|This Fall Stalk The Stalks For Whitetail|
|This Fall Stalk The Stalks For Whitetail|
By Todd Amenrud
Most of what I know about stalking whitetail in the standing corn I attribute to Toad. When he first told me of this technique, kidding around I remarked, "Toad, that’s just because you live in Iowa. There are NO trees in Iowa! The deer have to live in the corn - there’s nothing else for them. Where I’m from, they live in the woods like normal deer." Toad just chuckled and said, "Try it sometime."
I’m here to tell you "it works no matter where you’re from." If you think about it, whitetail love corn and they want to find a spot where they’re as undisturbed as possible. After the farmer makes his last pass through, man usually doesn’t enter the area until it’s harvested. While everybody is pressuring the deer in the woods, the standing corn becomes a secure home for them.
I have found that this works great with the BioLogic BioMaxx that I plant. The addition of the soybeans adds excellent ground cover and a secure bedding environment for the deer. It works best when planted with a row-planter. They will bed in broadcasted plots but the rows make it much easier to stalk.
Other crop fields can hold whitetail too. I’ve seen times that for a three to four week period in the fall whitetail may spend the majority of their daylight hours in sunflowers, flax, canola, wheat or other types of grain fields. As long as the crop is tall enough to mostly conceal a bedded whitetail, it can’t be overlooked.
Some corn fields hold deer while others don’t. And usually within these fields, there are certain areas that hold deer and others that won’t. Trial and error is about the best way to find this out. Watch for tracks and beds as your stalking through. If you spook a deer before you get a shot, log that spot in your memory! There’s something about that area he likes and chances are he’ll be back again. After a while you’ll know where to concentrate your efforts.
When stalking through from row to row, make sure you peak your head through and look both ways before stepping into the row. Obviously, you want to see the deer before the deer sees you. Practice sneaking through the rows before you try as it is easy to become tangled amongst the stalks. It works well to guide your bow behind your leg as you pass through each line of corn.
After you spot a deer, prudence becomes the key word. Make sure you put the wind to your advantage and proceed slowly and with caution. The deer isn’t going anywhere until late afternoon to get up to feed or until you spook it. Take your time getting closer. The tendency is to move in and get a shot as fast as you can. I learned the hard way by spooking the first few deer I tried for. When done right it’s unbelievable; you can get close enough to touch them with your bow. There seems to be a "nerve calming aura" about them when they are bedded in the corn.
As just stated, when you spot one make sure you put the wind to your advantage. Repositioning can be difficult and distance is hard to judge in the corn. As you relocate, always keep in mind where that deer was. "He’s bedded five rows in and thirty yards away." Then, as you move, count the rows and your steps. "OK, now he’s fifteen rows away, but I should be even with him." Always keep an eye out for other deer. Many times they’re bedded in the same areas.
When executing a search pattern and starting your first pass, try to put the wind to your advantage. This will allow you when you get to the end and turn around to go back through the field to maintain this advantage. There’s no doubt, their nose is their number one defense. In the corn it seems it’s more difficult for them to wind you than in wooded or open situations. Still, I practice the same routine of scent elimination as I always do. I shower and treat my clothes and equipment with Scent Killer.
Proper camouflage is crucial too. Test it yourself. Kneel down in a corn row and look up from a bedded whitetail’s perspective. You don’t want to look like a dark human shape. I’ve found that Mossy Oak’s Shadow Grass or Brush camo looks invisible amongst the corn stalks.
I would also suggest a well-tuned bow with carbon arrows. There are two reasons I feel a carbon arrow is the way to go, especially in the corn. First, many times you only have a four to six inch window to sneak your arrow through. A carbon shaft doesn’t flex the same way an aluminum shaft does and it allows you to shoot through a smaller window. Second, when a deer is bedded down, their anatomy changes. The lungs may not be exactly where you pictured them before. Penetration is a key. A carbon shaft is smaller in diameter and retains energy better than other materials, thus penetrating better.
You must also have a bow that’s properly tuned. A fishtailing arrow is going to hit leaves or stalks. Results are a miss, or worse, a wounded animal. Remember if you’re using sights, your sight path isn’t the same line the arrow is traveling. A good way to practice for this is to cut some miscellaneous circles out of a newspaper. Then, stake the newspaper up and place a 3-D target or arrow stop on the opposite side. Practice making your shot through the holes without hitting the paper.
This is definitely a different tactic than exercised by most. While everybody else is out "beating the bush," give "stalking the stalks" a try!
Todd Amenrud is the Director of Public Relations, Territory Manager & Habitat Consultant for BioLogic.