Get Out for Some Early Season Whitetail Hunting

The early season is one of those things you either love or hate. On the one hand, the early season months are very hot, the bugs are still out, and the deer hunting can be a little awkward if you don’t know how to go about it. But on the other hand, early season whitetail hunting can very productive if you know what the deer are up to and how to capitalize on that.

About Early Season Whitetails

In the late summer time period, the early season deer behavior is somewhat predictable (if you can ever say that about a wild deer). They are generally still in their summer patterns, which means that bucks are likely hanging out in bachelor groups and feeding on a regular evening schedule. They will also likely bed fairly close to food sources (i.e., row crop fields, clover plots, alfalfa hay fields, etc.), even within 100 yards. They probably form these groups as a form of predator detection (since they are more defenseless without their hardened antlers) and use it to sort out the local social hierarchy (without having to spar and injure one another, like they do during the pre-rut and rut).

As early fall (usually September) approaches, the daylight gets shorter and testosterone levels rise causing the bucks to disband from these bachelor groups. Once they break up, they start to utilize their individual home ranges more and change their movement patterns. This state of confusion is likely where you’ll catch them during the early season whitetail hunting time period. A good way to locate them again is to use trail cameras between heavy cover and food sources to find that hit list buck and where he is going. The trick here is to not check your cameras too frequently, as you don’t want to pressure the deer and have a buck stop using an area.

Best Locations for Early Season Whitetail Hunting

There’s one simple answer for how to hunt bucks in the early season: food. Although bucks have likely broken up their bachelor group, their daily schedule is still pretty consistently about food. You just need to find that food source and figure out the best way to hunt it. There are several common food sources you can depend on for early season deer hunting.

Clover Food Plots 

In the early season, most of the green and lush plants of summer are dried out and turning yellow, which means they have lost a lot of their nutrition and water, and are more fibrous. Meanwhile, clover food plots are usually very lush and green still, which can make them really stand out to deer seeking the green forage. The best clover plots are often small ones (about 0.25 acre) tucked into field corners, where bucks feel like they can use it during daylight hours. Back Forty Seed Co.® has a great clover blend that will keep the deer coming back for more.

Natural Mast Trees 

Oak acorns (especially white or bur oaks) and chestnuts are absolute magnets for deer once they start hitting the ground. Similarly, soft mast trees like apples, pears, and persimmons are highly sought after. The hard mast nuts are full of protein, carbs, and fat to provide a balanced and nutritious meal for deer, while the fruit species are loaded with sugar and carbs. If you find a group of oaks or a massively productive apple tree tucked into the woods somewhere, you can bet deer will be feeding there in the early season.

Ag Fields 

Agricultural fields can be hit or miss for early season whitetail hunting. If soybean fields are still green, they will be loaded with deer each night, but if they have already turned yellow and are drying out, the deer typically will stay away from them until the late season. Standing corn fields are still very attractive to deer as they provide some forage and are also prime bedding areas. The deer will really start to feed in them when they have been freshly harvested, but that won’t likely be for a few weeks.

To hunt ag fields effectively this time of year, you need to decide what your priority is. If you want to fill your freezer by hunting early season does, then setting up on the edge of the field is almost guaranteed to get a doe within range. But if you want a mature buck, you should tuck yourself back into the woods a bit (maybe 50 to 100 yards). Mature bucks start to wise up and get cautious this time of year and will let other deer come out and feed first. If you can access a stand along a deer trail back into the woods, you have a good chance of running into one of these mature bucks.

Water Sources 

Although deer meet a lot of their water needs by eating lush green vegetation during the summer, that starts to disappear in early fall, which makes water sources very attractive. They’re especially critical in dry, hot weather since deer already have their winter coats and can overheat without water. Another good spot for water holes or even tubs dug into the ground are near food plots since deer naturally will seek water before and/or after they feed. This can be the extra attraction or distraction you need to keep a buck within bow range for a few more minutes. 

 

Early Season Whitetail Hunting Tips

Now that you know what the whitetails are doing and some good hunting locations, let’s dive into some early season bow hunting tips. First, make sure you have the right early season bow hunting clothing that blends in well with the season and isn’t too warm. Badlands® has several early season clothing options for you that are great. You’ll also want to be careful with early season scouting. While it’s important to know where the deer are to inform your hunting strategy, you also don’t want to ruin your hunting area by suddenly putting all kinds of human scent out there and busting deer off the property. It’s important to use early season scent control clothing even when checking trail cams or scouting so you minimize your scent contamination. Try to scout from the road or other non-intrusive places using Vortex® optics to see where deer are feeding. Then while they are bedded during the day, slip in from the food side and see if you can find some clear deer trails.

Try to locate a rub line if you’re targeting mature bucks, because rubs made during the early deer season are generally made by mature deer. Pay attention to which side of the food the rubs are on. If the rubs are primarily on the opposite side of the food, you know they are making them in the afternoon on their way to the food source, which means it would be good to hunt that area in the afternoon. But if you find them on the food source side, they are likely making them in the morning on the way back to their beds, which means you should hunt in the morning.

  

Generally though, early season whitetail hunting is best in the evenings near food sources, as we mentioned above. This is good because it allows you to sneak in from the food source side and hang a stand within the woods a bit. Early season bow hunting stand placement is important because you don’t want to educate the deer before you can really start hunting them. You should be able to then catch a buck during daylight as he approaches the food. But remember that larger bucks usually let young ones feed before them, so don’t shoot the first buck that comes through! Make sure to use an Ozonics® unit so your hunting area stays as scent-free as possible. After shooting hours, make sure you have a way to leave the woods without going back towards the food source. If you do that, you will bump all the deer off the field and likely spook bucks from using that pattern again.

Hunting early season whitetails is a lot of fun if done correctly. Besides the rut, there’s probably no better time to take a mature buck. Get out there and make it happen. 

QDMA’s Deer Steward Comprehensive Quality Deer Management Program

White-tailed deer management is more than planting food plots or deciding to let a small buck walk in archery season. In fact, quality deer management is a comprehensive philosophy built around improving deer populations, promoting sustainable wildlife habitats, and creating hunting experiences through research, education advocacy, and hunter recruitment. This approach to whitetail management should sound familiar to many as it is the basis of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA).

