Another deer season has passed and with it an abundance of memories to reflect upon. Unfortunately these recollections only get me so far through the off-season before I develop a full blown case of deerpression, especially as we hit these long, winter months. If you suffer from deerpression like me, you’re in luck, as I have a few tips to help get you through…at least until turkey season.
Plan A Hunt
Nothing cures a case of deerpression like daydreaming of wild places…and then envisioning a way to get there. Following deer season, I begin planning out my hunts for the following season, or two seasons depending on the scale of the hunt. Right now I’m beginning to prep for my upcoming DIY Montana elk hunt in September. Of course licenses/tags need to be purchased and gear accumulated. For me, this time is also used to up my game in the fitness department, to make sure I’m in tip-top shape to manage the terrain of the following year’s hunts.
If an adventure hunt isn’t in your plans for next year, start planning for a few whitetail excursions closer to home. Or dissect the land you’ve been hunting and tweak your game plan for how to attack your hunts next year.
Shed hunting is a great way to get back out into the whitetail woods and breath some hunting life into your winter. To be honest, I’ve yet to find a shed while shed hunting. But I’ll use any excuse to get back into the timber. Who knows, you may find the sheds from the toad that has eluded you all season. So meet up with a buddy or two and hit the timber for a shed hunt. Just be on the alert for the dreaded shed thief (who also doubles as “friend”).
If you’re like me, there is no real off-season, only a period of the year when deer can’t be harvested. When the weather is less than ideal, I take my scouting online and do some virtual work using Google Earth or other online mapping tools from the comfort of my couch. When I do get good weather days, I’ll hit the timber for a boots on the ground scout. Sign from this past year is still visible and provides a nice road map of how deer are using a property—-particularly if you’re scouting a with a little snow on the ground. One of my favorite things to do is back track trails to bedding. This will give you a great idea of how the deer on a property are getting to and from bedding. The added bonus this time of year is you can scout secluded/sanctuary areas of a property, knowing there is plenty of time between now and next season for the deer to forget you were ever there.
If you’ve instituted quality deer management principles on your property, or hunt a property owned by others who have, predator hunting should be part of your off-season management plan. As you enhance your property’s habitat to attract more deer, the natural by-product is likely an increase in predators visiting or living on your property. Predator hunting is a new off-season activity for me this year as I’ve certainly noticed an uptick in the coyote presence on our property since we’ve begun enhancing our deer habitat. Not only does this activity help your overall QDM efforts, it’s also a great way to battle deerpression during the off-season. Also, volunteering to do some predator hunting for a neighboring farm may be the key to unlocking hunting access to that land next deer season.
If all else fails, turkey season is just around the corner. Before you know it’ll be early morning wake up calls with gobblers in the hollers! So break out the turkey call for some practice that is certain to drive your family crazy. They’ll prefer this over a potential bout of deerpression.
I’m as bummed as anyone that deer season is over and I usually do suffer a bit of deerpression. However, the off-season is a time of limitless possibilities and I enjoy finding creative ways to spend my time during these cold winter months. From developing your woodsman-ship to rediscovering parts of your property, making good use of this time will pay off in a few months and make the 2017 season the best one yet.