Contributors to this thread:
Jeff Sturgis’s online course
I’m inquiring to find if anyone has taken Jeff’s online course and what they thought of it? I find lots of reviews on his site visits but I’m not there yet. Thanks in advance
Google will get you the same info for free. I know it's not the info you are asking about, sorry.
I second Scrappy’s input. Why pay $500 for info you can get for free. He has hundreds of videos that I guess if you watched he would cover exactly the same thing in his course. I doubt you are going to get personalized attention because you paid for the course like 20 other folks in the class. I mean you cannot even talk to him before you hire him.
His design or ideals are not legendary. Hide and secure your food plots, don’t pressure them, pay attention to access and exit strategies, hunt between bedding and food in the evening, hunt the back side of bedding areas in morning when the time is right. If you are missing key habitat features on your land create them. He claims to have created no till on a bunch of videos but it has been in use for thousands of years. Even the US bought in around the early 60s.
Scrappy and RIT, thanks for your reply’s! I currently reside on the property I hunt with kids and I’m struggling finding the balance between a recreational property and holding even semi mature bucks. Of course I have plenty of night pics during season but can’t seem to get them in front of us. What are your opinions on lanes? I haven’t cut any yet and I realize it goes against the whole hunt the travel corridor. We board horses and the wife and kids like to ride on the property. Maybe i just can’t have both? Thanks again.
Mature bucks are more careful and easily spooked then 99% of hunters realize. You have to put almost no pressure on them. Leave a sanctuary were you never EVER set foot. Ever. A safe thick bedding area. Hunt each stand 1-2 times a year. 3 at the most and only when perfect. Mature bucks are masters at avoiding hunters and stands.
Try this hunt an area 100 yards away - out of sight from a well used stand. You will be amazed how many medium and large bucks have patterned your orginal stand and you see - once or twice then they are on to you new location.
DonVathome, thanks for the reply. I’ve been wanting to take the bow and just go sit and watch a remote section of my property since I’m still honing my scouting skills. I’m not necessarily after monster bucks just want to practice some management and see results. Thanks again.
Save your money and watch what videos he has available on YouTube. Don Higgins also has some excellent content on YouTube.
I would also recommend going to BIll Winke.com and reading his land blog about how he put his farm together as far as the steps he took to generate the cash to buy the land and how he created the cover and food to build a world class whitetail farm. I found it to be an exceptional read.
The bigger your sanctuary, the more older bucks you will have. I've heard from different people about the 75% rule. You hunt only 25% of your land, and 75% leave as off limits. It makes sense, if you leave them alone and they will feel safe and at some point, you catch them coming and going. The guys that I know who do this will only go in to track a wounded deer and they will get their friends together for about a day or 2 and they will shed hunt it, walk to whole thing. These guys really do kill some good bucks, but it's hard to do when you have family members who enjoy time in the woods doing other things. Best of luck.
Buckhammer I will definitely check that out. Thanks for the reference! Shooter I’m thinking I’m going to have to save my pennies for addition land to kill some monsters. Thanks for the reply.
Relative to sanctuaries, if you had 1000 acres to hunt, relatively evenly distributed habitat - which of the following would you find more appealing:
1) Create a 600 acre refuge in roughly the middle of your property, leaving more huntable land on the predominant upwind side of your property or 2) Create 4 or 6 smaller refuge areas where you could hunt around each one?
What do you guys think of his idea of trying not to attract does in the summer?
On our property we have sanctuaries, but they are only sanctuaries from Sept. 1 through the rest of the year, ie hunting season. Our parcels aren't huge, 40 acres to 130 acres in size. My thought is, when the neighbors over pressure their lands during hunting season the bucks will find our lands very peaceful. Personally, I have never experienced any benefit to a 363 day total sanctuary on our lands.
The doe theory is an interesting one. Not sure I quite get that. I do know some very well respected trophy deer hunters that dismiss him and all his projects and theories. I think he’s got some interesting ideas and some of his content is very informational-but some of it isn’t. IMO.
I will say this about myself; I’m as devoted and passionate about designs, habitat and growing plots as much as anyone. Same with a lot of guys on this site like T-Roy, Mad Trapper, Goyt, RIT and others. I honestly have no idea what will work and what won’t - besides the basics of trying to provide food and security. I’m convinced that I’ll go to my grave never having figured out wild, free range whitetails. I’m quite honest about that and so are the guys I listen to. I love the journey but I understand that there is no final destination.
All of these theories by media guys are just that. At the end of the day these are wild animals that are responding to all sorts of inputs and conditions out of my control. To say that doe factories are a problem, or you should be building horizontal rubs and water tanks, etc make for interesting content but I don’t put much stock into much of it.
