What are Deer Funnels and How to Find Them

HuntStand Definitions | Deer Funnels and Pinch Points

Deer funnels and pinch points, somewhat easy to understand but hard to find. Whether you simply don’t know what to look for, or are unsure of whether or not deer will be funneled in an area you shouldn’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. This article will offer you a clear definition of what deer funnels and pinch points ate and how you and your hunting buddies can use them this coming deer season.

Perhaps some of the confusion stems from the interchangeable terminology that is deer funnels, bottlenecks, and pinch points. For most hunters, these terms are one-in-the-same and all refer to a similar type of definition.

Deer Funnels – an area that channels, funnels, or pinches deer movement through a defined/preferred area. Most often, a deer funnel exists due to a change in habitat or terrain, but they can occasionally be man-made obstacles or attraction points that funnel deer movement such as agricultural fields, food plots, and sanctuaries.

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PHOTO: Most often, a deer funnel exists due to a change in habitat or terrain, but they can occasionally be man-made obstacles or attraction points that funnel deer movement such as agricultural fields, food plots, and sanctuaries.

Now that you understand what a funnel is in its most basic sense, let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at how to identify, find, and hunt them.

Deer Hunting Funnels Defined by Habitat

Habitat or security funnels are preferred buck travel corridors because they feel safer moving through an area that provides cover. The funneling aspect comes in to play when the cover shrinks into a relatively skinny band as seen in the aerial image below. This funnel will naturally channel deer movement as they move between the two larger blocks of cover. Habitat funnels aren’t as common or noticeable in big timber country, but they are quite prevalent in farm country.

An aerial map will be the best tool to use to find these types of pinch points as they are fairly obvious to identify. Keep in mind that not all pinches are created equally. Ideally, a short and narrow band of cover connecting two thick bedding areas or a bedding area and feeding area is what you’re looking for. Areas that neck down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-60 yards wide tend to be the best for hunting, as you’ll want to target funnels that a deer feels concealed in. Funnels are generally pretty safe and easy to hunt and are extremely effective spots during the rut.

Deer Hunting Funnels Defined by Terrain

Terrain or landscape funnels are caused by obstacles on the landscape such as water bodies, steep slopes, outcroppings, beaver dams, etc. – basically anything that exists in the woods that promotes an easier route of travel for deer through a specific area. Think of things like rock outcroppings that work like a fence or two water bodies that channel deer through the skinny chunk of land in the middle.

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PHOTO: When looking for terrain type funnels, a topographic map can help tremendously. Sometimes a funnel can be as simple and small as a two-foot elevation change through a wetland or a small dip on a ridge top (aka a saddle as pictured above).
Terrain funnels can be super subtle or glaringly obvious. The obvious ones can usually be seen on an aerial image and the subtle ones are often found by boots-on-the-ground scouting. When looking for terrain type funnels, a topographic map can help tremendously. Sometimes a funnel can be as simple and small as a two-foot elevation change through a wetland or a small dip on a ridge top (aka a saddle as pictured above). In all cases, setting up near or along a funnel comes down to the same fundamentals – understand the wind and thermals so you can set up on the right side of it and understand where deer are coming/going to at that particular time of day.

Deer Hunting Funnels Defined by Man Made Obstacles

You may be thinking what the heck are man-made obstacles? And why would you want to go through the trouble of looking/creating one of these? Fact is, they exist in all different shapes and sizes and you’ll come across them more than you might think. Think of things like an open gate or section of fence that’s down or missing or even power and gas line corridors may serve to funnel deer through an obvious pinch or opening. Also think about creating these funnels across wide open landscapes by hinge-cutting.

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**PHOTO: A purposeful man-made hinge-cut through an area of thick cover may be one of the most effective funnels for your property.
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Man-made funnels don’t typically stick out like a sore thumb on a map like the aforementioned habitat or landscape bottlenecks, but can be just as powerful in terms of funneling deer past your stand. Decades of cattle fence are still left standing through much of the country. What was once grazing land for cattle has since been switched to cropland and overgrown brushy thickets. If you find a fence running through cover, follow it until you find an opening. This opening may be an open gate, broken fence section, or where a tree fell across. Is there a deer trail running through that opening?

Finding them may be difficult via satellite, however, the more obvious ones out in the open don’t tend to not be as hot as ones found within cover. A purposeful man-made hinge-cut through an area of thick cover may be one of the most effective funnels for your property. This maybe one of the best areas for a stand in the rut when bucks are tending to does or scent checking bedding areas and thick cover. To find existing man-made funnels you’ll likely need to put some boots on the ground to find the best fence gaps.

In the end, if you find a good pinch, chances are it will produce year after year – especially during the rut when bucks are cruising. I’d recommend hanging stands or identifying trees on both sides of the funnel so you can hunt it on multiple wind directions.

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