John's Journal...

What to Do on Your Hunting Lands Before Deer Season Starts

Day 1: Install Stalking Lanes in Pine Plantations to be More Successful Hunting Deer in the Fall

Editor’s Note: For the most success in the upcoming fall deer season, you need to take some time to plan now. By taking steps now, you’ll have better deer hunting in the future, a more-bountiful deer herd and improved turkey hunting.

Click for Larger ViewYou can open-up more land and possibly take bigger bucks on the property you hunt by installing stalking lanes in young pine plantations. Some of the biggest bucks on the property you hunt may live in 2- to 15-year-old pine plantations where the bucks can survive for many years and only come out of the pines when they experience no hunting pressure. When landowners first plant pines, vegetation will grow up thick and lush there, providing plenty of food and habitat for whitetails. Click for Larger ViewBut you often can’t move through these areas without spooking the deer living there. Once you begin to put heavy hunting pressure on the edge of a pine stand where you’ll have to hunt to spot the deer, the older, smarter bucks may remain in that thick-cover region all day and only come out after dark.

To solve this problem for hunters, Mark Thomas, a certified wildlife biologist and forester, and his team of wildlife biologists and foresters have developed a stalking-trail tactic that enables hunters to move through this thick cover quietly and unseen, to hunt it much-more intensively than ever before and to increase the food availability for the deer inside the young pine plantation. “Once you install a stalking trail, you can hunt a pine plantation from the time it’s 3-years old until it’s 22- or 23-years old,” Thomas says. “Work will be required initially to put-in the trail, and you may have to do annual maintenance on it. However, the benefits of having stalking trails through a young pine plantation far outweigh the work required. If you install these stalking trails before deer season, the deer will begin to use them as travel corridors. Click for Larger ViewBefore, when we’ve installed a stalking trail, we’ve sometimes seen the ground on these trails almost torn-up with deer tracks from the deer using these trails.”

Too, the stalking trails enable the hunter to move through a previously-impenetrable section of land and spot deer bedding on the sides of the stalking trails, as well as feeding in the food plots. “The installation of a stalking trail through a young pine plantation lets bowhunters, pistol hunters and blackpowder hunters stalk-in close enough to get off their shots and harvest deer in places they may never have been able to hunt before,” Thomas explains. Click for Larger ViewTo harvest more and better bucks this next season, install stalking lanes with the permission of the landowner through the pine plantations of the lands you hunt.

To learn more about ways to improve your hunting lands, contact Mark Thomas at, or call 205-733-0477 or go to

Tomorrow: How to Install a Stalking Lane to Hunt Deer Better


Check back each day this week for more about "What to Do on Your Hunting Lands Before Deer Season Starts"

Day 1:Install Stalking Lanes in Pine Plantations to be More Successful Hunting Deer in the Fall
Day 2: How to Install a Stalking Lane to Hunt Deer Better
Day 3: Burn Land to Improve Wildlife Habitat for Deer, Turkeys and Quail
Day 4: Species that Benefit from Prescribed Burning
Day 5: Have Healthier Deer and More Quality Habitat by Using Trail Cameras


Entry 570, Day 1