I live in a relatively heavily populated area on the Gulf of Mexico. Most people visiting are expecting to see the sun, surf and a dolphin or two, but not whitetail deer.
They are in for a surprise. Even though there are lots of condos, people, beautiful white sand beaches and businesses around, there are also large tracts of pines and wetlands that are not developed. It is in these areas that whitetail, coyotes, fox, hogs and lots of other wildlife call home. It is not unusual for me to be sitting in traffic in front of the mall and see deer or hogs feeding in the grass beside the road. Now mind you we are talking 4-lane road with housing developments and businesses. Evidently there is enough timber and greenway to keep them around. I am sure that many of you have similar opportunities in the towns you live in. You just need to scout around a bit and think outside the box. We need to use this habitat to our advantage.
If you have a few acres yourself you are set. You can even plant a “food plot”. Now I know the “food plot” was really meant to be a vegetable or a flower garden but those pesky hogs rooted it all up. I know you wanted to enter those prize petunias in the county fair, until that darned old doe nibbled them up. Turn that frustration into meat in the freezer. Instead of fresh veggies turn that garden into fresh venison backstraps and chops! Maybe Mrs. Smith next-door is sick and tired of the deer eating her bushes, offer to help eradicate her nuisance animals.
Backyard hunting can open up some fantastic opportunities for you. There may be a morning you unexpectedly have off. Maybe you live up north and you get a snow day. Maybe you are a stay at home Mom and your 10 year old has pinkeye and can't go to school. Maybe there is a half day of school and your little one wants to go to the deer stand with you. Well shower, put on the camo and get in your stand or blind. Maybe you get out of work early, take advantage of that. You won't be able to drive to your hunting camp in time, but you can shower up and get in the stand. Maybe you have kids that are involved in lots of activities that consume at least one day out of the weekend. Never fear, you can still get hunting time in. On the off time you and your mini hunter can be in the stand. You might be like me and have to take call. I can't drive to hunting camp but I could be locally hunting. It just gives me another option and it allows more family time.
Hunting in the backyard may also be a nice way of introducing a “rookie” hunter to the woods. They will be close to civilization, maybe not as intimidating as being way out in the unfamiliar forest. You can set them up on a solo mission and if things get too overwhelming or scary they can either holler for you or just walk back to the house. Maybe you have a young budding hunter; they are chomping at the bit to be out by themselves and you nearly have a panic attack at the thought of that. A compromise would be your fledgling hunter in a blind in your yard with you sitting in the house with your binoculars watching their every move. They would be able to feel independent and you would feel more relaxed.
The backyard-hunting scene seems best suited to hunt out of a ground blind or a climber. If you have children that want to be involved in hunting it may be a fun project to build a simple shooting house that doubles as a tree fort in the off season. Backyard hunting can be a great way to get the next generation excited about hunting. Treat your urban hunting ground just like you would your camp or lease. Put cameras up to see when the deer are moving; use your binoculars to watch deer activity from a distance. Ask your neighbors what they have been seeing and at what times. Look for scrapes and rubs like you would anywhere else you are hunting.
Words of caution. We know not everyone shares our passion and love for hunting, so we need to be careful. Know your local laws, keep a low profile, ask permission to cross property lines, know what is beyond your expected shooting lanes, be respectful, and above all else shoot straight. Bow hunting can be completely safe when hunting in tight quarters, as long as you know what is beyond your prospective target. In order to shoot safely know what is in and past the potential flight of your arrow. If done properly and with care your own backyard can be a great addition to your hunting grounds. Getting the next generation involved is so important and with the busy schedule people have nowadays backyard hunting seems like a great way to keep the hunting tradition alive. Now get out there and start making some memories!