Food for thought about upcoming deer season

Trophy bucks, like the illustration of this one have to be patterned differently than less mature deer.” Illustration by artist Reggie McLeroy.

Even with daytime temperatures edging above the century mark and the calendar just now entering August, don’t you sometimes find yourself thinking about what lies just a few months down the road? I do; deer season is just a couple of hot dry months ahead and increasingly, my thoughts meander that direction to the prospects of sitting in a deer stand on a chilly morning waiting for Mister Big to show up.

    I find myself reading more “how to” articles and watching more outdoor television programs that focus on that hallowed time of year. Stories and programs that are of particular interest to me point out things I could and should be doing now to increase the odds in my favor once I’m sitting on that deer stand.

    An outdoor writing friend, J. Wayne Fears, has been in the business of communicating the outdoors experience for a long time. Fears is a recognized expert when it comes to passing along advice regarding whitetail deer, their habits, what food they prefer and how to up the odds in your favor once deer season opens.

    With thoughts of what I could be doing now to improve my chances this season, Fears played right into my hand when he introduced his book “How to Manage Native Plants for Deer”. He recently posted on-line excerpts from his book that examine the habits and hang-outs of older aged bucks as well as to encourage hunters to take advantage of what’s already there, converting available plants from potential food sources that deer aren’t likely to utilize to buffets that deer will go out of their way to browse.

    According to Fears, “Generally older-age-class bucks live where you don’t hunt. That’s how they develop big racks and heavy body weights. You need to identify the areas on the land you hunt that no one else hunts, including thick-cover areas; briar patches next to the main gate; piled-up logs, limbs and brush out in the middle of a field; an overgrown ditch you can’t walk through and head-high briar/thorn patches.”

    Fears says that our best bet to waylay one of these crafty critters is to provide attractive food sources in the honey holes where they hang out.

    “On the edges of a thick briar patch, you may discover two favorite deer foods – blackberry bushes and green briar. If you’ll go into the woods now and fertilize those native plants before deer season starts, those plants will put on more foliage and create more highly nutritious fruit and browse in that briar patch,” Fears wrote.

    He also suggested fertilizing oak trees near a thicket. Over time, he says, as the fertilizer reaches the root system, the tree will produce more, bigger and tastier acorns than oaks not fertilized.

    Now that you’ve been schooled on locating honey holes others may not have considered and how to improve the preferred plants growing on those secret spots, there are strategies that work in hunting in these places.

    “You’ll need to set up and hunt at your honey hole when no one is going in or out of an area, perhaps at 8 am when everybody is already on stand, at noon when hunters are in camp eating lunch, and after 3 pm when hunters are already on their stands. Older age bucks are much more effective at patterning hunters than hunters are at patterning deer. Deer know when, where and how hunters move,” said Fears.

    To see if this book is currently available, contact Fears at Hopefully, you’ll pick up more pointers that will shorten the time between now and the chilly morning you’ll be sitting on your stand seriously hunting the buck of your dreams.

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