Tree Planting For Wildlife: 3 Things You Need To Know

from Mossy Oak GameKeepers™ Field Notes[divider]

Tree planting time has been here for everyone in the South, and will be cranking up soon further North.

Tree Planting For WildlifeRaising trees is addictive like other gamekeeping activities, but it often seems folks who have never tried it (or tried once and failed) put it off every year and year after that. Food plotting has become main stream and for most is an annual or bi-annual ritual, but tree planting and management “in the woods” still remains a distant second even though it shouldn’t be. Following are 3 of the more important tips for success.
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  1. Don’t think you have to plant your property full of trees the first year. Oftentimes “newbs” order way too many trees- and although they somehow barely manage to get them planted, it ends up being a sloppy job. Then they have more trees than they can maintain resulting in poor growth and survival. Solution: plant fewer trees, but plant every year. You’ll have more time to spend planning, planting, and maintaining your trees resulting in faster growth and high survival rates.
  2. Order in Advance. It’s a fact that nurseries must sell out of trees to make room for next years crop. Don’t wait until tree planting time to order trees. The best method is to order trees the summer prior and request a shipping date that coincides with your ideal tree planting time.
  3. Include tree protectors into your budget. Tree tubes, also called tree protectors or tree sleeves are absolutely imperative to achieve tree planting happiness. If you want to find out for yourself that not using them results in dead trees then go right ahead. Our advice is to learn from others who have wasted precious time and money on trees to have deer and other critters ravage their seedlings. Tree protectors also substantially increase growth rates. Do it!

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GameKeepers Field NotesMossy Oak
GameKeepers Field Notes
200 E. Main St.
West Point, Mississippi 39773

Chestnut Power

from Mossy Oak GameKeepers™ Field Notes[divider]

Now that everyone’s deer seasons are over, attention turns towards the bucks that made it through.

Chestnut Power“Food plots that still have forage available can be good locations to get pictures but most are gone by February. Another great way to get trail camera pictures during the late winter is using an attractant with a high carbohydrate and protein content. Chestnut Magic™ is a great new attractant that is not only attractive to whitetails but also very nutritious. Unlike imitators, Chestnut Magic is an all natural blend of whole and ground chestnuts along with heat stabilized rice bran to create a weather resistant attractant that whitetails absolutely love. With 4 times the amount of carbohydrates and over twice the protein of white oak acorns, chestnuts are a great food source and the deer never fail to find them.

We sometimes forget that at one time chestnut trees made up the majority of the American forests and the nuts covered by the unmistakable spiny hulls were likely whitetails most consistent and preferred food source before the blight killed most all chestnut trees. Whitetails seem to be programmed to find chestnuts as it was such an important resource to them decades ago. With no artificial products, colors, or preservatives, Chestnut Magic is an attractant your deer will love and you know what is in the bag.”
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GameKeepers Field NotesMossy Oak
GameKeepers Field Notes
200 E. Main St.
West Point, Mississippi 39773

The Quest for Fruit

from Mossy Oak GameKeepers™ Field Notes[divider]

Fruit trees need continuous care if they’re going to remain productive. So many people have fruit trees on their property that have grown out of control.

Fruit Trees“These people usually don’t understand the amazing tonnage a few fruit trees can actually provide. Many people think that pruning is cosmetic, but when it comes to fruit trees, proper pruning is essential for the best yield and now is prime time to prune.

The first step is to gain some control of the tree using these techniques (Video). If the tree is severely overgrown, you don’t want to prune everything all at once, it should be a process that lasts for two or three years. Some people like to use the rule of thirds, by pruning 1/3 each year.

To get the tree to produce the best fruit yield, remove suckers (branches that form from the roots or trunk of your tree), branches that grow down as opposed to those that grow upward; however, horizontal branches are most desired because they hold the fruit in the most pristine nature. Remove any branches that are crowded within the interior of the tree or if they are crossing and overlapping. These tips may also help, but you want to open the tree for sunlight and air penetration.

Speaking of trees, it’s time to think about which trees you will need to plant this spring. Watch the following video to learn how to grow your trees faster, healthier, and produce acorns or fruit at an earlier age.”


