*With a little help, this decades old, fallow field can be converted to quality whitetail habitat in only 2 growing seasons. Plan a Prescribed Burn Plant a few clusters of pines and fell a few low-value trees to create a sanctuary and bedding area near the middle of your property. One other benefit I believe would help on our property is being able to get through the woods more stealthily. A choked forest doesn’t produce as well as one that can get sunlight. Habitat ultimately affects how (or if) deer use a property. That’s just a given and completely understandable. Although converting an old fallow field may be the fastest way to attain your whitetail utopia, nothing beats a habitat combination that includes a quality stand of wooded ground. One is over a mineral site and I’ll be putting out some Antler King products after turkey season. influence the management of your property for deer. Doing nothing and complaining about it isn’t going to help. It also makes it that much more rewarding when we’re lucky enough to bag a good one, especially on small acreage. Check out Dr. Jim’s Habitat Blog. How to Improve Deer Habitat If all the questions surrounding foods plots were not enough, such as how to eliminate the existing vegetation, how to break up the soil, what to plant, when to plant, where to get the seed, just imagine the “bigger picture” questions about how to improve deer habitat such as where to plant a food plot, how big, how many, should I hunt over them, … On our land we have at least two areas where we can do some simple “throw and grow” plots. To start off there are a series of questions to ask. Camera surveys give you a great idea of what’s on your property, from deer and turkeys to predators and, unfortunately, any poachers or trespassers who might be slipping in. In this episode of Deer Talk Now, Dan Schmidt discusses how to pick, plant and maintain fruit trees for deer: It's best to get the agreement in writing. Are deer less attracted to the land you hunt in years when the dominant mast producing trees fail to make a decent acorn crop? Want to take the plunge for creating your own deer habitat quickly? If possible, you may want to consider thinning your woods of undesirable trees or others in order to open the canopy, provide sunlight to the floor and give mast-bearing trees more opportunity to thrive. Every small piece of land is different. It doesn’t take deep pockets to do some things to make your land better. Obviously, it's unrealistic to try to meet all of the habitat needs of your deer herd on only a handful of acres. In most cases, creating deer beds is necessary when habitat is subpar or you don’t have the ability or permission to make big-scale changes. He’s put in his sweat equity, made his share of mistakes, had his bundle of “Oh, hmmm” moments and seen a good number of deer — big and small — benefit from his efforts and fall to his arrows. If a deer doesn’t have a source for water that it feels … Photos in Deer & Deer Hunting and other publications or TV shows of vast, lush food plots look great, no doubt. Converting a fallow field into deer habitat offers the fastest ticket for creating whitetail habitat in less than 18 months and if you follow along I will reveal to you how and why. The habitat found on a small property can be greatly improved for white-tailed deer with little more than time and hand tools. Decide on the size of the projects you’d like to do. More leaves return each autumn, of course, but years of built-up litter makes it sound like I’m a tank tromping through the woods. “It’s simple math,” he says. If you have lots of time and resources available, you could really make a lasting impact for the wildlife on your land by improving acres at a time. *Are you ready for some advanced tactics for creating whitetail habitat, herd and hunting success? I don’t have deep pockets and don’t have tractors, big shooting houses, bunches of ladder or tree stands, or truckloads of seed or supplemental food to spread around where I hunt. 1. No, working alone from a 6-acre base of operations, you cannot effectively manage the local deer population (the “Herd Management” Cornerstone of QDM). They love catching bad guys about as much as we hate having them on our land, so work together with them instead of keeping them at arm’s length. The primary ground where I hunt, about 200 or so acres of rocky, hilly hardwoods, is not mine. Have your ever heard of early successional growth? Several piles create large barriers that wildlife can use for a windbreak and you can use to hide your movement while hunting. Hardwoods? I see them frequently. You’re confined to a small piece of land, so you need to locate your focal point in an area that you can hunt effectively without spooking deer, yet is close enough to high-travel areas so the deer will be inclined to visit the new change in habitat. You Can't Stockpile Bucks. Whitetail are smart animals and that makes them challenging to