The QDMA Deer Steward program takes managing white-tailed deer to a professional level. The course content and field experiences received at each level promotes the cornerstones of the QDMA. Recently, The Bearded Buck hosted the QDMA Deer Steward Level 2 program in central Pennsylvania. Some the country’s most respected and experienced deer managers gathered at The Bearded Buck’s showcase farm to educate hunters and land managers in the second level of certification of the QDMA Deer Steward program.

4 Cornerstones of QDMA

The Deer Steward certification program is built on the four cornerstones of quality deer management. Within each program, these four foundations drive the topics and education in each certification level.

  1. Herd Management – Herd management consists of determining deer numbers by sex and age, evaluating deer health and using both to assess optimum levels for your objectives.
  2. Habitat Management – Improving available land resources to maximize white-tailed deer potential and create a sustainable property for all wildlife species.
  3. Hunter Management – Managing the hunter resource through education to understand the principals and fundamentals of quality deer management.
  4. Herd Monitoring – Herd monitoring is a broad collection of observational data around your deer herd. Harvest data and observational data points provide important information about herd size, health, sex ratio, reproductive capacity, age structure and management success.

What is Deer Steward Certification?

The QDMA deer steward certification program offers individuals the opportunity to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the concepts behind quality deer management. Each certification level is progressively more involved and must be completed in sequence.

Deer Steward 1: The first installment of certification is an online program. This program provides students with an understanding of key quality deer management principals around habitat management, deer biology and management practices.

Deer Steward 2: Level 2 is a more advanced study of managing deer and habitat. The program expands on the topics covered in level 1 through a mix of classroom and field experiences. Students learn from professional deer managers and researchers and also have an opportunity to develop a deer management plan at the end of the four day program. 

Deer Steward 3: The highest level of achievement is the QDMA Deer Steward 3. This final level in the certification series has no coursework or exam like level 1 and 2. Rather, level 3 is obtained through personal achievement and long-term service to QDMA and/or the practice quality deer management principals. 

In addition, QDMA has also recently begun online and in-person modules. Both platforms allow further in-depth whitetail management education on specific topics surrounding the Deer Steward program and QDMA principals. Topics include food plots, aging deer, deer biology and other subjects that complement the Deer Steward certification series.

A Recap QDMA’s Deer Steward Level 2 Hosted by The Bearded Buck

The four-day Deer Steward 2 program hosted by The Bearded Buck encompassed all facets of deer management. Specifically, key topics that were covered included: 

  • Aging bucks in the field and aging deer by tooth wear 
  • Deer management techniques for both buck and doe management 
  • White-tailed deer biology and ecology including disease management 
  • Managing hunter expectations and success 
  • Herd monitoring techniques including spotlight and trail camera surveys as well as harvest data interpretation 
  • Habitat management strategies around hardwood forests, early successional habitats and food plots.

 Several parts of the program stood out and are worth some further discussion. For example, the deer necropsy portion presented by Kip Adams, Director of Conservation for QDMA, provided an in-depth look and understanding of deer anatomy. A necropsy is a detailed examination of a dead animal, much like an autopsy, in order to learn something about the deceased animal. Particularly, a necropsy is done to understand cause of death, parasite and disease affects and anatomy and reproductive processes.

The Bearded Buck is hosting a Deer Steward 2 event with the The Quality Deer Management Association. Today was necropsy day !

Posted by The Bearded Buck on Sunday, September 9, 2018

Video: Necropsy day hosted by Kip Adams at the Deer Steward 2 event.

Furthermore, an important part of any deer management plan is to understand deer breeding. An interesting and valuable part of the program was the piece delivered on deer breeding, specifically on fetus development and the information it can provide. Fetus development can be measured from road-killed deer or harvested deer if seasons allow. The information can help determine breeding dates and fawning dates, which are data points that aid in making future management decisions.

Posted by The Bearded Buck on Sunday, September 9, 2018

Video: Understanding deer breeding through fetus analysis and why it matters for management decisions.

One of the final highlights, among many, of the program was the topic on forest habitat managementValuable deer habitat management strategies for hardwood forests such as forest stand improvements and hinge cutting to improve forest conditions for whitetails were discussed in the field. A review of optimal conditions for deer habitat as well as desirable and undesirable tree species provided attendees the knowledge needed to implement habitat improvements on their own hunting lands. 

Posted by The Bearded Buck on Saturday, September 8, 2018

Video: Forest habitat management strategies for quality deer habitat. 

How to Get Involved with Deer Steward and Quality Deer Management

As mentioned previously, the QDMA Deer Steward program starts with the level 1 curriculum. The Deer Steward 1 program can be taken completely online by signing up at QDMA’s Deer Steward website. The program consists of a series of video lectures and exams. It can be completed at your own pace and is a prerequisite of enrolling in the Deer Steward 2 program.

Those individuals interested in more advance deer management training can continue on to QDMA’s Deer Steward 2 and 3 certifications. Level two requires an in-person commitment for several days of classroom and field learning. The level 2 program is offered usually a few times a year at various locations across the country. At the end of Deer Steward 2, attendees are proficient at implementing advanced deer management techniques. Level 3 is currently the capstone certification achieved only through a lifetime commitment to quality deer management.

In conclusion, the most recent Deer Steward 2 program hosted by The Bearded Buck was a tremendous success. The four-day program provided attendees with comprehensive knowledge and practical experience around quality deer management principals. The entire QDMA Deer Steward program is a valuable tool and professional certification for land owners, hunters and professional managers alike.

 

Intense Buck Fight Video Filmed in Pennsylvania

Every hunter wonders how realistic their rattling sounds in late October and November. Are you too loud, not loud enough, or just not intense enough? How intense is a buck fight in late October versus November, should you just tickle the antlers or put enough pressure to bloody your knuckles? A place in between the two might be appropriate, but as this buck fight footage will reveal, when bucks fight, it is intense… 

Jerry Tibbott happened to have a camera in hand while sitting over a clover food plot in late October. As multiple similar aged bucks make their way into the clover plot Jerry noticed that behavior shifted from inquisitive to aggressive. The bucks started to exhibit signs of an impending fight, stiff legged walking, standing hair, and ears laid back. At this point, the bucks are sizing each other up trying to develop a hierarchy without risking injury during a fight. Unfortunately, the bucks were too similar in age and size. What ensues is an intense fight that lasts more than 4 minutes. As you watch the footage below, compare your rattling to the audio of the footage.

