Three Things To Prepare For Next Deer Season

By Nathan Unger

If you have already discounted the remainder of your hunting season, or if you are part of the group that was fortunate enough to tag out then you can begin to implement these practical tactics. This will help make you even more prepared and successful next season.

As hunters, a lot of times after we meet our personal quota of deer for the year and put meat in the freezer we tend to call it quits for the most part and enjoy the remainder of the winter season. My encouragement to you -keep hunting!

One of the most valuable things you can do for the next season is scout how the deer are behaving now in order to be one step ahead of them next year. Hear are a few things you can begin to focus on:

1.) Find the bedding areas

This will help tremendously for stand placements in the fall when you are trying to key in on that big buck. Likewise, if you find where does are bedding this will be where you need to set up during the rut to find those bucks that are cruising through looking for the hot does. If you find these beds you will also be able to find these bucks in the late season when they become a lot less active and merely move to eat and then head back to bed. This is pertinent because after the rut a lot of big bucks become invisible and revert to being nocturnal.

2.) Find the relevant food sources

If you are scouting right now for where deer are cruising to eat, this may not be as helpful in the fall months next year. During the winter months deer are eating higher calorie foods such as corn in order to stay warm whereas in the falls months they might be targeting clover fields and such. If you can pick out these foods specific to your hunting property and specific to the weather you will increase your chances of targeting that big buck you have been after.

3.) Find the travel routes

This point does not need to be overlooked. If weather doesn’t go your way and deer aren’t showing up where they typically do these routes will, however, give you an idea of where they are traveling. Instead of setting up on a field or food plot you may have to set up back in the woods at a pinch point or saddle where these deer are traveling to the fields and plots. Sometimes if these deer have been over educated during the season they will wait in almost a holding pattern until cover of darkness. If you can locate these spots it will not only help you in the late season, but it will also give you a one-up for next season on those early season bucks.

Keep scouting and good hunting!

 

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Deer Management And Why I Do It

By Nathan Unger

One thing I believe all or most hunters can agree with is that the deer population has to be managed in some way in order for our sport and livelihood to survive through the next century. However, not everybody practices management in the same fashion. So what I want to do in this article is provide some ideas of what has worked for me the last several years at the property I hunt now and provide some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Growing up, shooting a buck was my only goal. It didn’t matter how big, how many points or how old it was I just wanted my first buck. At the time, two of my brothers were collectively aiming for the same goal. So what happened? All three of us shot our first buck the next two seasons. Two seven pointers and a spike buck.

My first buck (December 2012)
My first buck
(December 2012)

Season three (at this specific property) roles around in 2012 after we shot these bucks, and we wanted what any hunter wanted. To shoot a bigger buck. The problem was we didn’t see any, but little did we know the impact of shooting three  1 1/2- 2 1/2 year-old bucks the preceding two seasons was going to have on the age of the males in our herd. The next two years we made a pact (my dad, brothers and I) that we wouldn’t shoot any bucks that we didn’t want to mount. That way the consequence of our shots would affect our bank accounts, so we wanted to make those mounts count, and we decided if we wanted meat for the freezer we would manage the does in our herd.

That’s exactly what we did!

The following season we began seeing some results of our management. I was hunting towards the end of November in 2013 and was able to take a good 3 1/2 year old buck (picture is on the “Trophy” page).  The next year my brother was able to record his biggest buck to date – a nice 4 1/2 year old in late December. We really started seeing the fruits of our management at the end of the season in 2014  when we captured two 4 1/2 years old bucks on camera. This 2015 season, there are at least three 130″-140″ class deer with the potential to grow even bigger.

I write all this to say that when we started we didn’t look much beyond the current hunting season, and we believed that somehow big bucks would just magically appear out of thin air. After studying big bucks and educating ourselves on deer management we discovered that in order for them to grow you might just have to pass on them when they’re young.

As far as does our concerned, the age-old question posed is – “is it better to shoot older does or younger does?” What I’ve deduced the past several years from articles and other knowledgeable experts is if you want to grow your deer herd shoot younger does, and if you want to thin out your herd shoot older does. This is because older does our able to foster their young during the winter better finding cover and food sources more effectively, and they are able to protect their fawns from predators better than yearling does can.

Now, I understand that not everyone has the ability to hunt multiple times a year or has private property that they can manage overtime, so I get that. I really do. I know some hunters hunt public land that is pressured by other hunters so any deer is a good deer. I’ve been in similar situations before and understand not everyone hunts for trophies, and providing for you and your family is a  higher priority. So don’t think I’m trying to impress this belief that you should only shoot 4 and 5 year old deer.

However, I do think we need to be cognizant of the overall deer herd. We need to educate ourselves and others about this precious resource – about the negative effects of not practicing management, but moreover, educating others on the overwhelming positive effects of quality deer management.

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