When most people think of deer hunting, visions of deer camp, tree stands, gun blinds, or a trail in the woods come to mind. When I think of deer hunting, I think of neighborhood streets and nicely manicured lawns. I have two pop up hunting blinds that I affectionately call my “city deer blinds” which I hunt each season. One stand sits on a 20 acre woodlot behind two houses and my other urban hunting set up sits directly behind a house against a greenbelt and an old creek that runs through central Texas. This area looks like it is in the middle of the city by the landscape but the property sits just outside of the city limits. There is a regional city park across from the creek less than 100 yards away from my blind where the sounds of people running on the hike and bike trail or kids playing on the ball fields can be heard.
Urban bowhunting for deer has been a made popular through hunting shows and even some shows in the reality TV realm on major TV networks. I have embraced this unconventional style of hunting for many years. The reason? Hunting in urban areas is a healthy way to control low-pressure deer populations and fill the freezer with meat. Many urban areas, such as large acreage subdivisions, are over populated with deer and landowners are happy to have respectful hunters take some deer off their property. Add to that the fact that many homeowners consider deer a nuisance and pest as they graze on expensive landscaping and you have a great combination. As a hunter, you are participating as the dominant predator in the ecosystem while also ensuring the health of the deer herd in that area.
Many people ask me how I can hunt an area so close to civilization. One of the reasons is convenience. Both of my urban deer stands are less than 15 minutes away from my house in the northwest suburbs of Austin. Deer season tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for my day job so being close to my family and not leaving my wife as a “deer widow” for a weekend or more is important since I don’t see her much during the week during deer hunting season. Another good reason to hunt urban areas that is often overlooked by many die-hard hunters is that some of the best opportunities on putting the hammer down on a trophy buck are not far away from home. Some of the best deer I have harvested in the last few years have come from one of my urban hunting spots and the hunting pressure on most deer in urban areas is relatively low.
Finding Areas to Hunt
Before you start prospecting areas to hunt, check with your local game warden to make sure that hunting is legal in the area. Some homeowners associations may also have issues with hunting in the area so check that out as well. Start by driving around areas with large acreages and low fences. These are prime urban hunting areas. You want to make sure deer can access you and you can easily track deer so I target 5 acre or larger parcels of land. Sometimes you can get away with smaller properties but the fewer landowners you have to involve in hunting and tracking your deer after the shot, the better. Do a little scouting and press the flesh with some homeowners in the area after you find a prime spot. If you don’t know anyone in the area, plan a Saturday sometime before deer season and knock on a few doors. What you are simply asking is if homeowners would mind if you set up a small pop-up blind on their property and hunt a few months out of the year. In return, offer some of the meat you harvest or to bring some processed meat to back them in trade or, if they do not care for venison, offer to make a meat donation to a charitable organization like Hunters for the Hungry. When making this approach, I always dress in my Sunday’s best clothes instead of my normal camouflage hunting gear and drive my SUV instead of the hunting truck. You want to put your best foot forward when meeting people and present yourself as professional and respectful as possible. The key to hunting in urban areas is to make friends with neighboring landowners after you have found your spot to hunt. This approach is similar. Just make sure you have the blessing of neighboring landowners to access their land if and when you need to retrieve a downed deer from their property.