Land - Where to start?
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
BDA 01-Dec-22
fdp 01-Dec-22
wytex 01-Dec-22
APauls 01-Dec-22
deerhunter72 01-Dec-22
brettpsu 01-Dec-22
Bou'bound 01-Dec-22
kscowboy 01-Dec-22
WV Mountaineer 01-Dec-22
Buckdeer 01-Dec-22
goyt 01-Dec-22
scentman 01-Dec-22
fuzzy 01-Dec-22
tm 01-Dec-22
ILBow288 01-Dec-22
sitO 01-Dec-22
Ollie 01-Dec-22
Ollie 01-Dec-22
Meat Grinder 01-Dec-22
Grey Ghost 01-Dec-22
BoggsBowhunts 01-Dec-22
APauls 02-Dec-22
Catscratch 02-Dec-22
From: BDA
I just went under contract on 82 acres in NE Kansas. The work now begins, but where do I start? I've listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts and watched the same amount of videos. I'm at information overload, and I'm wondering.... when you got your piece of hunting land what did you do first?

Also, where do I go to find some resources to help me with my plan? NCRS?

Of note... I don't think I'm going to plant food plots. It's surrounded on 3 sides by crops. Bison are pastured to the South. I want to make it a big bedding area. It has some trees down the center with a dry creek and the outsides are mostly native grass.

In my head, my first task is to burn it. I think that will help the grass grow taller and make for a better bedding area eventually. Next I'm thinking of planting some trees (apple / persimon / chestnut (?)). I'd like to put out one box blind, but that will have to wait a little bit. I'm also thinking of adding some smaller stock tanks for watering holes.

Thanks! I'm excited and terrified all at once. Ultimately, I'd like to benefit from someone else's experience to shorten the timeline to making my property more usable for whitetail deer and other wildlife.

From: fdp
Talk to the local fish and game folks, and the county folks.

From: wytex
Sounds like you have a great plan: food, bedding cover and water. Do you have plans for a low impact camping area or cabin spot? Get to know your prevailing winds and plan accordingly for your hunting spots and camping area.

Congrats to you and I hope you really enjoy your new land!

From: APauls
If you don't know where to go or what to do I'd be looking to a reputable land consultant. Don Higgins, etc. Someone who has legitimate experience converting properties. Small price to pay in the overall scheme of things. From what I've heard of fire I'm surprised that would be your first move but I could be wrong. I'm not qualified, know next to nothing about your area. Not sure what you mean by "under contract." Did you purchase or are you leasing? Might not hire a consultant on a short term lease, but if you purchased and not sure what to do, could be best money spent. There are some things that take many years to undo.

Also, just because you are surrounded by food doesn't mean food doesn't make sense. Are those crops harvested come November? If so, then the food is gone when you really want it. Sounds like bedding is low hole on the bucket so you are likely right on prioritizing bedding, but don't overlook food just because there is cash crops around you. They can disappear right when you need it. Also, a small plot on the inside edge of ag can literally be the most deadly thing on the planet. Funnels deer through it in safety of cover, in bow range, and they are gone after dark.

From: deerhunter72
Congratulations! I can't offer you much in the way of advice. NCRS has been somewhat helpful for me and can give guidance. Funding from them has been limited for me. Good luck and enjoy!

From: brettpsu
I'd hunt it for a whole season before making any changes. See when the deer are on the property and when and why they would leave, then I would address those issues.

From: Bou'bound
First thing to do is post it.

From: kscowboy
brettpsu has a great point. You may think you know what the deer will do and be completely wrong. It takes a few seasons+ to really learn a property. The field that we thought was going to be the absolute best field for deer with the best bedding next to it is not THE place on the property. We cracked the code over time and if a big buck is caught on camera in daylight, we will most likely kill him--going on 15 years now. It took 5 years to figure it out though.

I’d pay attention to the most anticipated prevailing winds at the time I intended to hunt. I would put in sone food plots though. Several for that matter. And hunt it.

From: Buckdeer
Usually most project you have to own for a year to get is a good place to ask questions.Thats where most of the habitat guys hang. Another utube is Bill Winkes farm videos and The Whitetail Group has alot of good ideas.You will make mistakes for sure but nothing s long lasting except cutting down trees.I have planted 1000s of trees and shrubs and keep planting.

From: goyt
A few thoughts for you.

First I would locate existing and future bedding areas and sanctuaries. Then find bottlenecks and travel corridors used to both scent check and access the bedding areas. The bedding areas do not have to be on your property, just the bottlenecks and travel corridors. Then pick out potential stand locations along the travel corridors and down wind of bedding areas taking advantage of the bottlenecks for all winds with emphasis on the dominate winds for the area. The stand locations should allow a mature buck to use the wind to scent check the bedding areas and to some extent the ground ahead of them. Now look at how you can access those stand locations w/o alerting the deer. Keep in mind that at midday deer should be in bedding areas and before light they should be in feeding areas.

