Pre-Season Prep: A Labor of Love
There is a lot of time, hard work, and patience that goes into preparing for deer season. I wanted to share what my husband and I do here in South MS to get ready for the upcoming season.
We start in the summer reclaiming grown up trails, bush hogging fields, and chopping down hedges. This is also a great time for scouting. We pay close attention and look for trails that the deer are using when they travel.
FEEDERS AND CAMERAS
We live in the land of the pines, so a food source is a must….feeders, food plots, and attractants. This is the first year that we will be able to manage the land we hunt how we want to. Normally, we are a part of a club or hunting on a friend’s property. Some people opt to feed all year long. I think it is a personal preference. However, there are a few things to consider if you are thinking about doing so. How close is it to your house? Will it be on a property that you are actively involved with? Is it a new property that you are just getting started on a management program?
Once our feeders are up, it is time to get a camera on it. This is something I always look forward to! I love to see what kind of animals are on our land and how often they visit the food source we have provided for them. We like to use rice bran at our feeders as well. Sometimes, we mix it in with the corn inside the feeder. We also put it straight on the ground. If this is your preference, when pouring it, make a “T”. If you do have a buck show up, this will allow for multiple angles of his antlers as he eats. I do suggest making sure the deer have found and are eating at the feeder before pouring the rice bran straight on the ground. It does tend to mold if not eaten fairly quick. This year, we got a couple little Moultrie gravity tree feeders. I put corn and percimmon crush in them. They definitely will not stay full for long, but hopefully the deer get to it before the racoons and like it enough to keep coming back and checking it.
Making the “T” with the Rice Bran
Camera ready to go
Once we know where the deer are moving, it is time to pick a tree. This may seem pretty simple, but there are actually a lot of things to think about.
When the stand is being hung, the trees are full of leaves. However, when winter comes and the leaves fall off, all that cover will be gone. It is important to imagine what that will look like and try to make sure you will still have enough cover and not be sticking out like a sore thumb. For instance, if you are hunting over a field, choose a tree a little further back into the woods rather than one on the outer edge. This will allow you a little more cover.
2.Deer movement over scenery.
It is hard to not get caught up in a spot just because it is pretty or has an awesome view. It is great if you can get both, but ultimately we are there for the deer and want to be where they are.
What kind of wind will be good for that particular stand? If you will rarely have a good wind to be able to hunt that spot, you may want to think about another area.
Is the tree straight enough to hang the stand properly and safely? We use ladder sections for most of our stands. If there are limbs in the way, you can usually cut them pretty easily. If ladder sections are not possible and you are dead set on this certain tree, you can use foot pegs. You space them out however you want and screw them into the tree. We have stands with these, but I personally feel a little safer with the ladder sections, especially when climbing up with all your gear on. Hanging a stand actually takes a lot of strength, coordination, and endurance. It is probably the hardest part, but also one of the most rewarding. It is one of those things I never thought I could do. So knowing that I actually CAN is an awesome feeling. ALWAYS WEAR A SAFETY BELT OR HARNESS OF SOME KIND.
Once your stand is hung, it is time to sit back and enjoy the view! Check out which direction you will have shots and make sure that you have a clear shooting lane for those shots. We usually use the Hoyman for this. It is a little saw that extends out to reach farther limbs you normally would not be able to reach.
This is probably my favorite part because I love getting on the tractor! First, if the section we want to plant has grown up some, we bush hog. Next, we go over the same spot with the disk. This year, we disked a few weeks before we actually spread the seed. Then, on the day we were going to plant, we disked again just so the dirt would be nice and fresh. We have a little bag seeder that you put across your shoulder (like a cross body purse) This works great for the size food plots we do, which are usually 1-2 acres. The bags of seed usually tell you the recommended amount to use per acre. The date we plant varies for us every year depending on weather and what we have going on at the time. This year, we planted our plots on October 14th. It is best to do them right before it rains, but too much rain could wash all your seed away. Since the weather man is not always right, it is usually a gamble. So, we put it down and leave the rest up to the Good Lord The seed I chose for my plot this year was a mix of several things. It has Forage Max wheat, Bob oats, Austrian winter peas, Gulf Annual ryegrass, and Dixie Crimson clover.
I have always helped out with the pre-season preparations we do. This year, however, is the first year that I have done everything by myself from start to finish. I set up and filled a feeder with corn to get the deer on the property to stop in a certain area. In this area, I chose a tree in close proximity to the feeder and put a camera on it. The camera and feeder together help me monitor the deer activity in that area. The hedges and brush that would be in the way of the camera were taken down with a machete by my own two hands. I took down my stand from last year and hung it in a different spot for this year. I bush hogged, disked, and planted my food plots. My husband was there for most of these tasks and could have done 90% of it a lot faster than me. However, I am so glad he had the patience to step back and let me do it on my own. When I head back to “my” spot with my bow in hand, I will feel so much more appreciative for what I am getting to do. If I do harvest an animal there, the reward will be that much sweeter knowing that everything that went into making that moment happen, I had a hand in. It is a lot of hard work, sweat, and sometimes frustration. But, the feeling of accomplishment when you see the final product is what makes it so rewarding.
#deerhunting #deerseason #treestandhunting #hangingtreestands #trailcamerasetup