Knock out these 5 spring projects and increase your chances at having a whitetail hunt of a lifetime this fall.
There are seemingly countless habitat improvements that a landowner can use to make their property more attractive to whitetail deer and provide the deer hunter with a much more enjoyable field experience. As hunters and land managers, we have a great opportunity to take action in improving our properties to provide wildlife with increased food and cover, add value to the property itself, and act as good stewards of the land for future generations of hunters. This can seem like quite a daunting task, especially if you are in the early stages of your management program. Don't let that intimidate you though. Focus on the details, but keep the big picture in mind.
The best way to start, is to simply get started, and right now at the beginning of spring is the best time to do so. Below are 5 projects that any land manager can do with limited experience, tools, funds and time to increase the chance of success this hunting season and in seasons to come.
1. Go shed hunting
Anybody that has found some "white gold" lying in a field or under an oak tree, knows that shed hunting can almost become an obsession. Hunting for sheds can also be a great tool for someone looking to manage their property for better whitetail hunting. The sheds themselves can give you an idea on which bucks survived the hunting season, provide an indicator of age class in your area and help identify which bucks are using your property as part of their post rut core area.
Besides finding antlers though, shed hunting is a great excuse to go out and really "recon" your property. While looking for sheds, you can also reacquaint yourself with deer travel corridors, last year's rubs and scrapes, identify bedding areas and in general, get a real good idea of how whitetails are using your property and what effect they are having on the property itself. Plus, a good walk in the woods is never a wasted trip.
2. Frost seed some clover
Have an existing food plot, or even a bare patch of ground that could be covered? Put some clover seed on it now and watch it grow. Frost seeding is exactly what sounds like, seed is broadcast on top of frozen ground, just prior to spring thaw. Doing so allows the process of daytime thawing and nighttime freezing to pull the seeds into the ground bed. No tilling required.
The video below from the guys at Antler Geeks details the process perfectly.
3. Hinge cut trees for increased cover and browse
In the last few years, hinge cutting trees has become an increasingly popular tool for whitetail habitat improvement. The method involves using a chainsaw to cut through a tree just enough to drop the tree to the ground without completely severing the trunk from the root system.
This allows the tree to continue to grow at ground level, providing cover as well bring the once inaccessible canopy down for the deer to browse. For safety reasons, hiring a trained forester or logger to do the work is highly advisable. Check out his video below from Whitetail Properties on the benefits of hinge cutting.
4. Build a waterhole
Deer need three things to survive: food, cover, and water. Most whitetail properties usually have some level of the first two, food and cover. Water is often lacking, though it doesn't have to be. In the video below, Tony Hanson from Antler Geeks walks you through the steps to place an artificial watering hole on your property using nothing but hand tools.
5. Plant some fruit trees
Planting your own small orchard of fruit trees is a great way to attract and hold deer on your property during the hunting season. By selecting multiple tree species that drop fruit in late fall, you can provide deer with a highly attractive food source at exactly the time of year that you will be out in the field hunting them.
If you have the funding and the equipment, you can go out and purchase fully mature trees that should produce fruit within the first year. This can be an expensive option though, especially when planting multiple trees. It is much more cost effective to plant a tree as a bare seedling, but it will take a few years before they reach maturity and produce fruit. Look at it as a long term investment in your property.
Check out the video below by Dan Schmidt from Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine to set yourself up for success in planting fruit trees.
When it comes to improvement projects, the hardest part is often just getting out in the field and doing it. Don't let that get in your way. To quote Teddy Roosevelt, "Get action."