Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Looking Ahead To Next Year

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I’m the tuning fork that people ding when they are upset, and many folks are ticked off at the DNR and Department of Agriculture. Many claim the Chronic Wasting Disease scare is just a ploy to stop baiting, to shoot more does, to drive hunters away from hunting, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, it gets tiresome listening to complains over which neither I nor them have any control, and today I just had to get away from it for a bit.

The wind came in hard today, gusting straight out of the east and southeast, dancing across the state like a flat stone skipping across a mill pond. It came slamming into our woods, and it was a good day for a walk around to see what was happening in our woods.

Some of my timber—just 100 trees—had been cut selectively, and my intention was to check things out. The wind this afternoon was about 20 miles per hour, swirling around and it kept stirring up things.

My intention was to check everything out, look for deer tracks in the mud of the skid trails, and start making plans for hunting sites for next year. I know where deer bed in my area but it was not my intention to go through those spots today or to put up stands anywhere near them next year. One spot I looked at would be a fine planting site for some fruit trees. Deer like fruit, and it will take two to four years to get some fruit-bearing trees on my property, but that seems like a good supplement to my existing food plots of brassica, Imperial whitetail clover and purple-top turnips. The land is cleared and will be ready for planting next spring.

Any removal of timber changes the face of the wood-lot. The sole purpose of cutting down some trees is to increase the amount of sunlight that hits the forest floor. The more sunlight, the greater the new growth that will spring up, including trees that will be cut sometime in the future.

New growth is what deer and grouse and wild turkeys thrive on. It increases the number of songbirds as well, and once these trails have had all vegetation killed with one or more applications of RoundUp, the soil can be tested, limed and fertilizer put down. And then, when the conditions are right, they can be planted in May or early June.

By mid-July the clover was up and the other crops will have gained a toe-hold in the soil. It doesn’t take deer and grouse and wild turkeys long to find the new growth.

But the question is just how much space will I have for another new food plot back in the woods? I need an area that receives a good amount of sunlight, isn’t prone to washing away in a heavy rain, and it must be located near a bedding area. Two spots hold great promise, and I checked them thoroughly today.

A little trimming here and there, and the judicious use of brush-piles can help funnel deer from their bedding to the feeding area. It’s my thought to stay away from these areas during most of the winter, and then look at it again after the majority of the snow has melted next spring.

I want the soil to drain well but retain some moisture. The sun has to get to the seeds and when the ground is warm enough, the seed will do its job. I want well-rooted plants, and I want this additional food source within 150 yards of the bedding area.

I built two elevated coops in strategic locations. and a pit blind in a funnel where deer always travel. The coops will offer plenty of room to turn around in, and offer 15-20-yard bow shots. We’re not looking for lots of deer, but it would be nice to have one really good buck show up every year.

There have been no bucks for me so far this year. It’s hot that I haven’t had my chances, but I’ve chose not to take a buck so far. It’s still too early in the season for me.  I passed up several bucks (sadly, not here at home) so far and haven’t fired an arrow. We’ve traveled to several other locations to hunt, and frankly, spending one or two hours each day driving to another location has grown wearisome and the expense of high-priced gas must be a consideration.

I love to hunt hew spots, but my failing vision prevents me from driving home at night. I must depend on Kay for the driving, and once it turns cold, she rarely likes to hunt. So ... the answer is to hunt more near home, which doesn’t bother me one bit.

We know we won’t see as many deer—bucks or does—here as in other areas but we will be able to slip away more often during the rut and hunt during mid-day. If the wind switches we’ll be only five minutes from the home instead of being 60 minutes away. When the snow falls, and the icy roads become treacherous, we’ll still be only a few minutes from the house.

It’s doubtful if we’ll have another timber cutting for another 10 years. It will give us plenty of opportunity to work with what we have, build our coops according, hang ladder-stands where they should do the most good, and get to know our local deer again.

It wasn’t much. and not terribly exciting, but that is what I did today. There will be a great deal of work needed next spring and summer, but in the long run, we think it will be worth all the sweat equity we’ve put into it.

Posted by Dave Richey on 10/07 at 02:54 PM
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