Editor’s Note: Curtis Goettsch, who lives in Cresco, Iowa, first wore military camo given to him by a friend. “I wore that army camouflage until I could save enough money to buy real camouflage,” Goettsch says. Then he purchased a Mossy Oak suit, and he's never changed his choice of camo. He joined the Mossy Oak Pro Staff in 2010 and is a nationally-recognized turkey caller and avid deer hunter. “I feel extremely fortunate to have been selected to be a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer,” Goettsch explains.
When the corn and soybeans are fully mature before harvest in the fall, the deer in Iowa will live in those crop fields, but then they’ll move from the crops to the timber (see Day 1). On most crop fields, I've found there usually will be a grass waterway that may have been seeded just like the rest of the field. Low spots and little drainage ditches in a field where rainwater drains off usually will have grass in them. Because deer like to travel where they have the least resistance, I've found that most often these drainage ditches (grass waterways) are the routes deer take to and from the crop fields as the crops are growing, as the crops mature, and even after the crops have been picked.
These grass waterways usually flow into creeks or ditches in the hardwoods or the crop fields. During early bow season, I’ll set-up my tree stand just inside the wood line along one of these grassy waterways that finger out into the crop fields. If the grassy waterway doesn’t run into the timber, it may connect to a drainage ditch on the field’s edge. Most often, the deer either will walk the field edge, or they’ll go in and out of the field through the grassy waterways. These both are ideal locations to take mature bucks in the early season when the crops are still standing.
I’ll put my trail camera in these places to find the bucks I plan to take during the upcoming season. For the deer hunter who hunts on Iowa’s agricultural properties, these grassy waterways, field edges and ditches are just as effective, if not more effective, than bottlenecks or pinch points for hunters in other states to find deer. Because we can see out into the fields and observe the deer coming to us, often from 50 to 250 yards away, then I’ll have a little more time to stand and prepare to take the shot, especially when I'm bowhunting during the early season. Even though quite a few deer bed in the crops in the early season, still some deer prefer to bed in the woodlots. Also when the acorns start dropping, there will even be more deer activity moving back and forth from the timber to the crops.