So what is a bottleneck? For the purpose of deer hunting, a bottleneck is a narrow strip of land that controls or restricts whitetail deer travel areas. There can be many types of terrain that meet this criteria such as funnels, land edges, and saddles.
A funnel is a section of land that connects two other sections of land together. For example, a small tract of trees that run parallel with and in between two fields can be considered a funnel. Another example is a patch of undergrowth that runs along the edges of a creek or river bank. Narrow sapling thickets that divide two other types of land is another.
A land edge is the area that runs along and borders different types of land. For example, a crop field edge that joins a wooded area. Deer will often travel just out of sight walking along the perimeter of a field until an area is reached to enter. A swamp edge that borders other terrain is also an example.
A saddle is a low area that runs between two higher sections of ground. These areas are more common in mountain or hill terrain. Deer will travel the bottoms or lower edges of saddles. Deer will cross over the higher ground when directional change is needed.
Deer Hunting Bottlenecks
When it comes to hunting, the key to success is finding the bottlenecks and then setting up in the proper area. The use of aerial photos and topographical maps can be of assistance. However, the best approach is to scout on foot.
Once these areas are located, the next step is to find the most active and freshest deer sign and set up accordingly. One suggestion is to break the bottleneck into sections and hunt each until the best set up is found. Make sure to use proper scent control and to factor in the wind directions.
Bottlenecks offer hunters excellent opportunities and can be hunted throughout the season.
There will be times throughout the deer hunting season that normal tactics dry up. This can be due to added pressure on the deer. This may be a change in deer behavior such as the beginning of the rut. It can also be related to changing food sources. When this occurs, it is time to expand the deer hunting area. Having a good knowledge of how the property is setup comes into play.
When the pressure increases, deer will often avoid normal travel areas and relocate. This does not mean that they will completely move out of the area. In most cases the deer will simply go deeper into the property. Look for places that are secluded and provide thick cover. Start by deer hunting the edges of these locations. After a few days, go deeper in small increments but be very careful not to over hunt or spook the deer.
Deer Food Sources
Another reason that the deer will change patterns is related to the available food sources. As the season progresses, there may be new field crops, nuts, fruits, browse, or other foods. The hunter must adjust accordingly and locate these foods. Deer hunting near active food sources will keep the hunter in the game.
When the rutting season begins, any previous patterns of deer movement goes out the window. Deer hunting the rut requires the hunter to pay close attention to doe activity. Being able to find the does will improve success as where the does are, the bucks soon will be. It is time to be aggressive and be ready to move at the sign of any rutting activity.