A habitat feature that I love to design is a funnel to bottleneck buck movements at specific ambush sites. All deer, including mature bucks, are surprisingly lazy and, unless they are pressured, will nearly always select the path of least resistance. Several funnel techniques have been described in previous articles by others, such as altering existing fence to create areas near stands where crossing the fence is made easier. Some hunters will even add string or strands of wire to the top of the fence at other areas further away from the stand to deter deer from crossing out of range.
Here’s an example of a funnel my brother Jason and I built on our Iowa hunting land. I wrote about this and other projects in my article in QDMA’s Quality Whitetails magazine, “Paradise Under Construction.”
My brother and I were recently faced with the need to replace some old fence within a timber stand on our farm. The fence had not been properly maintained and had grown up in brush and trees. While we had a dozer on site for another project, we had the operator clear this fence line and remove the old fence in order to create a brush-free lane for the new fence. This new lane was purposely cleared wider than necessary to better allow access in the future for maintenance and tree removal.
In designing the new fence we selected net wire (or woven wire) instead of the five-strand barbed wire fence that previously existed. Although net wire is initially more expensive, it is longer lasting and requires less maintenance, so is likely cheaper than barbed wire in the long run. The net wire also provides a better deterrent to crossing deer. As an added deterrent, the four-foot fence was installed so that the bottom strand was 12 to 15 inches above ground to result in the top strand being at least five feet above ground. Next, instead of installing the gate at the original location, we had the gate moved to the place where the terrain features best funneled deer traffic.
We then instructed the dozer operator to doze a shooting lane 100 yards in each direction, perpendicular to the fence line, with this lane intersecting at the new gate location. Next, we used our ATV and a spreader to add lime and fertilizer to the fence line and lane. We then reseeded all areas of disturbed soil that were within shotgun range of the new gate location to the same attractive blends used on our stalking trail. The final step was to install a carefully concealed hunting stand downwind of the new buck funnel, based on the predominant wind direction.
Now-a-days, more and more hunters are “thinking like a deer” and are altering the landscape for the benefit of the deer herd. Hopefully, the idea I’ve shared will inspire you to approach each new project from a different perspective – a deer’s perspective!
About the Author: Dr. Mickey Hellickson of Texas is a wildilfe biologist and consultant who owns Orion Wildlife Management Services. Mickey is a Life Member of QDMA.