Every hunter wants to know where the best place to hang a stand is on their property. If you own the property, you also want to know if there is anything you can do to improve your chances of getting more deer to walk by. In either case, funnels and pinch points are a great tool that every hunter can use. These funnels also play a major role in where we select our food plots to be as well. With the ability to make your own, or identify naturally occurring funnels and pinch points, we can easily predict the path whitetail will take. Then we just have to set up close by to ensure a successful hunt.
What Are Funnels and Pinch Points?
Funnels are typically described as areas of land that coerce deer to travel in a certain direction. This then necks down to a pinch point that much smaller. Funnels and pinch points come in all shapes and sizes, the trick is knowing what they look like. These areas are often a bow hunter’s paradise. If you can learn to identify them correctly, you can find spots that narrow deer travel down to a path less than 30 yards wide. Not only do they condense deer travel paths, they often have many trails leading into them. So there are often many more deer traveling this path compared to a normal trail.
Where Can You Find a Funnel and Pinch Points?
Deer want to travel through areas that provide them plenty of cover, especially mature bucks. So if we are looking at a topo map with added vegetation, we can pick out areas where deer are likely to stay in this vegetation because of a changing elevation. Deer are always going to walk the path of least resistance, so going over the peak of a hill is probably not going to be preferable.
Like I mentioned before, these funnels are all shapes and sizes, so there are a few different types we can expect to find. The first type of pinch point is a ditch or water crossing. Typically there are a few trails that are funneled into a particular water crossing. This type of pinch point is especially useful if there are strong points of interest on one side of the water and not on the other. Something like a food plot on one side and bedding on the other. If this is the case we can bet on whitetail crossing the water in one place nearly every morning, especially if it is not too deep.
Another example is a fence gap. These are most common on livestock properties. Oftentimes the deer in an area like this will adopt the paths made by livestock or other animals. This is again because they travel the path of least resistance. I have commonly made my own trails through the woods as needed, just to see deer start to use it a little while later.
Treeline openings also attract deer trails. Deer like to use treelines as a staging area before they go out into a field. There is normally newer growth around a field so that gives them something to eat, while they can also scan for danger. When they are ready to go into the field, the path of least resistance leads them to walk through the tree line opening.
Ditches or valleys also work in a similar way. If there are two hills or areas of higher elevation next to each other and a deer wants to go from one side to the other, they are probably going to go between the two of them. Depending on the angle of approach they could also choose to go around, but may favor one direction over the other. Of course, this depends on the particular situation, which is different in each situation.
An Ideal Funnel for Big Whitetail
My favorite type of funnel to use is one where there is a thin strip of woods or cover between two food plots or standing agriculture fields. Deer want to go to the food sources, but mature bucks are always the most cautious of any deer population, and they will use every bit of cover they can get to go from point A to point B. So if there is a strip of cover between and leading into two plots, you can bet that the mature bucks are going to prefer to travel through there as opposed to walking out in the open.
This type of funnel is amazing during the preseason as well as the late season. Although during the rut you are going to want a funnel that incorporates as many paths of travel as possible. Think of it as a major highway. You want to be in a place where all of these trails or roads are forced down into the same area. There are a million examples of this but they are so unique that they are hard to explain. Identifying these funnels is a skill that you will eventually pick up with practice.
Making Your Own Funnels With Food Plots
One thing you can do is make your own funnels. This is very effective on plots of land that have flat terrain without many natural funnels. What you want to do is get an idea of where the trails are on your property by doing a little leg work. Dr. Grant Woods made a fantastic episode where he walks us through his process for making a funnel like this. This parcel of land was around 100 acres and it had a lot of flat wooded area alongside some agriculture fields. When he surveyed the existing trails he got this image with onX maps.
With Dr. Woods’s years of experience and expertise, he came up with a plan to add a few food plots to this parcel. This will accomplish two things. First, it will provide a lot more food for the deer in the area, especially after the agriculture fields are harvested. Secondly, it will make a funnel where we will expect to see a lot of deer traffic.
So you can see here how the addition of these food plots will alter the path that the majority of these deer take, and funnel them into the small section of woods between the biggest two plots. Plus he kept bow hunting in mind because the space between these plots is limited in such a way that any deer walking through the area will likely be in bow range, while also having enough cover to feel safe.
I highly recommend checking out the full video from Growing Deer TV here:
Funnels and pinch points are an awesome tool that we can use to kill more deer. First, we need to be able to identify natural funnels, these will be the most useful. Deer are used to these funnels and they require no work to make. Every property is different and no two funnels are exactly the same, so identifying these natural funnels is a skill that comes with practice. If natural funnels are not doing the job, we can also make our own by strategically placing food plots on our property. A good idea is to leave 30-50 yards of cover between food plots that will make deer feel safe. They are going to use that cover to travel between food plots and through them. Always remember that deer will take the path of least resistance, so try not to overthink your funnels.