hunt. Deer habitat is often a byproduct of land use, whether it be forest or agricultural production. It’s easy to do. If you have lots of time and resources available, you could really make a lasting impact for the wildlife on your land by improving acres at a time. That means you need to try three different types of habitat: switchgrass, shrubs and oak seedlings. Trees competing against each other don’t produce mast as well, either. Big, giant hardwoods are an awesome site! of growth by the end of the 2nd Summer. Many of us hunt deer on small properties rather than vast wilderness areas. I did that for a few years on our property and sulked around late in the season when my hunting success was zilch. The tree also may provide some screening cover for you and create a path or funnel toward your stand. But I think in a few years we could have some trees growing that would do well and be a plus. But we know of a handful with good reputations that have helped landowners create property designs and which we can recommend. ?… I see them frequently. (the more the better) into the block of timber you want to encourage deer to bed in. Yes, you can create dynamic deer habitat on only 6 acres that is highly attractive to neighborhood deer and will allow you to enjoy great hunting on this tract. Piling timber and using slash to create refuge cover clears the ground for additional saplings and browse to sprout. Depending on your soils, region, chemical rotations and level of soil disturbance, the range of habitat that an old field can grow into, is incredibly varied. You wouldn’t host a holiday meal for the family without planning what to eat. No, working alone from a 6-acre base of operations, you cannot effectively manage the local deer population (the “Herd Management” Cornerstone of QDM). Not everyone has the land, money or time to plant big plots, though. When it comes down to it, all you need to create are small kill zones that are nothing more than a focal point for deer activity. Diversity is key when it comes to creating whitetail habitat, and whether your hardwood is young or old, true diversity comes in the form of combining a variety of hardwood, conifer, shrub, grass and weed growth, not age. Creating that well-defined, stair-step effect isn’t critical. Will your fallow field convert to low-growth, cool season grasses? Many of us likely would love to have the time and scads of money to really churn up the ground and get some things done. Even using a grass-specific herbicide can release a bounty of broadleaf weeds and woody growth within mono-culture switchgrass areas, to offer a level of diversity that would be hard to duplicate with planting efforts alone. Now, I’m getting on track with my friend to plan some things, put them in action and, hopefully, have some more success this season. If this sounds like the ticket for you, all you need is to haul a bunch of brush, downed trees, limbs, branches, etc. Hunting Small Acreage Successfully. No big deal. If you have your own little piece of hunting land, you probably wan t to make the most of it, right? However, after visiting with landowners on over 500 parcels and 20 states during the past 12 years, those stately hardwoods can demand a lot more resources of time and finance than many realize. Start your deer habitat improvement work by really investigating your land. He’s stealthy. What you need is a plan and expert knowledge to turn your property into the Whitetail Sanctuary you've been dreaming of. The calendar features amazing whitetail deer photography, capturing deer in all the seasons and providing deer activity charts so you can plan your hunt. When I purchase my next chunk of whitetail habitat and hunting opportunity, it will be in the form of open fields and woods. This one is pretty obvious. *Creating whitetail habitat quickly, can be accomplished. Tree Trimming, Thinning and Hinge Cutting You can speed up the process by scarifying the soil through discing, tilling, plowing or blading efforts, but the range of 8--12 years already accounts for those practices. Once you have a plan laid out, we will provide lots of tricks and tips about how to improve deer habitat and different elements of the plan. He also has hunted big — and small — tracts of private AND public land in the Midwest and elsewhere. The management that takes place on small acreage can be more focused, more precise. Habitat should be designed to create a lot of edge, a lot of pockets of various kinds of plants that will make for diversity and the kinds of places deer like to live. You can even hide high quality food plots within the field, to highly define where the local deer herd travels and feeds. Having bedding areas on a property is a huge step toward enticing whitetails to call your property home, but as any land manager knows, beddings areas come and go. Our woods aren’t so jungle-thick that I can’t get through, but clearing out smaller saplings and cutting overhanging limbs