How To Be A Good Hunting Neighbor

If you hunt on less than 5,000 acres, chances are good that some of the bucks you have on camera will be harvested by your neighbors. When that happens, you have two options: You can either do things to prevent this from happening in the future, or you can embrace the feeling that a fellow hunter was able to harvest a buck and be happy it wasn’t poached or hit on the highway. It really depends on your friendship level with the neighbors, how you handle relations, but in my case I’m blessed to have good friends as my neighbors. I have 124 acres to hunt, but it feels like I hunt on 640 acres because I am in good contact with the surrounding land owners. We share trail cam pictures as well as harvests with each other. We help manage trails with one another. If you want to be a good neighbor, my best advice is to follow the golden rule which is to treat others how you wish to be treated.

Trail Cam Whitetail Buck

After talking to a lot of hunters at trade shows, I’m surprised at how many people don’t talk to their neighbors about hunting. I guess they might want to keep all deer a secret, but in reality that leaves people on the other side of the fence wondering what your management strategy is. Most of the time, both neighbors think the other one is going to shoot small bucks so that’s why they do it themselves. Don’t wait until a young buck is dead to approach your neighbor about your management strategy.

When I first started managing land, it was a rarity to see a 3.5 year old buck runningaround. Now we have progressed to the point that we have at least 9 bucks within our section that are 3.5 years of age or older. I know chances are good I might not see 3 of those in the following year, but that is all part of hunting. At least with an open line of communication between my neighbors, we can all know the fate of a particular buck we were chasing. I remember back in 2010 I was chasing a particular buck that had double drop tines. I came home from college to try and hunt that buck and my dad said “Did you see the buck that kid shot?” As soon as I saw the picture my heart sank. It was the double drop tine buck I had found the shed from the year before and had encounters with.

Whitetail Shed Antler

Here is the shed I found in the spring of 2010. It scored 65” and was my first ever shed with a drop tine on it.

Buck Antler Trophy Whitetail

Here is what the buck looked like the following year. He added about 50 inches from the previous year and had grown from 13 to 22 points. If it weren’t for that picture in the paper I would have no idea what happened to that buck. I’m thankful that nowadays if I hear a shot across the section, I am quite certain one of the neighbors will send me a text message within a short time so I know exactly what buck was harvested. I can also pass on small bucks knowing that if they will not be harvested as soon as they jump the fence onto the neighbors.

The North American Model of Conservation states that wildlife is to be held in the public trust. Just because you let a deer walk on your property doesn’t mean you own that deer! Instead of trying to prevent a deer from crossing the fence line, maybe talk to your neighbor about the benefits of having older bucks in the herd. These include a more action packed rut, as well as keeping younger bucks healthier. This occurs because in an older herd, younger bucks don’t burn as much energy as they would if they were doing most of the breeding like they do in unbalanced, younger herds. This conservation of energy helps more young bucks survive winter, and grow bigger antlers in successive years. If your neighbor says “you can’t eat the antlers” kindly suggest they shoot does, if all they are after is meat.

With enough support from surrounding landowners, you can realize a significant increase in the quality of the deer on your property simply by being a good hunting neighbor. Even if one neighbor is not initially on board with your management strategy, they may change their mind when they see the bucks you and your other neighbors start bringing to the taxidermist.

Tim Neuman, Wildlife Biologist 

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