Deer Hunting | Focusing On One Mature Buck

Tactics to Bring That One Mature Buck Down

Watching an individual mature buck starting from a two year old, then harvesting him when he is five is an impressive accomplishment. This is especially true for resident bucks, passing them each year until they reach full potential. It’s quite a feat to do, but extremely difficult. In order to do it you need to do your homework, and that starts now and continues every month after! Deer hunting is one thing, going after one smart and mature buck is a different beast entirely. It’s the definition of Head Hunters TV.

It takes focus during all of the deer hunting season, and more. This starts with summer patterning. Bean fields and trail cameras over mineral blocks allow you to find out one if he’s on the property and two what his pattern is. This reveals your first real opportunity at harvesting him. If your season is early enough you can still catch him on this pattern. If not you will have to adjust to the changes with a change in your tactics.

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Once the days get shorter, and the leaves and acorns begin to fall your commitment for that one mature buck may be strained. The summer pattern becomes nonexistent, your mind will tell you he has gone nocturnal or moved to a different property. In this hard time the white oak flats, small fall food plots, and there relevance to bedding areas are your best bet in catching him in daylight. Again trail cameras will help you narrow down his core area. Take all the locations you have seen him while hunting and the photos from trail cameras and put it on a map of the property. Identify any terrain features, water sources, funnels, bedding area, or anything that can help cut him off. Do your best to keep up with him before the rut. Once it’s here, that buck could end up anywhere, including the sites of your neighbor, on the other hand the rut could be the best time to harvest him. It’s really anyone’s guess at that point. Once snow starts falling, you regain your ability to pattern him but you’re running a tight schedule to the end of the deer hunting season. Late season food sources like beans or brassicas are a good place to start.

During any of these times it’s important to remember what keeps that buck alive, his nose. He has mastered the winds and thermals. So it’s vital that you remember not to hunt the wind. No it’s not a typo… once you start going after a mature buck you have to hunt him because he hunts the wind. For example, take a food plot with a wind coming out of the west. Normally you would set up on the east side of the plot, making sure to get a shot from any direction he might come from. Chances are you will strike out with that tactic. Instead of setting up right outside the plot, go east an extra 50-100 yards. The mature buck will only enter that plot after going checking the wind off of it, putting him right under your stand instead of downwind of you.

During the entire hunt for one mature buck, you need to be on your “A” game. This means extra attention to your scent, your entrances and exits to sets, the wind, and overall the pressure you put on him. Every little bit helps.

Habitat Management for Deer | The 3 Best Spots for Deer Cover on your Property

The 3 Best Spots to Put Cover on Your Property for Deer and Your Deer Hunting

Your property is a whitetail paradise (or so you thought), food plots, several ponds, food plots, supplemental feeding stations, more food plots, mineral stations, and yes…another beautiful food plot. It never ceases to amaze, shear lack of thought towards deer bedding and cover on properties. Outfitters and small time hunters alike seem to forget about the importance of cover on their whitetail paradise. If you haven’t got a lot of it then now is the time to start, but before you do take a step back and think. There are 3 spots for deer cover on your property that will benefit you and your deer than anywhere else.

Deer cover on your property can be anything from laid over, or hinge-cut trees, to early successional areas, hay fields, old grown up fields, or native grass stands. Anywhere to get out of the wind and out of sight of predators is deemed as “great” deer cover. So where do you put it?

  1. Wherever You Physically Can

If you look around and fail to see anything mentioned above, it is pretty obvious what that you need to increase your efforts towards habitat management for deer. Drop some trees, let the light through, and reset succession any and everywhere you can. Already got too many places in mind? Here are some helpful specifics.

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  1. Center of the Property

Start in the center of the property if possible. Why? It’s pretty obvious don’t you think? Hint: Your neighbors.

Concentrating deer cover towards the core of your property will concentrate your deer bedding. Then putting your food plots towards the boundaries of the properties will ensure that you see deer movement in your property not just through it. It will also keep them in the core of your property, not your neighbors.

  1. Adjacent to Food

Not just next to your food plot…think more strategically. Placing deer cover in the direction that works in your favor for your beloved food plot. Think about the most common wind you experience, where your stand is on the food plot, and where you want the deer to come from. Concentrating cover in the direction you want the deer to filter into your plot will increase the chance they bed in that direction, and come in on a string on that first afternoon bow hunt!