has helped. Don’t Just Sit There Big and little blue stem, indian grass and other grasses often do not have the ability to offer enough cover for deer during the Fall, because many are crushed with the first high winds or heavy snow. I’ll gladly put in that time to see some smaller plots that might keep deer hanging around longer. Then make sure to check out my,"Whitetail Success by Design" book series. That’s just a given and completely understandable. Hopefully he’ll come back. 22. Here are are a few that we’ve talked about that you can do, too, that don’t take hitting the lottery or “being given all these free goods from companies” or anything else. Converting a stand of hardwoods can take many years or more to carve out enough food and plant enough shrub and conifer diversity to attract and grow a quality deer herd. Clearing the ground would definitely help. EXTREME DEER HABITAT is an educational site dedicated to helping landowners get the most out of their deer habitat, with an emphasis on the use of a chainsaw to shape your property.Dr. If you’re truly interested in doing something, then do it. These piles create escape cover for small game and walls that larger species can hide behind. “If you plant some food and make some improvements to your land, you can go from having maybe 50 percent deer that live on your … First of all, Steve’s advice is pretty doggone good and is based on decades of his experiences managing big — and small — tracts. Another friend with a tractor has offered to help, which is a plus. Conifers, shrubs and low growing trees such as crabapple, silky dogwood, indigo bush, and plum are good choices. With the 2015 DDH Whitetails Wall Calendar you’ll learn: Get this amazing resource now and start plotting your hunting season! Hinge cutting smaller trees involves cutting almost through the trunk so it lays on the ground but doesn’t completely die. Deer certainly love acorns, and acorns can be important for building winter fat stores. Depending on your budget you can get high-dollar cameras with wireless capability and HD video or the basic models that provide black-white or color images. Shrubs? Before starting an aggressive … But dramatic improvements in the deer herd, the habitat and the quality of hunting can be made even on small parcels of land by individuals or small groups of sportsmen working together. Because of the hilly terrain where I hunt, I’m keen on ground blinds so I can overlook draws and travel routes. It’ll take some work, of course, to get rid of the existing vegetation and till up the dirt. Do you have a need for creating whitetail habitat sooner rather than later? Jim is a leading expert on the subject of hinge cutting trees for deer habitat. Think about what you have, get an idea of what you want to do and what you can do, and then formulate a plan to get some things done. There is a lot to this, but you can mix pockets of switchgrass with pockets of oaks, pockets of cedars and even pockets of fruit trees like apple, pear and persimmon. But not every grass planting is created equal. Photos in Deer & Deer Hunting and other publications or TV shows of vast, lush food plots look great, no doubt. Shoots may emerge from around the stump, possibly providing some new browse. Decide on the size of the projects you’d like to do. Hinge cutting is an easy technique, too, that can provide multiple benefits. You wouldn’t start planting a garden without plowing the ground or adding any fertilizer or dirt that might be needed. However, there are several ways to create great deer habitat by following common sense and highly proven, adaptable deer habitat management concepts and practices. The beauty of land management is you can strategically manipulate habitat, and in many cases make the deer utilize the property how you want them to. Right now on my property (well, my friend’s property), I have three Stealth cameras set up. Mono cultures of grass and conifers, scientific TSI and poorly located food plots. A neighboring south property consists of a dried up swamp area with rows of mature pine trees to the SE. Deer Funnels | Changing Deer Behavior with a Bush Hog. Make sure the landowner knows you want to implement changes on the land to enhance the deer hunting, and make sure that he or she fully agrees with the plan. Yes, you can create dynamic deer habitat on only 6 acres that is highly attractive to neighborhood deer and will allow you to enjoy great hunting on this tract. Dr. Grant Woods, one of America’s top whitetail biologists and habitat specialists, says that many hunters make deer management out to be way too complicated, like it is Advanced Trig or something. Briars? http://www.deeranddeerhunting.com You don't deep deep pockets or have to have a ton of ground to improve your land for whitetails and whitetail hunting. It’s going to take a few hours of raking away the leaf litter (unless we can burn it!) Apple, pear and persimmon likely would do well in them, but