Food Plots in the Woods? Are They Worth it?

Poor Man Plots and Food Plots in the Woods

 

Food plots are such a widely discussed topic some people become overwhelmed by the ideas and the requirements.  Yes, much can be done to create the best food available for your deer. However, you should not be disappointed when access to wide open fields with the perfect pH is hard to come by. To achieve your whitetail goals you must think outside the box and work with what you have! Food plots in the woods and poor man plots can have equal if not more impact on the success of your season if you play your cards correctly.  Planting food in the woods takes a fair amount of sweat equity but the results can be dynamic! Making an effort to plant food in small secluded hideaways can give you control over tree stand locations never before possible.  However, to create the perfect trap for your target deer it is important to understand what you are getting into.

 

 

 

 

Creating the Trap | Food Plots in the Woods

 

Poor man food plots can be understood by the obvious name…equipment is either hard to come by or access is not possible into the plot. This creates the initial work. Clearing trees and brush with a chainsaw, using fire or sweat equity to expose the soil, and then finally planting. It is hard work. Take the time to consider this and the factors below. Just know that by the end of all this hard work, poor man food plots and food plots in the woods, in the right locations, are most definitely worth it!

 

 

  1. Timing: To successfully create a kill plot for deer in the woods looking at the calendar is everything. The idea behind a poor man plot is to create a killing plot…not a feeding plot. This is often the hardest thing to understand when it comes to poor man plots and food plots in the woods. You will be putting a significant amount of work in. The earlier you get started on this the better as you want the deer to be relatively comfortable with the area by deer season. There is also the timing issue in the planting sense. Depending on the species you go with, you will need to plant your food plot months ahead of time to ensure a lush green and attractive plot by September and October. Timing is crucial, but the species is also crucial.

 

  1. Species: food plots in the woods and poor man plots will not often go over an acre in size. This limits what species can be planted. The other issue here is the shade. Food plots in the woods will often get very limited sunlight. These two factors in combination leave you with not a lot of options. The clear choice for many is white clover. With the ability to sprawl, grow great in shade, and take a beating from browsing deer, clover makes the ideal species for food plots in the woods. Of course, cereal grains like winter wheat and rye can take the attraction beyond the limited timeframe of clover but be cautious as this will limit your herbicide use. Weed management and control will be crucial for you poor man plot as weeds, shrubs, and saplings will come sprawling out of the dirt once the sun hits the forest floor.

 

  1. Poor Soils: Many hunters regulated to hunting poor soils can use food plots in the woods to concentrate what is often a meager deer herd on their property.  If you have to hunt in an area with poor soil conditions and high elevations don’t get too disappointed.  This is where research is handy. First, it is imperative to do soil samples in the exact places you want to put food down.  Comparing soil samples to recommended pH levels on the bags of seed you wish to plant is a great way to start. After receiving the results of the soil tests back consider the amount of lime needed to bring about a balance to the particular area.  Lime is a base which helps bring balance to unbalanced soils.  If your chosen area has had the nutrients washed away on a steep grade or is higher in elevation, then you will want to find the right amount of lime per acre needed to balance the pH to help optimize seed growth. Second, choosing the right seed for the pH is critical.  Typically seed manufacturers will have the information on each seed and what pH the plant will grow in best. Taking into consideration what your goals are for a given location you will want to plant accordingly.  Some plants are more resilient in bad soils and can thrive. Clover, for example, can grow in most soils and is a nitrogen fixing legume which can help level out the pH and build organic matter for future plots.

 

  1. Picking Your Mouse Trap: Since this is all about boosting your shot percentage look for smaller open areas with good cover surrounding to make the deer feel more comfortable. Hinge cut areas feeding into your food plot to create a natural safe funnel for cover. Edge feathering is also a good option as long as you are not taking a significant amount of space away from your plot. This will provide opportunities to hang new tree stands.  Since this is a new source of food, deer may be slightly wary when feeding but more relaxed with good cover to slip in and out of constantly. Look for spots an eighth or a quarter of an acre while taking the prevailing winds into account especially when hunting mountainous terrain and the changing thermals dictate when stands can and cannot be hunted.

 

 

 

 

Making It Happen

 

When you locate the spot you’re going to plant food make sure to spray the area to kill weeds. Weeds in the woods must be killed quickly in order to give the food plot seed the proper place to grow. If you can mow or take a weed cutter with you and cut down the forage as close as you can to the ground. Within a week you should be back spraying the entire mowed area. Weed and brush killer is available at most home and garden stores. Spray everything in your planting area as it is worth the effort and will make your plot far more productive in the long run. Using a backpack type sprayer is more than sufficient as your areas ought to be fairly small. Within a couple weeks of spraying your chosen are will look different and you’ll be ready to take the next steps in cultivating the ground.  Pack a good rake or leaf blower to rid the covered area of leaves if your spots are heavily wooded. Do not turn the soils over until you are ready to plant.  This is in order to keep weeds from taking a hold of your inner woods spot too early even if you have sprayed.   Break up the soils either with a tiller or a hand rake like you would in the family garden and use the appropriate amount of seed for the size of the area you are cultivating.

 

 

Planting food plots in the woods provides a new opportunity for your deer season and new locations to hang your tree stands.  In a matter of a few months, you can transform your property from being a barren wasteland to a honey-hole. Proper planning and execution, advice from others, and genuine care for your food plots will be the difference maker come fall. Planting food plots in the woods is all about making your own luck. By taking matters into your own hands you become more invested in the pursuit and those venison steaks taste a bit better during the holidays.

edge feathering

This Summer Make Edges a Priority

Deer Hunting Management | Edge Feathering Strategies

As deer hunting enthusiasts, it is easy for us to become stuck in only thinking about the hunt.  Many of us will spend countless hours daydreaming about sitting in our favorite deer stand or blind, watching one of our hit list whitetails appear in view.  While that is certainly the more attractive aspect of deer hunting, having that dream actually turn into a reality is an entirely different story. Much like any sport, success in the deer woods is often predicated on the amount of work you put into being prepared.  Ensuring that your gear and equipment is ready to go is one thing, but ensuring that your property is ready in quite another. This summer’s preparation should have you pondering what can be done in terms of property management. This year making edges a priority through edge feathering strategies, might just be your ticket to success this year!

Edges and Edge Feathering

Deer management is starting to evolve well beyond the thought that all you need to be successful is a couple of food plots here and there.  Rather, sportsmen and women are beginning to see deer management in much broader sense, and understanding how they can address the nutritional and habitat requirements of white-tailed deer throughout the year and through this approach, have been able to hold more deer and grow larger deer than ever before.

Deer management is all about taking advantage of what you have to work with, and maximizing it to the fullest extent possible, and deploying management practices such as edge feathering certainly checks that box.  Before we dive right into the practice of edge feathering, it is important to understand what exactly constitutes and “edge” and why they are important to white-tailed deer and deer hunting.

Edge Habitat – White-tailed deer, along with many other wildlife species are often classified as “edge” species.  So what does “edge” species really mean?  It means that white-tailed deer will seek out and utilize transitional areas between certain habitat types as travel areas and safety zones.  If you stop and think about it, chances are that most of your deer stand locations are centered on these types of areas.  Areas like crop field edges, or a transitional area within the timber such as where a creek bottom and ridge come together.  These are all considered edge habitats, and when it comes to deer hunting and putting a mature whitetail on the ground, is certainly something that you cannot have enough of.

Types of Edge

Edge habitats can generally be broken down into two main categories, “Hard Edge” and “Soft Edge”.  Hard edges are just like they sound, it is typically classified by an abrupt change from one habitat type to another.  A great example of this would be where a CRP field or hay field falls right next to a crop field or woodlot, with no transitional area separating the two.

Hard Edges

Hard edges are all too common in today’s landscape and are generally not as beneficial for wildlife such as white-tailed deer.  The natural world, hard edges are very uncommon.  Mother Nature prefers to gradually change between habitat types, which is why having a soft edge can be far more beneficial when it comes to deer hunting and your overall management strategy.

Soft Edges

Soft edges are the exact opposite of hard edges.  Soft edges are the transitional areas between habitat types and are widely favored by a wide array of wildlife species.  Soft edges not only provide safety and cover, but they often provide an abundance of forage in the form of green browse and mast for wildlife to forage on throughout the year.  Utilizing a practice like edge feathering to help increase your soft edge habitat can be one of the easiest was to increase the amount of forage and cover on your property with very little effort.