Buck Fight Footage = Rattling Tips for the Pre-Rut

As you can tell, bucks do far more than just “tickle” their antlers in late October, if bucks are evenly matched they will fight, and that fight will be intense. How do you match the audio when rattling for deer? As you can tell, there is not a lot of hard banging like most hunters start out. At most, there might be one hard clash, while the rest of the fight is pressured shifting between tines. Did you pay attention to the other audio other than the antlers jarring? An actual buck fight spans a pretty big area, in this video alone the bucks shift from the middle of the plot to the edge and back again. If a fight like this is taking place in a food plot, the actual rattling should be the audio you present, however, if this fight is in a woodlot full of hardwoods in November with crisp leaves you have a lot of racket to make in order to achieve realistic audio. Fighting bucks shift around, bump into small trees, and break sticks on the ground. Essentially you need to make a lot of racket on the ground in order to rattle deer in.  

Hopefully this buck fight footage gets you excited for the season, and hopefully, you walk away from it with some hunting tips for the pre-rut. At least you know what your rattling should sound like…two bucks trying to tear each other limb from limb!

2018 Bear Kuma LD Review

Jerry Tibbot, “J-Rod”, shares with us a 2018 Bear Kuma LD review, the bow he’s been shooting for a few weeks now after recovering from shoulder surgery. After practicing for the upcoming bow season Jerry recognizes a few key features of what makes this bow so attractive for bow hunters.

The first takeaway is the smooth draw cycle and solid back wall, both of which allow hunters to enjoy shooting and practicing with the bow. The Bear Kuma LD comes in a 45-60 and a 55 – 70lb draw weights allowing hunters to grow with the bow. In Jerry’s case, the bow allows him to rebuild strength slightly increasing the weight as he approaches deer season.  

The Kuma LD has draw length adjustments from 27 to 32 inches and packs more than enough speed with an IBO at 330 fps.  Besides these features Jerry is pleased with the bow’s dependability, accuracy, and quietness, three absolute necessities anyone needs from their hunting bow.  

Check out the Kuma LD below!

Kuma LD Stats:

  • WEIGHT: 4.3 LBS. 
  • BRACE HEIGHT: 6 1/2″ 
  • AXLE-TO-AXLE: 33 1/4″ 
  • LET OFF: 80% 
  • PEAK DRAW WEIGHT: 45-60 LBS or 55-70 LBS 
  • DRAW LENGTH RANGE: 27″-32″ 

What are the Most Popular Pennsylvania Deer Hunting Rifles?

No matter which deer camp you visit (in Pennsylvania or across the country), the debate about the best hunting rifle for deer is always a hot topic. Some people swear by a certain rifle or caliber that they’ve used for the last 20 years. Others have fired many different rifles and have a few models they keep handy during the season. Depending on where you hunt and what the habitat is like, the best rifle can change pretty dramatically. Deer hunting runs deep in the varied habitats across Pennsylvania, and hunters in the state definitely have their favorite rifles they choose to hunt with. Here are five of the most popular Pennsylvania deer hunting rifles that can reliably harvest a deer.  All of the guns and accessories below can be found at Grice Gun Shop, the largest gun store in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Most Popular Deer Hunting Rifles

Before we launch into this discussion, we should mention the difference between the best hunting rifle and the best deer rifle caliber. Most people automatically talk about rifle calibers instead of the actual rifle models. You hear them around the camp fire saying, “The .30-06 is the best rifle for deer!” But you also need to consider the top rifle brands and models. Some are more reliable than others, but can be chambered in multiple calibers. The best hunting rifles below take into account the most reliable and popular models as well as the time-tested deer hunting calibers. Alright, let’s dive into the two primary categories: short- and long-range guns.

Short-Range Brush Guns

When you’re hunting in dense thickets or swamps, you’re usually making short-range shots. Therefore, the cartridges you shoot can be smaller and short-range as well. This also applies when you are doing a deer drive or simply stalking mountain deer. In these cases, it helps to have a light rifle that you can easily carry around all day, but quickly mount it to your shoulder to pull off a snap shot. Consequently, these are the most popular deer hunting rifles for this category.

  1. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight, chambered in .243 Win

Many a hunter started their hunting career using this caliber, and it is probably the best small caliber deer rifle. This light hunting rifle is perfect for novice or smaller hunters because it is so light, the recoil is minimal, and the .243 cartridge is still lethal against deer. The bolt action is easy to use as well.

 

  1. Marlin Model 336, chambered in .30-30 Win

The Marlin .30-30 has been a staple “brush gun” for decades. Its short barrel allows you to easily navigate through thickets and up slopes without being a pain to carry. The open sights make it perfect for snap shooting at a running deer, and the lever action is just fun to use!

 

Long-Range Versatile Big Game Guns

If you hunt primarily in open agricultural fields or food plots where you have the opportunity to make longer shots, you need a rifle of the appropriate caliber to get the job done. These rifles are what most people call “stand guns” – meaning they are meant to be used from a tree stand or blind rather than carried through rough terrain all day. They are heavier to carry and can all be used on most big game species, but they are also some of the most popular deer hunting rifles because they are so reliable.

  1. Remington Model 783, chambered in .270 Win

The .270 Win caliber is popular for deer hunting because it is powerful, flat-shooting, and yet doesn’t come with the recoil of larger calibers. Additionally, the Remington 783 has a great reputation for being a reliable and accurate rifle. These traits certainly make a case for this being the best all-purpose hunting rifle, as it can be used for deer, black bears, elk, and even moose.

  1. Browning X-Bolt, chambered in 7mm

The 7mm has steadily gained popularity over time because it nearly matches the ballistics of the .30-06, but is a slightly smaller caliber. The Browning X-Bolt is also a premium rifle that is built to last and will see you through any hunt.

  1. Remington Model 700, chambered in .30-06 Springfield

Perhaps the most popular deer hunting rifle ever, the .30-06 bolt action rifle is the gold standard for big game hunting. It is the largest caliber on this list and has a heavy recoil compared to the others, but it is certainly capable of putting that hit-list buck down in a hurry. Also, the Model 700 has been one of the most popular deer hunting rifles for decades because it is rock-solid and high quality. 

 

 

Deer Hunting Rifle Scope Choice

As mentioned, most Pennsylvania shots are in close quarters, especially if you’re hunting in the mountains or dense rhododendron/laurel thickets. As such, a basic 3-9×40 rifle scope should offer ample magnification and clarity for most situations. Quality matters with rifle scopes though. Luckily, there are many top-notch manufacturers when it comes to rifle scope optics.