I’ll check with our agriculture extension service first to make sure. But Jim Ward of Iowa City, Iowa, is taking things way beyond just planting a food plot and hoping deer show up. Creating whitetail habitat withing a quality base cover species of switchgrass, can protect and hide not only the deer within, but the explosion of forage diversity that the deer will gravitate to during the daytime hours. It can sound greaton paperto create a level of diversity within a grass or conifer planting, but some of the lower quality grass species just create holes within your grass creations. Cutting some of the cedars also has provided me with some ground blind material, too. Just to the west is 80 acres of deer sanctuary on land that has been in a wildlife program for some time. Implementing a few habitat improvements on small acreages can help wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, frogs, turtles, butterflies and songbirds. These species will travel great distances to meet their seasonal needs for food and cover. Maximize Your Deer Season Planning With the 2015 Whitetails Wall Calendar! The unbalanced age structure and buck-to … Doesn’t mean you can’t plant some smaller plots, though. Another option I’m considering in one of the openings is planting fruit trees. Several piles create large barriers that wildlife can use for a windbreak and you can use to hide your movement while hunting. Treestand trees, diversity, Fall and Winter daytime browse and a home for not only whitetails, but all kinds of winged and four-legged creatures can be found when you match the perfect blend of woods and field. to get to the dirt. In the last few weeks of our new webcast, Grow ’em Big with Steve Bartylla, his advice has been about laying the groundwork for your deer management goals before starting anything on your property. EXPLORE OTHER MEDIA 360 PROPERTIES FOR OUTDOORS ENTHUSIASTS, Hunt, Fish and Get a Degree in Conservation Management, One of the Best Must-Have Tools for Your Deer Camp, Tenzing Hangtime Backpack is Designed for Treestand Hunting, Woman Attacked by Deer That Followed Her Home, When the seeking, chasing and tending phases of the rut will occur for North & South, Predicted dates of Major & Minor deer activity in 2015, When to plan your vacation around the 2015 whitetail rut. If the answer is yes, that’s a red flag that the habitat where you hunt is not great for deer. I’m blessed to be able to hunt there, and the landowner and I have discussed some things we could do together to make it better. When I first hunted my 117-acre farm in northwestern Virginia, I saw only a few young bucks and way too many does. Let’s face it, most of us would rather shoot a buck than a doe, … Not everyone has the land, money or time to plant big plots, though. However, food and cover for deer can be enhanced through various habitat management practices, such as timber harvesting, timber stand improvement practices, prescribed fire, edge feathering or managing a forest or wooded acreage for improved mast … These tips are a good place to start when deer hunting smaller tracts or any property for that matter. It’s not only the most useful calendar you’ll own, but quite possibly the ultimate gift for any deer hunter! Besides, true divesity can be supplied within pockets you create within the swithgrass planting, in the form of early successional growth, shrub and hardwood plantings. I know, not very definitive. Then next step is to create early successional growth pockets at a rate of 40-60% of the entire field, within a random dispersment of corridors within the interior of the grass. Grasses, wildflowers and other shorter plants should make up the outer edge that meets the field itself. The latter is something to deal with through law enforcement and I’d recommend contacting your local game warden to establish a relationship. Some of the best small acreage deer hunting can be found on tracts of land that provide good travel corridors. The common thread, though, is what Bartylla has suggested: thinking about what we want, what kind of deer are there, if other deer can be attracted and/or held, our reasonable expectations for enjoying the hunt, and our budget, time and equipment constraints. Variety and edge are the keys to producing good deer habitat. Your local agriculture extension service agency or state wildlife agency should be able to help you get in touch with someone. While these can be part of a successful management strategy, they are relatively expensive and intensive tools. In fact, frost seeding may be the #1 way to effectively establish a high quality base of switchgrass, that can leave you with over 6? However, make sure not to fall into the trap of Too Much Deer Habitat. As for hitting the lottery to do what he suggests, that’s a big ol’ load of “Naaa, not true,” too. My friend never has burned his property and I’ve urged him, gently, to do so because it’s a great way to help restore the soil, get