The GrowingDeer Team has kept a close eye on our favorite hit list buck, Handy, throughout the summer. We watched him regularly frequent a food plot on the northern part of The Proving Grounds. As most hunters who have ever watched whitetails throughout the year know, the changing of summer to fall usually brings changes to deer patterns. The same is true for Handy and his summer pattern.
Our last pictures of Handy in velvet came in early September with his running partner Southpaw. After seeing Southpaw had already shed velvet we knew the pattern was soon to change. After those images we went two weeks without a single Reconyx image of Southpaw or Handy. Finally, we found these two bucks in a least expected food plot! North Field is a short distance from where we had captured Reconyx images of these two bucks all summer.
The great news about our MRI (Most Recent Information) is the location of our Redneck trailer blind. We had positioned the Redneck blind in North field a few weeks ago to help us harvest does. We often talk about not hunting mornings during the early season due to the arrangement of our road system to food plots. Fortunately, North Field is one of the few plots we can intercept deer going from feeding back to bedding during the morning hours. It looks like a morning hunt is in store!
Stay tuned to upcoming episodes and blogs as we’re in pursuit of Handy!
For Love of the Land and the Glory to God!
Hunters often debate the question, “When is the best time to harvest does?” A simple answer is whenever the opportunity arises. If done at the right time, there are often added benefits to the remainder of the hunting season. If the adult sex ratio is unbalanced we often suggest doing the bulk of removal during the early portions of season.
Fill the freezer during the early season!
Harvesting does during the early portion of season accomplishes many objectives. First and foremost, more food is saved for deer during the potentially harsh winter months. Deer that are taken during the later part of season have been foraging on food plots for months. If these deer are harvested as season opens then more food will be available for deer that make it through season. Severity of winters is always unknown, so conserving forage by tagging antlerless deer early is often a sound practice. It’s important to remember the stress associated with carrying fawns and rutting behavior. Having adequate nutrition is a must to get deer through the winter months in the best condition possible.
Another reason to reduce deer numbers earlier rather than later is the possibility of experiencing a more intense rut. When the adult sex ratio is balanced, bucks must work harder to find another receptive doe. This means more time on their feet. When a deer is more active it is typically easier to harvest. By tagging does earlier rather than later, it’s possible to experience the rut activity you’ve dreamed about.
In addition, harvesting does early can take the pressure off the season. Hunters get additional experience and confidence in their abilities. This added confidence in marksmanship and woodsmanship will be put to the test during the long sits in November.
There are many benefits to tagging does as season opens. If the land you hunt is in need of doe management consider doing so in the first few weeks of season.
Just two weeks back we discussed how to keep tabs on deer movement throughout a season. We’ve already placed our Reconyx cameras overlooking fields. When we reviewed the most recent data there was a clear pattern on many of the food plots. Most evenings multiple deer were entering the plots and feeding until dark. On many occasions deer were entering these plots from multiple locations. A single camera overlooking a trail would not tell the complete story. This means possibly leaving you guessing on where to hunt!
Time to move in the Redneck Hay Bale Blind; these deer have been showing up every evening!
Now we have a great pattern identified. It’s time to take the next step and capitalize on these movements. Resources or weather can change rapidly so we must react quickly to set the stage for a hunt.
One way we are able to move in quickly is by using Redneck Hay Bale Blinds. These blinds closely resemble a hay bale, therefore deer don’t typically associate them with danger. We often don’t have to wait for the deer to grow accustomed to the blinds. The blind can be placed and hunted immediately if the wind is right. In some cases, hanging new tree stands may require excessive trimming which draws attention to that area. The hay bale blind offers a subtle approach with limited disturbance.
Proper placement of the blind will increase your odds of success.
The final step is placing the blind in the proper location within the plot. This requires forethought on which wind is needed to approach, hunt, and exit undetected. Some of our blinds allow us to leave the blind even when deer are present because of terrain features. Other blinds may require the hunters to be dropped off and picked up. Instead of the hunters spooking deer as they leave, a vehicle clears the field so hunters may leave cleanly.
Successful hunts don’t often come without work and a well designed plan. Efficiently monitoring deer movements, reacting quickly, and hunting smart are steps we follow each season. This multistep process can be repeated anywhere!
Safe and successful hunting,
I’ve got to keep it brief today! The sound of sprinkles are chiming off the tin roof. The Proving Grounds hasn’t experienced rain in weeks. This rain isn’t going to end the drought, but we are hopeful it will refresh our planted food plots as well as give life to seed we plan to broadcast.
This camera was placed to overlook an entire food plot. It captured MRI of a buck we call Handy.
In final preparations before season opens we are adjusting our trail cameras to provide us with the Most Recent Information (MRI) throughout the entire season. This means placing our Reconyx cameras on scrapes or monitoring food plots using the time lapse feature.
The time lapse feature on trail cameras is an extremely valuable tool to deer hunters. When cameras are placed properly overlooking a field on the time lapse feature they replace the need for humans to scout. The trail camera gathers more information about when deer are coming and going, feeding, as well as entering and exiting the field in a week’s time than a personal scouting trip into the field. Not to mention they are scent free.
We place trail cameras high in trees and set them to take photos on five, ten, or fifteen minute intervals for the first few hours of daylight and then again during the last few hours of daylight. This provides us the information we need to hunt successfully. Our hunting strategy discourages hunting directly over food plots, but these trail cameras show us which trails deer are using as they enter the plot. With this data we can select the stand that will intercept those deer as they make their way to the food plot. Hunting deer in transition allows the food plot to remain a safe feeding destination, ensuring deer keep returning.
