I absolutely love the white-tailed deer. In fact, my 365-day-a-year obsession over whitetails is almost haunting. I am so happy and grateful to be able to do what I love and to also share my knowledge and love of big whitetail bucks with my clients.
You may be wondering how YOU can grow bigger bucks on your property or leased land. So, let’s get started...
When I meet with clients at their hunting properties (whether owned or leased land), I focus on the three basic necessities of deer: food, water and cover.
These three important components are critical for whitetails (and any other animal that calls your property home) to be able to thrive. I also focus on attracting and holding those big trophy bucks on your hunting land as long as possible during daylight hours.
To properly address these three basic necessities, there some questions that must be answered about the deer habitat on your property. So, let’s now break down the five steps to improving your property or lease for bigger whitetails.
Is your property fulfilling its potential in producing bigger bucks?
#1: How are you entering and exiting stand locations?
Although not always practical, access from the outside perimeter of the property is always best.
In a perfect world, every property should be set up with outside perimeter access. However, it’s understandable that there are situations where this may not be possible.
For example, you might have a property where you have a cabin smack dab in the middle. Or, there may also be other natural barriers that prevent perimeter access. These are all part of the land access component that I address with clients.
Accessing From The Middle
Although accessing stand locations from the middle of the property is always risky business, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. You must then pay very close attention to wind direction, and how you can access and exit a stand location without bumping out deer.
How you access is your stands is a critical component to whitetail property management.
Screening plays a very important role in accessing a hunting property. Screening can be achieved by planting vegetation, such as Egyptian Wheat, Sorghum, Sudan grass, or Miscanthus.
I do not recommend corn for screening. I don’t want deer feeding in a corn screen leading to a stand or blind locations. Hinge cutting trees and planting rows of pine, such as Norway spruce are other forms of screening.
Going forward, I will discuss the advantages and reasons for screening in future blogs.
Screening cover can be achieved with Egyptian wheat, Sorghum, Sudan grass, or Miscanthus.
You should also determine if food plots are already implemented on the property. What kinds of natural browse, hard mast and soft mast exist, if any. If your property is in farm country, determine what the farmers are planting, and the number of acres planted.
Clover and alfalfa food plots are great year-round food sources, while corn and soybeans work great in late season.
Will there be food plots from scratch? By that I mean, if food plots are going to be planted within the woods, will trees be cleared? If so, be sure to find the best tree in the area and develop the plot layout around it in association to access and exit strategy. The same applies for a ground blind setup.
By creating a plot from scratch, you can control how deer move through the plot.
Deer can be forced past a stand or ground blind by creating soft edges and pinch points that block a deer’s line of sight and peak curiosity, especially during the three phases of the rut.
In my own experience, clover and alfalfa provide for the best year-round food source. But, I only recommend clovers and alfalfa being only 10-15% of the total amount of food available. Corn and soybeans are great sources during late season and are good winter-long foods.
Brassica, turnips, tillage (dicon) radishes, sunflowers and canola are a few other popular food sources for food plots. In large plots that exceed one acre or more, I like to design the plots to have a wide diversity of food sources for season long variety.
When you have one or two varieties of food in one plot and another variety of food in another plot 100 yards or more away, you inadvertently create stress on the resident deer. So the more variety and diverse a food plot, the better. Just because seed blends are sometimes packaged individually, it doesn’t mean they can’t be blended with others.
My favorite plot food is a mixture of Antler Kings Honey Hole, Slam Dunk and Lights Out seed blends. The forage oats in Lights Out provides for fast green up and early season food, while the brassica, turnips, radishes canola and buckwheat provide great mid and late season food.
When this mixture is seeded on the perimeter of a corn and or soybean field or plot, you’ve just created a smorgasbord for a slam dunk kill plot!
One of the key things to determine about your hunting land or lease is whether or not there is a water source. If so, what type? A deer’s water preference isn’t always what you might think.
Water is a very important element to any deer, and all wild life, that lives on your property. On our own “proving grounds,” water is the #1 limiting factor on our property, and the element we have 100% control over.
You can create very simple, and inexpensive, watering holes. Simply use a 50-gallon barrel cut in half and bury to the top edge of the half barrel. Be sure to keep them full of water, especially during periods of dry weather conditions. To do this, I recommend a minimum of 150 gallons per water tank.
Ideally, pond development is the best form of water you can incorporate if it doesn’t already exist. For more information on wildlife pond creation, I recommend Zach Haas of Wisconsin Lake and Pond Resources, LLC. His services include:
Consulting, planning and Design.
Permitting where applicable
Pond liner and fabric installation
Beneficial aquatic planting design and installation
What type of cover are the deer bedding in? Is there enough browse in that bedding area? Cover is very important when it comes to holding deer on your property. You want to determine where the deer are bedding, (or where you want them to bed), and in what type of cover they are bedding.
Cover varies dramatically in fall/winter bedding to summer bedding locations. During the mid-late fall and through winter, deer prefer thick stem count, yet low, open canopies to allow for maximum sunlight for thermal cover.