Edge Feathering “How To’s”

Deer management often comes down to economics.  Most deer hunters have the best of intentions and will do all they can to help provide as much habitat on their property as possible.  At the end of the day, however, when the money runs out the management stops.

Within the list of deer management practices that someone can complete on their property, edge feathering is one of the most economical by far.  In order to complete this practice all you really need is a chainsaw, some fuel, a pair of chainsaw chaps, a helmet, some work gloves, safety glasses and some stump killing herbicide (In some cases, depending upon your management objectives you may elect not to utilize the herbicide, although it is generally recommended) most of which, many deer hunters are likely to already possess.

Areas to Look For

Before you declare a Jihad on all trees, it is important to go into your edge feathering project with your areas already identified.  Some excellent areas to key in on area the woodlot edges, especially in areas where the wood lots meet open grassland habitats such as CRP fields.  In and around your existing food plots area also excellent locations to implement your edge feathering practices as well.  Additionally, wood draws or fingers that fall out into the interior of a field can also be excellent locations to complete your edge feathering project.

What are the Goals?

When it comes to edge feathering, the goal is really quite simple.  As we have already covered, the first objective or goal is to create a transitional area between habitat types, but in addition you hoping to allow the sunlight to reach bare mineral soil, which will stimulate the germination of native grasses, forbs and shrubs which will provide forage and nutrition for white-tailed deer and other wildlife.  Also, by felling the trees loosely, you are hoping to create bedding and escape cover for adult white-tailed deer and fawns, as well as many other wildlife species.

How to Edge Feather

First and foremost, edge feathering is not hinge-cutting.  Edge feathering involves felling the tree completely to the ground.  Many deer hunters will mistake this concept, and the results will not be as beneficial.  There are two methods for deploying the edge feathering practice.  This first is what is referred to as linear edge feathering.  Linear edge feathering can be conducted on wooded draws and fingers as well as woodlot edges.  With the wooded draw scenario, most habitat managers would recommend felling most trees within the draw or finger, electing to leave any mast producing trees or deer stand locations.  In the woodlot scenario, the objective should be to fell every tree at 30ft back from the edge and continue along the length of the wood lot.  Stumps should be treated within both scenarios unless your objective is to greatly increase woody cover.  Trees should be felled and stacking loosely (a good rule of thumb is if a volleyball can fall through the top of the tree pile and still reach the ground, it is suitable).  Felling the trees too tightly only helps to create dens for predators.

The benefits of edge feathering are often realized almost immediately and certainly within the first growing season.  Although you can complete edge feathering at any time during the year, the best time would be following the completion of deer season during the colder part of the year.

Other Edge Feathering Tips

In addition to providing an excellent source of cover and habitat, edge feathering can also be a great way to increase your trail camera surveillance.  White-tailed deer will utilize trail camera locations for travel, to and from food and bedding locations.  While this fact alone is advantageous, edge feathering can also be utilized to help funnel white-tailed deer too, and through specific locations allowing you, a means to increase your trail camera photo library.  Leaving an opening in a strategic location such as next to a food source will certainly provide a white-tailed deer with an easy entrance and exit point, and is an excellent location for your trail camera set.  Keep this as you begin your edge feathering project and you might just be surprised how fast your cards fills up!

Hunting Strategies and Summer Food Plots 101

Make Your Summer Food Plots Work with Your Hunting Strategies

 

For most people, hunting over or near a food plot is one of the most enjoyable parts of the season. It attracts deer and pulls them in from distant bedding areas, and can really give you a great chance at filling your tag. Just like that time Kevin Costner heard “If you build it, they will come,” in his corn field, creating a food plot is almost guaranteed to bring deer in for a closer inspection. But without proper planning and some strategizing, your summer food plots could do more harm than good. You can’t just throw some food plot seeds out in an opening and expect Boone and Crockett deer to come waltzing on in during daylight. Managing expectations is the most important part of planting a food plot, because it just varies so much across the country. But just behind that is developing good planting and hunting strategies before you even go shopping for deer food plot seed. It all starts with enough research.

 

Researching Locations and Options

We’ll assume for starters that you really have a good understanding of the layout of your property. For example, you should know not just where the mature hardwoods and grassy openings are, but also where deer bed and feed and how they travel across your land. Getting actual boots on the ground to inspect everything is a great way to really understand it best, but that can take time. Depending on the size of your property, this might not even be a feasible approach. The easiest way to cover lots of ground quickly is by using desktop scouting. You can study aerial maps to find topographic changes (e.g., ridge lines, subtle saddles, southern-facing slopes, etc.), habitat differences (e.g., conifer swamps, hardwood stands, grasslands, etc.), and locate potential feeding and bedding areas. Additionally, you can use these maps to study your neighbor’s lands (no trespassing) to understand the deer movement throughout your entire area. In short, you can easily find and map good sites for summer food plots for deer or tree stands from the comfort of your couch.

 

You also need to pay attention to size before you get too carried away with your summer food plots. You don’t want to go overboard if you’re limited on time, equipment, or resources. Annuals take more work and resources than most perennial plants (since you have to plant something new each year), but even perennials require some type of maintenance annually. To save the most time and effort, you’ll need to decide on your goals ahead of time.

 

For example, do you want to develop a true destination field or a small hunting plot? They require very different food plot approaches and ultimately hunting strategies. For example, large destination fields will attract deer mainly during the nighttime hours, and require you to mostly hunt the fringes of them or trail networks leading to them. They are best installed near the center of your hunting property so you can hold deer at the interior of your land as much as possible. Hunting plots, on the other hand, are smaller and meant to attract deer during the day (usually located near bedding areas), so you can set up your tree stands right on the edge of them and sneak in to hunt the prime hunting days of the season. Small food plots in the woods make excellent hunting plots.

 

The best summer food plots, though, use both approaches. Plant a destination field at the center of your property and then place small hunting plots between it and the primary deer bedding areas. Then you can be reasonably sure that deer will stop at the hunting plots as they travel from bedding to the evening food source, and vice versa.

 

Best Summer Food Plots for Deer

The name of the game for summer food plots should really be protein. Deer require protein in the spring and summer more than any other time of year. Bucks enter the winter in a rut-weary state, and then face months of low food supplies. By spring, their bodies are usually at a severe deficit and they need to replenish their muscle and body fat before they can really start to build antlers back. Similarly, pregnant does need protein as the building blocks for creating new fawns and for keeping up their milk supplies. Finally, fawns that have access to a high quality protein diet usually start off on the best footing and can build up their bodies enough to get through the following winter.

 

To get the most protein for your buck (dollars and deer), you’re going to likely turn to legume species. Legumes are a large family of plants that often produce their own nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in their roots. This abundance of nitrogen often creates the high protein plant material you (and the deer on your property) are looking for. Some notable plants in this family include soybean, peanut, peas, clover, or alfalfa. If one of your goals is to build the deer herd up (and build some solid antlers too), this is a good approach for you to take for your summer food plots.

 

If you plan on doing a large destination field to hunt over in the late season, you should also consider planting a high carbohydrate food. Fall and winter present a different caloric need for deer than summer does. Instead of protein, they need to pack on as much fat as possible before winter sets in, which means carbohydrates. Corn, cereal grains, turnips, and radishes all offer tremendous carbs for them in the late season and can be a real magnet for late season post-rut hunts.

 

Home Run Combinations for Summer Food Plots

Now that you know where to look, how to look, and what to potentially plant, here are some tried and true food plot mixes you can try for different situations.

 

Destination Food Plots

If you’ve got the resources, land, and equipment to pull it off, you can’t beat installing a destination food source on your property, especially if one is lacking in your area. It really serves as a focal point for deer movement across your property. While it’s tricky and risky to hunt directly on them, you can easily set your ladder stands up between them and deer bedding areas to catch a daylight buck cruising through. When it comes to summer food plots in large destination fields, you have great options for annuals or perennials.

 

As far as annuals, you really can’t beat the combination of corn and soybeans for deer. It accounts for more agricultural deer food in the Midwest than probably anything else. And the Midwest grows some big deer because of it! They have plenty of protein throughout the summer from the beans and lots of high energy food for winter from the corn. You’ll need some decent farming equipment to plant large fields of corn and beans though.

 

 

If you want to take the perennial route for your summer food plots, planting a large field of alfalfa and clover seed is a smart option. These legumes provide spring-through-fall nutrition that is loaded with protein. In fact, they become some of the first spring food plots of the year and can be great food plots for turkey too. It would actually be best if you can also hay these fields or have an adjacent farmer hay them to keep the growth lush and keep the weed pressure down. If you’re not going to actually hay it, you could also toss in some chicory for additional protein and drought protection. Alfalfa and chicory have deep tap roots to keep them green and healthy in dry weather.

