Hunting and Outdoors

Sizing Up Deer Hunting Property

Red deer stag silhouette in the mist

Recently, I took a 3-day weekend and headed out to the deer lease to scout the situation, repair some blinds and stands, and work on some feeders in preparation for the upcoming deer season. I’m lucky to have a decent-sized lease this year with abundant water and natural forage; not everyone is as lucky.

When searching for a good deer lease or hunting property, there are a number of considerations to be taken into account other than the cost of the property or lease.

harvested Mule deer with a scoped lever-action rifle
Success! A little luck and a lot of preparation make for a successful day afield.

What to Look For

The key things to look for in your deer lease or hunting property are…

  • Food and Water Sources
  • Active Trails
  • Cover
  • Property Size
  • Hunting Pressure
  • Huntability

Food and Water Sources

First are food and water sources. The main attractants for deer are forage and water, and your hunting property should ideally have both.

  • Does the land have food plots or field crops?
  • Are there edible mast type foods such as nut-and acorn-bearing trees and bushes?
  • What about water? Water is almost more important than food availability, especially in more arid regions. Ponds, streams, creeks, rivers and lakes will all attract deer seeking hydration.

This brings us to the next thing to search for—game trails. Scout water sources and forage areas for game trails leading to and from the water and food.

Active Trails

Active trails with fresh deer tracks are the best, although deer may change the areas they browse depending on what crops are abundant and whether water is fresh, so bear this in mind when you come across older tracks.

For example, areas with deep and large lakes or rivers may have abundant deer during droughts, while areas with field crops may only harbor deer until the crops are harvested.


Cover is very important to deer. Dense cover from hardwoods, tall grass and thickets provide secluded areas where deer can bed down to rest or find safe areas to breed. Cover is also a great way to keep an eye on how the yearly rut is progressing.

Keep an eye on trees for rub lines and scrapes.

Property Size

The size of the property plays a defining role, although even small tracts of land can bear trophy bucks if they are surrounded by the right environment.

Evaluate the value of the land by identifying what assets the land has to offer deer. Some tracts are ideal for cover, but offer little in the way of food or water. Others may simply have critical travel routes deer use to move between bedding areas and forage.

Hunting Pressure

Another important aspect to consider is hunting pressure. Is the land you are considering surrounded by areas that are heavily hunted? If so, it may only be good hunting for a limited time such as the first weekend of bow season.


Finally, consider the huntability of the land. If the land is only open fields or thick cover with no game trails, you may not be able to find a good spot to set up. Blinds set up along frequently traveled game trails, or on the edge of a field with the wind blowing in from the field are ideal.

My scouting expedition turned out to be fortuitous, as I managed to put the sneak on a feral hog, ensuring at least some hog meat in the freezer.

While scouting your hunting property, keep the above tips in mind while deciding where to set up your hunt, and you will benefit from the increased likelihood of taking a nice trophy buck this season.

What’s your favorite tip for having a successful deer hunting season? Share with your fellow hunters in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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