The guy I tend to listen to the most is Don Higgins. He’s killed multiple 200+ on a relatively small farm. He doesn’t have wild theories. His premise is very simple: grow plots deer like then stay out and hunt the outskirts with minimal pressure. That’s a much different message than some of the media guys that are trying to make a living off of clicks and views.
Pretty much agree with Pat. I am really beginning to feel the best time to kill a mature buck isn’t in the rut but early or late near food plots.That theory wasn’t perfect last year as we had an acorn crop of biblical proportions. I did have a crack at our 3 hit list bucks during Tennessee’s velvet season in August if it wasn’t for 2 days of horrible weather and a noisy water bottle they would have been in my lap oh well.Good luck Lewis
The original question is whether Jeff's video class is worth the cost. No one answered that purchased his course and went thru the steps - so everything on here so far is assumption not evidentiary.
I've followed Jeff's FREE on-line videos for a couple years and think if you can objectively assimilate information, 70% Mr. Sturgis, 15% Mr. Higgins, 15% Mr. Winkle etc and apply the common hypothesis to YOUR lands, based on YOUR observations and YOUR desired outcomes there's no need to spend $500.00 for the classes.
My Opinion, there are a plethora of shysters, hucksters and plain ol' rotten apples "On-Line" mostly falling into two of the 7 sins. Greed and Pride - they want to make money off you and want to be "right" in your eyes without evidence. If the talking head says you can't get big bucks without spending your $ on my "XYZ" - I agree with Pat, they are "Media Guys" I dismiss them outright.
Your statement, "I hunt with kids and I’m struggling finding the balance between a recreational property and holding even semi mature bucks.", is probably what 80% of or more of Private Forest owners struggle with.
I'm standing in exactly what you're smelling WRT Recreation and Hunting. 100 acre farm that I love to spend time "recreating" at and enjoy, as do my adult children. The other big one is folks either need to, or want to make recurring money off their land investment. Be it AG or Timber, I feel both are generally not aligned to either Recreation or Hunting, thankfully I don't have a need to "MAKE $" off the land so I can focus on Recreation #1 and Hunting #2. The way I've worked it by writing down the expected outcomes I want by priority. This might help you a couple ways, one it may help focus your limited time and $ on projects that fullfill multiple outcomes. Two, it may help prevent some projects that are 'at odds' or non-complementary with higher priority outcomes.
There are topics in this thread that could spawn many great threads, Sanctuaries, Doe 'Factories' = summer does, What percentage of land to dedicate to "all deer all the time" etc...
But at the end of the day, YOUR land with YOUR neighboring environmental conditions and YOUR expected outcomes will be the constraints needed to optimizing your and your children's enjoyment.
Last thought, I had the grand fortune to have met a neighboring farm owner in 2014, that thru prior decades and since I met him, has consistently successfully bowhunted mature whitetails on his land. I was a complete novice to mature whitetail hunting. He shared his options and theories freely with me and I started getting better and better - then I started watching Jeff's videos... Their Operational methods to hunt mature bucks align above 90%... Tactics to enforce patterns of movement, mixed food plots, vertical mock scrapes, water holes etc.. only enhance the methods.
Stressless +1 Regional differences should not be overlooked. The island of property Higgins maintains vs The continuous ag/wooded land of Sturgis. Find where your property characteristics align and your on your way.
Lost Arra's Link
Wow thanks everyone!! I was skeptical on posting on a forum but glad I did. I will continue watching videos and look more into Higgins. Thanks for all the input. Stressless, sometimes I forget the power of just writing down goals and ideas. I’ll apply that and see where it takes me.
Pardon the interruption but for landowners or managers this is worth a listen. And it's free.
I’m a believer in only hunting the edges of farms. I bike, boat, or walk a property line to get to 99% of my stands and since I’ve started that, my success has increased dramatically.
I enter my properties to check stands mid July, fill feeders(redneck gravity) and run cell cams to keep the pressure extremely low. Pressure, habitat, pressure, food, and pressure are keys to killing big deer!
@BrotherRaven - No worries. If you do, I suggest reviewing it yearly, I try to plan out 5 years, byond that is just a WAG. I recommend involving the kids so they feel they're a plank holder in the outcomes. "Legacy"
This was my 2017 List - I mounted the whiteboard at the camp, keep the list(s) visible, we update it as needed.
That looks like my wife’s “honey do” list, stressless!
