A Property Set Up
for Maximum Deer Control, Part II
What follows, comes from experience and boy, have I learned some things
the hard way. Theres an old saying, There is more than one
way to skin a cat. What is presented here and following articles
on this subject is for you to digest and use, with as much duplication
on your property as possible and yet, no two properties are alike, so,
you may need to improvise in some areas and skin that cat your way..
The Start of Your Plan
It is advised that you have an aerial and topography map of your property.
Study them carefully and locate potential low areas for future water sources.
Check out the soil throughout your land and take soil tests of all future
potential food plots. Let these soil tests influence your final food plot
locations. You should have many small attractant type food plots scattered
about and have one large final destination field.
Enclosed is an illustration showing a property of around 120 acres. In
the upper left is a swamp shared with neighbors with an encircled W, which
represents a water source. There are five other encircled Ws. One
of the first areas in planning your sweet spot is to locate and define
potential water sources, for deer do drink and are naturally drainage
animals. Potential water sources could be a year round flowing creek,
a spring, pot holes with cattails growing within, or a seasonally flooded
area that with a little excavation could be a year round drinking source.
These water sources need not be large, and with a little backhoe work
you just created a permanent water hole. Tests may need to be made to
see if the chosen spot will hold water even during a dry spill. Properties
without drinking holes are at a distinct disadvantage when compared with
land that has H2O.
Water Sources Within Sanctuaries
Note the location of the encircled Ws, they tend to be on the perimeter
of the property. This is where you want them to be, for they are the beginning
of a future sanctuary, which is best if located on or near the perimeter
of your property. You may have to adjust and live with what you have,
but try hard to get several potential water sources located on the outside
edge of your property even if it takes serious excavation. Scatter these
water sources about the perimeter. They do not have to be large, with
the more water sources the better. They should be located where there
is good cover present or the potential of growing dense cover. Dont
off hand dismiss an open area as a future sanctuary due to lack of cover
present. Cover can be created around that water hole and in only a few
years of creative thinking. After the cover has grown to the right height
and with gained knowledge you can create some surefire deer bedding areas.
Sanctuaries should consist of a minimum of 20% of your land area. We will
discuss in detail natural and man made cover that can be used in your
sanctuary in the next segment.
The shared swamp is obviously natural and could extend into the neighbors
area for miles, not a bad thing for you. Deer do not bed down in water
but will spend much time in the swamp naturally and especially when pressured.
They seek hummocks, small raised humps of land to bed on, or the many
small islands normally found in swamps for refuge.
In 1991 while searching for a bow shot doe in a 2 acre tag alder swamp,
I stumbled upon something I had never seen before. Roots of several tag
alder trees intertwined and created a flat raised surface about a foot
above the soil. Hmmm, whats that? Inspecting the sight I noticed
that not only was the bath tub sized flat area covered with moss, grass
grew on it and in the flattened grass was a lot of deer hair.
We covered just a couple styles of natural deer beds that should be scattered
throughout your many sanctuaries. You cannot have too many deer beds,
which means that you will probably need to create them in addition to
the natural beds. You need doe family beds along with individual buck
beds and they are not the same. You can have beds in swamps, in recent
clear cuts, in mature forests, tall grasses, cattails just about anywhere
you want them to be, but they need to satisfy the whims of deer to be
effective. Some of you Im sure have studied used deer beds and made
duplications of them with success. Im not one of these and need
help. I hire Tony Lapratt for this area when creating a property setup
for maximum deer control. You can check him out at <tonysulm.com>.
Tony has an uncanny but natural ability to read deer sign, what it takes
to have deer live on your land, especially during the hunting seasons
and create an assortment of effective deer bedding areas. Deer have different
personalities and for best results a variety of beds is necessary. This
is a major part to have in place in order to control deer movement on
Final Destination Field
In the center of the illustration is a large cleared area, which will
be a future food plot called, The final destination field.
Here, preferably near the center of the 120 acre property is soil that
will grow a variety of forage, much of which is planted to carry the deer
through the winter. In Northern states this is the critical season for
deer survival. For more moderate environments it is still recommended
to have this large field available and centrally located but with a different
blend of forage than we will discuss. This field should be about ten acres
in size for a 120 total acre piece of land. You should still have only
one final destination field for a 500 acre property. The fewer the better,
for it is this food plot deer are headed for as evening draws near, stay
within or close by throughout the night and leave prior to daybreak for
their safe bedding areas. The fewer final destination fields, the less
competition within the property, the more you are controlling deer movement.
This plot is cleared of all trees and shrubs. It is wide open and even
the area beyond the edge of the planted forage is cleared out to around
20 yards. Deer have a natural fear of open fields during daylight, while
at night it is their preferred safe area. This may not be true in late
summer when bucks are still in their bachelor groups and in velvet. Then
they have little fear of open fields and appear about two hours before
sunset. As the fall draws near and they shed their velvet they become
quite scarce in open fields during daylight, even with soybeans being
available. This natural behavior of deer will now be used in your favor.
You will plant in the final destination field a variety of forage deer
have difficulty resisting.
Note the upper section, where a perennial blend of legumes is planted.
