Post-Season Efforts for February, March, April

The post-season came and went in a flash. Once bucks start growing their racks I consider the post-season over and the new season alive and well. April marks the month were that happened. I’m not seeing bucks with some decent bases while I’ve been out turkey hunting and I’m also seeing the start of growth on trail camera pictures.

Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: Once the snow melts it’s a whole new type of scouting. You’re able to see old trails that weren’t necessarily made in the snow. Beyond trails scrapes become quite visible at this time. Since food sources are scarce this time of year I’ve put a good amount of time into searching for and monitoring scrapes. Whitetails use them year round. In my one of my two adventures in state land scouting I was able to locate a few new rubs and a scrape of two. That specific area is loaded with deer sign. A lot of the sign is located in a staging area not far off the primary food source in the area.

Stand Scouting and Preparation:  My father and I made decisions for our new stand placements on our main hunting property. I hung my lone wolf briefly in one of them and was able to completely get the stand ready for the upcoming season. I was delighted to get the project done this early. I have one more major stand project to do. I cannot wait to get that done and out of the way.

Shed Hunting: Shed hunting was unsuccessful for us, but a good friend of mine has been having some dynamite action this past shed season. One of those finds was a 190″ buck. When I was able to actually put my hands on those sheds my jaw dropped. What an amazing set of antlers. I hope to learn more from him in the coming days to effectively find sheds in the post-season.

Trail Cameras: As the snow melted and food sources for deer have completely changed I’ve switched all of my trail camera efforts primarily to scrape monitoring. The action on the scrapes has been quite impressive. This is the first year I’ve made it a priority to maintain these scrapes and monitor them. Thus far I’ve been rather impressive with the results. My plan is to leave a handful of cameras on scrapes all the way into late October when the scrape use starts to die down. Mineral spots as well as spring food plots are equally if not more effective trail camera spots. My state does not allow minerals to be placed in any location so I’ve chosen to use scrapes for the most part.

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Nutrition: Supplemental food is all I’ve provided for deer in moderation (always check state laws for what is ok). During the winter months I did drop numerous white cedar branches and had quite a bit of success getting the whitetails some browse in a tough time of year.

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’ve worked on creating a poor man’s plot. I’ll need to spray it here as soon as time allows. Beyond that I’ve got my soil tests in and soon we’ll be buying fertilizer and spraying all of the plots to kill weeds. A good friend of mine already has a clover plot plowed and planted. The quicker you can get the spring plots done the better. Food for the local deer herd this time of year is critical.

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Predator Control: Personally I didn’t spend any time in this department on my own farm, but we did take a few cracks at my buddies farm to no avail. There was one coyote that was missed by a member of our hunting party. All things considered it was great to get out with the goal of taking down a few coyotes.

Year Round Learning: The whitetail is a genius of a creature. Take the time to learn about them whenever time allows. I just watched a great habitat video that Jim Brauker filmed on Andy Hayes property. Jim Ward leads much of the discussion on this fascinating property tour. Another article of interest is this deer lab article regarding trail cameras and how to most effectively use them.

The projects we fail to do for whitetails now will often lead to some of the regrets we have for the 2015 season. It’s the guy that does the hard work now that will often reap the rewards come fall.

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Post-Season Efforts for January

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.

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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.

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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 WhitetailGrowing 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.

Post-Season Efforts for March

The post season is almost nearing its end, for all intents and purposes we’ll consider March the end of post-season and April the beginning of pre-season. In some areas I’ve been on top of everything I’ve desired to be, but I’d still like to make much more progress in others areas of my preparation for the 2014 season.

  1. Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: This month I’ve yet to do any scouting, but as soon as the snow melts I’ll be doing some scouting looks for sheds and more importantly scrapes of the pervious season. During the 2013 season I located a scrape hot spot. I’m hoping to have a stand there in the 2014 season.
  2. Stand Scouting and Preparation:  My goal into March and early April is to prepare some paths and shooting lanes for these new stands we hope to put in. I’m looking forward to this and the promise of new tree stand locations.
  3. Shed Hunting: Shed hunting has been at a complete stand still for me due to the serious snow pack, but the soon to be melting snow will allow for some serious shed hunting. I’ve noticed numerous twitter pictures of shed beings found over the past month.
  4. Trail Camera Surveys: I’ve continued my post-season herd survey. I’ve used this along with data from the season to actually compile a buck to doe ratio for our local area. I’m glad that our survey has led us to an estimate of a ratio of 1.2 bucks to every doe. With a ratio like this we have a lot to be excited about. The only concerning thing is that liberal doe harvests may have our numbers a bit to low. Next seasons numbers will allow us to get a better fix on this. Regardless it was great to get a ratio for this past season.
  5. Nutrition: This harsh winter had led certain states to supplement feeding from DNR departments. Numerous deer will likely be lost to the severity of this winter especially in the colder climates of the whitetails territory. Areas with proper nutrition and proper herd numbers should hold up despite the severity of this winter. EHD reducing populations prior to this extremely cold winter was a positive for the whitetails that survived EHD as they had less competition for food. If your area has poor late season food sources, this winter should force you to consider planting food plots that will maintain whitetail health throughout the post-season.
  6. Predator Control: Predator control has been unsuccessful on our end, but we’ve got a few ideas to better succeed at this next year. Putting a dent in your local coyote will certainly help your fawn recruitment in the spring/summer.

