Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment to a 12-part, comprehensive series about building a hunting club with buddies from nearly the ground up. Author Thomas Allen will share what he learns as he learns it. His hope is that anyone who reads this series can learn from his successes and failures, and apply them to a one-day fruitful hunting club. Click here for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth installments.


I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way, and you’ve got to have the drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish. ~Chuck Norris

Take the Good with the Bad

We had a mountain to climb in order to get this hunting club off the ground, and we did it. In fact, efforts were so productive I was beginning to wonder when something was going to go wrong and take the wind out of our sails. It was bound to happen, and reality eventually set in.

Please understand that a few of the following thoughts are to share our reality, not complain. Truth be told, the good far outweighs the bad, and the bad is mostly expected. But to stick to my original objective with this series and share with you the lessons we learn along the way, I will continue to be straightforward.

Hunting Pressure

There is no way to avoid pressure within a hunting club — especially a new one. How you manage it will determine success after the pressure sets in and the deer movement has been impacted.

Recently, the overall deer activity and number of encounters have decreased substantially on the property. Are we over-hunting our lease? That’s very possible, and our membership’s pressure is a contributing factor. While each element might be small in and of itself, the small items add up and will have an effect.

Human presence is hunting pressure. The more time hunters spend time in the woods, the more opportunity the deer have to become educated. The deer will adjust their habits to accommodate safety. That will lead to tougher hunts, but the secret is figuring out how to manage that presence with strategic entrance and exit routes and, of course, staying out of the woods when conditions are not favorable.

One of our biggest problems is access. A county road runs through our property, and there are two access points on one side, and one on the other. That means to reach the food sources at the back end, all hunters must cross the food plots positioned between the gates and the back of the property. It is what it is, but driving vehicles out just after dark will educate the deer to access their food sources later in the evenings.

Our early solution was to established parking areas that will reduce — not eliminate — vehicle traffic across our food sources. We’re still brainstorming further solutions, but I believe it will slow activity to a certain extent.

Perhaps we limit deep access early in the season? This is the kind of problem we can control and eventually overcome, but it’s going to take time to figure it out. And we will.

Outside Human Pressure

Then there’s the kind of pressure you can’t control. With a new property, you’re bound to have some trespassing, but our situation is unique in that much of the surrounding properties are either clear-cut or outfitter property. I think those scenarios result in fewer trespassers.

That said, our first confirmed fools were a family of horseback riders, who in all their brilliance, decided to check out a couple of food plots during the opening weekend of Alabama’s firearm season.

That was just stupid. Don’t be like these people.

This group of horseback riders are the first trespassers we’ve had since we signed the lease. If we meet up with them in the future, we’ll professionally remind them the property is private. They weren’t very considerate by stomping around on our obvious food plots, and on top of that it was risky business going out there during the opening weekend of the firearm season.

The other outside pressure we’ve been dealing with involves industrial easements. We have a major petroleum gas line that runs through the middle of our property, and a small portion of a power line that cuts one of our corners. Both were very attractive land features as we originally scrutinized the land.

Outside human pressure can be generated from folks that have industrial easements to the property such as gas lines or power lines. This picture shows a dozer at one of our gates. They had to re-grade the road and add gravel to certain spots so they could get their equipment back into where the power line intersects the property.

See, Alabama largely consists of big woods: a mix of hardwoods and pine plantations. Anytime you have open ground is a major bonus. We know that both the gas and power lines will be huge advantages to our future success; therefore we’ve accepted the challenges that come along with them, namely people.

Here’s a fine picture of a gas line worker clearing overhanging brush so the mower could get through. Unfortunately, this picture is in a location where I had a mock scrape with a licking branch. The licking branch is now gone.

These lines require maintenance, and both are maintained by separate companies, which means both have different access points and roads.

Thanks to the bad luck that typically follows me around, both the gas line and the power line folks decided they needed to access the property in the same couple of weeks.

The power line company needed to perform some annual maintenance repairs, which required them to doze and trim out a logging road. I had two cameras, a feeder and blind all spread out along this road, which meant I had to go in and move each item that could become a potential victim of road maintenance. More pressure.

The gas line people came in and mowed all the grass. Fortunately, they recognized our food plots and didn’t cut any of those. If I knew who to thank, I’d go give them a big ‘ol man hug. They certainly didn’t have to respect those plots, but I’m grateful they did.

Both projects were inconvenient to our club, and heaped on the human presence/pressure. However, both will improve access and the overall hunting experience. In the long run, it’ll be a good thing.

Fortunately for us, the gas line company didn’t mow our food plots, and knocking down the shoulder-high grass will allow us to see better at greater distances as the deer cross the gas line. This process cost us some added human pressure, but there was nothing we could do about it, and in the long run both will enhance our property.

