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Corn is often thought of as a bane for deer hunters. Corn serves as a great hiding place for wily deer. Hunters aren't going to walk in to standing corn to push them out. They basically have food and cover all in one place. If you've ever been in a combine during corn harvest in the Midwest, you’ll see just how many deer standing corn tends to hold. In some places it looks like you've stepped on a hornet’s nest.
I often get excited when the corn comes off the field. It concentrates deer into the woods in my hunting area which is mostly agricultural. However, this 2012 season has changed my thoughts about standing corn, mainly because we don’t have a lot of standing corn. Drought has taken a severe toll on the corn crop in Southwest Wisconsin and throughout much of the Midwest. There are a few fields in lower areas and river bottoms that have survived and produced great yields. Guess where the deer are?
Why Standing Corn is Great
This situation has forced me to look back at some of my past hunting situations and think about ways to increase success around standing corn. In fact, I’ve come to realize that standing corn is actually a good thing. Standing corn can be a great place to hunt at the right time and under the right conditions.
As bucks begin moving more during the day, field edges become hot-spots. Think about what it is like to walk through a corn field. You’re dodging corn stalks and hoping to keep the vegetation out of your face. Now imagine walking through a corn field with antlers that make your head 20 inches wide. It would take a while. If you were in a hurry walking through the field would not be the way to go. Big bucks tend to cruise the edges of these fields looking for does and some high protein groceries.
Speaking of high protein, standing corn provides a consistent source of food. What this does is create a consistent travel route through whitetail territory. Deer establish trails through the summer. Those routes will change as rutting activity amps up but once they make a habit of working through a section of woods, they will continue to do so even when food sources change. If there is a hot trail through the woods leading to a corn field, you can bet that trail will continue to produce throughout the fall.
Another great tactic for hunting standing cornfields is to establish mock scrapes along field edges. Find a good clearing adjacent to the standing corn to establish your mock scrape. You’ll need a licking branch to make the scrape effective. If it is necessary to tie a branch to a tree to establish a licking branch, so be it. I really like to establish mock scrapes near the corner of a field. There tends to be more deer traffic on the corners.
Standing corn doesn't have to be a detriment to your hunting success. If you hunt it correctly, standing corn can serve as a deer magnet.