 

Hunting Plot

As far as a smaller hunting plot, you have several great options, but the timing for planting these usually makes them great fall food plots. That way, deer will have access to a green food source immediately during the hunting season. But you can also plant a summer food plot blend now to provide summer nutrition for your deer, and then do a reality check in the fall. If it’s still attractive to deer, keep the plot as it is. If it’s not, then plow it under and plant something else for a fall hunting plot.

 

For annual plants, you could still do corn and beans, but the smaller plot sizes will usually be too small for the plants to escape the browsing pressure. Instead, consider turnips, radishes, brassicas, cereal grains, annual clover species, lablab, cowpeas, or even forage soybeans.

 

As for perennial species, clover and chicory also work great as a combination on small plots of 1/10 of an acre. They can take the browsing pressure and keep ahead of weed competition with some simple maintenance.

 

Where to Hang Your Tree Stands

Now here comes the most important part of planting summer food plots: hanging tree stands that will actually be effective. Tree stand placement is critical in these situations. As mentioned, you need to identify how you can approach and exit these stand locations at each food plot you make. If you can’t do both, it’s probably just doing more harm than good because you’re likely educating deer about your hunting plans each time you spook them. It should go without saying that your locations should also be downwind of the expected deer activity (during normal wind conditions). But it’s important to have several spots available so you can switch things up with different wind directions. Also, the hunting tactics should be different for each plot type mentioned above (destination and hunting plots).

 

Destination Fields

Larger summer food plots will really attract and concentrate deer in the evenings, and so there could be dozens feeding at a time. If your tree stand is located right on the edge of the field, this makes it really difficult to sneak out at the end of your hunt. You also need to be constantly mindful of your movements in your tree stand. Sooner or later, a deer is likely going to notice you.

 

Instead, identify the bedding areas from the aerial research and boots on the ground scouting you did earlier, as well as trails that deer use to access the fields. If you can hang a tree stand along one of their main trails, you have a very good chance at seeing a mature buck during daylight hours as he makes his way to feed for the night. Enter these stands early in the afternoon to minimize encounters with deer before you’re ready. Also, be prepared to stay late until deer have filtered into the field far enough to not detect your exit.

 

Hunting Plots

As mentioned, small food plots for deer are usually more inviting during daylight than large open expanses. Deer should filter through these hunting food plots quickly on their way to larger fields or beds, so you are unlikely to spook deer in the plot at certain parts of the day. Keep a Blackhawk XC hang on stand located on the downwind side of the plot, and develop an access trail that allows a silent and stealthy approach.

 

These stand locations are typically great throughout the day, as you might catch a buck returning to his bedroom in the morning, a midday snacker, or a wary buck staging up in the smaller plot instead of venturing out into the bigger fields. However, if your plot is very close to a bedding area, wait to hunt it until prime conditions occur (e.g., cold front, the perfect wind, etc.). Summer food plots like these can be excellent places to arrow a mature deer, so save them for the best hunting days. If you stick to these tips, your food plots will definitely help you punch your tag next fall

 

Tips on Getting Permission to Hunt on New Ground

Tips on Getting Hunting Permission

 

FEATURE: Dan Aquino

 

Permission. Quite possibly the most frustrating word in a hunter’s dictionary. Not the weather, the season, or the regulations, or even the game…it’s permission. Getting access is something that strikes fear and frustration in the hearts of many hunters.  Hunting land is so parceled into segments and sub-segments it is no wonder those struck with a deep sense of wanderlust exit for the West when given the chance to search for larger parcels of land rich in the game to roam.  If you study history, you’ll realize a tax map of many areas around the country looks much like Europe during the age of the futile system. Whether it is just the times and everyone’s general distrust of new people or that there really isn’t enough room for everyone; perhaps the issues in some areas with deer numbers are not related to a lack of hunters, but a hunter access problem.

 

Getting Permission Should Be a Calculated Task 

 

Just knocking on doors is hit or miss.  More often than not the land behind house number one is not the owner of the property.  Sometimes this is the case and others it is not.  Using aerial technology to your advantage can help you identify the pieces of property you want to seek permission to hunt on.  This is a time-saving method to help you narrow in the handful of properties you want to target.  This makes finding permission more manageable and not as daunting.

 

Map in Hand

 

When you narrow down the properties you’d like to hunt, the next big problem is finding out who owns what.  Looking at all the land out there and trying to dissect the tangled web of ownership it in one sitting will leave you overwhelmed.  Half the battle to gaining permission is knowing where the land owner can be found. That house planted on the side of the road with a large swath of timber behind it probably won’t be the owner.  You can do things the old fashion way by getting a tax map.  However, town tax maps can be difficult to read as they are typically in vague black and white photos giving you only a small snapshot of the property you want to hunt. Tracking down the correct information is an additional hassle we don’t need to put up with in the age of technology.  OnXmaps is an easy-to-use platform which gives you all the information you need about property lines right on your phone or GPS.   You can see in real time who owns what and where the best address to contact the owner is to give you a chance to knock on their door for permission.

 

Being ethical about property boundaries is a must for hunters.  However, especially in the east where land has been divided and subdivided hundreds of times over the past two hundred years of this country’s existence, who owns what property can become down-right confusing.  Just looking at a map from the sky makes you shake your head.  In real time you can know where you are and who owns what property with this simple phone app.

 

Getting Over The Fear

 

There is an unnatural fear of knocking on someone’s door.  It is a fact that there is apprehension and a twisting uneasiness in our stomachs every time we pull into a random driveway and head for the door.  We become a blabbering mumbled mess of adrenaline. This uneasiness keeps many people from doing so.  Remember to simply relax and smile and keep in the back of your mind the worst someone can say is, no. So what if they say no? It won’t be the end of the world.

If you are feeling stressed out by the prospect of knocking on someone’s door remember the following tips.

 

 

Deep breathing exercises can naturally help alleviate tension in your body and help you relax. Do a few deep breathing exercises help to refocus yourself and stifle an adrenaline rush.

Much like taking a deep breath when shooting a bow, breathing distributes oxygen to all your vital organs in your body.  A reduced heart rate and normalized pulse will keep you focused on the task at hand and also relax your tense muscles. As you are driving up to the driveway to ask for permission, Inhale and exhale in a calm manner through your nose. Take the classic method of taking a deep breath, counting to four, hold for two, counts, and then exhale.

 

The worst someone can say is no. Quit thinking negatively.  Negative thought accelerates tension and stress which can turn you into a bumbling fool. Thinking of the situation positively with no expectation and help you overcome and control subsequent panic attacks.

 

 

Getting Permission | Landowner Perspective Tips

 

Put yourself in the owner’s shoes. They have probably been asked dozens of times for access.  Make sure to dress for success.  Business casual, jeans sans the holes and mud we typically associate with outdoor wear, is appropriate.   How you look when you knock on a door gives off the perception of how you will treat their land.  Appearance equals the perception of respect.

 

Timing

 

The time of year to ask permission also makes a big difference.  Two weeks before the season is not the best time to ask. Starting in the offseason a great Way to build trust is to ask for permission for small game or predator hunting. This is fairly noninvasive and allows you a chance to get to know people.  Don’t rush to ask for permission for a high-value target like deer or turkeys.

Archery Only

 

Offering to regulate yourself to archery only seasons is another great way to shed any previously held stereotypes the landowner may have about hunters. Explain the quiet and noninvasive nature of bow hunting to the land owner.  Landowners who may have been left with a bad taste in their mouths from past party hunting experiences will be wary of many people wanting to hunt in groups.  Positioning yourself as a solo and quiet hunter willing to help out around the farm or house can help gain the confidence of landowners.

 

 

 

Trust and Networking

 

When stepping out of your comfort zone to find permission to hunt it is easy to see that many areas have such deep roots among community members, earning trust is not going to happen by simply knocking on the door. Growing trust does not happen overnight so here are a few things to do in order to help network in local communities and engage with landowners.

 

Engagement

 

Engaging with a complete stranger is difficult.  Remember to ask the owners questions and let them talk. Take notice of things around their property, pictures and ask about it.  If someone can become comfortable with you quickly there is a better chance they will let you have access.

 

Offer To Help

 

This is not a one-way road.  Offer to help with chores around the property throughout the summer in exchange for access.  Simple actions or offers lets people know you are serious and can be trusted.  Offer to cut tails or mow, watch pets, find something to do to gain trust.

