Evening stands on guided hunts all seem to follow the same pattern: hunt the food. In this case, that means cut cornfields and soybeans. If you tell a deer guide that the farmer just cut the corn near his favorite patch of woods, his eyes light up. Tell the same guide that the farmer left the field “dirty” and he may start doing a jig.
Dirty fields are ones where there’s still a lot of scrap left behind such as stalks and partial ears of corn. This morning I was walking back to the truck across a ”dirty” field and was surprised at how many whole cobs of corn the picker left behind. No wonder the whole tree line surrounding the field is covered with scrapes — but more about that stand tomorrow!
Last evening’s stand was a blind set up in the corner of a cut cornfield (partially dirty) that borders a river bottom. I’ll attach a screenshot like I did yesterday so you can see the layout. Basically, across the creek bottom behind the blind is a major bedding area and they filter out into the field via the corners or the tiny point halfway across the field.
Overall, it’s just a typical ag-type stand and pretty much as straightforward as they come in terms of how deer use the terrain and habitat. Field corners are natural funnels, and you’re just hoping to be in the corner the deer are using that evening.
The guide had a trail camera pic of a big 10-point in the field corner just the other night. It was a dark, rainy day, but the big one never showed. I did see a small 8-point and six does though. All of them were on the other side of the field, 200-300 yards away, which is the norm whenever I hunt fields. No matter where the stand is located or the direction of the wind, it seems deer always choose to feed as far away from me as possible. It doesn’t matter if I’m hunting the Midwest or the farms where I grew up in western PA, you can burn a lot of evenings chasing deer around the field just trying to get predict which trail they’re going to use that night. Sometimes the deer just won’t cut you a break!
Anyway, this type of location has never tripped my hot button. They can pan out, but they’re boring to watch because most of the action only happens right before dark. Yet these are also the types of stands outfitters call their “money” stands. You almost always see deer (makes for a happy client!), and if a big one enters the field there’s always the chance you can call him in (and at least the client got to see a trophy). Or, if you get lucky, that buck uses the trail right by your blind.
One of the frustrating parts of hunting this part of the country is that the parcels are small — unlike the Big Woods where you can literally go for miles on public land. Here, deer come and go, and when you’re dealing with 50-100-acre patches (in some cases), they can be off the property in a blink. The best stand locations always seem to be just across the property boundary, where you can’t hunt.
Last night, there were two bucks sparring in the field behind the blind, just to the east of that little strip of woods where the blind is situated, which isn’t part of the outfitter’s property. They weren’t shooters, but I caught a glimpse of them as I was walking out in the fog. It had poured rain earlier and got dark quick, but I could see their big, shadowy figures locked in a sparring match, and I could hear the click of their little antlers.