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Bowhunting Cornfield Giants at Cabela's

Bowhunting Cornfield Giants

Author: Don Gasaway

According to Barry Day, Spirit Lake, Iowa, taking a whitetail deer in a cornfield is a simple matter of planning the attack and then staying with that pattern.

Barry Day and Osceola County Conservation Officer, Ronnie Spangler, pose with two cornfield beauties.
With his 19 years of experience with Berkley, Day knows something about patterns. Day, the head of Field Services with Pure Fishing, is also a veteran bowhunter, who has taken a number of deer by stalking them in cornfields. But, he has yet to take one from a tree stand.

To begin, Day looks for fields that are 80 percent harvested. In his area, there is little timber for the deer to use as cover, so they must go to the cornfields. The deer seem secure in the cover of the unharvested corn and let down their guard. Barry has observed deer nervously approach a field and then completely relax once in the corn proper. Day also prefers periods after fresh snow or rain have fallen and with gentle wind blowing.

Fresh snow makes it easier to detect the possible location of bedded deer, but the wind is the important factor. A gentle breeze will keep the corn stalks rustling just enough to conceal your progress through the rows as you gently squeeze your way through.

Day begins his stalk on the downwind side of the field and perpendicular to the cornrows. That is, if the cornrows are north and south, his stalk will be east and west. He begins about 30 yards in from the end of the field and moves slowly across the field looking down the rows for deer. Barry pays attention to just how far up the rows he can see, divides that by half, and makes a mental note.

On the other side of the field, Day moves windward the distance that he had determined as half of his visibility in the field. He then returns across the field parallel to his first path. Again, he looks down each row in search of a deer. This pattern is repeated until a buck is seen.
Deer feel very comfortable in the confines of a cornfield.
Once a buck is sighted, Day backs up three or four cornrows and then moves parallel to the row in which the buck was observed. He is looking for other deer bedded near the buck sighted. If they are spooked, these deer will in turn alert the bedded buck. All the time he continues to remain down wind of the target buck. If his quarry should be spooked and run off, Barry believes in remaining in place and waiting. He is sure that the deer will circle to a location downwind of the place from which it started and then approach it to bed down again. This gives bowhunter another chance for a shot.

If the deer is not alerted, Day shoots his deer through the openings between corn plants. A long shot for him is 15 feet. Most shots are 8 to 10 feet.

Day shoots a 60-pound recurve with the most stiffly spined arrows he can shoot accurately. He explains that lighter spined arrows have too much parallax coming out of the bow. Parallax is the bending of the arrow, in response to the force of the bowstring upon release. Because the arrow is flopping from side to side, it hits the narrow corn plants and the arrow is deflected from its course.

A heavy spined arrow travels a straighter course early on and thus will penetrated the heavy cover.

Hunting the cornstalk whitetail is a very challenging endeavor at best. With Day's approach, the heavy cover of a cornfield can be used by the hunter to outfox the wily whitetail.

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