Steve Bartylla on Hunting Pressure

Steve Bartylla on Hunting Pressure

Steve Bartylla added 2 new photos.

34 mins ·


As we all know, hunting pressure has a huge impact on deer behavior. Generally speaking, the more hunting pressure deer receive the less ground they cover during daylight hours and more skittish they become. That is easily understandable, as the deer that don’t alter their behaviors in high pressure situations have short life expectancies.

For a bunch of reasons, I’d strongly suggest nearly everyone hunts more than one property. Having public ground or fall back private properties to hunt does wonders for satisfying the urge to hunt on generally bad deer movement days, taking the pressure off our primary hunting grounds. In fact, even on some good deer movement days, it’s often nice to have fall backs. Not only does that help keep the primary grounds fresh, it provides cracks at other bucks. Don’t let the nay sayers discourage you. Yes, you have to work a bit harder in some ways and definitely hunt smarter, but public grounds generally get an unfair rap from us hunters. I’ve hunted public grounds in a bunch of states and a couple Provinces. There have been mature bucks on at least 80% of those grounds, and I’ve been lucky/blessed to drag my share out. I’m just not able to do that by hunting like everyone else.

Steve Bartylla on Hunting Pressure

One of the ways to hunt smarter in general is gauge the level of hunting pressure a property or area receives BEFORE selecting stands or determining hunting tactics. As mentioned, I split my seasons between hunting utopian type settings and the real world, where hunting pressure is often a big factor. When hunting the real world, I mostly focus on finding the locations no one else hunts and getting setup and hunting in a manner that brings absolutely no attention to myself at all. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but it does accurately describe my approach to hunting pressured bucks.

Utopia is something many of us here are striving to build or already have. Why? Because there are huge advantages to trying to help grow and hunt mature bucks that live in utopias, instead of living in the real world. Utopias are where the overwhelming amount of shows are filmed and what the authors are typically writing about in their how-to pieces. On utopia, calling, rattling, decoys and all sorts of other aggressive tactics can produce very well. Heck, they can often be the difference between a thrilling encounter with that buck just out of range and delivering him into easy bow range.

At the same time, one has a lot more viable stand options on utopia than in the real world. As also alluded to in past TODs, hunting the edge of that large field, fresh clear cut or any other wide open spaces can often be a great choice, when hunting low pressure deer. Try that in high pressure areas and you’re lucky to see a fawn. For me, I need to setup inside or right on the edge of a pressured, mature buck’s daylight core area to achieve anything close to consistent success.

Before determining how you are going to hunt any property, gauge the hunting pressure it receives and adjust accordingly. The difference in buck behaviors is night and day. Your hunting tactics should be every bit as different, as well.