It remains very dry at The Proving Grounds. In fact, it’s so dry the native vegetation seems to be going in water conservation mode and as such is not palatable to deer and several other species. This means that food plot crops that are heavily fertilized are probably the most palatable forage available. This usually occurs during late summer after the crops have produced tons of forage. During that time excessive browse is rarely noticed if the number of deer and the quality of the habitat is appropriately balanced.
However, when drought conditions occur during the spring and early summer, crops can’t produce normal amounts of forage. Likewise, the native vegetation that usually serves as a buffer while forage crops are becoming established is also unproductive and potentially unpalatable. These conditions can result in food plot crops being damaged by over-browsing. In turn, this results in bucks that don’t express their full antler growth potential and fawns that don’t reach their potential because the quantity and quality of does’ milk production is decreased.
In these circumstances competition for the available quality forage is a concern to hunters and habitat managers. That’s why we have removed several groundhogs near our food plots this summer. They are literally making crop circles in several of my food plots. Groundhogs are good to eat and require skill to harvest. They have a great sense of smell and good vision. In short, they require many of the same skills necessary to harvest a deer. I often hunt them from my deer stands up until August or so. Then I like to reduce disturbance by the food plots and stands as much as possible.
Get your rifle sighted in and grab your safety harness and go groundhog hunting! It’s great practice for deer season while protecting forage in your food plots. Or help a farmer by removing groundhogs from his fields. By providing this service, you may gain access to some great hunting grounds!
Growing Deer together,