Some of the rifles above come with a pre-mounted scope, making your job even easier. But if you are buying a separate rifle scope, you will have to install it yourself. If you’ve never mounted a scope before, don’t be intimidated. There are several guides online (based on the scope manufacturer) to help you through it.

Best Ammunition Choice

For deer hunting, you don’t need extremely heavy rifle ammunition – basically, the bullet should be able to penetrate deeply, expand moderately, and create a good blood trail. The heavier calibers above can also deliver a concussive force (kinetic energy and momentum) to knock a deer down. But each of the five popular deer hunting rifles above have cartridges that are more than capable of killing deer. And there are many cartridge options for these calibers as well. Start with a 140- or 150-grain load, which is good for most Pennsylvania shooting.

Hunting Rifle Accessories

After buying a rifle, you should decide which accessories you need to get. Regardless if you’ll be doing a lot of stand hunting or stalking, installing a sling on your rifle will make it easier to carry. Most slings easily attach to your rifle, and there are plenty of styles available.

You also need to buy a rifle case to safely (and legally) transport your firearm. You don’t need to break the bank on this, but if your travels will take you through airports or across rough country, investing in a hard-sided case will protect your firearm much better than soft-sided cases.

These hunting rifles are some of the best on the market for a reason. They are reliably accurate and deadly against whitetails, but they’re also cost-efficient for most people. If you don’t currently own one of these models and calibers, it might be time to join the party.

Summer Deer Scouting Tips to Build Your Buck List

Deer season is fast approaching. Will you be ready when the time comes? Early season deer hunting will often find deer in their summer patterns and bucks holding in their bachelor groups. This is a great opportunity to wrap your tag around a trophy, but how are you going to find that number 1 “hit list” buck? Observation through summer deer scouting is key. Follow the tips below to make the most of the time you have during summer.

Chances are if you are like many hunters you might not have enough “good” hunting spots, and unless you own a lot of land you either hunt public ground or have to seek permission to hunt private ground. If you have not yet secured ground to hunt on now is the time to knock on a few doors asking for permission to hunt new ground. Things have changed over the last few years and it is more difficult to be granted hunting permission, but it can still be done with a little legwork. Remember all a person can tell you is no. If that happens politely accept the rejection and move on to the next landowner.

Summer Deer Scouting Tips

For those with a ground or for those with newly secured hunting land, you need to start planning for the upcoming season. It might be hard to wrap your thoughts around deer season in this heat, but bow season is just a few short weeks away. It is far easier to think about summer vacation than sitting in a tree stand in the fall. Many hunters need to get out of that mindset and start thinking like a deer hunter.

Vehicle Scouting

Get out and put some miles on your vehicle. Bucks will obviously be grouped together in their bachelor groups and will come out to eat well before dark. Travel the back roads and use your binoculars to glass for feeding deer. Be careful to stay far enough back to not alert them of your presence and take down notes as to where the deer are entering and exiting the fields. It is not uncommon to take a drive and see deer feeding in just about every bean field. Also, pay close attention to your food plots from afar if you have any out.

Log Your Observations

It will take good optics to observe deer. You want to be close enough to see where they are moving, but still far enough away that they will not see you. Deer have patterns, and they seldom detour from them during the summer. If a buck is doing something one day, he will probably do it again the next day as long as the weather cooperates, or he is not feeling pressured.

For this reason, a hunting logbook is a great way for deer hunters to keep track of deer movements and behavior. Comparing similar weather along with times and dates of deer movement can help you determine when and where to hunt. Early season deer hunting will find deer holding on to their summer patterns that you are seeing now.

A log should include the date, time, weather conditions (temperature, barometric pressure, and cloud cover, or lack of), as well as the size, location and activity of each deer you saw. Continue to keep a log book throughout the season too. Next year keep a log book as well. When you do this for 3 or 4 seasons you will really begin to notice how weather conditions play a big role in deer activity. Keeping a logbook will make you a better, more successful hunter. The data you have collected will not allow you to know where a deer will be at a certain time of the day 100-percent of the time, but logs will give you a good idea what to expect under certain conditions.

Boots on the Ground

After all your scouting from afar is done and you have a good idea of what deer are living where you will need to get your feet on the ground and do some up close and personal scouting to narrow down exactly what the deer are doing. You might not see the deer enter a particular field or see them leave after dark, you might not know exactly what trail they are taking. However, you should have a good general idea where to start looking and hanging trail cameras.

When scouting always take the same precautions that you would when hunting. Wear rubber boots, your scent free hunting clothing, try not to touch limbs, etc. with your bare hands and use scent elimination spray. Try to do your scouting mid-day to lessen the odds of bumping the deer. These little things are often overlooked during scouting.

Summer Trail Camera Strategies and Tips

Trail cameras are a good scouting tool that many of us rely on. If you are still building your hit list and have not yet graduated to patterning a hit list worthy buck start with minerals or feed. A supplemental attraction is a good way to start developing a hit list during the summer.

If you’re at the stage of patterning a buck worth hunting start hanging your cameras and checking and moving them every other week to learn more about the deer you will be hunting. On grain fields and food plots, figure out what trails the deer use to enter and exit the field. It is important to note which trails the bucks use, and which one he does use. You do not want to be set up on a doe trail hoping to shoot a buck that might never walk past. You should also consider setting the camera up on a time-lapse mode to survey the entire field or plot for activity. This setting is a good insurance program opposed to setting the camera on just one trail.

There are few things you should do when using trail cameras to help improve your odds of not spooking deer. They include:

1. Spray your camera with scent-elimination spray and use rubber gloves when handling and installing the device. Your scent may spook game, and the salt from hand perspiration is a magnet to bears. Otherwise, you may get one great image of bruin tonsils, but that’s all.

2. Test the camera once in place. Even better, practice at home on a bird feeder or bird bath to make sure you know where the camera shoots and how it operates. You may want stills or video and you must know how to adjust for each. Such projects are great for keeping youngsters entertained in summer months.

3. Finally, invest in quality batteries. In most cases cheap is good, but you want batteries that will last a long time to invest a few extra bucks to purchase batteries that will last.

Putting the Observation to Work

By now, you probably have a good idea as to what the deer patterns are. If you have not got all of your stands and ground blinds in position for the upcoming hunt, now is the time to do so. While you are out there go ahead and cut shooting lanes. If you can get this all done well in advance of the season, you are less likely to disturb their routines.