 

Always Say Thank You

 

Maintaining a relationship is paramount to future success.  Always send a card in the offseason around the holidays or share meat from your successful hunt.  Food goes a long way to winning people’s hearts and again lets people see you are of good character and are eligible for earning their trust.

 

 

Remember The Public Lands System

 

The one piece of property you don’t need permission on is public land.  Now, when the word public land comes to mind some people automatically discount the idea based on apprehension and fear.  Sure, the risk of bumping into someone is higher.  However, the unnatural fear of law enforcement and unruly crowds has protected would-be dynamite hunting spots.  For some people, especially if one is new to an area, to look at all public land options is the only choice.  Public lands come in multiple forms more than most people realize.  There is the more well-known federal ownership of lands such as wilderness and national forests, refuges then there are state game lands such as wildlife management units. Some state parks allow for activities such as bow hunting which you can learn about with a bit of research.

 

Then there are land trusts, privately held lands open to the public through the application.  These take a bit more digging to find but can have incredible results.  Knowing what public land options are available are key to success. If you can compartmentalize fear of public lands, the world is your oyster. Scouting is the number one key to hunting public lands in order to build familiarity with the area but also to find out how the animals move when the pressure hits.  For some, hunting public land is an afterthought.  For others, it is the only choice.  While some may have a fear of hunting on the public ground, there may be a day where it is gone permanently.  Taking the time to learn to hunt public lands keeps a great resource for all sportsmen across the country alive. With government eyeing public lands to divest them for money, it is important to become invested in something we all own to protect it for the future.

 

Garnering permission for hunting grounds is becoming more difficult.  It takes the time to build relationships and earn the trust of landowners.  Regardless if you hunt on private ground or on the public, we have a responsibility to care for the lands.  Pack out what you take in.  Don’t leave messes for the next person since it only hurts the chances of being invited back to hunt those private ground the next season.

Ground Blinds 101 | Guide to Using Ground Blinds

Ground Blinds:  A Viable Solution for Hard to Hunt Areas

 

 

Often ground blinds are overlooked by hunters as a viable solution for successful hunting. Some seem to feel that it is cumbersome to carry a ground blind in, erect it, then to have to take it down, repack it, and carry it out. The advantages to using a ground blind far outweigh the slight inconvenience of carrying, setting up, and brushing in the ground blind and can be the difference between a harvest or taking a tag home.

 

Ground blinds can be an advantage to hunters in many ways. The most important factor is concealment from the game animal hunted. Other factors add value to using ground blinds such as an ideal way to introduce youth hunters to hunting, setting up in a place that would be otherwise inaccessible for a hunt, and providing some shelter from possible rain, snow, or other weather conditions.

 

Ground Blind Styles

 

There are several different styles of ground blinds available on the market from chair blinds to hub-style ground blinds in a variety of sizes for up to four people. Where spring steel ground blinds are the lightest, hub-style ground blinds offer the most durability and are a little more convenient to erect. What type of ground blind you choose is going to weigh greatly on your intended use. If multiple hunters or a cameraman and hunter are going to share the ground blind, a ground blind with a larger footprint will be more convenient.

 

 

When the intended use it to carry the ground blind in for a days’ hunt, the hunter should look for features that offer a lightweight ground blind that incorporates a carry bag with straps. The floor size should be adequate to accommodate a foldable chair and the hunter’s gear allowing at least an 180 to a 270-degree view. A standard two-person ground blind is going to have approximately a 60” x 60” shooting width and anywhere from a 54” to 64” standing height similar to the Big Game Quantum ground blind. If room for a cameraman, additional gear, or an additional hunter is required, blinds similar to the Big Game Charger ground blind with a larger shooting width is ideal.

 

Ground Blind Features

 

Ground blinds are available in numerous exterior camo patterns, and It is typical for ground blinds to have a black-backed interior to help conceal the hunter inside. Where ground blinds differ in size and height, it is also important to consider the features. Ground blind window styles will vary in features, with quiet adjustability and ease of use being the most important. Ground blind companies incorporate a combination of elastic hook closures, elastic curtain bands, zippers, magnets, Velcro, and/or elastic cord slides used in conjunction with material screen and window panels made of the same exterior material. The design height of the window can vary and should always be considered for the type of hunting you plan to do. Many ground blinds are designed with elongated corner windows for bowhunting. The more viewing and shooting adjustability a ground blind offers, the more useful the ground blind will be to the hunter. A corner back panel is used for the entrance/exit panel that incorporates a zipper for access.

 

Accessories

 

When using a ground blind, a chair will be necessary and fully adjustable, swivel chairs work the best. There are several different styles of ground blind chairs available. If you are carrying a ground blind in for a hunt and plan to put it up at the beginning of your hunt and take it down at the end of your hunt, a small folding chair such as the triangle seat chairs will offer carrying convenience but does not offer extended sitting comfort. If the hunter plans to sit extended hours or multiple days, a fully adjustable ground blind chair will be a better solution for the hunter.

 

 

The interior of the ground blind will have one or more wall pockets to store small items and hunting accessories in while in the ground blind hunting. Some ground blinds offer a bow hanging system. Other ground blind accessories are available on the market to allow hunting gear to be accessible; window shelves, bendable hanging strips for a bow or light source, and hooks.

 

Placement of Blinds

 

The placement of ground blinds is always important for a successful hunt. It is important to strategically place the ground blind where there is a wide angle of view and where the hunter will have the advantage of the best shot opportunity. It is not as critical as to brushing the ground blind in and the length of time the ground blind has been placed before commencing to hunt in the blind when turkey and hog hunting. Turkey and hog do not seem to be as leery with new ground blind placements, and often hunters are successful with a shot opportunity on the same day the ground blind was placed.

 

With deer and other large game, it is critical to place the ground blind inconspicuously by brushing the ground blind in to the surrounding area, all the while keeping in mind the placement for the highest shot opportunity in direct correlation with the way the game being pursued is using the area. Many ground blinds will feature a way to secure limbs to the exterior of the blind for brushing in with limbs; either with ties or banded straps. It is helpful to keep in mind where the sun will rise and set to keep from placing the ground blind where the hunter will be looking directly into the direct sun interfering with hunter’s shot.

 

Ground blinds will come with ground stakes, and most will include nylon tie-down cords. It is always good practice to tie down the ground blind, especially if the blind will be left unattended for any length of time or on windy days. Most ground blinds will include a zippered carrying case with straps for carrying comfort and convenience. Often these carrying bags will have a pocket to store the ground stakes and rope in. With most of the ground blind bags, the main zippered compartment can accommodate a small folding stool.

 

Setting a ground blind up against a tree line, dense brush, cedars, hay bale, or some other object will allow the blind to blend in. Windows should be opened only to the width to safely make a shot with the weapon being used. Pay attention to the side or back windows because a see-through silhouette will be visible to game animals approaching from the sides of the ground blind.

 

Maintenance

 

One of the first things recommended once you select a ground blind is to erect the ground blind outdoors, spray down the exterior with an anti-UV spray, paying the most attention to the roof and three-quarters of the way down the exterior walls. This anti-UV spray will protect the color and finish of the exterior of the ground blind. After the anti-UV spray has been applied per the manufacturer’s instructions and has dried completely, a water repelling spray should be applied to the entire roof and the portion of the ground blind that would be likely to leak; typically to the top of the windows. This treatment will assist in repelling water. For seams and stitching holes, shoe goop can be applied to those areas sealing the holes from leaks keeping hunters and gear dry inside. Shoe Goop is a rubber type adhesive that dries to a pliable finish on nylon, canvas, plastic, and rubber. Make certain all areas applied are completely dried before folding down the ground blind for storage.

 

If it is ever necessary to pack the ground blind in the field wet from rainy weather, it is imperative to erect the ground blind for drying as soon as possible after the hunt to inhibit mold and to keep the blind materials from deteriorating. If the weather is not cooperative to set the blind up for air drying within a 24-48 hour period, the ground blind should be taken out of the carrying case and any water found should be wiped away with a dry towel.

 

If the ground blind zippers get mud in them, the zippers should be rinsed well with water by a direct stream of a water bottle with sprayer or spritzer top and dried off. If you find that the zippers are hard to zip and unzip, you can use unscented bar soap or a glycerin bar on the zipper teeth allowing the zipper to glide easier.