Habitat Management for deer is probably needed on your property, most likely that need is cover. Make some cover on your property, just think before acting and use it to your advantage.

Habitat Management | Planting Hard and Soft Mast Trees

Best Trees to Plant for Habitat Management

Though Arbor Day has come and gone, it’s not too late to do your part and plant a tree or two. If you own a hunting property, habitat management can be a wonderful investment for you, your family, and for the game animals you chase. With some proper planning and good preparation, you can dramatically improve the recreational and aesthetic value of your land, not to mention create additional hunting opportunities in the not-so-distant future.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, as the old saying goes. Some get discouraged by this saying, and use it as an excuse to not take action now since they already “missed the best opportunity.” Don’t worry – the next best time to plant is now! Besides, many tree species you should plant for wildlife will start providing benefits in only a few years.

Head Hunters Habitat ManagementTechnically, spring and fall are the best times to plant trees as the cooler weather and additional soil moisture are optimal for good establishment. But for many of us, moisture is one thing we have plenty of this summer. The best habitat management outcomes will come from a thorough and strategic plan. If you’re not comfortable doing so, you can enlist the help of a county or state forester or wildlife biologist. Many agencies have free assessments to encourage property owners to plant more wildlife-friendly options and can get you signed up for cost-share programs to ease the financial sting (e.g., Mississippi, Indiana, etc.).

When developing your plan, try to “fill in the gaps” on your property. For example, if you have an obvious abundance of spruce and pines on your land, don’t plant more conifers. Instead plant some hard or soft mast trees that will provide food. If you have mostly oak trees (hard mast species), try planting some soft mast trees like apples or persimmons.

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Speaking of mast types, let’s clear up the terminology. “Hard mast” trees are simply nut-producing species and provide critical food in autumn. Typically, nuts vary in protein and fat, plus also contain carbohydrates. Common hard mast trees that benefit wildlife include: white and red, chestnut, black walnut, hickories, and hazelnut. You can plant many of these species from the nuts themselves. For example, oaks are actually much better planted from acorns because they develop a long taproot that makes transplantation difficult. However, you can plant some of the others from transplants.

Head Hunters Habitat Management“Soft mast” trees produce soft fruits that ripen over summer but don’t persist well past autumn. They typically provide a high amount of carbohydrates to help animals gain fat and prepare for winter. Common soft mast trees you should plant for wildlife include: apple/crabapple, blackberry, pear, persimmon, or plum. Most soft mast trees should be planted by transplanting young nursery stock. These are generally more disease-resistant and hardy. In addition, apple species are produced by grafting onto a different rootstock, so in order to ensure you get a tree that produces fruit, nursery stock is the best option.

Now you know what types of trees to plant. Now you need to figure out the best place to plant them for wildlife usage and additional hunting opportunities. If you currently have food plots, you can plant soft or hard mast trees immediately around them to add an additional source of food. Just make sure you locate them on the north side of your plot to not shade out whatever you planted in it.

Alternatively, plant rows of hard mast trees as corridors leading from bedding areas to food plots, or between food sources. You can even plant pockets of soft mast trees along these corridors for additional hunting opportunities. Remember, the more pockets you plant, the more hunting options you get. In such a scenario, you could set up along one of the corridors to catch deer moving between spots. Or you could hang various sets in each mini-orchard to provide for more options when the weather conditions change.

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While deer, turkey, and grouse will benefit from these habitat management activities, you can also benefit financially from them. Try planting marketable timber species (e.g., black walnut, oaks, black cherry, white pine, etc.) or pulp and firewood species (e.g., aspen, birch, maple, ash) and manage them well. Twenty to thirty years down the road, you could either sell them for a nice bonus or keep them as an inheritance for future generations that will manage your land.

Is this an investment in time as much as money? You bet! In the case of oaks, it may be decades before they resemble the large iconic trees in your imagination. But they will start to provide food for wildlife much sooner than that. The beauty in this is that you can shape your land and create the ultimate wildlife (and therefore hunter) paradise just by planting a couple trees each year.

Simply put, habitat management activities not only benefit the wildlife species you hunt (and therefore your hunting opportunities), but can be a good financial investment in the process. Get out there this spring and become a good steward of the land.