You do not want to get carried away with your shooting lanes. Too much disturbance and the deer will take notice. But, by making cuts now, the bucks should have plenty of time to get accustomed to the changes. Invest in quality pruners and saws. There is no need to buy a new saw every year when you can spend a few more dollars and have one that will last for several seasons.

You might even consider creating some man-made funnels. Some examples would be to create an opening in a fence if you are the landowner or have permission to do so, mowing a path through tall grass, obstructing one trail to force deer to want to take another. Anything you can do to help persuade the deer to go where you want will help. But, there is no guarantee that they will cooperate.

Bow season is fast approaching so now is the time to act on these summer deer scouting tops and get busy locating deer. You might just find an unbelievable buck to add to your hit list that you can set your sights on when the season rolls around.

Deer Management | Short– and Long-term Strategies to Maximize a Buck’s Potential

As deer hunters, it can be difficult at times to think beyond what this falls hunt has in store. But deer hunters who are serious about deer management realize it takes both short- and long-term strategies to maximize the antler and body size of the bucks they’re chasing. This becomes increasingly more difficult if you don’t see immediate results, but remember that there is no “silver bullet” in deer management. Managing for mature whitetails takes both persistence and patience. Here are several things to consider when trying to increase antler size for this fall’s hunt as well as things to think about to consisntely produce larger bucks in the future. Here are 7 things you can do to maximize your buck’s potential, split of course between short- and long-term deer management strategies.

Short-term Strategies

Food Plots

One of the most common methods people use to increase deer antler size in any given year is planting food plots. Food plots are great for several reasons. They can help you inventory your hit list bucks during late summer by providing a high-quality food source for your herd. They also can help pregnant does produce high quality milk after dropping their fawns. One of the most obvious advantages of food plots is they give you a place to target for hunting in the fall.

So which supplemental food plots should you plant to help increase antler size in any given year? You generally want to focus on plants that have a high crude protein content and will be available to bucks during the spring and summer months when they are growing their antlers. There are several perennial plants (plants that regrow every year) that are good choices for your food plots. Ladino white clover, red clover, alfalfa, and chicory are all good choices but it’s important to remember that planting dates for these species differ depending on where you live. Usually you will want to plant in the spring if you find yourself in a northern state while you’ll want to plant in the fall if you’re in the south. These species also may take a year or so to really become established. An annual (only grows once) plant species that is high quality is soybeans. Soybeans are great because their leaves have a high crude protein content in the summer time and their pods are high in energy content during the winter. It’s important to plant a forage variety of soybeans if you are going to plant a small food plot (less than 5-10 acres) in an area that has a high deer density because deer are known to browse soybeans to the point that they die.

Habitat Management

Habitat management such as thinning trees can increase the quality of food available to your deer herd. Although we think about deer eating in agricultural fields during the summer, they still also browse in the woods. Woody browse generally comprises a majority of a deer’s diet depending on what part of the country you find yourself in. By thinning the forest, you allow sunlight to hit the forest floor, which allows several high-quality plant species to grow. If you harvest timber in the wintertime, you will start to see new vegetation growing that following spring and summer. Similar to food plots, it may take a year or so for this to really take effect. You should consult with a forester if you’re considering doing a large-scale timber harvest because they will help you reach your management goals for your timber.

Supplemental Mineral

Providing supplemental mineral seems to be a logical management tool to increase a buck’s antler size. However, the jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of these supplemental mineral sites. Research has shown that the two minerals most used by a buck during the antler-growing season are phosphorous and calcium though researchers and managers don’t fully understand the potential benefits that supplemental minerals may provide pregnant does. Regardless, there’s one consistent regarding supplemental mineral sites; all deer use them. Be sure to check your state regulations on using supplemental mineral, as it may be illegal within your state or area.

If using mineral is illegal where you hunt, then consider providing natural mineral sites by cutting down smaller diameter (about 10”) trees. When a tree is cut down the size of its root system is disproportionately larger than the tree itself. This results in a greater amount of minerals being produced in the new sprouts that are emerging from the stumps. This situation creates highly nutritious deer browse even for tree species that would otherwise only be considered moderate quality deer browse.

Long-term Strategies

Although it is much easier to decide what management strategies you might use within a given year to try to increase the overall antler size of bucks on your property, the rubber really meets the road when thinking about long-term, large-scale strategies. Thinking about things for the long haul is really the key to consistently producing big mature bucks on your property.

Deer Density

Planting supplemental food plots and improving habitat through management techniques such as timber harvest will increase the amount of food available for your deer herd, but generally speaking, you don’t want to have just “enough” food. You’re much better off if you have abundant food so there is no potential for food to be a limiting factor for your deer herd. To accomplish this, you will likely need to reduce the overall population size by harvesting more does. But how many does should you harvest? This is where you should consult with your state agency’s area wildlife biologist. Several states will conduct a trail camera survey to estimate the population size and will then make recommendations about how many deer you should harvest to reach your management goals. Most habitat types can support one deer per ten acres so that’s a good goal to shoot for. If your state agency cannot conduct a trail camera survey for you, you can do it yourself but be sure to consider your state’s baiting laws because trail camera surveys require establishing bait sites. You can find more information here on how to conduct your own trail camera survey.

Establish Goals and Record Data

We all can relate to the excitement of pulling trail cameras at the end of the summer to see what hit list bucks we might have around for the fall. If we are lucky we might see a picture of a 160-inch buck and for most of us, that’s more than big enough. But the reality is that most hunters will not have consistent opportunities to harvest bucks of that caliber. Instead, we need to be much more realistic with our management goals. This often times means managing our expectations on the size of deer we expect to harvest. Maybe harvesting 120- to 130-inch deer is more realistic for your property. If so, there’s nothing wrong with that but having realistic expectations will often times relieve future frustrations.

Once you have established and written down your goals, you will need to collect harvest data to evaluate whether you are reaching your goals. Collecting harvest data is really where deer management begins. Collecting simple pieces of information such as a deer’s age, antler size, and body weight can help you reach your management goals. There is a lot of information out there to help you age a deer based off the tooth replacement and wear technique. Otherwise, you can remove one of the deer’s incisors and send it into a lab where they will age the tooth based off its cementum annuli (think of this like a tree’s growth rings).  

Lay Off the Trigger

So what do you do with all of the harvest data you’ve collected? The answer is pretty simple, you can now put it to use to help manage your deer herd. For example, after looking at your harvest data you may realize that the average antler size of your harvested bucks is about 110 inches and those bucks are only 2.5-years-old on average. This information can dramatically help you reach your management goals because most 2.5-year-old bucks have only reached about 62% of their maximum antler size. This means that those 110-inch 2.5-year-olds you are harvesting now would be about 150 inches at maturity. That’s an antler score that would meet just about any hunter’s goals.

