There continues a mass human influx to the Carolinas, and as such, thousands of acres are being converted from farmland into suburbia. But agriculture remains a strong way of life for southerners and a huge portion of the two states’ economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 75,000 active farms operating on over seven million acres of cropland.
For deer and hunters, thriving agribusiness involving row crops is the saving grace. While native woodlands provide a sustainable resource for wildlife, those 75,000 farms, packed with hundreds of thousands of acres of soybeans, corn, peanuts and sweet potatoes is what keeps animals fat and happy. For hunters, agricultural fields of 100 acres or larger provide minimal hunting opportunities. Hunters with control of these large fields can increase their hunting productivity by inserting cover in strategic locations, thereby increasing their use by animals during daylight hours and increasing the chances for a shot at a wall hanger.
Typically, most of these huge fields are in large farming cooperatives that look to produce yields off every square foot of land. For deer hunters, only the field edges are useful, leaving much of the acreage unproductive. Deer need escape cover and wooded or brushed travel corridors nearby. The centers of these large fields are deserts for daytime activity.
Hunters who purchase or have control should divide large fields into smaller compartments with wooded corridors throughout. Hunters can plant pine trees, brush or allow sections to grow out naturally to create cover.
For best results, hunters should create funnels by designing fields in such a way to change travel from existing routes into the new cover to proposed stand sites. Create travel corridors or direct crossings with wooded vegetation that intersect existing travel routes.
Travel corridors should be of variable widths, but relatively narrow in certain areas near stand sites to direct wildlife into the strike zone.
The size and shape of the fields will determine how many divisions and wooded corridors are established. The remaining cultivation areas should be large enough to provide ample sunlight, but not too large that would fail to allow hunters to reach their objectives of reducing daylight deserts. As a good rule of thumb, hunters should retain field widths of at least 75 to 100 yards.
Hunters should also orient residual fields to harness the best sun opportunity and for the prevailing winds during hunting season.
Deer can live just about anywhere, and they will go just about anywhere to locate a stable food source — but they will be near or adjacent to valuable escape cover. When full control of a large agriculture field is possible, the hunting productivity of these fields will increase at an alarming rate and keep more deer satisfied within the property boundaries.