Now you have a rough structure to work with. Any additions or changes you make should be consistent with this layout. It is not beneficial to install any attraction which will cause you to bump deer or have them get down wind of you while you are accessing or hunting a stand. Then add as much food, bedding and water as you can to both cause daylight movement and hold deer on your property as you can w/o interfering with hunting them.

Look at what is in short supply in the area and not just on your land and provide it. If there is water everywhere very little will be gained by adding it. If there is very little cover and bedding area provide that. If there is cover everywhere but no food provide that. If everything is there and you have good daytime travel through your property don't screw it up by adding a bunch of stuff that will make movement more random and get deer down wind of you. Focus on refining bottlenecks and improving access. Try to leave most of your 82 acres undisturbed during the hunting season. IMO it is great to have food sources and bedding areas that cannot be accessed for hunting so long as you have good places to hunt cruising bucks going in and out of those areas. It is so much easier to hunt those types of stands w/o the deer knowing that they are being hunted. The mature bucks will want to access those undisturbed areas where deer feel safe.

From: scentman
WV hit it, prevailing winds is by far the most important aspect to start with for your game plan... relax don't get too anxious, my plan is 23 yrs in the making!

Good things take time... enjoy it.

From: fuzzy
Just a thought, the farmers control the crop fields. YOU control the food plot. Food plots and cover aren't mutually exclusive and when deer can feed in or near cover that's what they do during daylight

From: tm
Unless there is an abundance of water a solar well would be my first investment. I have several and they run 365 days a year if the sun shines. Overflow waters everything from grass to small grain and they attract lots of wildlife.

From: ILBow288
Are there currently good spots to hunt with prevailing winds? Can you get into and out of those spots undetected? Is there currently sign that deer have used it the last 3 or so months? If you answered yes to all these, I'm hunting it the first year and then expanding on my observations from that year. A year of hunting will tell you so much with regards to what the deer are doing, and what the property lacks.

From: sitO
After this season will be the perfect time to go in and assess travel routes, rubs/rubline's, scrapes,'ll be able to see these things more easily with the foliage gone. Some other good advice above, I wouldn't count on a "prevailing wind" you're in KS...have stands for all winds. By the way it's NRCS.

From: Ollie
Hire a land consultant. They will thoroughly look over your land and make recommendations. They also will know people in your area that you can hire for habitat work.

From: Ollie
Hire a land consultant. They will thoroughly look over your land and make recommendations. They also will know people in your area that you can hire for habitat work.

From: Meat Grinder
I helped a buddy manage his 40 acres for a few years. We were by no means pros at it. and it was mostly a seat-of-the pants operation. His place had woods on the west, north and east borders, with row crops on the south. Other crop fields were within easy walking distance.

Our goal (as goyt suggested above) was to give the deer things they couldn't get on other properties, giving them a reason to be where we wanted them. We planted apple, pear and chestnut trees, and put clover/chicory or rye in a small food plot.

I think your idea to plant trees is good, but they take years to produce in any quantity. and if you plant them in the wrong place, you can't move them. You can try different things in food plots, and if they're not in the right spot, they can be moved relatively easily assuming you don't have clear timber.

YMMV, and I wish you the best of luck!

From: Grey Ghost
Make sure your neighbors aren’t Amish, post no hunting signs every 5 yards around the perimeter, put out at least 40 cell cameras, and refer to the deer that use your property as “my deer”. That seems to be the new normal for hunting properties.


I agree with BrettPSU. In order to know what you should change, you need to know what it is at the moment. I'm currently doing this with the 50 acres I moved onto. This year I did nothing but put out cameras and hunted it very sparingly over the entire season. I learned that bucks use it often pre-rut, but overall doe numbers are low. Post-rut numbers have also been low. Knowing this, I am planning on putting in some late-season food plots, and more food in general, to hopefully up the numbers of does the area holds and for it to be a late-season refuge.

If I hadn't have known this and would've just started changing a bunch of stuff right off the rip, I would've been a lost puppy when deciding what to do. Take a good inventory before you start clearing shelves...

From: APauls
It certainly doesn't hurt you anything other than time to watch it for a season before making changes. Just keep in mind that once you make changes if they have any significance (which you hope they will) the deer will also change their habits because of your changes. So....don't get tooo hell bent about working around what they are doing.

I'm a lot more concerned about figuring out what areas the deer naturally like to move through and avoid, so that I can plan my entry/exit according to prevailing winds for my future food etc. I picked up a piece in September have been scheming ever since. Can't wait to start in the spring.

From: Catscratch
Burn it.

For bedding make some brush piles. Deer use them for cover... but birds perch on them and crap out seeds. In a couple of yrs your piles will be thickets.

Fruit trees; call nurseries (Turkey Creek is a good one for you visit with). Tell them you want trees with disease resistance for your area, late bloom dates, and late drop dates. They'll tell you what you want. Never plant a tree without a cage around it. Wasted money and effort if you do.

I like bedding and food to be on opposite ends of the place. Hunt travel routes between. Once you have good bedding stay put of it. In your case maybe make the whole interior of your place bedding cover and hunt them coming and going to the surrounding ag.

Good luck and have fun with it!

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