Author’s note: Mike Monteleone lives in Westminster, Maryland, and has worn Mossy Oak camo since 1988 and has hunted deer since he was 13 years old. He also is a member of PSE’s Pro Staff and has been shooting a PSE bow for five years. Today he shoots a PSE EVO Max, while primarily hunting in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
At any given time, I’ll have 10 to 15 different pieces of property to hunt. The properties I hunt generally are small, primarily in suburbia, ranging in size from eight to 20 acres and sometimes even as large as 400-acre farms. In Maryland, the places I hunt are pinch points, funnels, and bottlenecks where wood lots are pinched down between horse pastures, barns, and houses. There may be a 20-acre wood lot that serves as a boundary between three or four small horse farms. I may have permission to hunt those woods from one landowner, but not from the others. Ideally, I want the permission to hunt the middle section of that wood lot. Then I have a real honey hole, because deer often travel and feed throughout the entire 20 acres. If there are two or three good acorn trees on the property where I have permission to hunt, the properties I can’t hunt on will serve as sanctuaries. What I have to do is find one spot in the wood lot where I can see a deer anywhere from 10 to 40 yards from my treestand.
I put out Covert trail cameras that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, even on properties I’ve hunted for years. From my cameras, I learn where to put up my treestands, when to put them up, and when to move them, but I stay out of the areas I hunt as much as I can. During hunting season, I check my cameras every three days. The rest of the year I only check my cameras about every three weeks. I also use binoculars to observe deer during the summer, until just after crop fields have been harvested. I try to stay at least 300 yards away from them though, and I make sure I remain upwind. At the beginning of bow season I wear Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo. When the leaves come off the trees, I’ll wear Mossy Oak Treestand.
In the early season (September and October), I already have my treestands hung based on trail camera information and long-distance glassing. My stands are on trails between bedding areas and feeding places at this time of year. The bigger bucks on these properties normally don’t like to move during daylight hours at the very beginning of bow season.
Another thing I’ve learned is that really big bucks want their bedding regions to be as close as possible to the places where they feed. Often older bucks will be bedded within 100 to 500 yards of a field, if they can find some kind of thick cover to bed in. I try to take these older bucks in the first few minutes of light as they’re coming from the field going to their bedding sites, or hunt them late in the afternoon when they are headed in the other direction. From the information I gather from my trail cameras, I can learn approximately at what time the bucks leave their feeding areas in the morning, and at what time they leave their bedding places late in the afternoon. If I’m hunting in urban communities without agricultural fields during the early season, the deer will be feeding on honeysuckle and a vine we call “sticky vine” that has pink flowers and berries on it.
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Image courtesy John E. Philips