How to Hunt Deer Series: Using the "Temporary Edge" of Corn
Corn can be a valuable tool for hunting deer if you consider deer travel patterns.

On any given tract of property where you hunt deer, there are permanent topographic, biological or man-made features that make deer travel more predictable.

Hunting deer using these permanent features may not be your only option, especially in agricultural country. While most funnel, bottleneck and edge areas of deer habitat are permanent and popular hunting locations, there is a temporary edge created by standing corn which may help diversify your approach.

How to hunt a deer

Any hunter who lives in the cornbelt and knows how to hunt deer understands the important relationship between corn and deer.

A good majority of those hunters tell others how to hunt to take advantage of this treasured food source.

Finding a deer trail entering or exiting a corn field, spending time on these deer travel routes, or placing a deer stand near these travel lanes are widely used strategies.

Corn provides valuable deer habitat as a food source and as cover from late summer through harvest. Deer use the corn for a bedding area or they find refuge during travel from bedding to feeding areas, watering areas, or other bodies of cover. These are key considerations when deciding the location of your corn plot or when using corn in other plots as an interface.

Research has shown that in areas of high hunting pressure deer can spend much of September, October and early November in the corn, venturing out only at night. These temporary cornfield edges are an integral part of the deer habitat because of the security standing corn provides. As other hunters are out schlepping around in the woods, a good number of deer realize the refuge they find in the corn.

Finding the right cornfield edge

While cornfield edges certainly aren’t hard to find, the right one can be. I’m not specifically referring to the corn/woods edge so common in farming country. A good number of deer are harvested in these areas each year, but I’m referring to the cornfield edges that create a temporary funnel area from one body of cover to another. Some of the best deer stand locations are those funnels and edges which are more difficult to identify. Why, because a good number of hunters overlook them.

Due to cropping rotations and field boundaries, some of these temporary funnels are only available for one season. You may have to scout them out each year. It can be worth the effort to find these areas as most other hunters simply aren’t hunting them.

Several years ago, my friend shot a dandy whitetail at such a corn field edge. The field was planted over the top of a long ridge. The outside edge of this cornfield connected the two wooded hillsides on each side of the field. The whitetail buck was using this edge to travel from his bedding area on the south facing slope to a pond and hardwood ridge on the other side.

The deer stand was placed in a lone oak tree standing on the field edge along an old fence line. After the corn was harvested it appeared as if the deer stand was right out in the middle of nowhere and there was no longer a safe travel route. My friend shot the buck his first night out. He was able to take advantage of a temporary funnel created by the cornfield. This temporary edge approach is typically an early season tactic as the edge only exists until the crop is harvested.

How to Hunt down these locations?

So, where do you start looking for that temporary edge so you can hunt deer there?

Ideally get an aerial photo. Make several copies of these maps to accommodate field notes, crop planting sketches, water, food sources and deer travel routes.

Look for any standing cornfield edge connecting two bodies of cover. Alternatively look for one body of cover linked via corn to a hayfield or seasonal food source on the other side. A body of cover may also be linked to a water source via a corn field. Make sure to note of all the water sources and areas with a history of good mast production. Topographic features; such as wooded ridges running somewhat perpendicular to the cornfield edge are also worth recording.

How to hunt a deer - 2nd image

Other deer travel routes worthy of documenting and monitoring are the waterways cutting up through standing corn.

These waterways are used as deer travel routes. Any vegetative edge, whether it be a waterway, soybean or alfalfa field edge, which shares a border with a standing cornfield and connects to a woods or other body of cover are worthy of your attention.

These are very productive deer stand locations up until the corn is harvested.

Setting up your deer stand along the edge provides you the opportunity to hunt this funnel. These edge areas are typically best suited for evening deer hunting, as you can approach through the open soybean or hay fields allowing minimal disturbance to bedding areas.

Setting up your deer stand along the edge provides you the opportunity to hunt this funnel. These edge areas are typically best suited for evening deer hunting, as you can approach through the open soybean or hay fields allowing minimal disturbance to bedding areas.

The best places to set up are generally those staging areas inside the timber where the edge of the field joins perpendicular with the woods. This location creates that “inside corner” deer feel most comfortable using. Even though these edges are predominantly early season locations, the chase phase of the rut may begin before the crop is harvested. As the boys are out trolling for the girls, they want to cover as much ground as they can. These corn edges connecting two bodies of cover can be a great location to intercept a roaming buck.

The drawback to deer hunting field edges, depending upon stand location, is leaving the deer stand unnoticed. If you opt to stay until final shooting light, you may spook deer in the field. Repeated missteps like that will cost you. If you are hunting a particular buck and dark is creeping up on you, it may be best to get out of there early. Hunting these spots in the morning can be a challenge. Deer feed and bed in the open fields all night and any attempt at crossing the open fields will spook deer. You may be able to approach undetected if you can access the deer stand through the woods or sneaking four or five rows in the corn.

Predicting deer travel routes is the basis of good deer stand placement. Rather than hunting that same deer stand location year after year, try hunting the temporary edges a standing cornfield creates. Hunting the temporary edge may be just what it takes to diversify your approach and get that trophy whitetail you have been waiting for.

Dr. Judy McFarlen Veterinarian, Alberta Rancher, and publisher of Deer Food Plots Made Easy, Dr. Judy McFarlen has helped a large number of novice and experienced deer food plotters establish and improve their whitetail deer food plots.

From deer food plot location strategies to seed selection, this text is a nuts and bolts kind of reading. It is guaranteed to make sense to even to the most inexperienced grower.