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.
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.
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.