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Thoughts From The Field

Blog posts by the
GrowingDeer.tv team

When Is The Best Time To Tag Does?

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.

Processing venison

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.

Enjoying Creation,

Matt Dye

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How to Respond to Consistent Deer Movement

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!

Deer in a food plot

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.

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,

Matt

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How To Gain MRI

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.

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,

Matt

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Hunting When The Temperature Rises

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.

Happy Hunting,

Matt

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