The preseason is ticking away already. Food plots are well underway for many avid hunters and bucks are really starting to show the beginning of the antler potential. The preseason continues to be one of the most exciting times of the year as expectations of what is to come are constantly filling our minds.
- Food – Nutrition: It’s time if not past 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 if you are behind on this task. Corn and soybean plots should also be planted whenever possible, don’t delay any longer. Plan to plan shortly before a rainy period if possible. I planted a few very small plots of soybeans since a friend gave me some extra seed. It is rather likely the deer will demolish the plots since soybeans should be planted in plots larger than an acre due to the pressure deer put on them. (Local famers have planted the majority of their crops, so deer should be hitting their field’s first if you your plots in the ground now.) 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 is well underway and does are delivering their fawns or have already had them. 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. Realtree created this video on how to make a cheap version of your own mineral.
- 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. The bottom line is water is vital to whitetails during this hot time of year. Make it happen if you have time, money, and resources to produce a water hole. This is critical part of their diet that is often overlooked. At this point I’m done digging water holes but still maintaining them and digging them slightly deeper in necessary.
- 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. With the season anywhere from three to four months away depending on the state you hunt it is time to consider getting scrapes going.
- Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: For all intents and purposes I’m done with my primary scouting for the season. The bugs have gotten bad in the woods and the vegetation has begun to cover the majority of the sign. If you acquire a new piece of property it may be worth trying to scout regardless, but I’ll warm you it’s difficult this time of year. The main type of scouting I’ll be doing going forward is in bean and alfalfa fields with a spotting scope. This type of scouting can give you a remarkable inventory of the bucks in the area. Look for the deer in the fields in the evening or after a rain.
- 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. Keep in mind if you do this to early the growth may return. In some places in may not even be worth clearing much of trail. When it comes to hanging stands often comes down to preference, but the rule of thumb should be the sooner the better. Get in, set your stand, and then stay out. The less time spent in the woods as the season gets closer the better.
- 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. This may or may not be ideal for getting pictures of mature bucks. Some are completely adverse to human scent, others will come at night, and still others will avoid the area all together. It depends on the buck. Ideally a food plot, mineral site, or water source are a good year round location for camera during the off-season. If the location is desirable enough mature bucks should eventually show themselves at these locations. By placing the cameras in the woods year around I am able to keep a constant inventory on the deer present in our area. The pictures of bucks in velvet keep piling in. It’s rather exciting to watch bucks develop their antlers with every passing day.
- Out of State Hunting Plans: My goal is do some out of state hunting this year. I’ve begun looking at locations and have a place to say should I follow through with this goal. Recently I came across this great website that directs you to all the state land options throughout the US. You certainly want to do your homework on which grounds you will hunt whether public or private when hunting out of state. Without my Lone Wolf Tree Stand none of talk of out of state hunting would even be possible. Find yourself a reliable and portable tree stand if you’re seriously considering hunting out of state. This is complex topic with numerous aspects to consider. The important thing is that you continually spend time planning out the details making sure to pay attention to all the details. More on this in future posts.