HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base
Module 10 - WILDLIFE
Habitat intel is the key to finding your game animal in an unfamiliar hunting location. Sure, if you’re a lover of nature walks, you can simply wander out there and hope to stumble across the game you’re hunting. OR, you can strike out with purpose and confidently identify the landscape characteristics that will lead you to your prize.
What should you look for? A good hunting area must have all four of the following essential factors that when arranged together, create a habitat:
Wildlife will seek out the food that best meets their seasonal nutritional needs. For example, in northern hunting areas, white-tailed deer feed on green plants and acorns during the summer and fall, but they switch to entirely woody buds and conifer during the winter. Remember, no food source = no game.
Look for a source of drinking water. The edges and shorelines of ponds, creeks, marshes and swamps are usually hotspots for game. The same concept applies here: No water source = no game.
Like humans, game animals need to protect and conceal themselves when hiding from predators, when feeding their young, when breeding, sleeping, etc. For game animals, cover could be anything from a bush to a cave. If there’s a lack of cover in your hunting area, you can bet that it’ll be just you, the breeze and the tumbleweeds out there.
Game animals must be able to efficiently use all of the essential habitat factors in their habitat space. For example, if busy train tracks pass in between an animal’s source of water and their source of food, this would be an inefficient habitat space—and that animal would become roadkill long before you’d get a chance to turn it into freezer meat.