01 May Making a Deer Golden Corral!
Now is the time to begin preparing for next year’s Deer Hunting Bonanza hunting destination. I am not talking about building your stand, sighting in your gear, or getting into better shape. Instead, I am talking about creating a Deer Golden Corral Buffet! What you do now will produce opportunities this fall.
Give the Deer a special Salad Bar first! Research what works best in your area and plant the perennial harvest that will attract and keep Big, Fat Deer in your hunting spot. Clover and chicory mixes supply food for up to 5 years. Wheat and oats grow quickly and are fast–food but are annuals. These Buffet items will need to be replenished each year.
The Buffet Bars need to be spread around your hunting area. Design a plan to bring deer into the middle of your hunting property. Examine bedding areas and consider the topography of how the deer will approach the feeding areas. The more secure a deer feels, the more they will use what you present. Plant the buffet areas near thick cover, along fire roads, Power lines, and in clear cuts.
1000 yards of fire road equals 1 acre of Buffet! Deer are creatures of edges. Hardy menu items such as clover grow great on areas exposed to 3-4 hours of sun commonly found on North-South roads. If the deer has quick and easy access to a protected and available Buffet line, they will snack all day! Even if you continue to travel the rarely used fire roads, plants such as clover are very durable and will stay available year around.
Fertilize and manage your Buffet areas routinely. A 10-10-10 fertilizer will promote growth and keep the Buffet full. Also manage the local plants that Deer feed on. Blackberry bushes, greenbriar, and poison ivy are deer favorites. Throw a little fertilizer and love their way to expand the menu. Search your property for other deer venues such as old apple or fruit trees. Persimmons are a deer delicacy. Prune and fertilize these sanctuaries as well. Open the area so more sun can help the tree improve its yield. The more natural your Deer Buffet is, the more comfortable the deer will feel. There is nothing better than home cooking!
Mowing is important. Cut your crops 2-5 times over the summer to keep the plants challenged and energized. Mowing varies with moisture, but generally, the Buffet areas need to be about a foot high. Never cut more than a third of the salad bar.
Bears like Buffets too, so think about delicacies more suited for deer. Corn, pumpkins, and apples are Bear favorites. If you are in an area without Bears, then go for these annuals as well. Always check for local laws that may restrict what you can serve in your Buffet before adding them to your menu.
Map out your area and make a plan. Area photos are a great help and can be found on a Google map website. Have the map with you as you survey the area and mark down stand sites, water sources, old buck rubs, bedding areas and Buffet lines. Hang this map on a wall and continue to feed information onto it. There are also several computer apps that will help you maintain the data. What you will discover is a pattern that will allow you to create a hunting strategy.
Create a private Buck Sanctuary for special guests only. No hunting, walking, driving, or disturbing. 20-30 percent of your property should become a Private Sanctuary. During the rut, the resident BIG BUCKS will venture out into the public feeding areas where the other deer have discovered your buffet. You will be amazed at how fast you can grow your own Monster Bucks.
If your property is exposed to a public road or visible to other properties, plant shelter belts of evergreens. This will create a privacy wall that will also attract and keep deer on your property. These protective privacy walls will also provide shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. They also serve as wind breaks. Routinely replant and harvest this wall to keep it thick and private.
Create a pathway for the deer to follow. Consider cutting a trail that follows the perimeter of your property line. Minimize “people paths” and access. Keep as much of the property a sanctuary as possible. Remember that your plan is to attract and hold deer on your property. You don’t want to have the Big Buck you have raised escape to your neighbors buffet. If you cut a trail, the deer will come, especially if it is planted with food.
Buffet Hunting is not cheating. A deer has to eat and survive. Attract them where you can be an efficient wildlife management tool and reap the healthy harvest. Hunters have the choice of feeding their families a healthy diet. Critters and crops are part of that harvest. It’s what’s for dinner.
Hunt safe and honest!