Pre-Season Efforts for April

The preseason is here. Numerous property enhancements can be done during this time period in preparation for the upcoming season. There are also a few leftover post-season efforts that may be worthwhile to continue into these pre-season months since the winter lasted so long in many northern states.

  1. Food – Nutrition: Now is a great time to get clover, alfalfa, chicory and other early season plants in the ground for deer to have ample food to help them throughout the growing season. (Take into consideration that corn and beans aren’t often planted until later in the summer.) The nutrition a buck gets following the rut; leading up to the last days of September when they shed their velvet it is important to the their overall health and antler growth. Spend time researching soil testing, weed killers, fertilizers, seeds, and needed equipment before embarking on planting a food plot for the first time. Understanding your budget and thinking it through is an important part of this process. Whitetail Institute is leading expert on this topic.
  2. Mineral – Nutrition: Investing in mineral licks is a wise decision. Mineral licks are a positive for both does expecting fawns and also for buck antler growth. Mineral lick locations are often best near food sources, water sources, or high traffic trails. Secluded mineral licks may be optimal for weary bucks. Trophy Rock minerals are a favorite of mine.
  3. Water – Nutrition: Finally consider digging water holes if you live in an area where water can be found not to far under the ground level. Excavating equipment can be used if it is necessary to go quite deep. In dry areas burying a large plastic tub can work as well. Fill it with water yourself or allow rain to fill the bucket. Regardless of the approach it is important to get water holes for whitetails throughout the warm season. This is critical part of their diet that is often overlooked. Attempt to create water holes in secure areas where whitetails feel comfortable or near food sources.
  4. Mock Scrapes: Scrapes are an important part of a whitetails communications with one another. While they experience the highest use throughout the breeding season whitetails use scrapes to communicate through the year. In areas where licking branches aren’t present for scrapes trees aren’t present consider cutting a small tree down and burying it in the location you need to tree to have a licking branch present. I watched Mark Drury do this recently with success during the hunting season. Developing mock scrapes and maintaining them throughout the off-season can spike whitetails curiosity and with some luck create a permanent scrape that is used throughout the entire year for years to come. Location is important when considering scrape locations. Attempt to create scrapes in areas of cover to get mature bucks using scrapes during daylight hours. Freshening a scrape takes real urine or synthetic urine. I’ve read enough articles that have convinced me that human urine is a viable way to freshen mock scrapes. Don’t spend too much time on this so early before the season, but getting the scrapes started is a good idea.
  5. Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: I’ve been scouting lots of public land recently and I’m finding good sign of deer droppings, rubs, and even a few scrapes in certain locations. Prior to doing public land scouting I spend ample time reviewing aerial maps to look for good places to that bucks may bed and spend time. As for our private land, I’m really trying to get off the property and leave the pressure off of it inviting the deer to spend time on the property. The only reason I’m spending time on the private property is for property enhancements or checking trail cameras.
  6. Stand Scouting and Preparation:  I’ve begun clearing some paths to a number of my main stands. The goal with clearing paths is obviously to cut down on noise when heading to your stand in the fall. It is my hope to spray these paths with weed killer as some as the new growth starts to sprout. When to hang stands often comes down to preference, but the rule of thumb should be the sooner the better. The less time spent in the woods as the season gets closer the better.
  7. Shed Hunting: While scouting state land I’ve spent some time looking for sheds, but I’ve not been successful at all. I’ll probably spend another week or two looking for sheds, but after that I won’t devote any more time to this.

Crunch time will be here before we know it. Don’t wait and get on top your off-season tasks as soon as possible.

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