Again, not to complain, but when you add all these “pressure” factors together, you can expect the deer to react. The important thing to take from this is knowing that it won’t ruin your season, no matter how aggravating it is.

Keep the right frame of mind, control what you can control, and don’t lose sleep over what you can’t. I’m preaching to myself here . . .

Bucks Will Do What They Do

Remember that bad luck I referenced above? Well, consider this along those lines: The biggest buck we’ve located, thanks to our Wildgame Innovations trail cameras, managed to break off his left G3 tine, leaving him with much to be desired. I can’t speak for the other hunters in our club, but this buck will get the pass from me.

Pretty Boy is the largest antlered buck we’ve captured pictures of on our property — a very pretty 9-pointer. Unfortunately, he’s busted off a big tine, so he’s off of my hit list for the year. I hope he’ll have the chance to grow a rack next year, I bet he’ll be very impressive as a 4-year-old.

Plus, I think he’s only 3 years old and should get another year under his belt for his potential to be realized.

Surprise, Surprise

We built a couple of new shooting house bases, and decided to use cement blocks as the bases. In an effort to save money and minimize expenses, I recalled a pile of old used cinder blocks located on our property. I just walked over, picked two of them up —  and almost stepped on a rattlesnake. I may have pooped a little, too.

While traipsing around our lease, I bumped into this guy one day. There is now one less rattler slithering around out there, I can promise that.

Here’s a video of the encounter. (A laugh at my expense.)

Snowy Alabama

A once-in-10-year snow system moved through the state of Alabama, dumping 5 to 6 inches across the Birmingham area. For this native Iowan, it was a welcome change to the scenery. And the deer were certainly on their feet. (The weather also had native Alabamians buying every loaf of bread and gallon of milk from the local grocery, just like it was end of time. Picture me rolling my eyes here.)

The deer looked confused and aggravated by the snow, but just about every camera had deer moving through with the unlikely snow and cold weather. I guess everything in this part of the country heads to the “store” for food reserves when foul weather hits.

During the snow, I was able to get some neat video of a unique melanistic buck that lives on our lease. That basically means the opposite of piebald. The deer grows black hair in spots, with this one its very evident on his right shoulder and neck. It will be cool to see this deer age; hopefully he sticks around the property for a few years.

Next Project: New Shooting-House Platforms

Paul, our jack-of-all-trades member, also happens to own a small sawmill. He’s had a pile of old pine logs that we cut down into timber to build two new platforms. The best part of this is it cost us zero money other than fuel for the mill. And it was a ton of fun getting the timber prepped for fabrication.

Paul provided his sawmill so we could cut timber for the building of future shooting houses. It saved us a bunch of money, and was actually a lot of fun.
This picture shows the needed materials for two shooting house platforms. Initially, we’ll be placing secured, hub-style ground blinds on them. Next year we’ll probably build wooden houses on top. One step at a time.

The level of satisfaction that comes with building this kind of thing, literally from scratch, is worth every minute of investment.

We have the platforms framed out, and the required materials ready to assemble, but finding the time recently with the season in full swing has been the challenge. As soon as we have them built and placed, I’ll provide an update.

Check out the process and progress here.

The Success Is a Continued Blessing

If you want to enjoy a fantastic hunt, check out the video of Bryan’s deer. This is his first deer in over 15 years, and the experience takes him back to his early days of deer hunting. For a naturally stoic gentleman, Bryan gets quite emotional.

My work associate and good friend Bryan Brasher poses with the first deer he’s killed in over 15 years. A fine, mature doe that provided plenty of venison sausage for his family, and renewed a passion that he had all but forgotten about — a very cool hunt indeed.

I’m proud to call him my friend, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to film his hunt.

You may recall in the previous installment of this article series, both my son and my daughter killed does during Alabama’s youth deer season. I’ve continued to take each of them hunting for a buck.

My son, Tommy, killed his first buck last fall, and the video is fantastic if  you ask me, but this year his sister, Taylor, was the first to have an opportunity at a buck. The nice 6-pointer was just the type of buck to eliminate from our property, and was perfect to make my baby girl smile ear-to-ear.

The author’s daughter proudly poses with her first buck. This is her third deer harvest after killing a fine mature doe earlier this season during Alabama’s youth season.
On Christmas Day, my wife took our son, while I sat with our daughter in two different locations. Taylor shot her buck, and Tommy and Kathryn saw several deer making for an exciting hunt for our family. Having this property so close to our house has already provided many memories none of us will ever forget. It’s worth all the work and investment.

Thanks to numbers of Wildgame Innovations trail camera pictures and video, we had a pretty good idea where and when this buck would appear on the BioLogic Winter Grass Plus field. Trail cams are the ultimate scouting tool, for sure!

Please enjoy her hunt. I’m beyond proud of her, and I’m proud of our club for making this opportunity possible.

Images and videos by Thomas Allen

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