Video Instructions

 

Scrape tree

Doe bedding

Edge feather

Blockades

Sidewalks for Deer

 

 

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General Thoughts

On the plus sides, your property appears to have great potential. Also, it seems that you will be very committed to putting in the time to do all the improvements necessary to make your dreams a reality.

The thing that you’ll likely notice when looking at the plan is that I am trying to essentially take the amount of diversity you have, and put it on steroids, while also creating a flow for cruising bucks that takes them on a circular path through your property.

The downsides are all fixable, with time and work. Currently, there doesn’t appear to be a consistent route that a cruising buck would take through your property to check the does. In fact, I’d bet my last dollar that you have more than 1 good buck each year that spends enough time on your property to kill him that you have no idea is even there.

One of the biggest tricks to setting up a property is to provide low impact stands that offer high odds of intercepting Mr. Big when he is cursing your property. If he goes through 1 time while you’re hunting, you want to kill him that first time. It will take time for some of these improvements to take full effect. That said, once they do, I believe you will have a much greater “flow” factor.

A downside is that accessing the property will not be perfect, but doing it along the borders of the property mainly will help tremendously. But again, that’s fixable with time, effort and discipline.  Plus sides to the property are that it is essentially a blank slate and can be managed however you want, this will be great for you.

Now, before I get into specifics, I must stress that I’ve historically been able to get someone 60-80% of the way home with photo evals. I base this off of always doing photo evals before any onsite consultations I used to do. The clients I did onsite consultations for never realized this, but I always did a photo plan before ever stepping foot on a property. When I was on that property, I was trying to prove each aspect of my plan wrong, while also trying to pick up on anything I may have missed that could be taken advantage of.

Even if I didn’t change a thing, I always subtracted 20% off the top in the grading formula I gave myself for photo evals, as it’s generally not possible to pick individual trees off of a photo, only areas for stands. At the same time, I can’t account for subtle shifts to pick up a little extra movement or go over how this tree needs cover added or needs to be oriented in this direction to maximize concealment and such. In my book, not being able to address those issues results in an off the top 20% hit. So, even worse case, I’m not saying 40% of what I tell you will be wrong.

However, and I can’t stress this enough, your feet are on the ground, not mine. I can make educated guesses off of photos and contour maps and be pretty accurate the majority of the time. Still, about half the time I did the onsite consultations, I changed something I had in the preliminary photo plan. It is up to you to determine if each aspect of the plan makes sense. If you believe something doesn’t, trust yourself, as you know far more about the property than I, based off of studying your answers and images. My job is to make educated guesses, based on the intel you have provided me with. Your job is to make sure each one makes sense before you implement each of them.

At the same time, don’t be the least bit hesitant to make minor adjustments to account for things I may have missed. For example, if you can shift a “sidewalk” 5-20 yards to follow a deer trail, PLEASE do. If a bedding area is on a steeper slop and can be shifted to a flatter or more gradual slope, don’t hesitate. Within reason, virtually everything can be shifted one way or another, without hurting the overall plan.

Trespassers

Dealing with trespassers is tough, no matter how you look at it. Here are some ways to cope with that issue.

First, post the lines at an obscene level, and use “Property Under Video Surveillance, Trespassers WILL be Prosecuted” signs at high odds locations, filling in the gaps with regular, cheaper signs. If you can’t find any, www.antlerking.com has the ones I use, but you may be able to find them cheaper, elsewhere.

Next, get to know every neighbor. Offer them a $500 reward (or whatever dollar figure you’re comfortable) for any trespasser they get arrested and work it into the conversation that you offered it to all the other neighbors. So, you only felt it was right to offer it to them too. What they will be hearing you say is that every neighbor is gunning for them, if they trespass. That’s worked VERY well for me.

Furthermore, if you do catch someone, you HAVE to bust them. If you warn them, everyone will eventually find out that they have at least 1 get out of jail free card to use the first time they’re caught. Pardon my French, but it really helps when everyone thinks you’re an asshole that will bust any and everyone.

Finally, I tell them that I have others hunting the property. I try to make it sound like there will be considerably more than I’ll really have. I give them my phone number and ask they call me before pursuing a wounded deer on my property…of course I’ll let them get the deer. Very worst case I may ask they wait a little, until a hunter is out of the area. The thing is that all the hunters have been offered the same reward, and you’d REALLY hate to see things spiral out of control with a hunter overly eager to collect a reward and have relations with a neighbor strained over something stupid like that. A quick call ensures that won’t be the case.