We’ve used this strategy for years and much of our success is based around gaining MRI and adapting quickly to changes just as deer commonly do. Prior to season, set your trail cameras to cover large food plots using the time lapse feature. Scout scent free all the way through the season, gaining valuable MRI day by day.
Rain is coming in, so the seed must get sown!
Enjoying Creation together,
Many states will be opening up bow seasons in the next few weeks. This is an exciting time for deer hunters to capitalize on late summer deer patterns. The days are long during this portion of season, therefore daylight activity is more common. A typical early season stand may be positioned near a food source where hunters have seen their prize feeding for months. This is typically a great location to be hunting when conditions allow.
As deer begin to shed summer coats and put on their winter coats, changes in activity can be seen. The food source may not change, but the activity level of deer do. Early season is known for its warm temperatures. As hunters we experience this as we attempt to not sweat, while deer may alter their movement patterns. Their heavier winter coats tend to make deer move more during the last few moments of light when the temperatures are cooler.
Just as the deer are adapting, we as hunters must as well. Hunting closer to the edges of bedding cover may result in more punched tags. Cutting the distance between feeding to bedding is a great option when the thermometer rises. Although this may sound simple, a few extra steps should be taken to ensure your success.
The approach and exit to this setup should not interfere with any deer. In some cases it may be the best practice to cut in a trail to the stand before season begins. Blowing out the trail of any sticks or leaves will result in a silent approach and exit. Being cautious of your scent is just as important. Just as you play the wind during a hunt, make sure the wind allows you to move safely without alerting deer.
Understanding and anticipating how deer will react to changes in conditions will make you a better and more successful hunter.
Last week we discussed fall food plots and the specifics of how planting a mixture can serve as a time released food plot during hunting season. Having an attractive food source throughout the season is important to holding deer on your property.
Continuing the theme of food plots, this week is all about fall time clover management. If you have clover plots, then you have most likely experienced the struggle to keep them weed free. Herbicide applications can be ineffective during certain stages of weed growth. Mowing can be time consuming as multiple mowings may be needed. To limit the amount of weed growth in our plots we plant a cover crop of Monster Wheat right into our stand of clover each fall.
Clover is a legume; this is a fancy term meaning it fixates nitrogen and returns it into the soil. The excess nitrogen that clover does not use is often taken advantage of by noxious weeds. This is why weeds can be so prevalent in stands of clover. Weeds are most present in clover plots when the clover is dormant. During the fall the wheat takes advantage of the nitrogen produced by the clover, instead of the weeds doing so the following spring . In addition, wheat is another great forage for deer that provides an additional attractant to a food plot.
During the following spring the wheat will grow and produce a head. During certain stages of maturation, the wheat head is highly sought after by both deer and turkeys. By planting a cover crop of wheat the excess nitrogen is used to benefit your plots health and increase the amount of forage available to the local deer herd. This is a win-win for deer hunters and managers. Fight weeds by planting more food for deer!
Each year thousands of hunters take to the deer woods to plant their food plots. The options or varieties of seeds to plant are endless. Our food plot goal is to provide attractive forage for deer so they will return to the plot all season long. This makes patterning deer easier. Some varieties of plants tend to attract deer better during specific times of the fall, like corn and clover. To increase the odds of patterning a mature buck we prefer to plant a fall blend called Broadside.
This blend is comprised of four different seed varieties, soybeans, wheat, turnips, and radishes. All of these selected species have a specific roll throughout the fall and winter. As a new, tender sprout soybeans are highly attractive to deer. So the purpose of the soybean is to attract deer during the early season when the soybeans are the most palatable. These soybeans are not intended to produce pods, but to provide a high quality nutritional food source as the rest of the stand establishes itself. Once the soybeans are browsed down, this makes way for the wheat to thrive. Under the right conditions wheat can grow and add serious tonnage to the plots. In our region wheat will continue to grow through much of the winter even when heavily browsed. This makes wheat an important addition to the mixture. As the cooler temperatures begin to set in the turnips and radishes then become highly attractive to deer. Deer will browse the green tops of the turnips while the bulbs and tubers grow in the soil. When old man winter comes to town the explosion of wheat, turnips, and radishes will keep the deer coming back for more.
We plant this blend in our plots each year and deer follow the same cycles each season. The Broadside blend serves as a time released food plot throughout the hunting season. The plot produces an attractive food source throughout the entire fall. It is important to never clean the table and not offer food in your plots. If your plots are barren, then the local deer herd will be seeking an alternative food source. This could be your neighbor’s food plot! Keep your food plots growing and attractive this fall, hopefully you will be feasting on venison and not tag soup!
Hunting during the early season can be tough. It is typically warm and humid, a scent cautious hunter’s worst nightmare. Despite the conditions there are a few techniques that can be used to reduce the amount of scent produced. Follow the tips below during early season for better success in the deer woods.
- Wear a lightweight t-shirt for the walk in.
- Wear a hiking boot instead of rubber boots, they are much cooler.
- Leave early, walk slow, and take breaks if needed to limit perspiration.
- Remove the t-shirt once you’ve arrived at the treestand and store in a scent tight bag.
- Apply field spray and use camp clothes once in the stand.