 

 

 

If a hunter is traveling to hunt public or private land, it is always a good idea to load a ground blind up for the trip; you may find the perfect hunting spot that does not work well with a stand. If unexpected weather arises, a ground blind could save the hunt. Utilizing a ground blind while introducing a new hunter or youth hunter to hunting; allowing more concealment and giving the mentor the option of to assist a youth with the shot. Erecting a ground blind will offer a hunter a viable solution in saving the hunter valuable hunting hours versus taking the time to erect a stand. There are many reasons to consider a ground blind for hunting that far outweighs the small inconvenience of carrying the ground blind in, setting it up, brushing it in, and having to take it down after the hunt. Adding a quality ground blind to a hunter’s gear inventory will prove to be a wise investment for a practical, viable solution for hard to hunt areas, high traffic areas not suitable for stands, when extra concealment is necessary, or cover for those days with not so favorable forecasts.

Tree Stand

Clover Food Plot and Tree Stand Placement Tips

Hunting Clover Plots | Tree Stand Strategies

Spring is in the air and chasing white-tailed deer is likely the last thing on your mind, however, the spring months offer those who have a passion for deer hunting an opportunity to fine-tune the placement and positions of their deer stands.  Deer hunting is a sport that requires a “trial and error” approach in order to be successful.  Just about the time you think you have checked all the boxes, and you have your tree stand placed perfectly, and you have done your due diligence to address all of the variables, something unforeseen arises and it is back to the drawing board.  Though it may seem frustrating, the constant grind that comes with punching a tag only helps to make success even sweeter and often teaches us a thing or two that we can apply to future hunts.

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Tree stand placement is often a product of two things, the type of area you are hunting (funnel, bedding area, food source, etc.) and the available cover that you have to place a tree stand.  These are certainly the “big bucket” concepts that most white-tailed deer hunters tend to adhere to, however, not taking the time to truly analyze the circumstances can often lead to mistakes being made.  Often, tree stand placement along with other aspects of your overall hunting strategy can be fine-tuned if you are willing to take the time to dive a little deeper into the “when” and “where”.

Tree Stand Placement Tips

Spring is food plot season, and as such, clover food plots are usually the first thing on hunter’s minds. For good reason! Clover plots, if placed and hunted correctly can serve as perfected kill plots. Take this tree stand placement and clover plot tips into consideration.

Not Every Set Is Created Equal

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Would ever you wear football pads to a baseball game?  Hopefully, the answer is no!  The point is that both football and baseball are competitive sports that are very similar.  They both involve a team, they both occur on a field, and they both utilize a ball.  Though they are similar, they couldn’t be any more different.  The same can be said for each of your tree stand sets.  Though you are hunting white-tailed deer from each location and set, each location and set are different in its own way.  If you make the mistake of treating each of your tree stands as if they are exactly like the other, then chances are you are missing opportunities to fine tune your tree stand placement and add to add a few more tally marks to your harvest totals at the end of the year.

The Devil is in the Details

Sometimes, identifying the differences between tree stand sets can be tough.  For example, if you have tree stands placed in a wooded draw on one side of the property, and a tree stand placed in a wooded draw on the other side of the property, you might argue that there is nothing that separates the two from each other, and in some cases you would likely be correct.  That said, the devil is often in the details so before you make your assumptions that all tree stands sets placed in similar cover types are the same, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

Timing

The old saying “timing is everything” is certainly true when it comes to how you place and when you hunt your tree stand.  Certain sets may see very little activity during the early part of the season, but turn on during the rut or late season.  Likewise, you may have certain areas of your property that deer do not specifically use all the time, however, will pass through during certain periods of the year.  It is scenarios such as these that separate the wooded draw on the east side of the farm from the wooded draw on the west.

Cover

Placing a tree stand is one thing, and hunting from it is certainly another.  Understanding the timing in regards to when certain tree stands sets will likely have the most activity and when food plots are attractive can help you understand what your needs will be in terms of concealment.  For example, if you are hunting a travel lane food plot such as a funnel or wooded draw staging area, that is exposed between crop or CRP, then the overhead cover is likely at a premium.  Additionally, of you have an area like this that you tend to spend more time in after leaf drop, then you may want to keep the saw in the pack and resist the urge to cut too many branches out of the way.  It is important to have a shooting lane, however, concealment is equally so.

tree-stand-placement-clover-food-plot_pic3On the other hand, if you find yourself hunting an early season set when the trees are still in full canopy, then you can likely get away with far more trimming and even a little more movement while in the stand than you could later in the year.  Though many white-tailed deer hunters will say that they consider these points while placing their tree stands, it is important to spend some time to really consider them.  If you slow down and spend some time truly evaluate your surroundings and understand the “big picture”, you just be surprised at how your original location will slide to the back seat and something new will jump out in front.

Placement over Clover Plots

Deer hunting over a green browse plot such as a clover plot is truly a special thing.  There is just something about seeing a white-tailed deer cast against the lush, green vegetation of a clover plot that can get the blood pumping in the chest of any deer hunter.  Clover plots provide an excellent opportunity to not only see a lot of deer during the early part of the deer season but to also catch a big mature buck prior to the rut.  Green browse such as clovers provide white-tailed deer with an unbelievable source of nutrition, and with little effort on the part of the hunter, can produce an immense amount of biomass, most clovers reaching from 2,000- 3,000 lbs per acre, to help feed a large number of deer on any given farm.

Hunting over a food source such as a clover plot may seem fairly straightforward, however, when it comes to tree stand placement over these areas it can be a little trickier than you might it might appear.

Is it Early Season Hunting?

Hunting over a clover plot is typically early to mid-season activity.  These areas can still produce white-tailed deer activity at all times of the year, however, once the season turns colder deer will begin to seek out forages that are more suitable for the conditions.  It is important to keep in mind the conditions that you will be faced with when hunting during the early season as you begin to identify potential tree stand locations.  As was mentioned previously, the foliage during the early to middle part of the season tends to be fuller.  This is both a positive and a negative.  It is a positive in that you should have plenty of covers to help you stay hidden and concealed, however, keep your shooting lanes clear and open can sometimes be very problematic and require attention many times throughout the offseason.  The spring months are an excellent time to get out and begin considering tree stand locations and evaluating your shooting lanes.

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Entry and Exit

One of the positive aspects of hunting a food plot that consists of forages like clover is that while mornings and evenings are likely the most active feeding times, white-tailed deer can and will literally utilize these areas at almost any point during the day.  This unpredictability can also be a negative, as it can put extra emphasis on your entry and exit strategy.  It is always important to have a way in and a way out of your stand that will keep you quiet and concealed.  With a food plot such as a clover plot, this certainly the case, and then some.  White-tailed deer will not only utilize these areas at any given point during the day but often will bed close by if suitable cover exists.  It can be very challenging to make your way into these areas without bumping deer if you have neglected to do your legwork up front.  Additionally, if and when you find yourself enjoying an evening hunt over a clover plot, be prepared to stay until last light.  White-tailed deer, especially if they are unpressured, will tend to spend the majority of the evening in these plots, which can make it exceptionally difficult to exit without being seen.  This helps to further emphasize the importance of an entry and exit strategy when hunting over your clover plot.

Scent Control

When placing a tree stand, a good rule of thumb is to not be any higher than you absolutely need to be.  The height of tree stand is often a result of the location, the time of year it will be hunting and the concealment that is available.  During the early season months, temperatures will often still be on the warm side.  These humid conditions can greatly increase even the slightest odor, and can quickly cause you to be pinpointed.  Early season food plots such as clover plots are areas where you may consider increasing the height of your set if that is an option.  Increasing the height of your tree stand will help you with your scent control efforts, in addition to increasing your visibility.  Just remember that there is no second chance for safety first, so always use a harness no matter if you are hunting from 10’ or 25’, a fall from a tree stand is serious so treat it as such.

Edge Effect

When it comes to deer hunting over clover plots, there is no question about where the deer prefer to be, and that is often the center of the plot.  This is often the result of a couple of factors, the first being what is known as the “edge effect”.  The edge effect is a term that applies the edges of a food plot or crop field being less productive than they middle or center of the plot.  This is typically caused by either a fertility issue or as a result of the nearby trees either shading out the clover or simply outcompeting the clover for nutrients.  The key factor here is that this, ensuring that you have your tree stand set within shooting distance of the major entry and/or exit point of the plot is important.  Often, white-tailed deer will head straight for the most productive area of the clover plot, and if you are not ready to strike quickly, you may have to result to simply watching deer rather than shooting one.

If you take a few these tips into consideration it will likely help you to not only recognize factors variables related to tree stand placement that perhaps you had not in the past, but they will certainly help you to be more successful in the white-tailed deer woods this fall.

