For the second day in a row, I have the privilege of introducing you to another new Wired To Hunt contributor and rising star in the outdoor writing world, Cody Altizer. You may be familiar with Cody as a Junior Editor at Bowhunting.com or from his recently published piece in The Whitetail Times. But if Cody is new to you, you’re in for a treat. A rare blend of passion, great writing, terrific photography skills and that big buck obsession make Cody a perfect addition to the Wired To Hunt Nation! – MK
Let’s face it; we all hunt for a variety of different reasons. Some hunters head afield each fall to enjoy the calm, quiet, organic peacefulness that can only be enjoyed sitting 20 feet up a white oak. I know I do. Some hunters long for the taste of hearty, delicious venison, and passionately pursue whitetails for three months trying their best to satisfy their need to eat some good old fashioned deer meat. Guilty as charged. Finally, some hunters challenge themselves to harvest the biggest, baddest, meanest buck in the woods. I fall into this category as well. But regardless of why we hunt, I don’t think there is a hunter one who can truthfully say they wouldn’t want to see more bucks on their property during deer season. Below are three easy, inexpensive ideas to try to increase your buck sightings.
Harvest More Does
I’m a huge proponent of Quality Deer Management (QDM), and regularly harvesting adult does will dramatically improve your hunting. By reducing the number of female deer on your hunting property, you’re single handedly intensifying the rut making more exciting hunting opportunities at bigger, more mature bucks. The results are simple and easy: the more mature bucks with a physiologically stronger desire to breed than subordinate bucks will have to work harder and cover more ground in search of estrous does thus making them vulnerable during the hunting season. In return you get to see more rubs, scrapes, big bucks chasing does and ideally more shot opportunities at bucks. Plus, we all like the taste of venison, don’t we? And, I’ve never found a hunter who said harvesting a nice old doe wasn’t very much fun.
Man the Chainsaw
I spent my first 4 years out of high school working on 2,500 acre farm, as well as tending my family’s 260 acre property, and manning a chainsaw is something I’m very familiar with. However, it wasn’t until 3-4 years ago that I fully realized how beneficial a chainsaw could be to improving your deer herd’s health and creating more hunting opportunities. Here’s how.
On my hunting property in Virginia, food is king. Many hunters debate which is more important, food or cover, and while it certainly varies with each individual property, when you hunt in the heavily forested Appalachian Mountains, the deer have plenty of places to hide. Concentrating deer to a certain food source is key. By clear cutting small parcels of timber and containing trees that provide little benefit to wildlife, you can create your own food plot. Clear cuts provide excellent deer food and hunting opportunities in a relatively short period of time. Once the sunlight penetrates the forest floor, an explosion of favorite deer foods will explode that will in turn manifest itself into a reliable food source for many years down the road.
Less is More
Deer hunting is fun. Scouting for deer is fun. Heck, any time spent in the woods is just plain fun. We as deer hunters will be the first to tell you that. But the more time you spend on your hunting property, the more it can actually hurt your chances of hunting success. Especially when hunting old, mature bucks. They don’t tolerate human presence very well. Keeping human activity to a minimum is a must if you want mature bucks to call your property home and feel safe there. All this takes is a little self-discipline. It’s hard at first, but the results will speak for themselves. The less human activity your property experiences, the more mature bucks you’ll see. It’s that simple.
Since it’s impossible to stay off your hunting property unless your hunting it, there are a couple quick tips that can help reduce your “human footprint.” Whenever you visit your property, be it to check cameras, put out minerals, etc., do your best to visit it during the middle of the day when deer are least active. In fact, the hotter and dryer the air is outside the better. Your scent will hang around longer on days with high humidity. Windy and rainy days are also excellent times to accomplish little projects. Wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, and spraying down with a scent eliminator also goes a long way in keeping your presence to a minimum.
Hunting is a very personal sport and the reasons why we hunt vary with each individual, as it should. However, I love hunting big bucks. I’m not very good at killing them, but just seeing them is a spectacle I think every hunter should enjoy. If you follow the three above ideas and strategies, you can very easily and inexpensively be on your way to seeing, and hopefully harvesting, more mature bucks.
– Cody Altizer