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GameKeepers Field NotesMossy Oak
GameKeepers Field Notes
200 E. Main St.
West Point, Mississippi 39773

3 Ways to Give this Year’s Fawns a Head Start

from Mossy Oak GameKeepers™ Field Notes[divider]3 Ways To Give This Year’s Fawns a Head Start“A good beginning to a fawn’s life is important. Most don’t realize that if you had two buck fawns born with equal genetic traits, but one buck fawn starts life in good standing with ample nutrition and low stress, and one doesn’t, as an adult the buck that began life well off will always have the potential for a better set of antlers – even if they eventually live on the same property! A good start is very important to a whitetail’s life and now is time to prepare for their foundation.

There are several things we can do to get fawns off to a great start.

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  1. Make it easy for the doe to intake the necessary nutrition. A mother doe will need plenty of protein rich milk for her fawns. Their milk contains over 30% crude protein and over 30% crude fat…that takes some nourishing groceries to generate. Perennials like Clover Plus and annuals like BioMass and BioMass all Legume are a very important part of a nutrition program.
  2. Make sure you have ample security cover. Diversity and edge cover are important. Native warm season grasses will help with security cover. You want thick ground cover that will keep fawns hidden, and if necessary, help them escape predators.
  3. You can also help by removing those predators by hunting or trapping. Coyotes, bobcats, coons and hogs should be removed whenever possible. Predator control can have a HUGE impact on fawn recruitment.

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There are other details you may wish to implement, but if you only do the above three things you should see a huge improvement in recruitment and four years later these bucks have a much greater chance at being one of those ‘world-class’ trophies we all dream of.”
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GameKeepers Field NotesMossy Oak
GameKeepers Field Notes
200 E. Main St.
West Point, Mississippi 39773

Dudley Phelps of Nativ Nurseries talks about Turkey Trees

There’s a Time and Place for Turkey Trees

by Dudley Phelps

Black Gum FruitLate every winter while the rut is winding to a halt, and the freezer is bulging at the seams, thoughts and daydreams transition from “what can I do for my deer” to “what can I do for the birds.” I think it’s pretty safe to say many of you guy’s thought processes follow the same calendar. Even though its engrained in our heads how important it is to follow a long-term management plan, that small block of thinned pines you swore needed a couple years allowance to grow super thick for deer cover suddenly needs a burning to create a scratching and strutting hotspot come the turkey opener. The same can be said for that field you wanted to put in soybeans suddenly just has to become a chufa plot. Or what about all those cameras you wanted to put out to see which bucks made it through the season? Instead you find yourself spending weekends setting traps to catch nest predators!

The list of “seasonal mindset changes” happens to just about every so-called gamekeeper, and the good news is that all of these practices are beneficial and rewarding, even if they do weigh a little more towards either fur or feathers. So what are some things we as hunters and land managers can do to benefit both ends of the spectrum? And to be more specific actually improve deer huntability AND provide a food source for the Sultans of Spring? Since one of my main passions aside from deer and turkey hunting is trees, and the three can go hand in hand, I’m going to cover a tree planting strategy we implement on our client’s, and our own personal properties that tackle both buck and bird with one stone.

In a nutshell, it’s all about what trees you plant and where you plant them that make a drastic difference. At Nativ Nurseries, we raise a wide spectrum of species… all beneficial for wildlife, but it’s about where you put them that makes a difference when it comes to huntability. Huntability and recreational value pretty much go hand in hand these days, don’t they?

The almighty oaks, my personal favorite, are by far the most popular trees to plant when it comes to wildlife, but a common mistake I’ve seen over the years is in the choice where they are planted in respect to improving huntability for deer. In my opinion, the single biggest mistake a tree planting deer hunter can make is to raise “acorn” trees along access routes to deer stands. To be a more effective deer hunter, it makes sense to NOT attract deer to the same roads and trails you use to access them for hunting. Think about it! Why on earth would you want to bump multiple deer en route to the hunt? All this will accomplish is to encourage them to wait until way after dark to come out and eat. The best solution is to establish plants and mast trees that aren’t attractive to deer in the fall and winter along these pathways. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid mast producing species altogether. Just make a point to plant these access areas in something wildlife can utilize at times of the year other than deer season. I’ve found the best scenario is to establish spring and summer dropping “turkey trees” such as: black cherry, blackgum, and red mulberry along your access routes, or any other species such as plums or dogwoods. Save your oak seedlings for everywhere else.