Helping bucks reach maturity is really pretty simple and it starts with you being able to lay off the trigger. Many hunters like to say that a buck will get shot by their neighbors so why not shoot him yourself? This may or may not be true, but the only thing you can control as a hunter is whether you pull the trigger or not. You can guarantee that a buck will not survive to the following year if you are the one pulling the trigger. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with harvesting young deer depending on what your goals are for a specific property and as a hunter in general. But producing consistently big bucks becomes much more difficult if you do not have the restraint to give them a pass when they’re young. Simply put, the easiest thing you can do to increase antler size is to increase the age structure of your deer herd and the only way to do this is to pass on young bucks.

 Property Size

Most hunters don’t have the luxury of owning massive tracts of land to deer hunt on but that’s O.K. There are several examples of people harvesting big mature whitetails on properties that are less than 40-acres. But if you don’t have the opportunity to manage about 1000 acres of property and want to increase the number of mature whitetails you have available during the hunting season then it’s time to start talking to your neighbors.

First, why do you need 1000 acres to consistently produce mature whitetails? This is based on the average home range (or area a buck lives in) being about 1000 acres. This means if you are managing less than 1000 acres, several buck’s home ranges probably include other properties. Although 1000 acres tends to be a general rule of thumb, there are some states such as Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin that seem to continuously produce big bucks regardless of the amount of property that is being managed.

Regardless of where you’re hunting, talking to your neighbors and creating cooperatives where you share the same goals regarding size and age of deer you hope to harvest will always benefit you as a hunter not only in helping you reach your goals, but also in improving neighbor relations.

Hopefully, you will be able to use some of the deer management strategies discussed here to help increase antler size not only for this upcoming fall, but also for many years to come.

 

Turkey Hunting Strategies for Chasing Afternoon Gobblers

The pursuit of gobblers traditionally has occurred from sun up to noon. The notion of hunting after lunch is a foreign concept in most spring turkey hunting circles. In fact, some states even have (or had) restrictions against turkey hunting in the afternoon. Turkey hunting strategies generally also emphasize morning hunting techniques. Hunters, however, were never much bothered by only focusing their spring gobbler hunts in the morning. The afternoons were then free for fishing, morel hunting, or other duties that were welcomed in the nice spring weather.
Unlike what you may think or have grown up with, there are turkey hunting opportunities in the afternoon and early evening hours that are worth considering. How to spring turkey hunt in the afternoon is somewhat tricky, and much different than chasing them in the morning hours. The three keys to connecting on a late day gobbler in the spring are:
  1. Understanding the difference in turkey behavior from morning to afternoon.
  2. Committing to areas where gobblers will be.
  3. Adapting turkey hunting strategies to afternoon birds

Turkey Behavior in the Afternoon

The first key to getting a late day gobbler is to understand how turkey behavior changes after midday. You may be accustomed to turkey hunting strategies around a first light strike approach on gobblers in the spring where you scout them to the point where you can ambush them off the roost. Likewise, later morning hunts consistently focus around feeding and strut zones where birds can be patterned and called in. The approach is similar in the afternoon in that you are hunting a pattern, although, the pattern is quite different based on afternoon turkey behavior.
Midday turkey hunting tactics revolve around loafing areas. Turkeys will seek out shady locations adjacent to feeding areas such as fields or forage rich ridgetops. Hens and gobblers will congregate in these loafing areas to escape the midday heat. Here, birds will rest to stay cool and even dust. Dusting areas in cool, shady areas are prime locations to hunt, especially on hot days. Turkey hunting opportunities in locations like these improve later in the season as the weather becomes gradually hotter and more hens enter nesting habits.

Afternoon turkey hunts can be as prosperous as sunrise action. As midday retreats to early evening, gobblers will be drifting between loafing areas on their way to feeding areas. Solo gobblers will be in search mode looking for lonely hens, which are not already spoken for or are not in nesting mode. Big toms will often patrol silently so it is important to hunt transitional areas between loafing and feeding areas and wait them out. Turkey calling is useful but responses are typically few and far between in the afternoon. Don’t get frustrated and remain patient during this time of day. If you’re in an area with birds, sit tight and wait for them to come in silently.

Finally, there is spring turkey hunting in the late evening. The closer to dusk you get the more motivated turkeys are to reach their roosting area. One of the best turkey hunting strategies for evening hunts is to ambush birds on their way to roost. That way if you blow it in the evening, you potentially will not disturb their roosting pattern and ultimately that spot for future hunts, including potentially the next morning. If you know where turkeys roost, set yourself between their feeding areas and the trees they roost in. If the property has significant terrain, your setup should take to the hill above or level with the roosting trees. Turkeys will typically favor approaching their roosts from the high side to make the fly up to the roost easier.

Commit to Turkey Habits in the Spring

Afternoon turkey hunting is difficult because gobbling activity decreases the later you get in the morning and only picks back up slightly near dusk as birds retreat to their roost. This can be frustrating for hunters since turkey calling seems useless and unproductive, much like sitting all afternoon when deer hunting. This is where committing to turkey habits in the spring comes in as the second key strategy for afternoon turkey hunting.
Preseason turkey scouting is important for committing to an area for spring turkey hunting. You have to be confident that at some point in the afternoon gobblers will be in a location feeding and searching for hens. Even the best turkey calls for spring will unlikely fire off a gobbler so you need to be prepared to sit still and ready for when that bird wonders into the area quietly. Birds tend to follow a daily circuit routine and a hunter can capitalize on knowing this routine and committing to hunting specific areas. Areas to commit to in the afternoon include travel corridors that lead to feeding areas. Look for fresh turkey scratches and pick a secluded set up location or use a blind to keep concealed while waiting them out.

