What To Do First?
It’s an exciting time frame, one which we all look forward to…new ground to get our hands dirty on. New food plots planned, bedding areas created and chainsaws fired up hoping to sculpt out your own whitetail paradise where behind every tree is a chance of a booner…or two.
Sure that may be an unrealistic expectation for 99% of us who hit the fields each fall, but in the back of every habitat change we do we would be lying to say big bucks don’t drive some or even all of the things we do.
So how is one to start the task of choosing what to do with a new property? Me personally I’ve always been a fan of the K.I.S.S. method to most everything…maybe you’ve heard of it?
Keep It Simple Stupid.
Don’t over think this process but also don’t rush things either…better to accomplish a plan over 5 years than be re-doing it after 2 or 3. So let’s get started, get out a map of the property and let’s work our way through the following steps:
Step 1 – Locate “WFB”
Water – Where are the best year round water sources on the property and all the surrounding ones as well? Remember how the deer interact with your property will be greatly impacted by the neighboring ones...in the summer or warm dry months the property with the water is where the deer will be.
Food – Now yes I want you to mark the obvious food sources [ag fields] but try finding where the nut trees are if any and fallow fields or areas which may hold preferred brows. If you can, label destination food sources differently than the smaller ones…destination food sources will not typically hold mature bucks during hunting hours but knowing where they are can greatly increase your ability to read and decipher movement tendencies.
Bedding – Where are the deer spending their moments during the day? Obviously this is the #1 key to planning and executing hunts for mature whitetails. Remember to not just mark the large bedding areas but also the small satellite buck beds which mature bucks are known to utilize. Remember, many mature bucks will cycle through maybe 2 or 3 preferred bedding spots; at times these will change from summer to early fall…but all are part of the key to unlocking a specific buck’s tendencies and preferences.
Step 2 – Locate Trails
Now that you have labeled the “WFB’s” and have suspected areas of travels given known destination areas (WFB) this is where you need to put on some good hiking boots and introduce the soles to the dirt. Walk as much of the property as you possibly can, turn over every stone as the saying goes. Mark your map with every travel sign you see, being sure to label the more predominant/main trails and the suspected parallel buck trails, slip trails or escape trails in and out of cover. This is the stage your property’s map begins to show the property’s travel tendencies as they are now before you start tearing into any kind of habitat manipulation.
Step 3 – Locate Good Trees and “Trees”
By now you already have a few spots in mind for where you think a tree stand is needed. These are the “trees” I want you to locate and mark. Follow your gut, your map and your mind to locating these high potential (or expected) spots. Don’t forget to keep in mind good ground blind spots as well…given the right circumstances and locations hunting on the ground can have HUGE rewards.
Now I want you to ignore your gut, mind and map and only look for the best trees for stands (NOT LOCATIONS). We’ll get into how this plays a factor in the overall plan of the property but simply look for the best trees to hang a stand in. *Ignore if you do not hunt in treestands.
Now that you have your map(s) completely labeled from head to toe study it some. Begin to look for overlaps, good ambush spots and don’t ignore spots that scream at you but don’t have a good tree marked, we’ll tackle why those spots are important later on. Just begin to get an overall feel for what deer are doing and desire doing already on the property…and this is where the fun begins, habitat plans start. However, that is the start of another write up…until then get out there and get started!
Stay tuned, I am going to walk you through this entire process on the new 22 acres I will be obtaining by the month’s end! My goal is to walk you through the entire process cataloguing every change, plot, hinge, picture and video taken on the property!
As always thank you for your support, by sharing Small Acre Hunting with your friends and family!