At the end of each hunting season here in New York State I make it a ritual to get out in the timber and have a look around. I am a low impact hunter, who tries not to stink up my hunting area. I am a direct route in, direct route out, kind of guy. I don’t go trouncing around looking for rubs or scrapes during the middle of the season. Instead, I go right at the end of the season and scout for the following year. If I find an area where there is promising sign, then I devise a strategy to get a stand or blind in early for the following season.
I found this set of rubs about 60 yards away from one of my pinch point stands. Too far out of range for a bow shot with dense cover and leaves during the bow season. I will have to reposition a stand for next fall.
I also stop by all of my cameras and take out the old batteries and replace with new ones. I will pull my flash cards and insert new ones for the next couple of weeks. At this time of year, snow can really be a hunter’s friend. You can easily pick out travel corridors and funnels; and areas from bedding to feeding. I like to reposition any cameras that may not be in a promising area to see what has survived the season and has made my hunting grounds home. The snow easily allows me to see the travel routes to my late season food plots.
As you can see from the picture the deer are pounding my Brassica plot inside my corn field. By March all of the stems will also be gone with only a few roots leftover.
I also like to check the woods to see if anyone else has been someplace they are not supposed to be, and find it often times necessary to fix my posted signs or replace with new ones. I have made these rituals part of my end of the year routine because I am a “better do it now type of person.” I may not have time come late summer, early fall and I want to make sure I get a jump on the following year by having a clear picture of what type of movement was occurring, and where the deer sign was plentiful.
It is also the time of year I start looking forward to spring and start to devise some landscaping plans. I start looking at websites and catalogs for tree and shrub bushes I can plant to build that “paradise” I want in the fall. Every year I take on the task of planting all types of trees and shrubs for wildlife and try to thicken up corridors and bedding grounds and increase soft mast in the woods by planting apples, pears, oaks, and persimmons.
Trees are a long term investment, but worth the wait. This is a two year old English Oak tree I planted. I have seen considerable growth in one year. It is caged to prevent browsing that would stunt its growth and development.
I also try to create “honeyhole” habitats that I can lure a mature buck to as a staging area. I am a student of “Drury Outdoors” and have adopted their philosophy of finding the tree and building the plot around the right tree. Not only do I spice up the area with trees and shrubs but also cut down branches and trees to allow sunlight in and put fresh buds at mouth level for the deer. Being a conservationist to me goes right along with being a hunter. I am not only here to harvest some animals, but I feel it is our duty to provide the rest of the heard with proper nutrition and environment to live in. With a little sweat equity and some well dedicated time, next fall is already looking promising!
As you can see, I have put considerable time into building a nice orchard of apples, pears and oaks for a lifetime of hunting enjoyment for me and my family. It takes quite a bit of time and effort, but I consider it quality time with my irfamily that leads to QDMA.