Thoughts From The Field

Blog posts by the team

Managing Bucks

Deer season is fast approaching and most hunters are checking cameras and making a list of mature deer to hunt this fall. However, every year I hear someone complaining that one or more bucks on their property has a funny looking set of antlers and needs to be stopped from reproducing.

1.5 year old buck, example of a deer not to cull

We passed this buck as a yearling and he developed into a nice buck as a 3 year old!

Some hunters label bucks with less than desirable antlers as culls or management deer that need to be removed from the gene pool. Many times these deer are simply young, immature, and have some unique and funky characteristics to their rack. While it may seem like killing a 1.5 year old buck with a freaky frame will result in improving the herd’s gene pool this is rarely, if ever, true. The reality is that removing such a buck from a wild, free-ranging herd is probably like dropping a pebble into an ocean and likely removing a buck that could’ve turned into a dandy.

It’s easy to forget that does make a substantial contribution to the herd’s genetic make-up. Currently, without a known pedigree there’s no way to know which doe and buck matings produced the largest bucks where you hunt. In fact, numerous studies have shown that trying to manage the genetics of a free-ranging deer population has little to no impact on antler quality.

If you wish to help the herd then simply give that “cull” buck good groceries, quality cover, and a pass until he’s mature. I’d be willing to bet that in a few years that weird looking yearling will be a desirable trophy and the memories made watching him grow will be far more rewarding than removing him this fall.

Sowing seeds for the future,

Kevin Shettle

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Food Plot Reminders: From Plants To Pocket Knives

Soybean food plot crop

A good food plot program will match the crops you plant to your food plots.

Regardless of whether you already have a food plot program or are just getting started, there are several things to keep in mind.

First and foremost, is to match the crops you plant to your food plots. Different plants require different nutrients, moisture, and amounts of sunlight. Plots that run east-west receive more sunlight than those that run north-south. Additionally, northern slopes retain more moisture than southern ones. Knowing the soil and terrain can make the difference between a great food plot and a poor food plot.

Getting a soil test done and prepping the seedbed before planting allows a better understanding of what you need (if anything) to add to the soil and better guarantees the survival of the plot. However, maintaining food plots is just as important as planting them. Spraying herbicide to reduce competition from weeds and controlling pests will maximize the plants’ growth.

Last but not least, is to routinely service your equipment. It doesn’t matter if it is a pocket knife or a large tractor, maintaining equipment will help make them work more efficiently. Properly maintained equipment is also safer to use.

While planning next year’s food plots use these ideas to not only improve the wildlife’s health but also increase your chance of harvesting a mature buck next fall!

Sowing seeds for the future,

Kevin Shettle

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New Bucks Equals New Beginnings

Each summer we all anticipate checking trail cameras to see which bucks returned and what new bucks are in the area where we hunt. This builds great anticipation leading up to season. It makes me wonder which buck I may get an opportunity to tag.

As the summer progresses bucks show more of their antler growth potential. I find it very enjoyable to watch bucks develop that I’ve known for years and am constantly looking for new bucks that may be major characters in my life long hunting story.

One of the most rewarding things a whitetail hunter can experience is tagging a buck that he’s been patterning. Being able to experience two, three, or even four years of knowing a certain buck makes finally figuring him out that much more enjoyable.

This past month, here at The Proving Grounds, the bucks have been putting on a lot of antler. We recognize some of the bucks from past years and others either changed antler configuration or shifted their range to include a portion of The Proving Grounds. There has been a new buck showing up that has caught our attention. As he continues to grow we will keep a close eye on him and he just might make his way onto our hit list.

Starting a story with a new buck is always fun and exciting. Do you have a buck that you are watching this summer?

Patiently waiting for fall,

Kyle Karcher

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Tips To Avoid Ticks And Chiggers

Ever get home after hanging treestands, checking trail cameras, or just being in the field during the summer months and feel like your skin is crawling? Have you ever been outside and days later discovered extremely itchy bug bites from an unknown source?

Ticks can transmit diseases to humans

Be diligent about searching for and removing ticks after being in the field.

From the first warm days of spring until the first hard frost during the fall, ticks and chiggers are very annoying. They also can transmit several diseases to humans. Whether turkey hunting or preparing for deer season, steps should be taken to avoid being bitten by these parasites.

Because treating these bug bites can be troublesome, prevention is the best way to deal with ticks and chiggers. A few techniques I have found over the years to avoid being bitten by chiggers and ticks include:

  • Wearing long socks and tucking pants into them
  • Tucking shirts into pants
  • Wearing light colored clothes to spot ticks more easily
  • Spraying clothes with Permethrin bug repellent or Deet products before going into the field
  • Taking a shower and checking for ticks as soon as returning home

Research and personal experience has shown that taking these steps before going into the field can reduce tick and chigger bites by 90%. That’s an easy way to ensure we stay healthy to enjoy deer season!

Nicolas Halchin

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