Deer Hunting Accessories for Spring Wildlife Habitat Projects

Improve Wildlife Habitat with These Simple Tasks

 

Feature Photo Credit:  Ryan Lisson

Springtime usually means one thing to most hunters: it’s time to hit the woods with a box call and some turkey decoys. That’s great and nobody would blame you for doing that. But there are lots of other ways you can spend time in the spring woods this season – ways that will ultimately pay off over the years with improved wildlife habitat and increased animal abundance and visibility (oh, and hunting opportunities too). That’s right; it’s time to kick off your spring wildlife habitat projects. Just make sure to grab the right deer hunting accessories and tools before you hit the woods so you can get as many of your land management goals checked off the list before your summer projects start. You’ll probably be surprised at just how many animals benefit from your wildlife habitat work too; whitetails, turkeys, grouse, rabbits, bears, and most other animals in between will all have improved habitats (i.e., an increase in available cover and food) for years to come!

 

Deer Hunting Accessories | You’re Only as Good as Your Tools

 

As any good carpenter knows, you can’t produce a great and valuable product without the right tools. The same is true for your wildlife management goals. That doesn’t mean the tools have to be the most expensive ones either. It just means you need the right ones, along with the appropriate know-how, to get it done. For most of these wildlife habitat projects, you will be doing some cutting. Mother Nature often responds to destruction with amazing forms of new and vibrant life. That’s exactly what you’ll key in on.

 

First, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment and use all the tools below for the purposes they are supposed to be used. Big Game Tree Stands® has several handheld cutting implements that will be more than sufficient for these wildlife habitat improvements. Unless you’ll be tackling some big trees while hinge cutting, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, a handheld serrated saw or folding saw will get you through any of them. If there are mature trees that need to be cleared from the area completely, it’s best to get a chainsaw. Some simple handheld loppers or the deluxe ratchet shears are perfect for cutting live stakes off existing shrubs or trees.

 

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You’ll also need a shovel and a few buckets if you plan to transplant anything very successfully. For the food plots, you’ll also need a garden rake to clear the vegetation, and a sprayer and spreader would both be very handy items (though you don’t need them right away). Luckily, you probably have several of these sitting in the garden shed already.

 

Wildlife Habitat Projects You Can Do This Spring

 

As we mentioned, these simple wildlife habitat improvement projects will help expand the wildlife habitat on your private land for multiple species. And none of them are complicated! They just take some time and effort, which is well-spent considering the amazing future hunting opportunities you’ll get in return.

 

Hinge Cutting Wildlife Openings

Hinge cuts are accomplished by simply cutting two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through a tree trunk at waist height and letting it fall down on its own or with a little shove. The goal is to keep some bark attached, which will provide nutrients and water to the downed tree tops. This makes excellent deer browse, which will be the majority of the deer diet next winter. While winter is a great time to get a lot of hinge cuts done, there are a few advantages to spring cuts too. You might have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes, but the trees are a little more pliable in the spring, which should result in more tree trunks staying connected to the bases. If the cuts occur before things really start greening up, it will be a welcomed supply of fresh browse for deer to consume, and they will likely start using it immediately.

 

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Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson

 

While mature forests have some benefits for the game species we’re after, an abundance of it doesn’t provide much. Unless it’s an oak forest raining acorns down each fall, it could likely be improved. If you’re wondering how to keep deer on your property, you might just need a few small hinge cut bedding areas. They are great for making deer habitat in this sense, but these pockets of dense regrowth are also great for grouse and rabbits. Why? First, lots of downed tree tops provide browse and the catkins/buds of birch or alder trees will be eaten by grouse. Second, the increased solar exposure will result in a thick tangle of new growth the following summer to hide from predators and provide additional feeding opportunities. Because deer can get both food and cover in the same spot, these areas are great daytime bedding areas and they quickly become wildlife sanctuaries if you simply stay out. Finally, downed tree trunks provide great drumming logs for ruffed grouse!

 

Clearing New Food Plots 

While you’re out there with some saws making hinge cuts, why not create a new timber food plot? The only difference is that you will completely cut the trees down instead of partially cutting through them. Adding food plots may not always be necessary for wildlife habitat, especially this kind of plot, but it’s a valuable piece of the hunting puzzle. And you get ample amounts of firewood to dry for the next few years as a bonus. For remote timber plots, it’s best to make these small (i.e., under half an acre). Why? One, it’s a lot of work to clear that many trees by hand. Two, these forested spots are often great ambush kill plots, so you want deer to feel comfortable entering them during daylight hours. Place one within a few hundred yards of one of the hinge cut bedding areas and it’s very likely to pull deer in during that time frame. You’ll just want to make sure that the southern and eastern exposure is somewhat open to ensure it gets enough sunlight.

 

Simply start cutting trees down, felling them away from the intended food plot interior. Cut the trunks up into manageable pieces and haul them off to the side to bring back out for fire wood. Pile the slash (unusable limbs and brush) into specific spots around the plot. For example, you don’t want to surround the entire plot with a mess of slash or deer might feel trapped inside the plot. Instead, keep it relatively open on the ends for deer to flow through and pile the brush on the side you intend to place your Warrior DX tree stand. That will discourage them from walking downwind of your ladder stand location. Then rake the remaining debris out of the plot and wait for it to green up. It will respond best if you spray it with a general herbicide like glyphosate after it’s started to grow. Spray it a couple times over the summer and cut any tall vegetation again towards fall. Then spread some fertilizer and lime according to a soil test (you did that, didn’t you?) and plant a mixture of clover, annual cereal grains, and some brassicas. Deer, turkey, and grouse will all spend time in this kind of a plot.

 

Trail Network

While not exclusively considered for spring habitat projects, trails are a great project this time of year because the increased visibility helps you plan your route efficiently. In between your new food plot area and bedding area, set up a wildlife trail network. Even if the woods are fairly open, you should plan on cutting a wildlife trail. In fact, it’s especially important in that case so you can pattern where exactly deer will travel instead of trying to predict where they will go. Can you always guarantee they will use your trail? No. But deer like to take the path of least resistance, just like us. Make that path for them.

 

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Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson

 

Start with some flagging tape to make sure your trail follows the land contours and avoids any obvious terrain obstructions. After connecting the two spots, go back with a saw and start hinging trees to fall perpendicular to the trail so deer aren’t trapped along the trail. You don’t want a highway either. Just make it wide enough to comfortably walk down. Linking all of your wildlife habitat improvements with this kind of trail network can help you pattern deer movement much easier.

 

Staking, Planting, and Transplanting

Another great wildlife habitat activity to do in the spring is plant things to take advantage of the moist soils. If you’ve always been curious about planting shrubs for wildlife, but were put off by the cost, consider live staking. This practice is commonly used in stream restorations, but it is the process of cutting a 12 to 24-inch branch off a shrub and shoving it into the ground to sprout roots and essentially clone the parent plant. Live staking works best on dogwood species (red-osier, gray, silky, etc.) and willow species (black, sandbar, etc.), but can work on others occasionally. Find some parent plants on your property first. Cut a branch with several nodes (buds/branches) and trim the buds off the lower ones. Shove the branch about halfway to three-quarters of the way into the ground so most of the nodes are underground. These will sprout roots, while the aboveground nodes will produce leaves and new branches. This is a great low-cost wildlife habitat project since it only involves your time. While you might be able to make this work in some upland areas, it is better to do along wetland fringes where there is adequate soil moisture.

 

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Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson

 

If you don’t have many wetland edges or you’d like to move some other plants around, you still have a few options. You can fully dig up and transplant shrubs or trees to a new location, or for species that send new plants up from roots (called “suckers”), you can sever them from the parent plant and grow a new one. For example, if you have an area of your property with lots of spruce and pine trees, consider transplanting some of them to other areas of your property that are mostly hardwoods or deciduous shrubs to increase the species diversity and add some cover. Planting pine trees for deer cover seems to be popular, but spruce will often provide better thermal cover and visual screening than pine species. Transplanting works best for smaller bushes and trees for ease of transplanting and improved success rates, so stick to plants shorter than you. While you don’t need a ton of soil along with it, make sure you include at least enough roots to extend out to the drip line (edge of the farthest branches) and dig down about the same distance. To help your hunting efforts the most, plant them in small wildlife habitat “pockets” of 4 to 5 trees/shrubs and alongside trails. Grouse and rabbits like to use these features for cover, so you can bounce around between these pockets of cover and easily walk the trail to get to them.

