Whitetail habitats can be a year-long task, but the dividends will pay off come Opening Day.
For many people, springtime brings cleaning questions and home improvement projects, but this year, while you are planning on making your own home better, why not spare some thought for the whitetails you so like to hunt?
While we don’t often think of “home improvement” as something that can be done in the woods – or as something that our bucks and does would even care about – the truth is that deer habitats can almost always be improved in some way or another.
If you want to give yourself a leg up for next fall’s hunting season, there are a lot of different things you can do, from cleaning and properly storing your gear to making a point to shoot your gun or bow more frequently. While you are making a list of resolutions for a better hunting season, however, make sure to add deer habitat improvements to the list. Trust us: the deer on your property will thank you with greater numbers and better health in the fall – which means more deer and bigger deer for you.
So what improvement tasks should be on your agenda this winter and spring? Perhaps the biggest one is making sure that food sources are prevalent and readily accessible for the deer on your property. While this can be done by planting new food plots in the springtime and then spending the rest of the year tending to them, it can also mean paying attention to fruit trees.
Since fruit trees often reproduce by simply dropping fruit and seeds on the ground around themselves, you may observe instances of heavy overcrowding with the fruit trees on your property. They are all growing together in close quarters, with branches colliding and leaves or fruit blossoms vying for sunlight.
The outcome of this kind of battle can vary, but most of the time, no one wins. Fruit trees locked in these struggles for sunlight can have healthy branches and fruit, but may also have portions that are dead and decaying. In order to facilitate more productive fruit yield, these trees need to be pruned and trimmed back so that they are not consistently invading one another’s space. That’s where you as the hunter enter the equation.
Don’t think of yourself as a deer’s groundskeeper, though that is essentially the role you will be playing when you make a move to prune and trim fruit trees. Instead, think of this chore as a method for keeping deer healthy and well-fed all year round.
Greater fruit growth in the summer will result in larger yields from the fruit tree in the fall or winter; in turn resulting in bigger and better fed deer. If the fruit trees on your property are near a bedding area or a wooded spot rife with cover, they could well become optimal food sources for your property’s whitetails during the winter. And of course, there’s also the fact that trees growing and dropping fruit dependably can become a perfect death trap for big bucks come the 2014 fall hunting season.
To put it simply, you have a lot of reasons for wanting your property’s fruit trees to be healthy, so grab some tools and get out in the field to cut away dead and decaying branches and to give your trees more room to grow. Keep in mind that drastic changes to an area known to be populated with deer can cause too much of a disturbance, and have the opposite affect. Don’t chainsaw entire trees down, just take care of basic maintenance and put in the time and effort.
You’ll be glad you did come Opening Day.