How big is your property, BRaven? Unless it pretty good sized, limiting access to sanctuaries might be a pipe dream, especially if the family wants to utilize it as well. I’m not as big of an adherent to the mindset of totally staying out of sanctuaries at all cost. I definitely try to limit egress into my core hunting areas, especially during the season, but I’m not convinced that if you boot a mature buck out of sanctuary, that he will, most likely, vacate that area. Besides, the deer don’t know exactly where the borders to these places are, either. He might be hanging out right on the very edge of the sanctuary. Chances are probably pretty good that they will see even more pressure on the surrounding properties. Lots of times, it seems those smart old bucks will hide out in a brushy fencerow or a small island of trees. They know where they get pressured less, but it’s almost impossible for them to not be bumped occasionally. I think they also get used to some traffic and just lay low.
I’m not a real big podcast, vlog kind of guy, but I do watch a few YouTube videos on plot/hunting strategies, ideas, etc. Like Pat stated, the journey is one of the best parts of the ride. Trying different techniques and strategies is a big part of that. Also agree with the assessment that we’ll never totally figure out what a whitetail is apt to do in any given situation. The biggest curveball out there during the rut, is a hot doe. Then all bets are off.
Stressless, that’s awesome! I will definitely have to do something like this. My uncle use to take lots of pictures and at the end of the year he made a hard cover journal of the year. I would like to apply your suggestion in that to see exactly how things turned out and what works or doesn’t. T-roy, I have 38 acres. I’ll try to post a pic. The red hash is cedar swamp. It was originally 80 acres but I only purchased the front 38.
I’ll try a better picture
I purchased the course last year. It is well worth it if you are into property design for better deer hunting. I have watched a ton a videos, listen to pod casts, read every book on the subject, I've attended more field days, workshops, property tours and seminars than any one I know of, I've been working on our five property designs for years, helped others design their properties, worked with other property design guys, and I still thought the course was worth the money. Jeff lays in out in 18ish chapters and walks you through the process of property design from the first steps to the last. If I had to pick one of the "experts" in the field of property design to follow it would be Jeff. I certainly don't agree with everything he says, but what I disagree with him is pretty insignificant when it comes to his over all ideas. BC
Thanks Bow Crazy.
The quote I use about Jeff is, "If I had a deer hunting coach, it'd be Jeff Sturgis."
SO ... here's a question, what are the top 3 things you disagree with him on and why?
One thing I've heard him say that I disagree with is "Switch Grass will absorb scent." He's said it on more than one video.
Scent is particulate matter, it may diffuse, or disperse over a greater area but it's not a sponge or adhesive it doesn't disappear or dissolve into switch grass.
Stressless I imagine what Jeff is really meaning is that it will diffuse scent. in an example if you have 100 yards of switchgrass between you and the deer your scent may be diffused (absorbed) as opposed to if you had 100 yards of pavement it would just blow right to the deer. I've watched a lot of what he has and never heard him say it though, so can't say exactly what he meant.
Watched a few of Don Higgins' videos as well. If T-Roy put out videos I'd watch those as well. Success is relative. I would say Pat has had tremendous success in New York. Does it mean 170" deer every year? No, it's all relative. Ney York, vs Minnesota, vs Iowa is all very different.
BrotherRaven - at least you bought the right 38 acres! It looks like it could hunt big. You could hunt/have several different plots and therefore doe groups with fantastic pinches in between with a ton of bedding behind you. Fun stuff - enjoy.
APauls, thanks! Just trying to figure out the best layout to keep them on my property longer.
I’m glad to see some responses like Pat’s and T-Roy’s. Some of the YouTube habitat guys make me feel like an idiot. I can also agree that Higgins made the most sense to me.
I have the good fortune of being Stressless's neighbor and I appreciate his kind comments. I find value in learning from habitat managers. After Stressless pointed Jeff Sturgis out to me I have watched a number of his videos. I have Don Higgins book and a number of books from others. However knowledge has to be properly applied. IMO one always has to start with the big picture of how the mature bucks use the land based on the terrain, cover, food, and winds flow . All of the experts seem to have their preferred way to setting up property. Don Higgins has probably forgotten more about killing mature bucks than I will ever know. He has a habitat setup that he likes and he tries to setup his land that way to the extent that he purchased land that could be setup that way! I can learn a lot from Don and use his habitat managements concepts to some extent but if I were to try to do a by the numbers setup approach I would not be very successful because my land and access is not compatible. Jeff Sturgis's main hunting property seems to be in an area with heavy ag. Mine is not so I have to adjust my approach. I would encourage you to learn from Sturgis and then be very thoughtful in how you apply what you learn. I realize that I often can take too small of a view and the habitat improvements can not be hunted as planned due to the big picture and therefore I think that the concepts are not effective when they are just misapplied or maybe more appropriately improperly hunted. With that said there are a lot of ideas floating around that IMO are just foolish and hurt our chances.