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Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson

 

Finally, you could also rake and rough up the soil along your existing trails and spread some clover seed around this spring. Nearly all game animals will utilize clover stands at some point in the spring and summer; deer, rabbits, and game birds will eat the leaves, while turkeys and grouse will also use it for bugging habitat. Since they will also travel along existing trails, why not combine the two to make them super effective?

 

Better Wildlife Habitat Starts With You

 

As you can see, habitat management for deer or other wildlife isn’t all that technical or hard to do, but it does take some dedication to do it on a large scale. These habitat management practices are best when tackled with teamwork, so gather up a few family members and friends and spend a weekend getting after it. You’ll have better hunting opportunities next fall and improve your property for the next generation at the same time.

The Unsung Heros of Hunting| Hunting Accessories

Hunting Accessories | Critical Items You Need While Hunting

Feature Photo Credit: Joe Diestel

There is nothing better than enjoying an April sunrise from the comfort and seclusion of your favorite ground blind or tree, just as spending a November morning nestled in your best deer stand is also a magical experience.  Whether you are chasing spring turkeys or white-tailed deer hunting, taking to the woods in search of wild game requires you to be prepared for any situation.  These hunting accessories are the unsung heroes of the woods, critical to making your hunting experience top notch.

 

 

Talkin’ Turkey | Turkey Hunting Accessories

Spring is well underway and soon it will be time to dust off the shotgun and hit the woods to do some turkey hunting.  Anyone who has chased spring turkeys will quickly tell you that turkey hunting is a gear-intensive activity that can often require one hunter to carry multiple hunting accessories with them on a daily basis.  The reason is simple, you want to be prepared.  Turkey hunting can sometimes be a game of seconds, so when success is on the line you need to ensure that you have what it takes to get the job done.

There is no doubt that hunting from a ground blind is effective when it comes to turkey hunting.  That said, many turkey hunters much prefer to “run and gun” which makes hunting from a pop-up blind difficult to accomplish.  If you fall into this category, you have no doubt found yourself in a situation where the elements have felt as though they are stacked against you.  Springtime often means frequent rain events, and there is nothing worse than finally getting close to a gobbler only to have the rain set in.  When this occurs, you really have two options.  You can either wait him out and get soaked in the process, or you can leave.  Neither sounds all that appealing.  Luckily, you can do something about it!


A pop-up umbrella system is not only effective in the deer stand, but it is also effective in the turkey woods.  The umbrella can quickly attach to your tree and can be set up with little sound and movement required.  The umbrella system in combination with one of our ground seats will be the ultimate small and compact combination that can easily fit into any pack or vest and should always be part of your turkey hunting accessory list!

Deer Hunting Accessories

Whether bow hunting or rifle hunting, the modern day deer stand has features to not only keep you comfortable and concealed but can also help improve your chances of punching a tag on your hit list buck.  Today, deer stands come in all shapes and all sizes.  What once consisted of a few 2 x 4’s, nails and a few railroad spikes now consists of ladder stands, hang-on stands, two-man ladder stands, climbing stands and this list goes on from there.  Today’s deer stand is generally lighter, stronger and more durable than deer stands of even two years ago.  As a group, hunters a generally not given the credit they deserve in terms of innovation and improvements that they continue to make in the field of deer stands and hunting products.

Pack Fillers

Selecting a deer stand in like selecting a car, it’s a personal decision that is based upon your needs and desires.  While the type of deer stand that a hunter might choose may vary, the list of accessories that typically fills their pack will certainly vary from deer hunter to deer hunter.  Who ever said that deer hunting was not and accessory driven activity was mistaken, as today’s deer hunter typically has enough equipment and gear to fill almost any field pack on the market.

Although there are certainly a number of items that a deer hunter can carry in their packs to help them attract a mature buck to their location, often there are the additional “pack fillers” that also add to the overall success of the trip.  These items are the unsung heroes of most deer hunting experiences, and while these items may often be overlooked make no mistake, these items can greatly improve your hunting experience while in the deer stand and can ensure that you are ready to go when the opportunity arises.

An Extra Hand

Unlike buying a house or a new truck, there is only so much storage that a deer stand can offer.  That said, regardless if you are archery hunting or rifle hunting, white-tailed deer hunting generally requires the hunter to have plenty of gear on hand.  Here in lies the problem, as there is only so much room on the deer stand platform.

Whether it is an extra tow rope, a multi-hook accessory holder or a multi-hanger, having the ability to have those critical pieces of deer hunting hardware out and available at arm’s reach is important.  Sometimes we can all use an extra hand, and each of these items can provide you with just that.  The best feature that each of these items can offer the deer hunter is they are light and can be neatly tucked away in any hunting pack.  They take up very little space, but can really save the day when called upon.  If you don’t have at least one of these items in your hunting pack, then you’re missing the boat.

hunting-accessories-you-need_pic3Clearing the Path

Maybe you are hunting a new piece of property, public land or maybe you are just hunting a deer stand that you haven’t hunted in a while, regardless of the circumstances having a limb right in the way of your best shooting lane is a problem.  While a multi-tool can tackle the small stuff, they are typically outmatched for limbs that are much larger than your pinky finger.

Having a reliable pair of pruning shears at your disposal is nothing short of a life saver.  A set of ratcheting shears can enable you to tackle a problematic limb that is large in size while to remaining concealed and quite.  A good set of shears can also be critical in helping you freshen up that old ground blind or ground set, and the best part, they take up about the same amount of room as two decks of playing cards.  Having a folding saw is better than nothing, but having a good set of shears will trump almost any alternative, and should find their way into your deer hunting pack before next season.

Marking the Way Home

Everything looks different in the dark.  No matter if you have hunted the same area a hundred times, or if you are looking at a brand new property, heading to your deer stand before daylight or making your way to the truck after sunset can sometimes be a challenge.  The last thing that any white-tailed deer hunter wants to do, especially if there is a big buck in the area, is go beating through the brush trying to find their way.

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Having a clearly marked trail is an excellent way to ensure that scenario doesn’t occur, and utilizing reflective trail markers or trail marking tacks in certainly one way to accomplish this goal.  These reflectors will shine with even the lowest of light, allowing you to remain silent and move quickly to your location.  In addition to helping you find your way to and from your stand, utilizing these reflectors when blood trailing a deer after daylight can also pay great dividends in determining the path of the animal while also allowing you to easily retrace your steps if you happen to lose the trail.  Best of all, these reflectors take up virtually no room, but can certainly be a lifesaver when in the field.

Before you take out to the deer stand on your next deer hunting adventure, be sure to take inventory of your hunting pack.  If you happen to find that these three items are absent, hit the store and rectify the situation.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

Ground Seats for Turkey Hunting | Which Fits Your Hunting Style?

Why Ground Seats for Turkey Hunting Matter

 

Who stands while they are hunting turkeys? Unless you are moving or caught off guard by an unexpected gobbler, you are probably sitting most of the time. This is why ground seats for turkey hunting matter. These butt saving hunting accessories come in a variety of styles and vary in function depending on the turkey hunting strategies you may be using this spring.

 

Types of Ground Seats for Turkey Hunting

There are three types of ground seats for turkey hunting out there. These include seat cushions, lounge chairs, and platform seats. Portable hunting seats vary based on function and need while hunting turkeys. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of turkey hunting you are doing and where you may be hunting.

Hunting seat cushions are by far the lightest and most carry friendly ground seats for turkey hunting. They range from simple 1” thick closed cell foam pads to more advanced, thicker padded seats wrapped in camo. Others are designed not only for comfort and portability but also to keep your butt warm on cold spring mornings. Included in this type of turkey hunting seats are those complete hunting seat cushions with an added plush backrest, usually attached with clips and foldable for easy, lightweight transport. Both the cushioned pads and seat cushions with backrests are a good all-around hunting seat for mobility and short sits.

Advantages – Lightweight, inexpensive and very mobile friendly.

Disadvantages – Not comfortable enough for an all-day sit and need replaced every few years or so depending on use.

 

 

Lounge chairs are perfect if you are looking for comfort and do not mind the extra weight. Turkey hunting chairs are some of the most comfortable ground seats available. They offer mesh fabric seats and backs to stay cool, stability while sitting on the ground and just enough height off the ground for turkey hunting. Low profile hunting chairs, like many of the new versions on the market, work best when you plan to sit all day and comfort is a big deal.

Advantages – All day comfort with back support and they keep you off the ground if you are hunting in wet areas.

Disadvantages – Expensive, are an added weight to carry on top of your decoys and other turkey hunting gear and are hard use directly against a tree when trying to break up your outline.