It’s not that deer won’t utilize these turkey trees, in fact they relish ‘em. The driving home point is this list of soft mast species won’t be a source of attraction during deer season. This will greatly reduce your human impact when human impact is a no-no, and on the flip side give your birds a reason to stick around. Bucks and birds bagged with one stone, how’s that for a win-win scenario?

Dudley Phelps is the Manager at Mossy Oak Nativ Nurseries in West Point, MS for more information on what plant species will work best on your land email Dudley at dphelps@mossyoak.com.

Solving the Snags – David Hawley of Mossy Oak Properties offers great advice on reeling in those leary Gobblers!

David Hawley of Mossy Oak Properties
David Hawley of Mossy Oak Properties is a champion Turkey caller and hosts a website called “The Wild Turkey Report” for more information visit www.wildturkeyreport.com.

3 common hang-ups, 3 solutions

Picture this: It is the opening morning of the spring turkey season in your home state, and you have a hot gobbler headed your way. It appears he is on a collision course for the afterlife, when he stops dead in his tracks one hundred yards away and proceeds to taunt you with a barrage of gobbling. If you are like me, the first thing that pops in my head is “something must have hung him up.” Oh, the dreaded “hang-up!” Let’s tackle a few common snags.

Situation #1 In the thick(et) of things

The worst feeling in the world is to have a turkey headed your way and have him put on the brakes. Where I hunt, thick cover is the culprit more times than not. Turkeys are finicky creatures, and frankly, they do not like briars and brambles. They are just like humans: they prefer the path of least resistance.

The key is to eliminate any potential hang-ups before they become reality. The only way to do this effectively is to know the terrain as well as the turkey does. You must know exactly where he is and what is between point A and B. If you do not know the area, you can still adjust on the fly if the gobbler hangs up. Wait for him to drift away to reposition on him. Rely on a locator call while moving to keep tabs on where he is. Then get into a spot where there is no reason for him not to come in and bag him!

Situation #2: Water Birds

In the southeastern United States, a common problem many hunters have is turkeys being across a body of water from them. On my property, we have a small river that forms our boundary, and as a result, it creates a number of “hang-ups.” Additionally, numerous sloughs and creeks stem off the river, so the hang up problem multiplies.

However, all hope is not lost. These bodies of water are a part of the turkeys’ home range, and therefore, they are accustomed to flying them to get from place to place. In reality, they aren’t a hang up if you approach them right. The key (as with every hunt) is the set-up. Everyone wants to crowd the bank, hoping to get a shot if he walks on the other bank. This usually doesn’t work well. My tip: Get 60-100 yards of the bank! Get tight with the bank and the turkey will want you (the hen) to fly the body of water. This has worked wonders for me personally.

To jazz up this tactic, I will sometimes (if the turkey is far enough off the other bank) get right on my bank and get the turkey fired up, and then fall back to a set-up 60-100 yards away. It’s something about a hen heading the other way that ticks them off! My father and I used this tactic to call a longbeard across the Tombigbee River (about 400 yards wide) a couple of years back. Remember: do not crowd the creek bank!

Situation #3: King of the Hills

Have you ever wondered why military forts are built on high ground? It does not take a West Point graduate to figure out that the army that controls the high ground controls the countryside. The same applies with turkeys. They rely on their eyes for their survival, and prefer to control the high ground if any way possible. The problem here is that when that gobbler is strutting on that ridge, and you are below him, he has a huge advantage over you. All he has to do is periscope his head over the crest of the hill just enough to get a good view of what’s below and not enough to get shot before deciding whether to take a stroll down the hill. If the role is reversed, however, then you have a huge advantage over the gobbler. That is why I always try to get to the high ground before the turkey does.

