Today I want to introduce you all to Hunter Stier, a fellow young whitetail addict hailing from the great white north of Michigan. Last year Hunter had the opportunity to work with one of the most prominent, experienced and respected whitetail biologists in the country, Dr. Grant Woods. And I’m excited for Hunter to share some of his experiences and learnings with the Wired To Hunt Nation over the coming months. Today, Hunter gives us a brief glimpse into some of the most important, but sometimes over-looked, aspects of a successful whitetail management strategy. – MK

I’m a young hunter… trying to learn everything I can about whitetails while being short on money, busy with school, and searching for a career. That being said, I am definitely still eager to learn and experience everything I can related to whitetails.

That brings me to this past year. After watching episodes of GrowingDeer TV with Dr. Grant Woods (a web based show discussing whitetail management and hunting strategies), I decided to email him and ask him a few questions regarding his career.  Through a series of emails and phone conversations, I was blessed with an internship position. I had no idea what to expect when making the long drive from Northern Michigan to Missouri, but I was excited to learn as much as I could about the habitat and whitetail management that Dr. Woods performs on a day-to-day basis.

So now as I look back and after putting in many hours at The Proving Grounds and other properties that Dr. Woods manages, it’s safe to say that I learned a lot about whitetails and their habitat. But there were a few specific aspects of  Dr Woods’ management practices that really caught my attention and I wanted to share those with you today. Those being…

  • The importance of setting realistic goals
  • Managing for successful hunting
  • Predator control
  • Managing property year round

Although these ideas may not be considered your typical “key whitetail management topics”, they are characteristics of good management that should not be overlooked. Let me briefly expand on these.

  • Setting Realistic Goals:
    • It is incredibly important to know that whitetail/habitat management does not yield results overnight. Some management practices may in fact take years to show results. Also, when making a management plan consider your property’s location and set realistic expectations based on that. For example, when setting your goals – be sure to also consider your neighbors’ management goals, local harvest criteria, etc and factor that into what your expectations and plans are.
  • Manage for successful hunting:
    • Strategically place your food plots, roads, bedding areas etc. for successful hunts – not just for where its convenient.
    • When making these placement decisions, think about stand entrances, exits, and wind.
    • Consider how your habitat improvements will affect deer movement by creating travel routes and funnels.
    • Converting 100% of your property into perfect habitat may make it difficult to get within bow range of a mature buck. Try to find a balance that allows you to not only grow big bucks, but kill them as well.
  • Predator control:
    • Predators are direct competitors to hunters. It is important that predator populations are controlled on your property to lower the impact they have on your deer herd. Trapping is a very efficient method for removing predators. Aside from helping your deer herd, trapping can also be very rewarding by itself and may even improve your deer hunting skills.
  • Property management is year round.
    • It is important that you care for your land and deer herd throughout each part year. For example, during hunting season it is easy to neglect management when you are focused on actually hunting. But you can make your time on stand part of your management practice by recording deer sightings, travel routes, browse pressure, etc. Monitoring food abundance throughout the year can also help you assess your properties population capacity to maintain a healthy herd.

Dr. Woods is a veteran whitetail biologist, habitat manager and an all around great guy. I am thankful for his time and was glad to help him this past summer. I certainly learned a lot and hopefully a few of these main lessons can stick with you as well.

On a side note – If any of you young guys have the opportunity to pursue an internship position in a field of interest to you, I would highly recommend it. It was a very nice change to be learning outside with hands-on application rather than being stuck in a lecture hall. Watching Dr. Woods interact with clients and inspect new properties was a learning experience that only exists in a real world setting and cannot be mimicked in a classroom.

– Hunter Stier

For more from Dr. Grant Woods – visit GrowingDeer.TV