted it was 19 locations in 4 different counties.  I won’t hunt all of these locations in a season but they are there if I need them.  The importance of having a backup location on another property should never be overlooked.  A good example is this:  This year before the season started, I was seeing a buck that I wanted to shoot.   The first time I hunted the property I got winded.  A few days later I hunted there and got winded.  I tried again…winded again…and that was it.  No more deer on that property now for nearly 2 weeks.  I had my chance but the wind swirls there and these are pressured deer.  I’m wrapped up in Scent-Lok and sprayed down with Scent Killer but if the wind swirls it just doesn’t matter.

If this was my only place to hunt that would likely be the end of my season.  I’m hoping that this property picks up again for the chase in November but it may not.  There’s plenty of land for these few deer to live on.  They don’t have to come by my stand ever again.  Luckily I can just hunt somewhere else.  I base my stand locations on deer activity and then prepare them using the best tree or best cover.  Which stand I hunt on a given day is based on the wind forecast and the amount of pressure that I have already put on the land.  I check the hourly wind forecast daily during the season.  It is my number one resource.  I do not hunt a stand location if the wind is wrong.  The wind is much too erratic in Michigan to prepare a stand site for the predominate wind.  I fact, there is no such thing as predominate wind on the lands that I hunt.  The past few seasons we have had more east wind than ever before…I’ve got east wind stand sites ready and waiting as well as every other direction.

Many hunters that I know have only one piece of land to hunt.  I used to be committed to one stand on one piece of land too.  I saw lots of deer early in the season and then very few the rest of the year.   Now I love exploring new places and I’m always looking for a better stand location.  When the crops come down, the pre-rut starts, or too much hunting pressure occurs some of my properties may no longer hold deer.  If you have only one place to hunt think about this:  The more times you visit a property the less your chances of shooting a deer.  I try to have all of my preparation done before August each season so the deer that I scare can hopefully be back by October.  I try to minimize my contact with all vegetation and rake trails to my stands to remove small sticks and other noisy debris.  Walking through tall grass and weeds is one of the worst things that you can do.  The deer coming through that area, even days later, will smell every place that you went.  One morning I had a weed brush the back of my hand on my way to the stand.  Later I watched a doe pass by that weed…stop…and bolt when she smelled it.  It touched the back of my hand for a tenth of a second and she was gone.  Another thing that I never do is explore land during hunting season that I am hunting that season.  Many hunters get curious and want to look for new sign like rubs and scrapes.  “Curiosity killed the hunting property.”  If I’m planning to hunt a property next year then I like to poke around looking for rut sign but I know that by walking around exploring I am reducing my chances at a deer for the current season.

Some years certain areas hold more deer than others.  I find this especially true in the larger “big woods” environments that I hunt.  Deer are not always in the same places year after year.  I’ve seen great locations that simply stop getting used by deer and I have no idea why.  Having a backup location is great if your usual deer sign doesn’t show up.

I haven’t been back to the new land yet but I am planning to return.  I have to return on the right day…when the wind is right and I have enough time in the afternoon to quietly pick a different tree.  I saw lots of deer but there is a better area for me to be that should allow closer shots.  I did explore the new property during archery season as I am planning to prepare it for next year.  I walked a tall grass area and I know that I’ll see fewer deer the next time out because of that.   It always takes me 2 – 3 years to figure out a new hunting property and I’ve learned to be patient with the process.  Having a backup location allows me to hunt ‘where I want to hunt’ and then hunt ‘where I think I want to hunt sometime’ if I need to or just want to.  I sat a new state land spot last night.  I did not prepare a tree, I just showed up with my climbing stand.  I didn’t think I would see anything but I wanted to try a new area just for fun.   I saw 8 deer and 4 were bucks!  I might not hunt there again this year.  I can’t get to that tree without walking through tall ferns and I know when those deer came back to bed early this morning they smelled me.  Also it is a noisy approach and a noisy exit.  I bumped a doe on exit and she snorted at me repeatedly.   It’s likely a one-timer hunting spot and I was very satisfied with the results.  I have enough other places to hunt that I can cross that one off the list for this year and move on to the next property.

