Whitetail Preseason Preparation: Setting Expectation

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting and anticipating the upcoming archery season since, well, the 2014 season ended. Typically, I’d just wait and daydream of the upcoming season, chomping at the bit to get back in the stand, but this year I’ve upped my game. This year I made the off-season as meaningful as the whitetail hunting season itself by seeking out expert whitetail advice and tips.

 Different from years past, I’ve applied what I’ve learned and have begun to fine-tune my whitetail hunting strategy. Everything from food plot implementation and moon phase impact on deer movement, to effectively aging deer on the hoof and overall management of my property for bigger more mature deer. The strategies and information available to today’s whitetail hunter is endless and I’ve read, watched, and listened to as much as I could get my hands on. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information out there, and to think, “this is just too much.” This is what I used to think. And if you’re a beginner or starting a project  from scratch, it can be a daunting task, but it can be done. With a little planning and hard work “and some help from your friends” your goals  can be met.  I’ve been fortunate to have the help of my father-in-law and some of our friends in implementing new strategies or enhancements to the hunting property. We all chipped in financially and shared in the sweat equity. We thought we may be able grow more mature deer, and bigger bucks, if we implemented a few property management tactics. A few strategically placed food plots seemed feasible to accomplish. It’s important to set realistic expectations for the ability of you (or your camp) to commit money, time and resources. This will ultimately help you understand your potential impact on your whitetail habitat.

 I’m no different than any other whitetail addict. I watch whitetail hunting shows and want to battle wits with a mature Booner buck. But the reality is, my property may never produce an animal like that due to surrounding pressure, genetics, etc….and that’s ok. If you’re hunting public land, there are more variables out of your control….and that’s ok, too. The key is  to understand what is possible, in the areas we each hunt. So the real question I had to ask myself was, what can I realistically do to better my hunting, and what was I willing to do? This determined what my expectations should be heading into the 2015 season and beyond.

My realistic expectation was to create a 5 acre food plot and a few microplots throughout the timber. I do have access to a small farm tractor, ATV’s and a few friends who were willing to help. One of the fields was seeded with Whitetail Imperial Clover, creating a 5 acre food plot in the middle of the hunting property. This plot would not be hunted directly (only travel corridors to and from)—so deer never equate this food source with humans or pressure. Eight smaller microplots were also planted (all totaling about an acre) in various areas within the timber. These sites will be hunted and are placed relatively close to known bedding areas and travel corridors. The microplots were all created using only hand tools, and seeded with Imperial Whitetail Bow Stand and Imperial Whitetail Winter Greens.

With this approach the farm now has a long-term sustainable food source after the spring and summer crops have been harvested, along with huntable plots.This undertaking (number of plots and scale) may not be suitable for everyone. Making changes to enhance your hunting property can be exciting, and hopefully with a little good fortune, payoff during the season. While keeping your approach simple is often best, determining an genuine conclusion on your approach will bring you one step closer to your moment of truth from the stand.