Hold on to your seats, the rut is on the way! Within the next few weeks across much of the whitetails' range pre-rut activity will increase. This spike in deer activity can make for excellent hunting. To capitalize on bucks spending more time on their feet during daylight hours, you need to find the does!
At this stage of the game, most hunters have bucks on their minds. But, if you plan on filling tags during the pre-rut phase, it’s important to know where the does are. During this stage bucks are just beginning to search and pester does. As a result, does have not yet begun to alter feeding or bedding patterns. This means they are still on a routine. It’s important to study patterns that show up on trail cameras and adjust stands to accommodate them. If done correctly stands will be ready when bucks are most active.
Don’t think you are the only one picking up on these patterns though. Scrapes are a line of communication among deer. By using scrapes deer can determine which individuals are most active in certain areas. Bucks know where does are frequently visiting as well. They too will be concentrating efforts around doe patterns. This will eventually change once does start seeking denser cover to hide from bucks. However, during the pre-rut phase, does are an important part of putting the puzzle pieces together. Being prepared in advance to hunt locations frequented by does may result in sightings or even punched buck tags.
Last week Adam discussed the recent patterns of a buck we call Handy. We had predicted earlier in the summer he would shift to the center of the property. As of last week he hadn’t, keeping us on our toes. This week, the Reconyx captured Handy making the moves we’ve anticipated.
This great video of Handy working a scrape was taken in the center portion of the property. Boom Back is a portion of a ridge where Handy frequented the last two falls. We are confident Handy will remain in this area for the remainder of the season. This is exciting news for the GrowingDeer Team as we have been preparing our Summit treestands and Redneck Blinds for this moment.
Now that we are prepared it’s time to sit back and wait! This time we are waiting for the right conditions to hunt. This area is sensitive and tough to access. Therefore, we are waiting for cooler temperatures, high pressure, and strong winds to hunt. These factors combined tend to get deer on their feet and moving. The morning this video was taken was cold with a high barometer reading. We will be closely monitoring our Reconyx cameras and weather to determine if any more information can be gathered on this buck’s patterns.
Remaining patient for the appropriate time to strike is critical in this stage of the game. We will keep you posted! Be sure to follow along on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we set out for Handy in the coming weeks!
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!