Nothing against Don...I would love to have what he does and he is knowledgeable but habitat aside he is hunting bucks that have minimal pressure until they're killed. Here in NY bucks get shot at from 18mo old on up. Eberhart's stats confirm this stuff. Lots-o-variables.
Not at the level many are here, but will offer my thoughts. Disagree with not attracting does. Keep the does around and bucks will be there during the rut at least. Have an excellent late season food source and you will have traffic. So many variables to consider, each property is unique. Observe the wildlife and how it uses your property, adapt your plan to take advantage of the already occurring natural patterns.
I waited to say this, but how about a total habitat management approach to help all of the wildlife, not just game species? And not just for trophy bucks. My bet is the public supports the former but increasingly disagrees with the latter. Hunting continues to receive greater scrutiny, support by the non-hunting public is still there but there are signs support is not there for trophy hunting.
Clearly we want to attract does. The quality of the habitat will determine how many deer can be supported. However, IMO I would rather have too few does than too many. When there is an over population of does the dominate does will not let the dispersing bucks stay. It seems like there are very few if any resident mature bucks. They are not allowed to stay as yearlings and as mature bucks they would rather be somewhere else. Once the rut starts the mature bucks use their core area the most during daylight and if they do coming searching they soon hook up. Plus too many does also destroy the habitat. We do not have a lot of crop land on adjacent property so we do have to support the deer herd during the summer. I would not mind if a percentage of the does fed primarily on neighboring property during hours of darkness as long as there are enough on our property during the hunting season to keep the bucks interested during daylight hours. Mature bucks will travel a long way for security and they are more likely to bed on our property if there are fewer does.
I like the comment on helping all wildlife. When asked what we do with our property I indicated that it is used to grow crops to feed the human population, fine quality timber is grown for furniture, new growth trees provide oxygen, the ponds provide recreation and fish, it is a place for wildlife to live happy and free, the surplus deer and turkeys are hunted and eaten and I really like to hunt mature buck with a bow on it. I have yet to have any nonhunters have a problem with that response.
Agree with you. I know if Pat recognizes someone for their skill set in habitat work they are at a much higher level than myself! I realize my writing style comes off on occasion as arrogant, and that was not intended.
FYI, my property is all upland, the highest area in the county, and is surrounded by all agriculture. The lowland crops along the surrounding creekways hold the deer during the hottest, driest parts of summer, so I really do not have to worry about too many does. And my own observations are the best habitat draws the dominant deer, and dominant does do a pretty good job of keeping non-family unit does away. I try offering what is in less supply habitat-wise on adjacent properties, and for me that is cover and late season food. I keep pressure very low, only bow hunt, and laid out my habitat to try and enhance already naturally occurring travel patterns. I think it has worked as I do attract nice bucks during the rut and late season, just not good enough to harvest them, lol! I cling to the belief that every property is different, and there are numerous variables at play one must consider. For me, others offering their opinions on my place is very helpful, so I am sure any of these consultants would improve my place, but, I am happy with it.
Also appreciate your explanation of what you are doing on your property to non-hunters. I try to do that with all of my classes and I am usually received positively as well. Too bad the rest of the public does not often enough hear what many of us do! Thanks again and best wishes.
I have not taken this online course, but have heard good reviews about it. Including I was wrote about it by https://edubirdie.com/book-report-help
in the context of hunting and training. I needed to write a report on a book, so I needed help. That book (sorry, I don't remember its name) also talked about this online course. I think it's good enough for everyone to try, especially in today's quarantine conditions.
Interesting comments, great discussion. While working for QDMA the last 5 years of its existence, it occurred to me that a very high percentage of landowners don't do very much, if any, wildlife improvement projects at all. If I look in our area of west central Wisconsin, it rings true within our QDM Cooperative. So, my thought is that doing any improvements for the deer will have a positive impact on other wildlife species as well.
Another thing I found out is that a surprising number of people that pay consultants for a deer habitat/hunting plan, either don't follow the plan much, very slowly work on the plan, or don't utilize the plan at all. I would say the number that follow the plan as written is less than 50%, maybe much less.
Someone asked about what I disagree with Jeff on, I love CRP, he not so much. We signed up a 4.5 acre piece within a 7 acre parcel. I designed the CRP with pines, spruce, shrubs, food plots, and warm season grasses, forbs and legumes - designed it for better deer hunting in mind as well as the wildlife. When working with the FSA office, think outside of the box when designing it.
The doe factory, I have no experience with that so it would be hard for me to comment on. I have seen enough studies and toured enough properties to know that have too many deer in general is a bad thing. Plenty of info out there that says too many does can have a negative impact on your mature buck hunt as well. BC