Hunting Funnels! How Do You Find Them? Hunting a Funnel can have Great Results!
Shane McDermott, President
Mapping The Outdoors, Inc.
Bowhunting a funnel can be one of the most exciting stand set-ups imaginable. They are easy to locate on a map, you can set up the bowhunting stands so that playing the wind is simple, and you will normally see plenty of deer movement through a funnel. So what isn't to like? I want to talk about funnels, my experiences with them, and how I have learned to make the most of a good funnel.
A few weeks ago I met a guy who had some property they had been leasing to outfitters for the past few years. However, with the economy in the state that is it they were having trouble getting outfitters to lease all of their ground. I was in the market for some new hunting ground, so I had been looking at multiple pieces of ground in the area. They had a few farms for lease, but the one that really caught my attention was a 240 acre farm in Adams County, Illinois. This property is only 20 minutes from my house, so the size and the location was certainly what I was looking for.
The first thing I always do when looking at a new piece of property is to pull out the aerial photo's, which will give me an idea of how much timber and crops there are, how the ground lays, and what the neighboring property looks like. This particular piece of ground is pretty close to a 50/50 split of timber and crops, and also has a one or two acre pond (which will work out great in the early season to spend the mid-day hours fishing for catfish). There is also a stream running right through the big timber on the farm, which is something that will be a benefit if there is water running through it. However, something else has really caught my eye! Right in the middle of this 240 acre tract of land I see a thin piece of timber connecting two big sections of timber. It's a funnel, and it looks like a good one. Using the scale bar on the map I measure it to be about 40 yards wide and about 500 yards long. Both sides of the funnel are huge crop fields, which will work out nicely for getting into and out of the stand once the crops are out.
Last week I was finally able to meet the landowner and walk the property. I had about a dozen locations on the property that I wanted to focus on, and one of them was this funnel. I was pretty pumped when we walked up to the funnel, as I could already see there were some big hardwoods that I could hang stands in. As we walked down into the funnel I could tell there was some great deer movement through the funnel. There were a few smaller trails and one right down the middle that was obviously used more than the others. It turned out to be a prime setup for a funnel, and I am going back this weekend to hang the stands. So, I would love to be able to tell you how successful this location was, but you will have to wait to hear that story, because I will be hunting it for the first time in October.
So what exactly is a funnel? My best explanation is: a narrow strip of trees that connect bigger tracts of timber. This will allow deer to travel from one piece of timber to another without exposing themselves to the dangers of the field or open ground. Most funnels are relatively narrow, but can vary in length. The funnel I refer to above is about 150 yards in length, but have seen many that are shorter in length and have seen some that run well over 1,000 yards. I personally prefer them to be longer for two reasons. 1.) The longer they are the more options you have for trees to hang stands in. The shorter they are the more likely the deer are to cut through the corners of the fields instead of using the funnel. 2.) They also need to be relatively wide, something like a fence line isn't going to be a very effective funnel to hunt.
Another feature that makes the funnel such a successful feature to hunt is the ability to approach the stand from both sides. My normal setup on a funnel is to hang a stand on both sides of the funnel, which some of my friends call nuts because I will have two stands within 40 yards of each other. The reason that I do this is so I can hunt the wind as much as possible. If I have a wind out of the north I can enter my stand using the south field and hunt the stand on the south side of the funnel. This will keep me downwind of the funnel, and hopefully completely undetected. Same goes for a wind out of the south, you enter from the north and hunt the stand on the north side of the funnel. Using a setup like this there are only a few wind directions that would not be favorable for this location.
How do you find these funnels? Get out the aerial photos! You don't really even need a topographic map for this one, but it wouldn't hurt to look at both. Funnels are one of the easiest features to locate on a map. All you have to do is locate the bigger tracts of woods and find any smaller wooded strips that connect one to another. Take a look at the map below and you will see.
Hunting funnels can be a blast as the deer movement should be confined to the area right in front of you. The stands I will place on the funnel I located on this new farm I will be hunting will be about 5-10 yards inside of the funnel, putting me about 10-15 yards from the main trail. So, not only do I have a close in shot to the trail, but I am also close to the field edge in case I have a deer trying to skirt behind me. Using the wind to your advantage as well as a multiple stand setup can really improve the odds of not getting busted by that big buck. We all know, the longer you can go without being detected, the more you can hunt that location and increase your chances of that encounter.
Funnel locations such as this have been a favorite of mine for years, especially during the rut. The main reason is because the funnels are a natural travel corridor, so the bucks will usually run this travel route looking for hot does. Another reason I like to hunt a funnel is if I am going to sit and hunt all day I will sometimes change stands after the mid-day hunting period ends. I prefer to stay in one stand, especially during the rut, from sunup until 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. At that time I may decide to switch to another stand for the afternoon hunt, maybe trying to catch a buck following the does into a food source. Funnels will allow me to sneak out through the field instead of having to stomp through the woods and risking jumping deer.
Well now you know what a funnel is, and how you find them. Now its time to get out that aerial photo of your hunting ground and see if you can find one. It's up to you to get a stand setup in one and put this information to good use. Good luck, I hope to hear some good stories on some successful hunts using these techniques.
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