 

Platform seats are basically a low profile hunting chair without a back. Platforms are a compromise between a lounge chair and a seat cushion when it comes to turkey hunting seats. They are a mesh or fabric seat on top of a frame that puts you a few inches off the ground but they have no back rest. You can use one against a tree and use the tree trunk for your backrest, which helps you to stay concealed better. Platform ground seats for turkey hunting get you off the ground unlike a seat cushion and weigh less than a full out turkey hunting chair but the compromise is they provide no back support.

Advantages – Keeps you off the ground and weighs less than a lounge chair.

Disadvantages – No back support and can be awkward and bulky to carry compared to a hunting seat cushion.

 

Most turkey hunters choose to use a seat cushion but more and more are moving towards lounge chairs because of the comfort and support they provide. Innovative turkey hunting vests typically come with a seat cushion or some form of a fold-out chair built right into the vest itself. Choice when it comes to ground seats for turkey hunting comes down to balancing the advantages and disadvantages among the different turkey hunting seats against your hunting strategies.

 

Two Turkey Hunting Strategies Where Ground Seats Matter

Ground seats for turkey hunting are a must, but deciding on what type depends heavily on your hunting strategies. Two of the more commonly used tactics for hunting gobblers in the spring include the run & gun approach and the sit & wait approach.

 

Run & Gun Turkey Hunting

 

Run and gun turkey hunting is a style for those who are impatient and for when times call for making something happen to get close to a gobbler. For those times when birds are with hens, or later in the day when gobbling activity may slow, a strategy like run & gun allows you to cover ground and find a receptive bird to work. Basically, start by making some calls with a box or slate call to project sound as far as you can. Keep moving until you get a response then once you do, estimate the distance and try to close it even more without spooking him. Resist the urge to over call once you find a gobbler. Often if you close the distance enough, you can setup and let him come to you. Additional calling may spook a call shy bird or one that is less vocal for whatever reason.

 

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When you are run & gun turkey hunting, a seat cushion is by far the best turkey hunting seat to use. It is lightweight and compact enough to stow in your vest or pack and easy enough to throw down quickly when you run into a gobbler.

 

Sit & Wait Turkey Hunting

This low impact approach to hunting turkeys has been an effective technique year after year. Whether birds are gobbling or are silent with hens, eventually if you sit and wait in a good spot for turkeys they will come in. Pressured birds, especially older ones and those on public land, get smart fast. Sometimes they can be vocal all day and other times you may not hear a peep. Times when you have to wait them out or know there are turkeys around but they are not talking require a comfortable seat. To minimize movement and increase your comfort, lounge chairs work best for this style of hunting turkeys. Choose a standard height chair if you are going to be hunting from a ground blind, but most turkey hunters who will be in pursuit on the ground should use a low profile turkey hunting chair. You may have to put up with the extra weight for your hike in and out but since you will be stationary most of the day, its comfort beats out seat cushions and platform seats when it comes to sit & wait turkey hunting.

 

Portable hunting seats matter and can make the difference depending on the type of hunting strategies you are deploying this spring. If you know you will be running and gunning all day then the choice is simple, a seat cushion will be more than enough. However, if you are going to be set up waiting on birds, a lounge chair is going to probably be your best bet. When it comes to ground seats for turkey hunting, remember the type and function of each seat matters as you chase down spring gobblers.

ground blinds

Turkey Hunting Ground Blinds | What Makes A Good Blind?

Considerations for Good Turkey Hunting Ground Blinds

 

The warm spell the country is currently experiencing makes it feel more like April than about a month before the official first day of spring! A false sense of spring is the perfect time to consider what this spring gobbler season may look like. One consideration is will this year be the year to start using ground blinds for turkey hunting?

 

Reasons Why Ground Blinds Make Sense for Turkey Hunting

 

Hunting turkeys from a ground blind are effective because a blind offers many advantages that allow you to get close to birds. Unlike deer hunting where scent control is typically your biggest challenge, movement when turkey hunting is what gets you busted time and time again. A portable turkey blind conceals movement, provides more comfort and opens up more opportunities in spring turkey season.

 

The two best reasons for using a pop-up turkey blind this spring are the concealment and comfort they provide. As opposed to sitting on the ground, hunting turkeys from a blind hides almost all movements you may make during those critical moments when a long beard is approaching. Rarely does a gobbler come in perfect, which means you will need to probably make several last second position adjustments. Hunting blinds conceal movements allowing you to move when birds are close with the confidence they will not spook unlike when hunting on the ground where even the slightest movement can alert a gobbler.

 

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In conjunction with being able to move more when hunting turkeys from a ground blind, a blind also makes for a more comfortable hunting experience. We are all familiar with birds coming in silent so when on the ground you really cannot move much at any time when hunting turkeys. In the blind, however, you are free to reposition your legs and stay comfortable the entire day. Ground blind accessories such as seats and gun rests can be added to increase comfort while hunting, making them ideal when hunting with kids or rookie turkey hunters.

 

Another important aspect of using ground blinds for turkeys is the fact that ground blinds can “make” a hunting area on both private and public land. For example, long beards may be working a particular area but that area may not have sufficient places to set up at. A blind can be used to ambush birds and create a concealed turkey hunting setup, right where the birds are.

 

What Makes a Good Ground Blind for Turkeys?

There are several characteristics that make a good blind for turkeys. These are things you want to look for if you are considering purchasing a ground blind for the first time or are looking to upgrade to a new turkey hunting blind.

 

The best hunting blinds have good windows. Of course, all blinds have some form of windows, without them would make it difficult to hunt otherwise, but good windows relate to the number and type the blind has. Good ground blinds have multiple windows on each side of the blind to give you different angles to shoot incoming birds, especially important when a bird may come in unannounced. Windows that are various sizes and shapes, such as diamond and triangle shape, give you greater ability to shoot from. Larger windows are good for those who are archery hunting from blinds for turkeys and also make it easier for kids to be able to see and shoot from.

 

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Another factor in a good portable turkey blind is weight. No doubt blinds are large and heavy to carry compared to the equipment you need for hunting on the ground but some are lighter and more compact than others. These are the best ground blinds for hunting. With deer hunting, a larger blind is fine because you are typically set up in an area (food source, trail, etc.) and probably do not need to move the blind often. However, turkeys can be in one area today and another tomorrow so having a lighter, more compact blind lets you easily move it several times a day if needed with ease.

 

Additionally, ground blinds that are built tough are a must. Again, you are most likely going to be moving your turkey hunting blind setups at least several times this spring so you want a blind that can take repeated put up and tear down without fault. Look for a blind made of high-quality fabrics that increase their longevity and shed weather well. Also, blinds with rugged zippers make for continued smooth operation and will keep windows and doors working day after day and season after season.

 

Features to Look for in Ground Blinds for Turkey Hunting

 

Along with the factors that make a pop-up turkey blind, there are a few features to look for when buying a blind for turkeys. First and foremost consider the camo pattern. Most blinds feature camo fabric to make them blend into the environment, but the camo can vary and should be considered based on where you are hunting turkeys.

 

  • Eastern birds in the early part of the season will be hunted before leaf out so camo patterns that have more grays and lighter tones are better to blend the blind into the natural environment. As the season progresses into late May, more vegetation and thus more greens in the camo is important.

 

  • Southern birds will have more vegetation present so ground blinds with more greens and vegetation contrasts will prove effective in matching to the habitats your hunting these turkeys in.

 

  • Hunting western turkeys in the spring from a blind should have tans, grays, and greens mixed in the camo pattern to match mountainous terrain coupled with conifer vegetation.

 

Ground blinds are different than clothing in that there are significantly less camo pattern options available, which leave few choices to match your hunting area like discussed above. The solution is to pick one as close to your environment but also add vegetation and debris to it to enhance its concealment specific to your location.

 

To do this, some blinds have added straps along the sides and on top of the blind. These straps are a feature to provide a means to attach vegetation to make it blend in better. So, for example, you may have a leafy camo pattern on your blind in the early spring season in the northeast but you can add branches and other natural structures using the straps to break up the blind better.

 

Finally, with hunting turkeys in spring, the weather can be unpredictable. Spring winds and rains can come at any day. The nice part of a portable turkey blind is that they keep you protected from the weather but you need good stakes, and plenty of them, with your blind to make sure you can secure it from high winds and weather. Blinds with “cheap” stakes can have your blind blown over and damaged in these spring weather conditions.

 

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If you have not hunted turkeys from ground blinds before or are looking to upgrade your existing blind, there are several good reasons to buy one now. Look for certain characteristics that make for a good turkey hunting blind along with extra features that will improve your spring gobbler season this year.