The Superbowl is here, it’s hard to believe January has come and gone. Just as the season flies by so too does the post-season. Ohio hunters were blessed with the opportunity to hunt throughout the month of January while many of the rest of us had to hang up our weapons sometime during January. It’s a tough time of year to call it quits, but nearly everything has an end.
Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: I’ve done my homework and really been trying to nail down some of the main trails that the deer uses to enter and exit my swamp. This has been a process that trail cameras and tracks in the snow continue to give me more and more clarity about. I found a few beds and a few good rubs, I also found a scrape that appears to be a solid year round scrape.
Stand Scouting and Preparation: I’ll have to consider if I should trim any shooting lanes in the next few months. I did take down all of our stands in the month of January. The purpose is to them out of the weather and store them for the time being. As the off-season presses on we’ll do some work to repair issues in the stand and we’ll be working to make our stands quieter. I will be going out to scout for a few new potential stand sites when time allows. This is something that can pay large dividends if taken seriously, come the time you hang you’re stands you’ve already got the hard part out of picking a tree to hang your stand in.
Shed Hunting: I almost got a buddy to go shed hunting with me the other day, but that fact that both of us have newborns kept us from the task. Hopefully in the coming months I’ll get out a few times to look for sheds.
Trail Camera Surveys: My post-season herd survey isn’t going quite as hoped, but for the time being I’ve got a few mainstay deer on the property. At least my cameras are getting some action. My neighbor on the other hand has been getting numerous mature bucks. I’ll be using this trail camera data along with data from the season to actually compile a buck to doe ratio for our local area. I’ll also write up a report for all my trail camera and harvest findings for the season. This is something that I really enjoy doing for myself and our neighbors. The data and the results are fascinating.
Nutrition: Post-season deer nutrition can take a number of different forms. Leftover ag fields provide some forage if they are not picked over. Some food plots may still see a little action if they’re not picked over. Supplemental feeding in states that allow is both a way to help your deer herd and to get a good idea of the deer that made it through the season. Be sure to check what your states regulations are if this is something you’re serious about doing. Keep in mind the deer will eat a ton of food this time of year. Another way many hunters often overlook is hinge cutting or even just cutting unwanted trees down to provide natural browse. This is a very effective way to help a struggling deer herd. I’ve just started cutting some cedar branches for the deer to give them a browse boost during this challenging days ahead. This 12 plus inches of snow we’re getting throughout the midwest is going to make things tough for the deer.
Minerals: If you’re state allowed be sure to get your minerals out early. A lot of guys wait until antler growth starts, but providing year round minerals can be quite helpful to your herd.
Food Plots: I’ve gotten excited for food plotting in the spring already. I made numerous food plot seed purchases in preparation for what’s to come.
Predator Control: I haven’t gotten after the predator control efforts this year and I do not plan too. Some of my buddies have taken a few coyotes. I’d recommend hunting or trapping for anyone who wants some hunting to do this time of year. It’ll likely help your deer herd as long as you don’t have too many deer. If you’re blessed enough to take a decent number of coyotes then you’ve really done your herd a favor.
Year Round Learning: The whitetail is a genius of a creature. Take the time to learn about them whenever time allows. I haven’t been reading articles quite like I normally do, but I’ve been rather disciplined about catching up on episodes from my favorite online shows: Midwest Whitetail, Growing Deer TV, and Bowhunting.com. I did spend a good amount of time reviewing some of the new items that were present at the ATA trade show. By far my favorite new gadget is the simple plastic clip to hold Lone Wolf Climbing sticks. What a nice new creation by Lone Wolf.
Be sure to count your blessings from the previous season, but also consider seriously what you can be doing to get things ready for the upcoming season. It always comes far faster than you’d think. Most of us will be behind the eight ball when it comes to getting everything ready for the 2015 season.