Alternative Turkey Hunting Strategies for Chasing Afternoon Birds

Hunting turkeys after midday requires adapting turkey hunting tactics with the birds’ behavior. Here are three strategies to adapt for successfully hunting birds in the afternoon.
  • Alter your turkey calling approach. Reduce your calling down to soft yelps and purrs. Turkey talking later in the day is minimal so loud and continuous calling will usually not be well received by gobblers this time of day. Also, turkey calling tips like being silent and listening instead of calling as well as trying a gobbling call can all work to your advantage in the afternoon.
  • Match decoys to behavior. After the morning, most aggressive turkey behaviors are diminishing. Similarly to calling techniques reserved for morning hours, using turkey hunting decoys that mimic fighting or breeding in the afternoon is just out of place. Switch to more feeding decoy setups with multiple hens or deploy the walking harem setup in and near feeding areas to exploit afternoon turkey behavior.
  • Run and gun known turkey areas. Not all afternoon turkey hunting strategies revolve around setting up in one spot and waiting them out. Use the run and gun tactic to cover the ground between loafing and feeding areas. You’re basically looking to glass these areas from afar to see if birds are there or calling here and there to generate a shock gobble. If either one produces, sit down and then commit to the area and work the birds.

Don’t dismiss hunting turkeys in the afternoon where you’re able. The late day action is without a doubt different than the morning but can get just as hot if you know how to hunt them after lunch. The three key turkey hunting strategies for killing afternoon gobblers include understanding late day turkey behavior, committing to areas that have birds and altering your tactics. Focusing on these tactics will put you in more situations to be able to harvest an afternoon gobbler this spring season.

Spring and Summer Trail Camera Tactics

Every hunter can relate to the excitement of pulling a trail camera to find out if they have a big, mature buck in the area. But have you ever stopped to think about what other information you can gain from trail cameras, particularly during the spring and summer months? Not only can trail cameras be useful in the fall, but you can also gain useful information in the spring and summer that will help you better manage and hunt your deer herd.  

Here are 4 things in particular that spring and summer trail camera tactics can reveal!

#1 What is There to Eat?

Outside of shed hunting in the spring, most deer hunters think about other things such as turkey hunting, morel mushroom hunting, or maybe even fishing. However, running trail cameras in the spring can provide useful information that can better help you manage your deer herd. For example, one question you should be able to answer is what type of food are deer concentrating on in the spring? Are they still mostly using your food plots? 

Maybe they’re eating waste grain in big Ag fields or maybe they’re actually spending more time in the woods and are feeding on woody browse. Try spending some time on the ground to identify areas where deer are feeding and then set up your trail camera to see when they’re feeding in these areas. 

One great piece of information you can gain from this trail camera tactic is a better understanding of the natural browse that deer are feeding on. Finding woody plants that have been browsed and setting your camera up on those areas will also tell you when deer are feeding. You might find out that deer feed more often in the woods during the day or you may even find out what types of plants deer spend more time browsing. This can obviously reveal travel routes and patterns that might be able to be exploited during the fall.

PHOTOFinding woody plants that have been browsed and setting your camera up on those areas will tell you when, where, and even why deer might be feeding those areas.

If you find that deer aren’t browsing very often on woody species, then it may be time for you to consider doing some habitat management to increase the quantity and quality of available woody browse. It’s easy to assume that deer get a majority of their diet from food plots and Ag fields but in reality, natural vegetation still makes up a majority of their diet.

#2 Where are They Bedding?

One of the cardinal sins of deer hunting is bumping deer from their bedding areas, but that all goes out the window in the springtime. This is the perfect opportunity to not only walk your property and identify potential bedding areas, but to also set up a camera on these areas to document how deer are using them.

PHOTO: Springtime is the perfect opportunity to set up a camera on bedding areas to document how, when, and why deer are using them. Be sure to spray them down with scent eliminating spray. 

Again, there are several pieces of information you can gain from this tactic. For example, are deer consistently using this area for bedding or are they only sporadically using it? What direction are they coming from in the morning and what direction do they leave in the evening? This can particularly help you determine not only where deer are feeding, but also how they are getting there. Finally, is there a specific wind direction associated with when they are using the area to bed? All of this information will better help you understand how deer are using their bedding areas without you having to bother that area in the fall.   

#3 Biological Information

There are also a couple of pieces of biological information that you can gather during the springtime. First, you can start to get an idea of when fawns are first hitting the ground. Now you may not necessarily see newborn fawns at heel with their mothers as newborns are generally in hiding, but you can look at does to see if there is any evidence that they may have dropped their fawns. Generally, does tend to look much slimmer in their stomach and hip area and/or you may notice an obvious milk sack indicating milk production for the fawn.

PHOTO: Paying attention to antler development and fawn recruitment through trail cameras can tell you what action might need to be taken for next year’s deer herd management.

The next thing to take note of is when you first see bucks developing antlers. Neither of these pieces of information will tell you much on their own in any given year. Instead, you will need to record these dates for multiple years to get an idea of what’s going on. If you notice that does seem to be dropping their fawns later in the spring, then that might indicate that you may have too many deer or food might be limiting. The same goes for antler development and can be indicators that you need to do some habitat management or maybe even shoot more deer in the fall. 

#4 Buck Patterns for Early Season

Energetic demands and food resources change throughout the spring and summer, as such, deer will also change their diet. By summertime, high quality agricultural crops such as soybeans and alfalfa are becoming readily available. These highly nutritious plants provide a buffet for both bucks and does to round out the summer months. Bucks are still using their summer patterns by opening day of archery season in many states providing you with a prime opportunity to close the deal on your hit list buck early on.

PHOTO: Using trail cameras to identify travel corridors and the time of day bucks are using those food sources is vital information to be gained during summer.

Using trail cameras can help you do just that. Obviously, using your trail cameras to identify travel corridors and the time of day bucks are using those food sources is vital information to be gained but combining that knowledge with the information you gained during the spring will help you close the deal. Hopefully, you were able to identify where those deer are bedding during the spring and when they tend to leave their beds to feed. That, when combined with the most recent information you gained during the summer will help paint a clear picture of what those deer are doing. To take this one-step further, record wind direction for each day you have a picture of deer in their summer pattern. Are those deer only moving on certain wind directions? Do they tend to show up in the field earlier when wind is out of the North and West compared to a southerly wind? All of this information can go a long ways in helping you harvest a buck on opening day of archery season.

Conclusion

Although we tend to forget about our trail cameras until the fall, there is still plenty of information you can gain during the spring and summer months. Employing trail camera tactics year round will give you a better idea of what the deer herd is doing at any given time. This information also makes it a lot easier to be more familiar with a property’s layout and how the deer utilize it. Once the season arrives, this information will prove invaluable.   

