Keeping Deer on Your Property
As the old saying goes, “The harder you work, the luckier you get”, many deer hunters work endlessly year round to create more luck for themselves in the upcoming season. The summer months are upon us and many die hard deer hunters start to begin to strategize for the upcoming season. With food plots, habitat work, stand placement and everything else that goes with hunting, sometimes it can become overwhelming. One common thing that separates the successful from the unsuccessful is how they create a strategy to keep deer on their property. Creating a system that controls deer movement by using their natural instincts to your advantage, can be one of the most important things you can do to hold deer. I like to break down the system into 2 categories. Food, and Habitat. Coordinating both pieces to the puzzle will make sure you keep the deer on your land and not on your neighbors.
Many people know that a deer is a slave to their stomach. With that being said it is no surprise that a substantial number of deer get harvested every year in food plots, ag fields or even bait piles. Having a variety of food year round gives a deer no reason to leave your property in order to find a bite to eat. Because deer enjoy variety in their diets, they will travel wherever they need to go to consume the nutrients or food they need to survive. In the spring and summer months it will be your food high in proteins: such as clover, chicory, soy beans or alfalfa. Antler King’s Trophy Clover mix is a high quality clover and chicory mix that will supply that source of protein to bucks growing their antlers, and does nursing fawns.
In the fall and winter deer tend to crave foods high in energy and carbohydrates to sustain them through the cold winter months. As the temperatures begin to drop and the deer sense winter coming they rely on cereal grains and carbs to store as much fat and energy as possible until spring. Typical fall or late season food plots might have oats, rye, canola, rape, radishes and turnips that all become palatable and sought after different times in the fall, to constantly keep deer in your plots and coming back for more. Antler King’s Slam Dunk mix has always been a customer favorite as it includes, radishes, rape, forage peas, and buckwheat, which all mature and become desired throughout fall and into winter.
Without having adequate habitat it is truly a challenge to constantly “hold” deer on your property. They might come to your food plots to visit for a snack but at some point they will leave to find cover, whether it’s on your property or on the neighbors. You can create important deer habitat in a couple of different ways if you do not think your property has enough. By creating this habitat in conjunction with year round food plots, you give the deer an even better reason to stick around and come and eat, and never leave.
Hinge Cutting is the method of cutting into a tree enough to bend it or fall over but not completely severing it from the stump. I begin by cutting into the tree until you are about ½ to ¾ of the way through. At this point depending on the type and strength of the tree it will begin to fall at a slow enough rate to not sever the stump but stay attached. With the tree canopy now on the ground it creates top and side cover which deer will use to bed and stay hidden from predators and out of the elements. Hinge cutting multiple trees in an area will create bedding that may have not been there before. This method also brings important browse down to the deer’s level and provides ample food. Always remember to wear correct chainsaw equipment and be safe when hinge cutting.
Planting switchgrass and native grasses is often overlooked as an important habitat for deer. Many times I have seen deer prefer to bed in switch grass versus thick timber because they might have a hill to give them an advantage to see or smell and it’s also a faster escape route. Antler King’s Shield and Bedding Plus is a mixture of 3 long lasting native grass species that have been chosen for their ability to grow extremely tall and last for many years. Shield and Bedding Plus Includes indian grass, switchgrass and big bluestem. Once established, they can last for a lifetime if properly maintained, offering both a good food source for deer but also providing bedding and cover for many species of wildlife that can be 4-8 feet tall.
This system of habitat and food is extremely important in making sure that deer never leave your property. Of course you might be thinking, “ Bucks run for miles during the rut and you can never hold them!” Well unless you’re hunting within a high fence you can never truly hold deer on your property 100% of their lives. What you can do however is make the deer spend a disproportionate amount of time on your property versus your neighbors giving you every chance possible to become successful. This proportionate time spent on your property is created when your providing the 2 basic needs for a deer (habitat and food) and keeps deer on your land by providing them with everything they need to survive.
Hunter Flanders – Wisconsin