When it comes to bow hunting whitetails it seems as though we can never do enough as hunters. But being ready for opening day has much or more to do with your property than you might think. Whether you own your own ground, lease it, or hunt family ground, here are 5 moves to make your property ready for opening day of deer season.
Use what you got…chainsaw, hand saw, loppers, or a tree trimming aid. There is much to be said about creating extra cover. Safety and security are paramount to a mature whitetail’s survival. Find dead trees, or lesser species that are overcrowded, and release them to allow more sunlight to the forest floor. This will allow for regeneration to begin while also providing an edge for deer to hide in. If you have an open area adjacent to a primary food source, consider cutting and tilling your ground and planting tall growing wheat, sorghum, or corn. This provides instant cover, and if done in close proximity to food, can give you a tremendous chance at a great deer.
Water is paramount in all aspects. Ponds and streams are great but what about those of us who don’t have a water source on our property? Make one! A couple years ago I was trying to figure out what else I could do on our 3 acre plot to keep the deer closer. I got out a digging iron, shovel, and post-hole digger. I bought a kids pool, 2 feet deep and 6 foot around. I put plastic painting drop covers under it and inside it and filled it up. I was amazed at the amount of deer sightings I soon began to have. Water is a key source to hunt near or around. Some of my biggest deer have come within sight of water.
Open Roads or Trails
Not unlike humans, deer are creatures of habit. Just like you and I walk through our homes tracing our footsteps day after day, deer do the same. And while obstacles are a part of a deer’s natural habitat, they will take the path of least resistance when available. When was the last time you saw your wife or husband jump over the end table while walking to the kitchen? By creating a trail, road, or even raking the root mat off an old trail or road, you’ve just given yourself a distinct advantage. I like to create my trails or roads just like a deer trail, by creating them so that the deer think they always have their peripheral vision in play. These roads and trails you’ve created also become paramount when a love sick buck starts making scrapes. Find new scrapes on your highway to big buck heaven and wait.
Your cameras are running, your work is done, now stay out. This is my second most important key on my properties. Once I’ve done all the work I have planned and I hang my cameras, I stay out. I don’t have huge pieces of land. They are small, so once I’ve made any improvements and hung my cameras, I’m staying out of there until a week or so before the season. Then I go back and get my cameras. I’ve always felt this to be of great importance in my success in taking mature bucks.
Whether your land is mature forest, a mixture of field and woods, or just fields, food is your number one ticket to the big show. I began planting food plots on my grandfather’s land back in 1999. The amount of big deer we have seen on our land in our small plots over the years is astounding. I have planted plots in the woods, in fields, along hedgerows, and I’ve now even taken over an acre of our 7-acre yard at our home. I always plant either corn or Egyptian wheat around my perimeter. I follow that with a mixture of clovers nearest to the cover, then brassicas and turnips further from the cover in order to draw them out further as the season progresses. Through late summer and into early fall the clover is a consistently palatable source for the deer in those key months. The colder it gets the further into my plots they come offering some premier shooting opportunities. I recommend a soil sample no matter where you decide to put a plot. Be certain to apply the right amount of lime and fertilizer. Food plots for me are as much as an obsession as the actual hunting. Every year I learn something new with them. And every year the bucks that call our plots home continue to grow.
I hope these tips help to make a difference in your preparation for the upcoming season. Following these simple yet effective points will help you make certain your land is ready for another season of chasing the legends of the fall.