Making It Work On Small Properties
Unfortunately, many of us do not have the opportunity to become real estate moguls and not that years ago rural properties sold for what the real value was, but recreation and leases have driven the prices to a point where most of us cannot afford to purchase our own land anymore. If you are faced with hunting, leasing or owning a small property, be proactive in your property management strategies. More is better, but you can do a lot with a little. When looking at a property for wildlife management, forget acres for a minute and think inventory habitat potential. Is the property secluded enough for wildlife to use it 24/7? Does the property contain refuge? All wildlife requires a sanctuary; whether it is a thicket, a briar patch or some other dense cover. Lastly, does the property host or have potential for nutrition, and hydration?
Food: Food plots are the No. 1 improvement and they are essential on a small property. Food attracts neighboring wildlife and keeps it nearby. Previously farmed or cleared areas are attractive and shouldn’t be overlooked, but when you add new plots, consider their location. Keep them centrally located (if possible) and away from the neighbor’s fence line. Try to maximize your sunlight potential by planting plots East and West. Having a year around food source is crucial; planting Antler King’s Trophy Clover will ensure your deer herd has the highest protein and tonnage producing clover and chicory available all year long. Planting small hunt plots of Antler King’s brassica mixes; Honey Hole and Slam Dunk will keep the deer on you property all through the winter. Maximizing the available food on your property will maximize the amount of deer your property will be able to sustain on a year round basis.
Refuge: Habitat is essential to attracting wildlife. Make an inventory of the escape cover and refuge available. Like food, the best refuge should be centrally located or away from areas of high human traffic. If you need refuge help you can stack or plant habitat, depending on the property. If you want to stack, consider using a tractor with a loader bucket to push limbs, dead timber and other vegetation into piles. These piles create escape cover for small game and walls that larger species can hide behind. You can also purchase seed to create cover; Antler King’s Shield and Bedding Plus is a great choice for this application as it can grow to 8′ tall and provide habitat for many years.
Water: Lack of water is another main reason wildlife will roam to neighboring properties. If your small tract doesn’t have a creek or pond, you can create a source. Digging a hole with your loader tractor or rented skid steer is an option. Bentonite may need to be purchased to seal the pond or installing/burying a heavy poly livestock tank is a great option too. If the area is not conducive to run off; take the time to fill your new water hole with a tank every other week.
If you make the best of the opportunities that you have you will not be disappointed. Take the time to study your property and make sound decisions and it will pay huge dividends. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, attend your local or state deer expos and visit the Antler King booth to talk to the experts. Hopefully we will have the chance to talk; I look forward to it!
Good luck and happy hunting
Pat McFadden, Indiana Pro-Staff