Why You Should Improve Your Whitetail Habitat

Why You Should Improve Your Whitetail Habitat

habitat-NAW

Since beginning whitetail habitat improvement projects several years ago, many aspects of my life and hunting have changed. Without a doubt, I've seen more and bigger deer, and I've had better opportunities at mature bucks on the properties I've invested in.


But just as important, I've become more connected and in tune with the natural world around me. I've found that getting a green thumb and improving habitat has led to better deer, better hunting and a better me.



3. Set up Trail Cameras

Successful hunters know that keeping track of deer movement is important, and summer is a great time for setting up cameras to collect as many photos as possible. Doing so will give you a better idea of deer movement patterns in the area.

More importantly, you'™ll have an idea of which deer are utilizing your hunting area as part of their home range. You might be able to intercept a buck early in the season but, just as importantly, if you do your homework you'™ll figure out the deer'™s home range and will be close by when the rut is in full swing in late autumn.

4. Check Your Gear

Many hunters completely forget about checking their gear until the hunting season rolls around, and that can spell trouble. You'™re going to spend precious time and money at the sporting goods store replenishing supplies during the season if you neglect your field equipment in the summer. The summer months are the perfect time to address any issues, and chances are you'™ll find there'™s plenty of work to be done.

There'™s nothing worse than heading to the woods in the fall only to find out your stand is falling apart and a mouse has a made a nest of your safety harness. That'™s why it'™s never a bad idea to actually gear up and head out to your favorite hunting spot in August to check all of your equipment. You can even shoot a few targets from your stand to help improve field accuracy. Also, be sure that your rangefinder has new batteries, and that your hunting knife and broadheads are sharpened.

5. Clear Travel Paths

Overgrown plants create a major obstacle when you'™re trying to get to your stand quickly and quietly in the fall. Take some time during the summer to clear an access path to your hunting area, and be sure that you have multiple routes available depending upon the wind conditions.

Nothing ruins an early season hunt like tripping and stumbling to your stand as you cross fallen logs and navigate through forests of honeysuckle and multiflora rose. A clear path allows for a quiet approach.

10. Collect and Organize Data

The long summer days are perfect for scouting your hunting area, so spend plenty of time in the woods looking for deer signs. In addition, keep your intel organized so you'™re in the right spot come fall. I place all my photos from the summer in separate folders on my laptop so I can quickly see which deer are frequenting which cameras.

Keep detailed notes about feeding and movement patterns, and write down any info you glean from landowners. Having all this info in one spot makes it easier to develop a game plan and will up your odds of success in the fall.

9. Plant and Maintain Food Plots

One of the primary duties of land managers in the late spring and summer is establishing food plots. There'™s much work to be done; soil testing, plowing, planting, fertilizing, mowing and spraying should all be completed in advance of the fall hunting season.

Additionally, it'™s always a good idea to monitor your food plots for any signs of deer activity. Maintaining your food plot during the summer ensures that your deer will have the nutrients they need to grow big antlers.

8. Get in Shape

Most deer hunting isn'™t particularly demanding, but it'™s important to be sure that you are in shape for the upcoming season. Spend some time walking and working out so that you don'™t crumple under the strain of dragging a big buck out of a deep drainage later in the year.

If you are bowhunting, be sure that you are physically capable of drawing and holding your bow. A week before the season starts is too late to make up for a lazy summer.

6. Pattern the Does

There'™s an old adage that if you want to find the bucks, follow the does. So don'™t ignore the lady deer as you scout during the summer months.

Does are often more visible, and their travel patterns remain roughly the same throughout much of the year. If you know where the does are spending their time you'™ll be in position to intercept a buck when the rut hits later in the year.

1. Sight In Your Bow or Rifle

If you wait until the week before the season to sight in your gun or bow, you'™ll likely have to wait in line at the shooting range. But if you'™re serious about making a good, clean shot (and we should all be serious about that) then you need to spend plenty of time tuning your bow or rifle before then.

The long summer days are perfect for getting your weapon in working order, and you want to have plenty of practice time in when you hit the woods. Starting early gives you a chance to find the right load or broadhead/arrow combination, and the range will probably be less crowded.

7. Visit Landowners

Growing up on a farm, I can attest to the fact that most hunters show up only when they want permission to hunt or when the season has actually started. There'™s nothing wrong with that, per se. But if a landowner has given you permission to hunt, it'™s a good idea to stop by for a visit in the summer.

Perhaps you can offer to lend them a hand around their property. There'™s always work that needs to be done on large acreage, and showing up early to help out makes the landowner understand that you do appreciate the fact that they allow you to hunt on their property.

2. Talk to Farmers

Very few people have a better understanding of what'™s going on in your hunting area than local farmers. Since they spend much of the summer planting, spraying, and baling hay, farmers usually have a pretty good idea of what the deer are doing.

They may also know where the big bucks are feeding, which is invaluable intel. In addition, most farmers are bombarded by requests to hunt their land in the late summer and early fall. Getting out early and speaking with the local landowners may help you get a foot in the door.

About the Author

Mark Kenyon runs Wired To Hunt, one of the top deer hunting resources online, featuring daily deer hunting news, stories and strategies for the whitetail addict.

Recommended for You

Many people have the mistaken notion that mature bucks have one area where they spend their days; Scouting

Scouting Deer Bedding Areas: Locating, Creating and Observing

Bernie Barringer - June 28, 2016

Many people have the mistaken notion that mature bucks have one area where they spend their...

Restore the predator balance on your land. Land Management

Managing Hog & Coyote Populations for Whitetail Properties

Mark Wooley

Restore the predator balance on your land.

We break down the truth on these cellular-enabled scouters. Scouting

Will Wireless Trail Cameras Make You a Better Hunter?

Tony J. Peterson

We break down the truth on these cellular-enabled scouters.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Imported video NAW14-WyomingWhitDr. James Kroll and Gordon Whittington are in Eastern Wyoming hunting whitetails with their crossbows.etailCrossbowHunt.mp4

Illinois Muzzleloader Whitetail Hunt

Illinois Muzzleloader Whitetail Hunt

G.O. Heath is hunting with his muzzleloader in Illinois.

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Jeremy Moore talks about the importance of your deer dog's physical conditioning.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll - November 03, 2015

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

Here's how to crack the summer code. Early Season

3 Types of Late-Summer Bucks & How to Hunt Them

Garrett Tucker

Here's how to crack the summer code.

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that Deer Behavior & Facts

Rarest Whitetails Of All?

Gordon Whittington - September 22, 2010

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that

See More Stories

More Land Management

Dr. James Kroll and Haynes Shelton discuss ways to make the most of a smaller deer property. Land Management

Dr. Deer: Maximize Enjoyment on Small Properties

NAW TV - July 10, 2018

Dr. James Kroll and Haynes Shelton discuss ways to make the most of a smaller deer property.

No Tractor? No problem! It's still possible to plant food plots without expensive equipment. Land Management

Planting Food Plots With Small Equipment

Haynes Shelton

No Tractor? No problem! It's still possible to plant food plots without expensive equipment.

Dr. James Kroll and Haynes Shelton explain why it's important to know your neighbors when operating Land Management

Dr. Deer: Know Your Neighbors

NAW TV - July 27, 2018

Dr. James Kroll and Haynes Shelton explain why it's important to know your neighbors when...

See More Land Management

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×