If the turkey is still roosted, I want to make sure that I will be at the very least eye-level with him when he flys down. If I am out prospecting for a gobbler, then I try to stay on the high ground in case the turkey gobbles nearby and have to hit the deck. Because I am at a higher level than him, I am not put at a disadvantage. I then will be in a prime position to bag a gobbler.

Mossy Oak Biologic staff offers best advice on how to get ready for Turkey Season

By Austin Delano

whistlebackNow that everyone’s deer seasons are over with, we all start to daydream about chasing those magical longbeards around the spring woods. This is also a great time to start making some plans for the upcoming planting season and plant some food for your turkeys that will be around during the next fall and winter.

One of the first things I like to do in February and March is pull soil samples on my plots and get them sent in to see if I need to add any lime and see what fertilizer will be needed for my warm season annuals that will be planted in April and May.

Getting a fresh sample pulled and lime spread this early in the year will give the ag lime time to start working on the soil for your spring/summer plots and also those fields that are left fallow through the summer.

BioLogic has a great spring/summer planting called WhistleBack that includes multiple varieties of millets, Egyptian wheat, sorghum, sunflowers. This blend needs about 90 days of growth to mature and will provide tons of seed to feed all types of game birds during the fall and winter. Keeping a high quality food source for turkeys on your property during the cold months will pay off big time when the spring rolls around.

BioLogic’s Turkey Gold Chufa is also a super attractive planting for your turkeys. Planted anytime from the spring into the early summer, chufa grows peanut like tubers just under the soils surface that your birds will go wild for. Chufa is easy to grow and will provide some serious groceries that will keep those big toms on your side of the property line.

Many of us spend a good deal of time throughout the spring/summer managing and manicuring our perennial clover and chicory plots. If you spent the money to plant perennials this past fall be sure and take the time to mow, fertilize, and spray them through the warm season so they will stay weed free and thriving.

In the south you may lose your clover to the hot weather and dry conditions in July and August, but if these fields are maintained properly through the spring and early summer, they will jump back out from dormancy in late summer/early fall much more quickly and back to that lush field it was in the spring. You also can take this time to go to your local co-op and figure out what herbicides you will be using and get them ordered as well as reserve any spreader buggies or spray rigs you intend to use.

Another great time saver for this time of year is equipment maintenance. Your spray rigs, bushogs, tractors and trailers have been sitting most of the winter and it’s a great idea to go ahead and do some routine maintenance. Getting your bushog blades sharpened and spray rigs calibrated and working properly can be a big time saver when done ahead of time instead of fighting leaking hoses, wore out bearings, and wore out pumps the day you need to be spraying or mowing.

For any questions on warm season plantings for turkey or other food plot questions, email Austin Delano at adelano@mossyoak.com.

Want to be more successful in the field? Learn to indentify Native Food Sources.

Native Food Sources
For more information on the huge selection of plants and trees at Nativ Nurseries visit www.nativnurseries.com or you can view Dudley and his staff on many of their instructional videos seen on You Tube.
By Dudley Phelps
Mossy Oak Nativ Nurseries
Research and Development Associate

Why on earth does our calendar year end and begin in the middle of winter? It simply doesn’t make sense considering everything else in God’s creation follows a year based on the changing seasons. Shouldn’t our year begin with the first day of spring? I guess it doesn’t matter to the rest of earth’s inhabitants that humans and computers follow a different time schedule because they don’t know and don’t care what we think. When the big ball drops in Times Square, deciduous trees don’t begin growing new leaves, farmers haven’t begun planting corn, and virtually nothing in our hemisphere is in bloom.

Maybe I’m over thinking this phenomenon? Perhaps the calendar New Year gives us time to prepare for Mother Nature’s new year, much like we set our clocks fast in an effort to get to work on time. From a land manager’s standpoint, this alarm of sorts can serve as a wake-up-call to begin preparation for the following spring.