Deer prefer side cover over canopy cover so be sure your whitetail property has what they need to hold them there. (Photo by Jeff Coldwell)
In the summer, deer prefer open, high canopy, maximum shade and air flow, especially bucks with velvety antlers. If in hill country, like here in West Central Wisconsin, north-facing, high-canopy benches are preferred. In the fall and winter the opposite is true.
Where applicable, hinge cutting to provide side cover and allowing sunlight to penetrate the canopy, is a great way to enhance that fall/winter thermal bedding cover.
Remember, deer prefer side cover over canopy, and the biggest misconception of hinge cutting is that deer want to lay in open exposure to sunlight, and not under a hinged tree. Actually, deer want side cover!
Hinge cutting can be used in a wide variety of applications. Look for future written blogs and video on my Facebook and YouTube pages.
The first thing you need to know when it comes to mineral supplementation is whether or not it is legal to supplement in your particular area? You also need to know where your mineral stations are in accordance to food and water.
To me, the use of a deer-specific, high-quality, mineral supplementation strategy is widely overlooked by even top-industry deer nutrition experts. My background is dairy farming and livestock production. With any great nutrition program, mineral supplementation plays a key role in genetic maximization and forage utilization. I do not understand why some industry “experts” feel mineral supplementation isn’t necessary.
Even with top quality forage, that alone cannot provide adequate micro nutrients that deer need to maximize genetic potential. What holds true for maximum milk production in dairy cattle, is true when it comes to maximizing a deer’s genetic potential for antler development, for fetal development, and milk production in does for fawn consumption and strong, healthy fawns. Mineral supplementation is critical to each.
Again, pay attention to state and local regulations when it comes to mineral supplementation.
Mineral supplementation is often overlooked, but is a key piece of the puzzle when managing deer properties.
These are the five areas I emphasize the most when I visit a client’s property. I also emphasize them on my own “proving grounds” in my home state of Wisconsin (the Coulee Region of West Central Wisconsin, to be exact).
As with any habitat plan or consultation I perform, I break things down into much further detail, and discuss other topics as well. I find these five points to be the most common topics when it comes to managing any ground for mature whitetails. Hopefully this information is helpful in your quest to manage and harvest bigger whitetails.
When it comes to any management plan, it doesn’t have to break the bank. And, we want to keep the plan implementation fun.
For more detailed information on the topics discussed in this blog, and other topics, find me on Facebook and YouTube at EpicWhitetailHabitat, LLC and on Instagram @EpicWhitetailHabitat, or contact me directly at:
Ryan Nordahl Epic whitetail Habitat LLC W11124 Neperud Rd Osseo, WI 54758 715-299-0134 [email protected]
So, what does price say about quality when it comes to arrows? Is a household name brand better than a lesser known one? Does a higher price tag equate to better arrow flight and more successful archery hunts? For that matter, does the name brand matter in any outdoor activity?
Well, in an attempt to answer that question, I’ll use a few examples. First, I’ll start with fishing (yes, fishing… just wait for it.)
My Pops had an old sun-dried yellow, aluminum boat with a 25 hp Evinrude motor that we putted around in. We would spend a week up there, doing nothing but fishing and filling the stringer.
Maybe moments like this are worth more than the boat you are in.
When I was 9 years old, a guy saw us back up our old Suburban and that ole yellow boat into the water. He yelled, “Damn, that is an expensive rig ya got there!” Of course, he was being extremely rude with his comment, laughing as he backed his expensive speed boat into the water.
When we went back to load the boat, my dad yelled across the water to the guy with the expensive boat, “You catch any?”
The man answered, “No, the bite has been slow.” My father replied, “I hope that boat was worth it” and then pulled out our stringer. The look on that man’s face was priceless!
We laughed and went to camp and enjoyed the rest of the evening cooking up the fish we caught (in our “expensive rig”) on the camp fire.
Your Ford Could Be A Chevy
Is more expensive really better?
Perhaps you’ve seen the test drive commercials where a truck’s identity is kept secret from the driver. The test driver takes it for a spin and says “it has to be a Ford.” But, then to the driver’s surprise… it’s a Chevy!
It’s the same with many of the products in the outdoors industry. There are many awesome products out there. Some are affordable and some not so much. And, of course, the more expensive item is always better quality. Or is it?
Higher Price = Better Quality… Sometimes
Many believe that better quality and performance live where the higher price tag is. In the gun industry, this argument holds up to some degree. But, at the end of the day, all guns travel the same whether you buy a $250 12-gauge pump shotgun by Browning, or a $900 12 gauge shotgun from Winchester. Both have the same pump action, same gauge, and same function. Both will serve the same purpose of taking wild game.
One Saturday morning in November, I went out waterfowl hunting on a dyke beyond the city I lived in. When I got there, only one other guy had shown up. I thought to myself, “Hey, this may be a good morning!”
As soon as it was shooting light, a group of 20 guys (probably all from the same football team) showed up and parked right next to me. Most of the crew had 12 gauge semi-automatic Beretta shotguns and were ready to take some game. At the time, I had a model 1300 Winchester 12-gauge pump.