If you are only hunting one property you may want to challenge yourself to find another as a backup.  It’s always difficult to walk away from your favorite tree but you may be missing out on a good hunting opportunity someplace else.  The only way to know is to commit one or two days and go sit someplace new.  Have fun exploring and good luck in the woods!


4 thoughts on “Always Have a Backup Hunting Location

      • Jackpine Jack’s Secret Venison Steak RecipeHere’s the secret: Venison is naalutrly tender and delicious. That’s why deer have naalutrly learned to hide well and run fast. If you’ve taken good care of your venison at every step of the way, you won’t need rubs, seasonings, or marinades designed to tenderize it and enhance or disguise its flavor. Purists agree, the best recipe for grilling venison is no recipe at all. But that’s no way for me to win a recipe contest, now, is it? So here, revealed at last, is Jackpine Jack’s Secret Venison Steak Recipe.Ingredients:- Two large venison steaks- One cup Jack Daniels- Salt and pepper- One large armful dry jackpine branchesFeel free to adjust quantities as circumstances dictate. If no jackpine is available, you may substitute birch, oak, apple, hickory, mesquite, etc. (But nothing captures the taste of the north woods quite like venison grilled over jackpine coals.) And in place of Jack Daniels, you may substitute bourbon, scotch, wine, beer, or even root beer. It’s your call. But if no venison steaks are available, there’s just no substitute. This recipe is not the same with plain old cow meat. Go back out and hunt more.Directions:Place jackpine branches in grill. Start fire, adding more branches as needed. While waiting for fire to burn down to coals, pour one-half cup Jack (or suitable substitute) into each of two cups—one for you and one for your grilling assistant. Sip patiently. Refill and repeat as needed.Once fire has burned down to coals, place steaks on grill. Do not overcook. Just before steaks appear done on one side, turn them over. Just before they appear done completely, remove them from grill. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.While watching the coals burn down the rest of the way, refill cups again as needed.–Submitted by Al Cambronne, co-author of Gut It. Cut It. Cook It.: The Deer Hunter’s Guide to Processing and Preparing Venison

  1. One serving vseonin “back strap/loin”Coffee Spice Rub recipe: Store unused portion in an airtight container to be used on other steaks1/4 cup Ancho Chile powder1/4 cup finely ground espresso-roast coffee beans2 tablespoons sweet paprika2 tablespoons dark brown sugar1 tablespoon dry mustard1 tablespoon salt1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper1 tablespoon dried oregano1 tablespoon ground coriander2 teaspoons ground gingerVeal Demi-Glace: You can pick up an already made jar at Williams Sonoma…highly recommended.bd cup water1/2 package of sliced mushrooms… I use Portobello Mushrooms 1/2 purple onion1 stick Butter (unsalted)Brandy or Grand Marnier for sauce/deglazing … I prefer the Grand Marnier.Kocher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper (grinder with course grind set)Olive Oil to coat meatMesquite wood for cooking/smokingCoat meat with oil. Season one side of meat with Coffee Spice Rub. Coat the other side with the Kocher salt and course ground Pepper.In a saute9 pan, saute9 onions and mushrooms in bd stick butter till caramelized…deglaze pan with liquor…add 2 heaping table spoons Demi-Glace and stir to incorporate….set aside and keep warmHave HOT coals/wood going reserving 3 -4 pieces of the mesquite wood…dry… for smoking. Add reserved wood right adding meat to grill. Allow wood to smoke generously and let the meat cook, turning only once, to desired temp… I suggest RARE! Set meat aside and let rest for a couple of minutes.Meanwhile reheat saute9 pan of onions and mushrooms till hot. Cut butter into chunks and add to pan. Remove from heat and stir mixture till butter has slowly melted and sauce is smooth and velvety.Spoon mixture onto plate, slice loin in bd inch slices, fan out and lay on top of onion and mushrooms. Drizzle the rest of the sauce on top of meat.I like to serve this with a White Truffle and Parmesan Twice Baked Potato… whole different recipe.

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