The preseason is well underway. Turkey season came and went; then we added a vacation to the Florida Keys just after that leaving me with the feeling of being quite behind on my preseason projects, but I’m still getting after it every day now that I’m back home.
- Food – Nutrition: It continues to be 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. (Pretty soon Corn and Beans will be going into the ground as well. Keep an eye out of when the local farmers are planting their crops to give you an idea of when it’s time to plant your annuals. Plan to plant soybeans a bit after a farmer plants their beans to prevent the deer from over browsing your soybeans.) Spend time researching soil testing, weed killers, fertilizers, seeds, and needed equipment when undertaking serious projects or even small projects. Understanding your budget and thinking it through is an important part of this process. Whitetail Institute is a leading expert on this topic.
- Mineral – Nutrition: If you haven’t put your minerals out you may be well behind the game. Antler growth has begun and does are pushing further and further into their pregnancies. Consider the importance of getting mineral stations running on your property; these minerals offer value to your whitetail herd. Secluded mineral licks may be optimal for weary bucks. Trophy Rock minerals are a favorite of mine. There are numerous other mineral options out there.
- Water – Nutrition: It’s never too late to 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 and it continues to get warmer with each passing month. This is critical part of their diet that is often overlooked. At this point I’m all done digging water holes. We’re up to about 5 man made water holes at this point.
- Mock Scrapes: Scrapes are an important part of a whitetails communications with one another. 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 if you’re ahead in your preseason projects.
- Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: I was able to do a little bit of scouting on public land recently and found some more good sign. 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 and I do that no more then once a week.
- 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. There are two options when it comes to preparing a path to a stand using a weed-whacker, rake, shovel to clear the area, or you can spray the area killing all growth. For the time being I’ve actually elected to use a shovel to kill the majority of Skunk Cabbage that fills many of the trails to the tree stands in our swamp. When it comes to hanging 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. I recently purchased a Lone Wolf Tree Alpha Treestand and Ladder Stick combo so now I won’t have to spend as much time prepping tree stands and I can spend more time scouting for numerous tree stand locations.
- Trail Cameras: After hearing enough people mention year round camera use I’ve switched to this approach. I maintain the cameras in a fixed location throughout the off-season that way I’m not pushing deer around and they become more accustomed to me checking these locations. Ideally a food plot, mineral site, or water source are a good year round location for camera during the off-season. This allows me to keep a constant inventory on the deer present in our area. Recently I’ve starting getting my first pictures of bucks in velvet. It’s rather exciting to watch bucks develop their antlers with every passing day.