rid of built-up leaf litter and generate new vegetation. Deer have to have enough cover to feel hidden and safe. Habitat should be designed to create a lot of edge, a lot of pockets of various kinds of plants that will make for diversity and the kinds of places deer like to live. Whether you're an avid Whitetail Deer Hunter or a Nature Enthusiast who loves to view whitetail deer on your property--you don't need to have hundreds of acres to have a Whitetail Sanctuary. Just disc it up and enjoy early successional growth that will be substantial enough in 8-12 years to create quality bedding opportunity throughout, right? However, there are several ways to create great deer habitat by following common sense and highly proven, adaptable deer habitat management concepts and practices. My friend and I have discussed a timber thinning that I believe will help. Piling timber and using slash to create refuge cover clears the ground for additional saplings and browse to sprout. However, you can significantly speed up the process into an 18 month whirlwind of whitetail opportunity! Recommended to you based on your activity and what's popular • Feedback Doesn’t mean you can’t plant some smaller plots, though. Timber matures and canopies close resulting in less forest floor cover and fewer deer utilizing the location. You don’t have to have a dozen cameras, either. Hinge cutting trees to create paths, direct deer into certain areas and also create new growth for food or security areas. The first thing many landowners do to attract deer is to plant food pots and establish feeders. Last year I got some good images of a doe and two fawns, several small bucks and one nice 8-point buck that I only saw a few times in photos. That’s the point of Steve Bartylla’s advice in Grow ’em Big. Decide which habitat components are in the shortest supply, such as young regenerating forest, grassy openings, acorn production, or winter cover, then provide that habitat on your land. After more than 35 years of visiting deer hunting properties throughout the country, I’ve seen the benefits proper management and habitat work can bring even on small parcels of land. It takes a little time but it’s worth it. So it’s no different when you’re wanting to improve your habitat for deer hunting. You are still left with mostly hardwood. A lot of deer hunters are interested in managing their properties for good deer habitat. Well, you have come to the right place if your future slice of deer habitat is currently an old fallow field or agricultural land. Does the property have everything deer need; year round food supply, water, cover/safety, bedding habitat, etc. The first step towards holding deer on a small property is to create the right type of habitat. That’s one of the perks of being a landowner in the first place – you have the ability to change your property to the way it suits you. I’ve cleared some paths so I can get to stand and ground blind sites without getting snagged or bumping into anything. Check out, "Switchgrass Plantings For Deer". Mature buck hunting, herd and habitat techniques. Don't expect to be able to provide bedding areas, premium food sources, watering holes, protection from severe weather, and other important habitat characteristics on one small tract of land. I’ve trimmed trees and limbs in different directions around these blinds so if I get a shot, I won’t have to worry about having an arrow go awry. Then place this area off-limits to travel except to retrieve a hit deer or to do woods-work. But he was new to the area. Creating high-quality habitat will give deer a reason to start using your property more frequently. This sounds simple and it is. Keep Deer Comfortable. If you want whitetail deer to use a property it will at least need to have cover comprised of brush, grass, or small trees that are at least 3-4 feet in height in or near potential travel ways. But that isn’t always the case for everyone, me included. From Deer & Deer Hunting magazine, the 2015 Whitetails Wall Calendar features the work of deer researchers Wayne Laroche and Charlie Alsheimer, who reveal the 2015 whitetail rut prediction, based on years of lunar cycle research. Instead, consider managing natural vegetation to attract deer, rather than sacrificing time, money and productive acreage to food plots and feeders.Managing natural vegetation: The following woodland management activities can help to meet the special needs o… Deer Behavior with a little time but it ’ s just common sense, isn ’ t to. Floor cover and fewer deer utilizing the location are a good place to start when deer hunting smaller tracts any. Areas where we can burn it! your property more frequently Jim Ward Iowa... To highly define where the local deer herd travels and feeds when we’re lucky enough to bag a good to. Getting snagged or bumping into anything by secondary priorities, right enough to bag a good place to using. 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