Assuming hunting season is over for many of you, we now have more time available to do things at the farm in hopes of making the next year and many years ahead the best they can be! And what an important time it is… Now is a great time to service equipment, look for sheds and find trails, run traps, build turkey blinds, and frost-seed clover. Of equal importance to me and many other hard-core land managers is the fact that this window of time is also ideal for performing TSI (timber stand improvement) work. Practices such as hack-and-squirt, hinge-cutting, and prescribed fire come to mind right off the bat, and planting trees can also be done at this time.

To many land managers, winter “wonder” land can have a different meaning than is intended. Sure, you get a sense of wonderment looking at the frost or snow cover blanketing the landscape, but I’m referring to the fact that most folks “wonder” what the heck kind of tree that is when there isn’t the first leaf on it. So how can you hinge-cut a tree to daylight a field edge, or treat undesirables to release or plant an oak if you can’t identify trees in the winter? Personally, I’d rather be sitting in a tree in October than storming through the woods cutting them down while they’re more easily identified. That leads to my goal for this article, which is to get you on the right track towards becoming an expert in identifying trees after they have senesced for the winter. These tips should in turn also improve your identification skills and thus your management efficiency year round.

Summer Practice – Don’t look up

When foliage is present, and you can much more easily identify a tree by looking up at the canopy- Don’t. Force yourself to take a guess before giving in and gazing up. Try getting a first inclination from looking at the bark characteristics and the stump. Once you’ve done that and still aren’t sure you can get hints by looking at the forest floor. What leaves are on the ground? Are those acorn cups, or hickory husks and nuts? Sweet Gum balls? Maple Samaras? In time you’ll be surprised how easy it is to walk around calling trees by name without having to strain your neck, and soon thereafter searching the leaf litter won’t be necessary in most instances.

Up close and personal – Get twiggy with it

Not every tree you need to ID in the wintertime will be out of reach, even if it is you can find clues as previously mentioned on the forest floor. If there aren’t old fruits, nuts, or leaves lying around, or the tree is too young to produce a crop, you can always find a few twigs lying on the ground if the tree is too tall for them to be in reach. Regardless of the size or age of the tree, a simple twig is all that’s needed to positively identify every tree in the woods.

Growth patterns on the branch of deciduous trees are usually either considered opposite, or alternate. That means stems, buds, and leaves are attached either opposite, or alternate of each other, which can quickly narrow down your choices. There are several acronyms that have been used to remember who’s got opposite arrangement, but many refer to scientific names. There used to be a simple acronym for all of the oppositely arranged trees and shrubs, but a bunch of taxonomists got together recently and broke up the honeysuckle family into several. As a result, the best acronym I can come with for now is: MAD Cat Paw, Buck Honey Vibe; which stands for: Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Catalpa, Paulownia, Buckeye, Honeysuckle, Viburnum. Catalpa’s arrangement can also be whorled but is never alternate, buckeye includes Horsechestnut, and Viburnum also includes Blackhaw and the Elderberries. This acronym is a useful tool for beginners, but like the English Language, there are exceptions and taxonomists are always changing classifications, so use this as a crutch to get started, then throw it away.

Leaf scars on the twigs give answers as well. Although all hickories have three lobed leaf scars (kind of like Mickey Mouse’s head), a black walnut or butternut’s looks distinctly like a monkey’s face, and the less common butternut has fuzzy eyebrows. Can’t decide if you are looking at a white or green ash? Look at the leaf scar on a twig. A white ash leaf scar takes on a crescent or U shape and the green ash has more of a half moon or D shape. Magnolias (including yellow-poplar), and sycamore show distinctive stipular leaf scars appearing as rings encircling the twig.

Dormant buds can also be used in identification. If the slick grayish bark and persistent tan leaves don’t tip you off you’re looking at a beech, check the buds. They look like little cigars. A persimmon tree’s bark is a dead giveaway on a large tree, but what about the young guys? If you see jet black, triangular shaped buds on the twig, you’re probably looking at a persimmon.