An article I just read on Deer and Deer Hunting’s website just reminded me that deer season is close to 6 months from now. That truly means it’s time to get focused on what lies ahead. The next pre-season article for April will switch gears on what needs to be done in preparation for the 2014 season.

Managing for What’s to Come

Dr. Grant Woods of Growing Deer TV has truly taken deer management to the highest level. Him and his team manage predators, the property, the food sources, and the deer herd. He has taken his management practices to truly cover all there is to cover. This practice is far from easy, it requires year round efforts to balance and maintain population levels. It is by doing this that a trophy hunter can truly reap the benefits of his work. Work leads to results. Over time years of work leads to truly exceptional results. For Dr. Grant woods and Growing Deer TV success is plentiful. Years of effort have created a unique property that is great for deer hunting. Managing predator populations and truly providing deer with exceptional nutrition has resulted in a fine deer population.

In his most recent episode Dr. Woods and his team wrap up their predator trapping season and discuss the importance of post-season food sources. Check out this episode for ideas to improve your property from a predator and a food source standpoint. These small efforts each season will eventually produce exceptional dividends.

 

Post-Season Efforts for February

The post season is well underway. We’re now stepping further into February and there are numerous tasks to complete during this cold month. Some of the tasks completed during this stage of the season will be the difference between understanding a mature bucks location and rarely seeing that buck at all.

  1. Bed, Trail, Rub, and Food Source Scouting: Thorough scouting of our main property has revealed numerous bedding areas and some bedding areas that where much larger than I could have imagined. A few of the bedding areas have been quite surprising. A number of the scouting attempts have produced some considerably large rubs. One was right where we’d expect it to be.2014-01-04 09.48.332014-02-08 10.54.31
  2. Stand Scouting and Preparation:  We’ve been considering a few new stand locations for the upcoming season and one of those locations is right near if not directly in that incredible bedding area I’ve recently located.
  3. Shed Hunting: At this point the amount of snow on the ground has made it difficult to locate sheds in our area, but we have found the shed of one spike. Once the snow melts it will be much easier to locate sheds. We’ll be looking around food sources and in these numerous bedding areas we’ve located.
  4. Trail Camera Surveys: Around the middle of January the majority if not all of our bucks shed their racks. Between my neighbor and myself we’ managed to get a decent inventory of bucks that have survived the season. It will be interesting to see the size of these bucks in the late summer as velvet takes off growing. Post-season surveys have also provided a good idea on the size of our doe herd. In the next couple of weeks I’ll pull the majority of my cameras and store them until late summer when the velvet beings to show itself in substantial ways.
  5. Nutrition: I’ll reiterate the importance of this point that I made in my January post-season article: In states that allow providing post-season nutrition and supplement can greatly enhance the health of your local deer herd. Any type of food or supplement that is added to the whitetails diet can be helpful. Nutrition can play great dividends when seeking to harvest mature bucks with trophy racks.
  6. Predator Control: Harvesting coyotes can be a fun and important part of the post-season. So far we’ve yet to harvest any of these animals, but the tough winter has made it difficult to even come by many tracks.

Post-Season Efforts for January

The post-season is full of opportunity. This can be a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous season or even the struggles of the previous season. Regardless of the outcome of your previous season it’s time to get to work.

  1. Bed, Trail, Rub, and Food Source Scouting: Deer movements are incredibly easy to pattern with a blanket of snow revealing sign of all the late-season deer activity. Follow deer trails to and from food sources and bedding areas to really zero in on the movements of deer. Keep either a mental inventory or mark on a map the sign discovered from these scouting missions. Locating buck tracks, rubs, and buck beds is the most desirable outcome of this sort of scouting. While these patterns will be more consistent during the late-season the following year, it is possible that some of patterns discovered may help with early season and rut hunting. In warmer locations where snow is absent it is possible to find scrapes and deer trails that were made throughout the season. Snow or no snow now is a great time to scout.
  2. Stand Scouting and Preparation:  It’s never too soon to begin considering where you’ll place stands for the upcoming season. After locating a new location consider what type of trimming or path work to the stand can be done this far in advance. Don’t forget to consider any new work that may need to be done to improve stand locations you may use again next season.
  3. If you’re looking for post-season action shed hunts can be a form of post-season hunting activity. Finding sheds it not always easy and can be a good challenge. Locating primary buck bedding areas, buck trails, and buck feeding sources should aid in the process of finding sheds.
  4. Using trail cameras over established food sources can be a great way to get inventories of bucks that have survived the hunting season. If you don’t want to wait until late summer to see the bucks you’ll be hunting next season, now is the time to run cameras to get an inventory of bucks before they lose their racks.
  5. In states that allow providing post-season nutrition and supplement can greatly enhance the health of your local deer herd. Any type of food or supplement that is added to the whitetails diet can be helpful. Nutrition can play great dividends when seeking to harvest mature bucks with trophy racks.