Deer Season is Getting Closer and What You Should Be Doing

by Free Speech on August 27, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

River Currents
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Dean Carlson of Sauk City with a local, big buck taken in Sauk Co.

Dean Carlson of Sauk City with a local, big buck taken in Sauk Co.

The bow hunting season for whitetail deer is getting close and in some Midwestern states like Wisconsin the season starts in less than a month. There are many things that successful hunters have been doing all summer to improve their success in deer hunting and there are other tips and tactics that you can still incorporate into this fall’s hunting plans. A majority of these ideas are tailored made for private land hunting; where you can put in your own food plots, plant native plants, bushes, and trees for deer food and cover, put up numerous tree stands to hunt from no matter what direction the wind is blowing, and the ever-growing use of the improved trail-cams which allow you to “see” the entire piece of land that you hunt for deer. Some of these tips can also be used on public lands depending on the rules and regulations of the state that you’re hunting. Be sure to check out these regulations which also can include scents, attractants, and bait during the deer season.

If the land that you hunt is your land or privately owned, you can do numerous things to improve the deer hunting on this acreage. First, I’d make sure that I know the entire lay of the land by getting and studying a topographic map. Walk the entire piece of land looking for sign from deer like trails, feeding areas, bedding locations, travel routes, and staging points. Now deer still have their velvet, but soon they will be losing it and rubbing their antlers on small trees and saplings. Look for these rubs and scrapes. These days, most hunters are putting in some sort of food plot for the deer to feed on especially for when their natural and native foods dry up or are consumed. You may have a lush and green food plot, but the deer may not use it until other natural and native foods are gone and this may be well into the fall. Besides food plots, hunters should look at their long-range plan for their hunting land and plant trees, bushes, and native plants that are suited for your specific location and state. What deer eat and grows well in Wisconsin may not grow well in a southern state, like Kentucky. Make an effort during the year when walking the land or scouting to see what plants and trees are on your hunting land and plant some other food sources (trees, bushes, plants) away from your main food plots. These plantings should be at least 100 yards away from any major food plot. Outdoorsman and writer, J.Wayne Fears (www.jwaynefears.com ), has a book out titled, “How to Manage Native Plants for Deer.” I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in naturally improving their land for hunting. Some things that Fears suggest you plant are; oaks, Chinese chestnuts, honeysuckle, blackberries, raspberries, plums, red mulberry, flowering dogwood, wild grapes, and apple trees. Hopefully, you have some of these things on your land and if not plant some next spring and take care of them till they become established. Fertilize them when you plant the trees and also fertilize them again during the summer. You should also check with the state DNR and Extension Services for game management programs that they may have and even for help with your land. Hunters spend millions of dollars on clearing, plowing, cultivating, and planting food plots when many can improve the native vegetation that is already growing. Deer love many of these native species, so get to know what they are and encourage their growth on your property.

Large buck photo by Mitch Spillane.

Large buck photo by Mitch Spillane.

As I earlier said, get a topographic map of your hunting land and study it before and as you walk the acreage. These maps can show you possible travel routes, bedding areas, feeding locations, and staging points. You should now have a good idea of what you have on your land and this “research” should help you in using one of the most important innovations in deer hunting, the trail-camera. Today’s high-tec trail cams keep getting better and better. The better cameras have a quicker trigger speed, longer battery life, better resolution, and are infra-red vs. a flash. Cuddeback, Moultrie, Predator, Bushnell, and Primos all make trail cameras with prices ranging from a little over $200.00 to under $100.00. I made a point of talking to many “big time” bow hunters in Wisconsin and the camera that was recommended most was the Cuddeback which also is one of the more expensive. But, well worth the price! The better and more successful hunters are now using multiple trail cameras set up strategically around their hunting land. Most hunters these days have one or two trail cameras and anxiously look forward to every day or two when they check their cameras and its photos to see what happened to wander by the camera! The most successful hunters now have numerous cameras covering every nook and cranny of their land. They have done their scouting and found the best locations to place these cameras for seeing their quarry. Once the bow hunting season begins, many deer become nocturnal and spend their days bedded down in the thick cover of any dense woods that ideally is close to water. The trail cameras help you “see” where the deer are spending their daytime hours and this can help you pattern the deer and your hunting plans accordingly. Now is the time to put your trail-cams into the woods as we get closer to the opening of bow season and then the deer gun season. This is also the time to put out any deer scent or attractant that you use in the good deer locations that you’ve found on your cameras. Put the scent in spots where there are native plants and along trails where the deer are actively feeding and traveling. Then, even after the plants are gone or eaten the deer will still check out the scent and hopefully give you a shot at the buck that you’ve been watching and patterning.

Bow hunters and gun hunters both should make sure to have multiple deer stands to hunt from no matter which direction the wind is blowing from the day you hunt. Now is the time to trim and cut branches and limbs from trees near your hunting stands and shooting lanes. When you’re out scouting, bring along a pruning tool to cut these obstructions. The last thing that you want to happen is to have an arrow deflect off a branch and ruin your shot at the trophy you’ve been following for months!

Another factor that is becoming more important to successful deer hunters is to know what the temperature is when you see active deer. Keep a diary or journal and jot down when you see deer, what time it is, what you saw, and what the temperature was when you saw the deer. You don’t have to have a thermometer in every deer stand because there now is a new product called scope watch (www.scopewatch.com) which sells for under $10.00 and fits most guns with a 1” barrel. The scope watch gives you the exact time and temperature. Deer act differently at a specific temperature in Wisconsin than they do in Georgia. What is too warm here is not too warm in a southern state and what is too cold in the south is not too cold in Wisconsin. New innovations are constantly being invented that are helping make hunting a little easier and the chance for success even greater. Science and technology is improving hunting knowledge, tactics, and the techniques available to all hunters.

Try to use these new innovations to your advantage, but the key is to use these new innovations in combination with time spent in the woods (scouting), thoroughly knowing your land, and improving it for the deer and the deer hunting that you so cherish. There are numerous quality products out there which will help make your hunting more successful. If you can afford them, they are well worth the price.

Last, I hope that you have been shooting your bow in a summer league or shooting at profiles on your own. One can never have too much practice or shoot too many arrows during the off-season. If you haven’t shot much, I suggest that you take your bow into a quality store like the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City for a tune-up by a professional. Besides, shooting do some walking and exercise to get in shape before you start climbing to your treestand.

www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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