It didn’t help matters that none of them would get in the reeds to hide (and it didn’t matter cause there was so many of them!)
For example, some bow hunters are willing to spend $185 for a set of six arrows, when there are arrows on the market for only $55 for a set of six. And, if compared to each other, just like in that Ford and Chevy test, you might not even be able to tell the difference.
Some bow hunters won’t shoot past 70 yards while practicing, while some ethical hunters will shoot further, just in case that dream buck walks out and you may not have another chance of getting any closer.
Who doesn’t want to see bigger bucks during deer season?
Do you wish you could see greater antler growth in your deer herd, but just aren’t sure what to do to make it happen?
Consistent, healthy antler growth requires consistent nutrition… Keep reading to find out more about how to get started making your own deer mineral lick and why it’s so important!
There are countless mineral supplements for sale these days… mineral blocks, mineral rocks and minerals in powder form.
But you don’t have to go buy minerals with fancy labels and pictures of big antlers on the packaging. You can make your own deer minerals and we’ll show you how!
We want to help you learn how to make your own deer mineral recipe, so that you can not only make a product that will help you have a healthier deer herd, but be able to do it without breaking the bank.
Time needed: 10 minutes.
N1 Outdoors – How To Make Your Own Deer Mineral Recipe (and what ingredients you’ll need):
2 parts trace minerals.
Mix the trace minerals above with 1 part mixing salts
Mix the above ingredients with 1 part dried molasses.
Mix the ingredients above with 1 part dicalcium phosphate.
Make your mineral site
Now you’re ready to spread out your homemade deer minerals and create your mineral site. Be sure to put out a trail cam if you have one, so you can get photos of what is visiting your mineral site and monitor the antler growth progress!
WANT TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN HOMEMADE DEER MINERAL RECIPE? SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO!
Homemade Minerals: A Recipe For Deer Success
Of course, larger antler size gets most hunters giddy. But bucks aren’t the only ones that need mineral supplements.
Does need it just as much.
When the does are pregnant, start to produce milk and lactate for the fawns that will be born, they need extra calcium. This will help with lactation, but it also is essential for a healthy bone structure of the fawn that is growing in the womb.
Minerals play an important role in whitetail antler size as well as the overall health of your deer herd, both male and female.
Bucks also need the extra calcium boost, as they will use around 40 percent of the calcium in their own bone structure to grow antlers.
The antler growth process happens every year and calcium plays a huge part.
This means that a buck needs not only a good food supply during the antler growing process, but it also needs calcium during the growth process in the mother’s womb.
A healthy bone structure will contribute to greater antler growth later in the deer’s life.
Supplementing your deer herd with the proper nutrition and minerals needed to promote good antler growth is not something you can do just once. So, if you’re hoping to just visit your local outdoors store, buy a mineral block, put it out and hope to see and kill big deer, you may want to temper those expectations.
If you want a deer herd that consistently produces bucks with good antler size, you have to be consistent yourself as well.
Start making your own deer mineral supplements today and do so every year, so that you can reap the benefits for years to come.
You’ll find in the video below, that all the ingredients you will need to begin making your own deer mineral sites can be found at your local farm or feed store.
We hope you enjoy learning how to create your own minerals for your deer herd! (Note: Be sure to check and follow your state’s laws on use of attractants and supplements on private as well as public hunting land.
The N1 Outdoors N1 Minute Video: How To Make Your Own Deer Mineral Licks
In this edition of the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute, learn how to make your own mineral licks for deer. We show you a simple deer mineral recipe that you can make. We also give you some tips on where to place it. If you want to improve the overall health of your deer herd, then this is one of our must-see hunting videos. We give you the deer mineral recipe for whitetail success!
Hey, Josh Wells here with the N1 Outdoors N1 tip. We’re gonna make mineral licks today and what we’ve got here that we’re using for the minerals is trace minerals… we are putting two parts trace minerals, one part mixing salt, one part dried molasses and one part dicalcium phosphate.
Why the mineral nutrition is important for deer (It’s not just about big antlers)
What this is going to do for our herd is give the does that are now impregnated, more or less a prenatal vitamin. It’s going to give them what will be equivalent to our multi-vitamins. As the bucks are shedding their horns, they’re automatically starting to grow them back right now. It’s going to help increase their potential of growing big horns.
There is a major trail on this side and a major trail on that side of this mineral lick. Now, you don’t want to necessarily put it in the middle of a trail. Put it close to nearby trails and they will find it. They’re not going to eat this like they would a feed or a protein feed or corn. They will come and use this as their body craves the mineral.
As you can see, just last night, there are some deer tracks in this mineral. So, they have already found it. That is because of the dried molasses.
The dried molasses has a strong, sweet, cane smell, and that is why they’ve already found this. We will check back on this in about two months and see how it’s going, and my supplement this mineral with some more material.
Thanks again for joining us for this edition of the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute. Be sure to visit N1outdoors.com, where you can read all about unforgettable moments outdoors. Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We hope you have a great week, and remember, “where the moment happen, we’ll meet you there.” We’ll see you next time.