This field may be an acre in size. Just below is another food patch of
deer preferred nut trees and fruit trees of a large variety and close
to an acre in size. For efficiency plant the legume blend as above within
Below the orchard is a seven acre late fall and winter carryover field.
Here, we concentrate on forage high in energy for winter survival. Most
know that deer love corn and that corn is an excellent winter forage,
so, we plant about three acres of RoundUp Ready corn for easy maintenance.
Another preferred forage for deer during winter is forage rape. Rape can
produce 5,000 lbs of highly nutritious forage per acre, so lets
plant an acre of this stuff. As the cold weather comes on, it neutralizes
the bitter tasting alkaloid in the leaves and encourages the sugar content
to increase, and with 85% digestibility and 30% or more protein content
in the leaves, it is just what the doctor ordered.
Energy is primal for deer winter survival, yet we still need protein in
the deers winter diet. The living microbes, (bacteria) in the stomachs
of deer that digest the crude starches into useful energy need protein
for their energy needs. So, lets plant an acre of soybeans for the
deers palate. They just love soybeans and the beans produced are
45% protein, plus they are high in oil, which can be used as is by squeezing
for diesel engines. Now, how about that for both protein and energy?
Sugar Beets Cannot be Beat
We will now talk sugar beets and RoundUp Ready sugar beets. RoundUp Ready
means that the beet seeds have been genetically altered to withstand the
herbicide RoundUp and yet do its job on grasses and weeds. Expect RoundUp
Ready Sugar beet seeds to be available for the 2008 planting season. The
nutrient data on sugar beets is phenomenal. Even a little research will
show that there is absolutely nothing out there that can compete with
the winter carryover value of sugar beets. It can have a sugar content
of 20% dry matter and a protein content of 13% when the leaves are included,
which is an ideal percentage for the winter season. There is not another
forage, summer or winter that has the balanced mineral content of sugar
beets. Not only is sugar beets a complete winter forage for deer it is
95% + digestible and again, there is nothing else that is more digestible.
So, if you do not plant sugar beets in the near future in your food plots
you are missing an important piece of the forage puzzle. We have a chapter
in our new book, Ultimate
Deer Food Plots that shows in detail all the tricks for easy
growing fussy sugar beets including a proven method of hand broadcasting
this light fluffy seed accurately. Sugar beets can produce a high tonnage
of forage under the right conditions and correct seeding method. If you
were a sugar beet farmer in the thumb area of Michigan you could expect
20 tons of sugar beets per acre. You will need to have some pretty good
soil for top production, but you should expect at least two tons per acre
in typical but corrected soil in hunting lands. Sugar beets are fussy
and will not do well in light soil. Choose your lower elevations for best
results and correct that soil first as shown in the book. Sugar beets
will grow from California to Maine, just a different production rate.
In California irrigated fields production has reached 75 tons of sugar
beets bulk matter per acre.
Lets see, if deer eat 6 lbs of forage per day and we have a 100
day winter season, we can carry 250 deer very well in any winter with
a California acre of sugar beets.
We have been discussing the value of planting sugar beets as a winter
carryover forage. Just about all of you know sugar beets as a fine deer
bait source and it is. We will cover that and it gets downright exciting
when we get into creating attractant type food plots in a future article.
In the lower area of the final destination field is planted a blend of
winter wheat, oats and winter peas of about an acre in size. The above
shown forage types are for you to contemplate as forage choices when you
plan out your final destination field.
One final note, we mention several times in our book to fertilize your
attractant type food plots with fertilizer high in nitrogen around mid
to the end of September. You should see a significant use of these plots
compared to unfertilized fields. It is recommended that the final destination
field not be fertilized in September and exactly for that reason. You
want deer to eagerly visit first your attractant type food plots prior
to the final destination field. They will migrate to the final destination
field and with good planning get there after sundown.
One more final note, it has been mentioned in the previous article and
will be again in future ones, no hunting or visiting of any kind
by humans a few weeks prior to or during the hunting seasons in the final
Selecting Hunting Sites
Note the two bare Xs, located in the left and upper areas of the
illustration, which will be future firearm sites. There are sixteen encircled
Xs representing tree blinds, two of which will be future firearm
sites, with the remainder being bow sites. This 120 acre parcel is set
up for four hunters for either the bow or firearm seasons. These firearm
and bow sites are not randomly chosen. They are selected in conjunction
with future attractant type food plots. You have sorted out the many potential
sites of attractant type food plots and have made final decisions in the
locations best suited. There can be many small attractant food plots used
exclusively for the firearm, (up to one acre in size) or bow seasons,
(around 1/4 acre in size). Some plots can be shared for either the bow
or firearm seasons and all this planning shows up in your aerial map.
Speaking of aerial map it is advisable to search for large trees for potential
blinds when selecting your attractant food plots that will be used for
the bow seasons. Let the presence of ideal bow site tree blinds influence
your final decision of attractant food plot locations. Having two ideal
bow tree blinds per food plot, with the right tree used for different
wind directions is something to ponder. In the next segment we will cover
in more detail these attractant type food plots and various sanctuary
Keep the fun in hunting!
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Deer Food Plots ", click here.
Chairman of the Board, Mid Michigan Branch QDMA
Board of Directors, National QDMA
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