My heart was pounding out of my chest and my left leg was shaking so hard it made the treetop jiggle.He stopped and raked the brush with his antlers and then put his nose to the ground and followed a scent-trail of Special Golden Estrus that I set up before I got in my treestand. He did a lip curl and scanned the area - I thought the jig was up because he didn’t find what was making that “sweet smell.” I fumbled for my call and executed a perfect aggressive, drawn out grunt and a snort-wheeze. His ears locked onto my position, his hair bristled up and he came intently on a stiff-legged walk with his ears pinned back looking for who had just insulted him. I let him pass by a bit and then drove a Hoyt propelled shaft through both lungs. I love bowhunting mature bucks! This “home grown” buck was aged at 6 ½. How cool is that? But what made it so much sweeter was the fact that I watched this buck grow up on my property! Did I get lucky? I’ll argue NO! I work hard at managing a property. Why was this buck here? Because, every other deer in the county was also in the area!
Why? Because my property is a whitetail paradise – why would they want to leave?If I can do it, so can you! I don’t care if you have 40 acres or 4,000 you can dramatically improve the amount and size of the bucks on your property, make hunting them a lot easier, and make it so they will never want to leave. [caption id="attachment_164909" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Whitetail Bucks[/caption] Here’s How To Create Your Own Big Buck Paradise. If you are a serious hunter you’ve undoubtedly heard of the “food, water, cover” (F+W+C) formula. In recent years there’s been an “S” added to that blueprint. It basically means “security” or “sanctuary,” or should I say “lack of pressure.” If you have F+W+C working for you on your property but you are tromping through every other day to find one more rub on a tree that you didn’t see on your last scouting trip two days ago – you simply will not hold mature bucks in the area. All parts are very important, so which should you start with? Although water might be the most important component, if you have whitetails in the area, there is already a source of water somewhere nearby. So, my suggestion would be to start with both the food and cover portion of the puzzle. However, if you truly want to hold whitetails on your property you don’t want your herd to have to hop the fence for anything, everything needs to be available for them on your property. With food plots, I believe a well-rounded program that devotes acreage to both attraction and nutrition is the best. Regardless of your main goals, there’s no question that variety is of the utmost importance. Think about just the timeframe from September through January, temperature and climate are changing, plants are changing, a whitetail’s needs are dramatically changing…see the key word – “CHANGE.” Whitetails require different forms of nutrition for the wide range of conditions they will face. You obviously must have adequate acreage to do this “variety tactic” justice. For instance, if you have only a ½ acre plot, you really can’t provide the variety necessary. Otherwise, when a specific cultivar becomes palatable there’s not going to be enough to keep them coming back, they’ll wipe you out too soon. With small plots you have to be very specific about the goals for the plot and what you will plant. For plot placement and design I rely on aerial photos, topographical maps or satellite images. For those of you who are “computer friendly” you can get amazingly clear satellite images on “Google Maps.” Food plots are going to decrease the home range size of every animal on your property, and in doing so will increase your property’s carrying capacity – if you do things right, possibly significantly increase your herd numbers. However, one of the main points to stress is, along with all that great food, if you don’t also supply them “extra spots to live” your impact probably won’t be what you expect. While standing on the ground in your hunting area, if you can see clearly for 75 yards or more in several directions, chances are your property is NOT holding many deer. A whitetail’s world exists from six feet high to the ground. If you want to increase your property’s carrying capacity I suggest getting busy with the chainsaw and begin planting cover. Besides creating cover for “housing” this also creates extra food. And, regardless of how much food you plant in your food plots, deer still must have their natural browse also. I’m not saying that you want to do a clear-cut either. Whitetails like a balanced mix, they like edge cover and diversity. However, quite honestly, unless a large canopy tree is producing some type of mast crop or fruit it’s not doing your whitetail herd much good at all. Anywhere that you can let the sunlight hit the forest floor your deer herd will benefit from it, even if you aren’t planting food plots. Do your woods-work in steps - having trees and plants in all stages of growth is healthy for your woods and for your whitetails. One of the most important aspects in producing and holding trophy bucks is leaving a sanctuary for them. Make sure you leave a safe-zone for them. If you wish to hold “mature bucks” on your property this is especially important! [caption id="attachment_164910" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Whitetail Deer[/caption] If you are serious about getting close to mature bucks, to go along with your sanctuaries, minimizing pressure on other parts of your property is also important. Older bucks will not tolerate much before they change something to avoid making contact with you. Some managers deem their entire property as a sanctuary and use what is referred to as a minimum impact hunting style. Back to water - as I mentioned, if you have whitetails on your property now, there is a source of water somewhere nearby. Even if that is the case, make it easy for them. What happens if the ol’ creek dries out during a drought? I would suggest having several back-up sources. Livestock water troughs or cutting a large drum or tank in half and burying it in a low spot can do the job. Fill the tank if it runs dry. In most parts of the country the natural rain water will keep them full enough if you place them properly. If you want something a little larger, it’s amazing what a person can accomplish in one weekend with a “front-end loader” and some pond fabric. I understand that with smaller parcels it’s impossible to hold whitetail at all times. But I am positive that even with smaller acreage if you provide them what they need in the food, water and cover departments, and you allow them to live as undisturbed as possible, you can create your own big buck paradise. Would you like to learn more about improving your hunting and get discounts on the products you need? Learn from the experts by joining the new Mossy Oak GameKeepers Club at www.gamekeepersclub.com. Or call 844-256-4645.