Access

As mentioned earlier, access will not be easy to make perfect, but following the access routes depicted in the plan will help you keep pressure off of your deer tremendously.

Hunting

First, I’m not pretending I marked every good potential stand on the property. No doubt there are more. What I marked are the ones that jump out at me or I wanted to create for concentrated deer flow and/or lower impact access. Don’t disregard other potential stands or your existing stands not marked, just because I may not have a stand pin in that area. Because I didn’t include existing stands doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like them or that they shouldn’t be hunted. It merely means they didn’t fit exactly where I think stands need to be to take advantage of the new “flow” that will be created.

I’m confident that the improvements I suggest will improve access, IF you have the desire and ability to do them. Still, they’ll only do so much. The improvements for access will be significant and, in my opinion, well worth the effort. However, it isn’t a cure all.

The trick to making that work will be how you hunt the property. No matter what you do out there, if you are going to hunt the place, you are going to spook some deer at times.

The keys will be hunting the wind and resisting the temptation to overhunt stands, as well as carefully picking your shots at the higher impact stands.

Sanctuary

One of the biggest and most common problems I see are landowners hunting way too much of their property. It’s rare when I don’t set 70-90% of deer cover up as sanctuary, and it’s typically closer to 90 than 70%.

The areas I left out for a sanctuary on the property are essentially all the timber that does not have a stand in it.

That said, I use a hybrid definition of sanctuary. On the properties I manage, I always put stands in the WOW locations inside my sanctuaries. To put it in perspective, I don’t hunt any of them about 2 years for every 1 I do, as I’m able to get it done without needing to more years than not. On the years I do hunt them, I only go in when I feel I everything is perfect (weather/rut cycle, everything). Go in before first light, hunt it all day and kill that sit. That’s my goal whenever I go in. It doesn’t always end with a kill, but it does far more often taking that approach, and it balances keeping the property fresher. That said, with the way your ground lays, you should be able to skip even more years hunting the sanctuary that I do. So long as you train those deer they’re safe on your ground, even the oldest bucks will enter those small food plots during legal light enough to kill them.

The two biggest keys to creating good daylight deer movement, holding good numbers of deer and growing bucks are offering them everything they want and not pushing them off your ground. Setting aside most of your ground as sanctuary is helps give them both what they want and keeps them there, as they want a feeling of safety and your hunting activities push them further in to your property, not out.

All that said, if there are locations right in the heart of your property that I missed that are just too good not to hunt, please put stands in them. Then, just really pick your shots at hunting them for when the weather is good, the rut is kicking and you just feel that you can’t get it done from the outside.

Scouting Cams

The biggest thing on scout cams is making sure they help, not hurt you. Treat them for odors before setting them out, generally place them in lower impact locations and try not to check them more than once every two-four weeks. Then, time these trips for late morning, after the deer have left the food sources, and take odor control as seriously as you would for hunting and use the wind to blow your odors into the neighbors (that makes it so that you are only swapping chips on about half your cams on any given day, saving the other half for when the wind works).

The “planted” scrape trees and water holes on the food plots should be very good locations for keeping tabs on your deer, as well as the openings in your blockades along the property lines. I’d want to run 1 cam on each of those locations from August-season’s close, using around 8 cameras if possible.

Products

As a client, you are eligible to get products of some of the companies I pro staff for at dealer costs. This is fairly new. So, the list of companies is still growing. It currently includes Reconyx, Redneck Hunting Blinds, Firminator and Antler King. Dealer cost on the first four company’s products range from $100-over $1000 savings. You should be getting pricing within a couple weeks. I don’t make a cent directly off of these. It’s merely a situation where I can create a win/win for the clients and the companies, giving both sides warm, fuzzy feelings for me. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this, if you are already looking at purchases from any of these companies. Frankly, it’s not hard to come up with more savings than the plan costs, ASSUMING you are looking at buying any of these things anyway.

Having Fun

The last thing to never forget through all of this is to have fun. Don’t give yourself deadlines for completing all this work. Instead, pick away at it. When you start getting tired or not enjoying it, quit for the day. Frankly, if you’re not having fun, you’re pushing yourself too hard.