We all love the thrill of the hunt: witnessing the first sunrise at the start of a new season; experiencing the changes in the woods as the seasons transition; and feeling the briskness of the fall air as the rut begins. Despite the start of the season being months away, how do we ensure now that our hunts will be successful each season? The answer lies in what you are doing to prepare yourself in the off season.
One of the first things you can do is help to manage the deer health and population in your hunting area. Deer drop 20-30% of their body weight over the winter months and bucks must put 20% of that weight back on before they can grow a rack. This means the faster they put the weight on, the bigger the rack they will grow. There are tons of products that promise to give you bigger racks and bigger deer. While they may help, no one product will create bigger deer. Start feeding the deer early in the Spring and also provide the mineral supplements required to grow bigger deer.
Next, when the weather breaks, plant food plots and continue to feed. If you use the right minerals and maintain a good healthy blend of food, deer will get bigger and the racks will be amazing. Having a viable water resource nearby will help keep the deer close especially in the drier summer/early fall months.
Scout your hunting land. Get out in the woods; check for trails, potential bedding areas and other signs. Also use this time to inspect, repair, or move your stands for the upcoming season. Be sure to trim any branches that have grown in the way of your stands or that encroach upon your shooting lanes. Remember: the earlier you make changes, the faster the deer become accustomed to them.
Finally, do you need new property to hunt? Seek out property owners and offer to assist with projects. Offer to cut wood, trim trees, or bail hay. This will save the landowner time, and you start to build a trust with him/her. Don’t forget our senior citizens. A plowed driveway in the winter, a portion of your deer harvest, or someone to chat with from time to time will go a long way toward obtaining permission to hunt a spot in return.
A little work in the off season can help you to reap great rewards once the season arrives.
Thanks and Happy Hunting!