Many hunters avoid hunting pastures because they believe that cows affect deer hunting.
In my experience and the experience of colleagues and friends, this is incorrect.
Cows do not affect deer hunting and, in fact, can be used to your advantage.
Are Deer Bothered By Cows
This discussion could go either way, depending on who you talk to. However, it has been my experience that deer will happily graze in a field of cows without either party batting an eyelid.
That been said, I have talked to a few farmers who have seen the reverse in action and complained of the deer attacking the cattle.
Do Deer Feed in Cow Pastures
Deer eat a variety of food year-round, and cow pastures contain a number of items deer like to feed on.
Mostly deer and cattle feed on different things. Pastured cattle mainly feed on grasses; deer, on the other hand, don’t feed on as much grass as cattle.
Deer are foragers and feed on weeds, certain types of grasses (like sedge), leaves, twigs, etc.
The majority of these things can be found in cow pastures. So given that, deer most certainly do feed in cow pastures but not for the reasons most people think.
Do Cows Mess Up Deer Hunting
Cows can mess up your deer hunting in a few ways.
- Crowd your hunting spot – Cows are curious by nature and may converge around you when you first get to your hunting spot.
As you can imagine, this would be an impossible situation to hunt from. However, it’s likely that they will quickly get bored and move on.
So make sure to get to your hunting spot early to get the introductions out of the way.
- Destroy the pasture – If you have only one area to hunt and the farmers’ cattle frequent it, there is a strong probability that it won’t hold deer for too long.
A healthy herd of cattle can quickly reduce a large luscious green field to a mud pit. However, if it’s well maintained and rotated, then it can become a haven for deer.
Do Cows Affect Deer Movement
Cows really only affect deer movement in the sense that they will consume all the forage, and the deer will be required to move on to other pastures for forage.
Deer also tend not to get too close to the herd and like to keep a few yards distance between them.
If the pasture has never had cattle in it before, a new herd of cattle would likely spook any deer in the area. After a while, the deer will get used to the cows and return to grazing the pasture.
Tips For Hunting Deer Around Cattle
Now that we know deer are not affected by cows, there are a few ways we can use this to our advantage.
Walk in Cow Patties
As unappealing as this may seem, it can be quite effective. Deer grazing in cattle pastures have become quite accustomed to the smell of cows and cow poo.
In fact, the deer will frequently walk through cow poo themselves.
This is a great opportunity to mask your scent. When you first get into the pasture, step in the first pattie you see before continuing on to your hunting area.
Mask your Noise
Cattle can be quite noisy at times, especially when a human shows up on their pastures. This could be because they are used to the farmer bringing feed or just curiosity sounds.
Deer have become quite accustomed to the sound of cattle, so you can use this to your advantage when getting to your hunting spot. Try and work your way around the herd.
Benefits of Hunting on Pastures
Many benefits come from hunting pastures. If you’re fortunate enough to have some cattle pasture to hunt, you can look forward to a few things.
Farmers go to a lot of effort to make sure their cattle have optimum conditions. This includes rich soil to grow their forage, a water trough or pond, and some forest or trees for shade.
While this is good for the cows, it’s also good for deer. The water and the perfect soil for grasses and sedges can be quite an attractant for deer. The shelter offers protection from inclement weather, security, and another source of food.
Nobody knows the land like a farmer, and if you are hunting a local pasture, the farmer could be your key to success.
Farmers spend a lot of time out in their pastures; whether they’re working it with a tractor, checking on their cattle, or walking fencelines, they know every nook and cranny.
A conversation with the farmer could give you plenty of information on the lay of the land, what deer are frequenting the area, where the good grasses are, and much more.
If you’re not already helping the farmer out with land maintenance, now is a good time to start.
Farmers are doing you a great service by allowing you to hunt their property, and they most likely get many requests each year, so it pays to be friendly and helpful.
Things like checking fencelines, removing broken branches, or casting an eye over the livestock will keep you in the farmers’ good books.
There are many benefits to hunting deer on cow pastures.
Cows do not affect deer movement or deer hunting. In fact, cows benefit deer hunting in most cases. By getting to know your farmer, they may share their knowledge with you.
Pastures are a great place for hunting deer, and many giant bucks are taking every year from cow pastures.
If you’re on the fence about hunting pastures, it’s time to rethink.
Get out and talk to the farmers, look over the area on foot, and E scouting. More times than not, cow pastures are the perfect habitat for deer.