The majority of the Midwest’s terrain is still disguised with golden acres of cornfields. Thousands of acres stretch across Missouri all the way to Ohio. Much of 2009’s corn crop has been extremely damp due to unseasonable weather conditions, which makes harvesting cobs and kernels worthless. Farmers must have local co-ops dry their corn in specialized dryers, which costs a fortune and makes the initial harvesting barely worth their time.
I believe standing cornfields in late December and early January provide just as many positive aspects as negative ones to hunters and deer alike. Corn is enriched with carbohydrates, which allow deer to boost energy and bolster their strength to survive during the harsh winter months. Food sources become severely slim when snow plasters the ground and ice blankets atop. It truly becomes a ruthless battle for survival of the fittest. There’s nothing more palatable to a whitetail than a mouthful of kernels. Custom food plots hunters prepare during the fall season are usually torn up and devoured by this time, but not when it comes to hundreds of acres of corn.
Deer often bed, feed, and live in large fields of corn throughout the fall and winter months. Mature whitetails feel extremely comfortable and secure in the confinement of rows, especially if the field is “dirty.” Dirty refers to weedy or an overgrowth of vegetation inside the field. Thickly covered fields strangled in weeds attract more deer than clean and tidy ones. Deer always feel much more safe in dense and heavier cover. Hunters must make no mistake in finding high spots, wet areas, or places where the planter has plugged up to find the best bedding sites.
Slight changes in landscape such as slopes provide deer a vantage point to spot oncoming predators. It’s critical to focus on any slight alterations in the terrain when finding the hottest bedding sites. During the fall, when winter hasn’t frozen any open watered mud holes, find them! These places found in lower areas of the field work wonders when high temperatures scorch into the upper 80’s and 90’s. Deer will often stretch their legs during the midday to sip a cool refreshing gulp of water. Lastly, farmers often plug up their planter when lying seed on the ground. This makes a cluster of tall corn that masks deer while bedding. Animals use the same instincts in the corn as they would in the forest.
When much of the Midwest has stormed through firearm season and is now back to late season archery tactics. We must understand that many whitetails have adapted to the comfort zone of cornfields during this time. Deer drives, human sightings, and a huge elevation of hunting pressure drive many whitetail into standing fields. There have been a great number of giant bucks that made it through 2009 thanks to standing corn. They’ve used it as a hot food source and an overwhelmingly fantastic place to get some shuteye throughout daylight hours.
As the season dwindles into mere days, we must take full advantage of hunting cornfields. It’s important to keep an open mind during to this time of year to fill your tag. Look for sign, such as tracks, droppings, and trails to improve your success when hunting late season whitetail!