by Austin Delano
Mossy Oak BioLogic
Field Services Manager
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.