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.
I hunted a small 40-acre farm for several years. Right behind the farmer’s house, he had a big hay barn with uncut grass. This place was very think with a lot of greenbrier. Some of the biggest bucks I’d ever seen stayed in that thicket during hunting season. Two hundred yards from the thicket was a soybean field with a well-worn deer trail between the two. So, I set up a treestand just inside the wood lot before the trail went into the soybean field. The thicket was about 100 yards long and 40 yards wide. The bucks were completely invisible as they moved through the thicket headed for the soybean field. The only time they were exposed was when they walked through that wood lot. I took three really big bucks out of that thicket. My heart was broken when the farmer sold his property to a developer. All the land was cleared, and now there are houses where I once hunted. This is the risk you run when you hunt in a suburban area. I’ve lost more good hunting land to developers than for any other reason.
The strangest place I ever have hung a trail camera was in a 10-foot culvert under a major highway. On one side of the culvert, where I didn’t have permission to hunt, was a large wood lot. On the other side was a patch of woods leading right into a corn field. At dusk and at dawn, the deer walked through the culvert into the cornfield to feed and then they would return through the culvert to the wood lot to bed. I got pictures of 10 to 20 deer per day there. I put treestands about 60 or 100 yards away from the culvert. I had that property for about 10 years and harvested about 30 deer, including 10 bucks.
I’m often asked how I get into those small properties without the deer hearing, seeing, or smelling me. I bathe in scent-free soap, wash my towel and all my hunting clothes in scent-free laundry detergent, and wear a Scent-Lok carbon suit. I also carry OdoBan odor-eliminating spray and use it while getting in my stand. Each property is different, but even before I hang my treestands, I consider where the deer will be at any time of the day. I have a few properties that I can’t hunt in the morning because the only access I have to my hunting spot requires me to walk through fields where the deer are feeding, so I hunt these properties in the evenings instead. Often I go to my stand sites in the middle of the day, while the deer are bedding. I may have to stay in the stand three or four hours before I ever see a deer. For some of the smaller properties, I have had to take roundabout routes to my stand to keep the deer from hearing or seeing me. If the route I take goes through thick cover, I spray my back trail. I also spray down with odor eliminator as I walk to and away from my stand site.
When I first started bowhunting, I shot a lot of target archery to improve my ability to take deer on these small properties. When my two children came along, and I started my own business, I didn’t have time to go to tournaments and compete, but I believe the skills I learned in tournament archery really have helped me have more success afield.
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Image courtesy John E. Philips