Know your sites

Probably the easiest way to narrow down the many species of trees is to understand the sites they commonly occupy. Some species such as Yellow Poplar are aggressive, vigorous growers and need a deep, well-drained soil to defeat the competition. Others, such as post oak can tolerate shallow upland soils, thus giving them a competitive edge on poorer sites. Aspect is another important feature to consider. Northern red oak more often than not favors cove-type sites with a Northern exposure. It could be a pH thing where you have species that will tolerate one extreme or both. Pin oaks are never found in alkaline soils. What about moisture? Bitter pecan may only be found in areas that are too wet for its close relatives from the hickory family to grow. “Site plastic” species can throw you a curveball, so you’ll have to rely on other methods for identification.

From a distance

With a little practice, one can learn to identify different species or types of trees from a distance, even in the dead of winter. Distance ID doesn’t seem very important at first thought, but after mastering this technique you can ponder TSI ideas while sitting on the deer stand. This practice alone saves precious time and offers a real-time, birds-eye view! Now you can theorize which trees to hinge cut for directing deer traffic, or where you want to enhance bedding/feeding areas based on wind direction, lay of the land, AND mast trees present. Interested in finding a small piece of property to purchase or lease? Knowing your trees from a distance can provide a sneak peek from the road before asking for a tour.

To Master the distance tool, it’s important to know your trees from up close at first. Much like calling tree names out by not looking up, you can practice making educated guesses from afar and then move in for a closer look to verify. Before long, general physical traits such as branch habit, crown shape, or overall stature will provide answers. For example, a black gum’s branches grow at 90-degree angles from the trunk, making them easily picked out from the crowd. Sycamores are often the tallest trees out there, and their smooth, white bark can nearly blind you on a bluebird day. Down here in the South, a white oak often keeps its dead, brown leaves for much of the winter, and the bur oaks often take their time to change color and fall, and can be further separated from a white oak because of their gangly, twisted form. Our previously described, “opposite or alternate” acronym can also be used from a reasonable distance with a pair of binoculars.

Trees are indeed individuals, and the more time you spend getting to know them as individuals rather than “just trees,” the sooner you’ll realize how easy it is to put a face on them in a crowd. In time there will be no need to remember a silly acronym, dig through the leaves, chew on a twig, haul an ID book around, or look up. Having an expert knowledge of your trees will cut down on the time you spend “wondering,” and will give you the tools you need to turn a property with potential into a property with presence.

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Trail Cameras – They’re not just for hunters

Learn to use Trail Cameras as a way to showcase the wildlife on your property.

Trail Camera
For more information on how Dave Edwards and Tall Tines Wildlife and Hunting Consultants can help you manage and inventory your wildlife, email him at wahooeater@gmail.com or visit www.cabinbluff.com where Dave is now the Hunting and Fishing Manager and the Asst. General Manager.
By Dave Edwards
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Tall Tines Wildlife & Hunting Consultants

It’s that time of year. In most parts of the whitetails range, bucks are sporting full velvet racks that are nearly developed and will soon rub out in preparation for their fall activities. With this comes excitement among hunters, and potential land buyers, with the anticipation of what this hunting season will bring. As such, infrared trail cameras are being deployed at an exponential rate in hopes of getting a glimpse of trophy bucks that may be using the property where they hunt. As a recreational property seller, trail cameras offer a great way to not only capture trophy bucks or other wildlife using properties you have listed, but can help you attract potential recreational buyers that have caught the “fall bug” and are looking for a place of their own to hunt this season. Here are a few tips to help you, a recreational property seller, get the most out of your trail cameras this fall:

  • Deploy cameras in late summer/early fall while bucks are still in bachelor groups. This often allows you to capture many bucks in the same photograph.
  • Pay special attention to the layout/background of the photo area. That is, unlike a hunter that is primarily concerned with simply getting a picture of a buck, your goal is to capture quality photographs that not only capture the wildlife, but are aesthetic and can be used to market a property.
  • Use video options if available on your trail camera. Videos often capture more wildlife and can be a great addition to an online listing.
  • While whole corn, or other baits, are commonly used to attract deer or other wildlife in front of a camera, avoid “piling it up”. That is, your photographs will look more natural if the bait is not visible. Once deer or other target wildlife begin using a site, scatter the bait verses piling it.
  • Think outside the box. Although most people use trail cameras to photograph deer, they can be used to capture all kinds of wildlife. Be creative and use trail cameras to photograph wildlife that may set your property apart from others.

