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Prepare Now To Kill Your Whitetail Buck Next Fall

by John Mueller 7. February 2011 15:05
John Mueller

There are many things you can do this time of year to increase your odds of killing a buck this fall. This is the time of year you can unravel buck movement, create bedding areas and hone your shooting skills.


The woods can reveal many secrets this time of year. The leaves have all disappeared from the trees opening up the forest and allowing us to see rubs, trails and in some cases scrapes much easier than earlier in the season. If some of your bucks did make it through the season and return to your woods this fall, they just might show up at some of the places they called home last fall. You can find their hangouts by locating clusters of rubs or scrapes. And if snow is on the ground it makes it easier to spot their favorite bedding areas. Trails show up well in the snow and could lead to discovering a new pinch point. Trail intersections are always good places to hang a stand.

Shed hunting can help by telling you which bucks made it through the season and will be even bigger next fall. It may even let you know about bucks you never knew existed in your woods.

So put on your cold weather gear and go for a hike in the deer woods. Now would be a good time to check out those bedding areas too. If you bump a buck now it more than likely won't cost you a chance at killing him next fall. And seeing exactly where he likes to hang out in certain wind conditions could lead to his demise.

Land Maintenance

Winter is a great time to do a little maintenance on your hunting grounds.

Take to the woods with your chain saw and create some bedding cover. By hinge cutting trees you can create a tangle of fallen tree tops bucks love to bed in. The thicker the better. This also creates instant browse from the buds and tender twigs on the fallen branches. Then when spring comes the added light reaching the forest floor will produce tremendous new growth from seed lying dormant under the leaves.



Spreading lime or fertilizer on food plots now will ensure the nutrients are taken down into the soil with the spring thawing and rains.

Over seeding your clover plots in late winter will fill in bare or thinning spots as well start new plants when the weather finally does break.

Sharpen Your Skills

Winter is a great time to join indoor leagues at your local Archery Pro Shop. Many of the better shops now have indoor 3D shoots, 3D pop up or video archery leagues. By keeping your hunting skills sharp throughout the year, you'll be ready when fall comes and that shot at your buck presents itself.




What are you doing this winter to increase your odds of tagging that wall hanger?






You Pick My Stand This Weekend

by John Mueller 15. December 2010 14:28
John Mueller

Ok, here's your chance to pick the stand I hunt from this weekend. Since I can't seem to pick the right one to be in, I'm going to let you pick the spot. I'll post some arieal pictures and a topo of my property and give you a little information on each area and then you tell me where to sit.

 The predicted winds are supposed be from the Northwest at 5-10 mph, temps in the low teens at night and 25-30 during the day. This is very hilly ground so the wind does tend to swirl and change directions quite often. Unless it's a strong steady wind it's really hard to predict where my scent will travel.


Yellow is my property line.

#1. A creek crossing at the end of a point. The long skinny green field is NWSG (CRP). Right across the creek is a picked bean field. No kills here yet

#2. A ridge between a very steep, deep hollow and the hillside leading down to the CRP. Killed my doe in this area earlier this season.

#3. A 30 yard wide spot in my food plot with soy beans and brassicas planted in front of it. 1 buck and 3 does have been killed here.

#4. The bottom of a small creekbed the deer like to travel through. Scrapes and rubs here earlier. This is where I killed my buck in 2008 and also a doe that year.

#5. Large creek bottom with flowing water and many ridges dropping down into it here. Many scrapes and rubs here. 2 does have been killed here.

#6. Ground blind between standing soy beans and brassicas. A doe was killed from a stand in the North end of the field here.

#7. Trail around the head of a steep ravine leading from bedding are to food plot. 2 does have been killed here.

#8. Where point starts to drop off towards neighbors picked corn field. Also a bedding area. No kills here yet.

#9. Ridge above steep ravine, huge rubs here, bedding area. My first kill on the property was a doe from a stand here.


3D view from the North

3D view from the West

3D view from the South

3D view from the East

Deer Beds from my first few scouting trips of the property.

The area with the highest concentration of beds is my designated sanctuary. I stay out of there unless I'm on a blood trail or shed hunting in the spring. It's a fairly brushy area with some points the deer like to bed on.


Building a Bedding Area

by John Mueller 18. July 2010 06:52
John Mueller

One thing I knew my property needed was more bedding areas. I basically had two options, create thicker areas in my woods or replant my 5 acre CRP field in Native Warm Season Grasses. I have done some work to my woods to thicken a few areas, but my main goal was to kill off the fescue in my crp field and replant it with Native Warm Season Grasses, which can reach a height of 6 ft or more. The fescue just didn't grow tall enough to make it attractive to the deer to use.

In the early fall of 2008, when the fescue was actively growing, I hired a sprayer to come in and spray the whole 5 acres with round up. Within a couple of weeks the whole field was dead. Then I did the same thing again in the spring when the field started to green up. It usually takes a couple of sprays to kill out fescue. I received my seed fron the IDNR through their Acres for Wildlife Program. It included Big Bluestem, Sideoats Gramma, Blackeyed Susan, Purple Cone Flower, Purple Prairie Clover, Partridge Pea, Timothy Grass, Korean Lespodesa, Red Top and a few others I forgot.

In late May the conditions were right for planting. First I lightly disced up the field, not going too deep, I just wanted to have some loose soil on top. I then went over it with a cultipacker and drag to even out the soil and pack in slightly. Next I spread the seed mixture. Planting a mix of cool season grasses around the outside for a fire break. They will be green in the spring later when I need to burn off the NWSG. In the middle by my trailer I planted a patch of clover. I didn't want the NWSG in that area because you need to burn it off every few years. The rest of the field got the mix of forbs, wild flowers and NWSG. After seeding I again went over the field with my cultipacker to push the tiny seed into the ground to make contact with the soil.

The forbs and wildflowers took off right away and I had a beautiful blooming field the first year. The NWSG takes a bit longer to establish. The first 2 years it mostly estabilishes it's root system, but there were signs of life that first season. Now in the second year I can see more and more of it showing up in the field. Even without a whole lot of NWSG there I have a 4-5 foot tall stand of flowers and forbs where I have chased a few deer out of just driving to and from my trailer. They are definately using it as bedding cover. The NWSG is in a small sheltered creek bottom. So they should use it in the winter also to get out of the howling winds and soak up the sunshine as it warms the field. Next spring I plan on doing a burn to cut down on the amount of weeds in the field and this should really allow the NWSG to take off during it's third season.

Driving in to my trailer

You can get an idea of the height in this picture.


Clover planted where I don't want to burn.


Ideally this is what the field should look like after I burn it next spring. Mostly NWSG with less weeds.

Mostly weed and forbs, but still great bedding cover.

Another view.

Here you can see the green cool season fire boarder.

The hunting strategy for this fall is to setup inbetween my new bedding area and my established food plots on top of the hill and intercept the deer traveling between the two. Or catch a buck checking the field for hot doe bedded there. At least that is how it is supposed to work. Hopefully by creating the new bedding areas I can keep more deer on my property and by letting the little bucks walk, they won't walk in front of a neighbors bow or gun.










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