We live in a time when it’s harder to get away from civilization during the hunt. But smart hunters have learned to embrace the urban setting and take more (and bigger) deer because of it. If you’re late to the party, but really want to join in the festivities, take these 10 tips and start preparing for the best deer hunt of your life.
1. Scout from the Truck
Begin by driving the roads. Glass from park parking lots. Scan ag fields still found within city limits. Take drives at dawn and dusk to see what the area holds in terms of deer population and buck age structure. Deer are used to vehicles, so scouting from them will have less of an impact than in more rural areas.
2. Talk to People
Ask around town and see what people are seeing. Don’t be afraid to ask people where they’re spotting deer and what they’re seeing. Try to ask people who do a lot of driving such as UPS personnel, FedEx drivers, mail carriers, other truck drivers, law enforcement, etc. Most will be willing to give you the information you seek.
3. Ask Often, But Learn How to Get Rejected
You have to ask for permission early and often in urban settings. But you also need to be prepared to hear the word “no.” Use communication tactics and techniques that will help increase your odds of gaining permission. And learn to be graceful when not granted permission and do what you can to bring something positive out of the situation. Who knows, you might even gain access in the future after you’ve established the initial contact with the landowner. Lastly, don’t overlook businesses that own land, too. You won’t gain permission very often, but sometimes you just might land access to that perfect city-limit property.
Urban bowhunting calls for non-traditional tactics. Deer typically aren’t feeding in food plots and big ag fields inside the city limits — but don’t overlook them if those elements are present. More often than not, though, it’ll be gardens, bird feeders and yards. Locate these food-source options and mark them on aerial maps for future reference.
5. Find Isolated Pockets of Cover and Hunt the Pinch-Points
Pinch-points are important no matter where you’re hunting. But they become especially important in urban settings. They’re much more common due to smaller pockets of available cover. Once you’ve located these pockets, proceed to hunt those that link bedding areas, food sources and water sources. Heavy, thick cover is key.
6. Using Calls and Scent Lures to Your Advantage
Urban and suburban deer generally receive less hunting pressure than their rural brethren. That’s why calling tactics and scent lures are oftentimes more effective inside the city limits. So, as long as hunting regulations allow, don’t be afraid to use them.
Urban properties are typically pretty small. That means there’s a high probability that a deer will make it across the property line after the shot. This makes it especially important to gain permission to not only the property you’re hunting but also the adjacent properties as well.
8. Fine-Tune Stand Locations and Make Your Sits Count
There’s very little room for error on small urban properties. One small screw up and your odds of success plummet. Fine tune your stand locations, and when you do hunt, make each sit count. Wait until conditions are right to hunt your best spots.
9. With Pressure, Proximity Is Important
Don’t think that you’ll get away with more just because you’re hunting in urban areas. Deer are still susceptible to hunting pressure. People walking down the park trail likely won’t pressure deer. But the treestand location you have 75 yards from it on Aunt B’s 2-acre homestead certainly can. Understand that proximity is important, and if you slip up and make a mistake, deer will notice something is out of the ordinary.
Allowing deer to know you’re onto them is bad. But the last thing you want to is broadcast your presence to the people in the area (except for those you’ve gained permission to hunt on). Some other people in the neighborhood might not be as open to hunting as those who’ve given you permission. And you don’t want people raising a stink. That aside, you don’t want other hunters to know where your spot is, either. Keep it under wraps. Lastly, make sure everything you do is in good taste. You don’t want the city folk to get a bad taste for hunting in their mouths. At the end of the day, it’s imperative to be discreet before, during and after the hunt. But when you aren't, make sure your actions shed positive light on our hunting heritage.
If you're thinking about hunting urban deer, study up on the state and local hunting laws and ordinances, make a game plan, and implement proven strategies to fill your tags on city-limit whitetails.