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3 Deer Research Discoveries to Apply to Your Deer Management

Even though Mother Nature may have other plans so far this spring, warmer weather is right around the corner. And the onset of spring means new life. Trees and flowers are blooming, morel mushrooms are growing, and turkeys are gobbling. But outside of shed hunting, deer hunters may not think there’s much for them to do to prepare for their fall hunts. Luckily, deer research shows that there’s plenty for hunters to do during the off-season months.  Here are three recent deer research discoveries that you should know for your deer management this spring and summer.  

1.) Fawning Cover

It’s easy to get excited about planning for our fall hunts, but each hunt in the fall starts with fawns being born in the spring. Bringing new fawns into the population each year is obviously an essential part of maintaining a population, but what can you do to maximize fawn survival? Luckily, there’s been tons of research conducted to determine what contributes to fawn survival. The first thing you probably think about regarding fawn survival is predator control. Yes, research has shown time and time again that coyotes are usually the top predator of white-tailed deer fawns. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that coyotes are limiting a deer population from growing. There are two things to keep in mind here. First, most research that reports very low fawn survival comes out of the Southeastern US. This is an area where coyotes are a relatively new predator and deer may just need time to adapt to their presence. Second, there are some studies out there that have actually looked at how effective coyote removal is on increasing fawn survival. Unfortunately, the results are mixed. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Other research helps explain why coyote removal doesn’t always work. When people conduct predator management, they are usually only doing it on a single property so coyotes on surrounding properties are unaffected. This means that removing coyotes from a property essentially opens up a new area for other coyotes to move to. Unless predator management is being conducted on a scale much larger than most people can conduct it at, it will likely be ineffective.

Moving on from predators, what else affects fawn survival? Well, it turns out that there are some other habitat characteristics that come into playResearch has shown that increasing the amount of edge (area where two habitat types meet) increases a fawn’s chances of surviving. Similarly, increasing the amount of cover habitat also increases a fawn’s ability to survive. Why? Well, these findings likely relate back to predators. By increasing the amount of edge habitat that’s available to fawns you are also likely decreasing a coyote’s ability to effectively hunt for fawns while giving fawns more areas to run to and hide from a coyote if it’s being chased. So even though you may not be able to consistently remove enough coyotes to improve fawn survival, you can definitely improve fawning habitat to decrease a coyote’s ability to hunt for them.

Article: The Importance of Good Fawning Cover

So how do you know if you have quality fawning habitat on your hunting property? It’s actually pretty simple if you have a basketball. Walk out to an area on your hunting property that you think is good fawning cover with a friend. Have your friend cover their eyes, throw the basketball, and have your friend look for the basketball. You don’t need to throw the basketball very far. If your friend can’t immediately find the basketball, then your fawning cover is probably pretty good. But if the basketball sticks out like a sore thumb, then you have some work to do.

2.) Mineral Stumps

One of the most common ideas in deer management is providing deer with some type of supplemental mineral. This makes perfect sense, right? Bucks probably need an increased amount of mineral when growing their antlers and bucks and does both obviously use mineral sites. One reason why deer use these mineral sites so often is because sodium (salt) is generally lacking in their diet. This becomes particularly important during the spring when water content is high in plants and deer need sodium to keep their body in balance. But what about antler growth? Well, one study addressed this very question and found that the only two minerals used at an increased rate by bucks during the antler growing season were phosphorous and calcium. Regardless, research on how supplemental minerals affect antler growth is still pretty slim and providing supplemental minerals doesn’t seem to do any harm, unless doing so is illegal in your state. 

So what can you do if providing minerals is illegal where you hunt? Are you out of luck? Absolutely not! Preliminary research out of the MSU Deer Lab shows a more natural way to provide minerals to our deer herds and all you have to do is cut down a tree. Some tree species such as elm, maple, and aspen tend to produce several sprouts from their stumps after they’ve been cut down. These sprouts have increased amounts of those important minerals such as phosphorous and even increased crude protein content when comparing them to the same species of tree that’s growing as a sapling. This increased amount of nutrients creates a “mineral stump” and makes even undesirable species of trees preferred forage for deer when growing as a stump sprout. Why? It all has to do with the size of a trees root system.

When an individual tree is growing, the size of its root system is proportional to the size of the main stem (or trunk) of the tree. But when you cut that tree down and have several sprouts growing, the trees root system is much larger than those individual sprouts. This mismatch in size between the root system and sprouts means that the roots can uptake much more nutrients from the soil and, in turn, concentrate those nutrients at a much higher rate for each sprout. These mineral stumps can be an important source of nutrients not only for bucks when they’re growing their antlers, but also for does when they are producing milk for their fawns.

3.) Spring and Summer Food Plots

It’s pretty easy to develop tunnel vision when thinking about food plots. After all, most hunters are simply trying to put the odds in their favor by planting a food plot to hunt over in the fall, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what about the deer hunters who are also interested in managing their deer herd? These are the hunters who are thinking of ways to diversify the type and amount of food they can provide for deer on their hunting properties.  

Spring is the time of year you may not necessarily be thinking about food plots. After all, you’re only weeks away from a flush of green vegetation taking over the woods. There should be plenty of food for deer to eat, shouldn’t there be? Although deer food may seem plentiful during the spring, there’s also a lot going on for deer at this time of year and over the summer months. The obvious thing to most hunters are bucks are replenishing their fat reserves and the faster they do that, the faster they can start putting energy into growing antlers. But what about does? This tends to be a tough time of year for them as well. They are entering their last trimester of pregnancy at about the same time as things are greening up in the woods. And they are also experiencing their most energetically demanding time period when they are producing milk for their fawns. In fact, research has shown that the nutrition a doe has available to her while she’s pregnant and producing milk can actually affect the antler size of her buck fawns! This is where habitat management and planting spring and summer food plots can come into play.

Article: Doe Nutrition and Buck Fawn Antler Size Research

Ensuring that there is woody browse (tips of woody vegetation such as saplings or shrubs) available as a food source during winter will help your deer herd, particularly if winter runs long like it is this year. Spring food plots can also help ensure there is enough food to go around as often times they will be one of the first things to green up during spring. There are several things you could plant that will provide food for deer during early spring and summer. For example, winter wheat is a great crop to plant as it will be one of the first things to green up and planting ladino white clover is another great option that, in addition to providing spring food, will also provide you with a place to hunt in the fall. But remember that food plots should only supplement your deer herd, not be their only source of food. Habitat management is still the best way to ensure there will be enough food to go around during each season.

The next time you find yourself day dreaming about deer hunting in the fall, remember that there is still plenty to do in the spring and summer!