Getting Ready for Fall

biologic
For more information on how you can have great food plots this fall go to www.plantbiologic.com or www.farmingforwildlife.com for the best tips, techniques, and products available.
by Austin Delano
Mossy Oak BioLogic
Field Services Manager
adelano@mossyoak.com

The fall season always seems to take forever to arrive; we anticipate it so much through the hot months that it seems as though fall food plotting and archery season will never come. When it finally does come time to start preparing fields, hanging stands, and fixing up deer camp, we all feel rushed and running behind to get everything accomplished before opening day. Lets look at a few things you can do through the summer months to be a step ahead when the leaves begin to change.

Line up a plan and set some goals for what you want to accomplish on your property. Making a specific plan for each plot and how you plan to use it relative to the rest of your land will help take out the guesswork and wasted time. Decide what you would like to plant in each plot and how you would ideally hunt the area. Planting a certain forage in a field can determine what time of year the deer are going to use that food source and when you should hunt there. For example if you decided to plant Maximum in a plot, which is a blend of kale, rape, and turnips, you wouldn’t want to sit there on the first day of bow season while its still warm out and expect to see much activity. Determine which fields you plan to designate as a nutrition plot vs. an attraction plot. If you are planting an area specifically for hunting and attraction, plant accordingly. Early season stand sites can be set up around food sources with early attractiveness such as wheat, oats, clovers, and chicory, late season hunting stands can be centered around brassicas and other high energy foods such as beans and corn.

Have soil tests done well ahead of any planting plans you have to ensure you have time to make any necessary adjustments. Lime should be worked into fields at least 3-4 months before planting. Get the herbicides and fertilizer that you plan to use lined up and ordered if necessary. This is a wise step to avoid having to wait on rented spreaders or sprayers during the busy planting time. Ideally you want your property to have both annual and perennial plots. This is going to mean planting some warm season crops in areas you have designated for annuals and maintaining clover and chicory through the warm months for your perennial fields. Spraying your perennial clover and chicory plots with grass specific herbicides through the summer will really rid your fields of heavy competition and make for a much thicker and better looking plot. Have your fallow fields burned down with round-up a couple of weeks ahead of planting time. This will make the ground easier to turn since there will be no green vegetation to try to work under. Repeatedly turning the soil also causes moisture loss, moisture that is vital for germinating your planted seeds. Keeping your perennial fields free of weeds through the summer months will pay big dividends. Not only will it look better, but will extend the life of the crop by taking out the weeds that compete for root space, moisture, and fertilizer. Make sure to clean your equipment of weed seeds throughout the summer. Spraying off bushogs, tractors, atv’s, and spraying equipment will help from spreading unwanted weed seeds from plot to plot.

Summer time is also a great time to get the game cameras out and start taking inventory on who is hanging out on your land. There are lots of good places in the warm months to set up cameras to get some great pictures. Watering holes, mineral sites, protein feeders, and trails coming to and from food plots are some ideal locations to place your cameras to see how your herd is coming along through the growing season. Using your cameras for pre-season scouting can help you determine when and how to hunt your food plots. Keep your cameras moving all the time to new locations for catching wary bucks or just a passer by. Cameras can help you find bedding areas, travel corridors, and staging areas that can be very useful for stand placement and hunting strategy.

One of the most exciting things to do to get ready for the fall hunting season is hanging stands. There is a ton of anticipation built up when you know the food sources the deer will be using, have pictures, and put up a stand in just the right spot. Use the long days during the warm months to get your stand locations, shooting lanes, blinds, and ambush sites in place. This will give the deer time to get used to a new stand site and the effects of your intrusion into their woods time to dissipate. Try and draw up a map of the prevailing winds on your property so you will know which locations to hunt under the given conditions. You can also use rakes or bushogs to create silent paths to and from your stands for that stealthy approach. Hopefully some of these tips will save you some time and give you some valuable ideas to work on to be ready when Fall rolls around.