Moultrie Products
Cut fields or not?
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Rugerno1 12-Dec-20
Sand man 12-Dec-20
Rugerno1 13-Dec-20
Sand man 13-Dec-20
Sand man 13-Dec-20
Sand man 13-Dec-20
Rugerno1 14-Dec-20
Sand man 14-Dec-20
dizzydctr 15-Dec-20
Rugerno1 17-Dec-20
Sand man 18-Dec-20
WV Mountaineer 18-Dec-20
From: Rugerno1
12-Dec-20
I began reclaiming my grandparents 88 acre farm. It has not been farmed or cut in 20+ years. The old crop fields are overgrown with weeds, saplings, multiflora rose, briars and the like, but they hold deer. Lots of bedding areas and hold some very nice bucks. The question is, does it make sense to cut the fields this late winter/early spring and let the, grow back naturally. My intent is to have some food sources in the center of the property and let the fields continue as cover and bedding for the deer, but not too much cover that the deer can’t be seen or the fields are inaccessible. And I don’t want to displace the deer

From: Sand man
12-Dec-20
Not so sure food sources “in the middle” would be the best long term plan. JMO, perhaps a number of small food sources (long and narrow) broken up along the direction of the property lines (security cover between them) would work. Establishing these areas off the property line (working inwards) 75 yards or so.. Bedding and daytime browse in the interior “Middle” where you don’t go and bump through while accessing your stands/blinds (sounds like that part mother nature’s done already). look at it like being at a NASCAR race. The infield/bedding area is restricted, the track is the habitat and influenced deer movement going around and around the infield/bedding within the property, and a stand, is a stand, is a stand. That’s the buffer area provided where you access and get to your seat undetected...all done correctly... you get to kick back and see the action pass bye.

Good luck. Dream big. Aim small. Miss small.

From: Rugerno1
13-Dec-20

Rugerno1's DeerBuilder embedded Photo
Rugerno1's DeerBuilder embedded Photo

Ok, maybe I need to start from scratch. Here's a google earth pic of the property & surrounding. The highlighted areas are old crop fields that are overgrown. The old crop field to the NW is currently being cut/maintained (looks like lawn). The small area to the E is a 1 acre food plot I put in this year. The line going to the food plot is the access road, which basically goes right thru the center of the property. To the north of the food plot is currently not useable for family reasons and the neighbors to the South (where the food is) are an issue for trespassing and hunting the property. Lots of bedding throughout the overgrown old crop fields especially the third piece south on the west end. The woods to the east are basically an oak grove with a creek running north/south. So, how would you attach this to help hold deer, manage the property so that it doesn't get to far overgrown in the event that it is ever farmed again, and also general food plot locations? Thanks and appreciate the input!

From: Sand man
13-Dec-20
Can you send a photo without any overlay? It would make it easier to get a full overview of what the vegetation looks like.

From: Sand man
13-Dec-20

Sand man's embedded Photo
Sand man's embedded Photo

From: Sand man
13-Dec-20
I would clear the South area to lower cool season grasses. Thin the SW oaks and open it up for mass production the deer are detoured from using during daylight. Let hem head to ag (problem neighbors) after dark when they can move through the open areas under the security of darkness. Convert the foodplot into bedding with switch grass and hinge cutting into the oaks (great edge cover with browse). The access road would make a great strip travel plot. Redefine your overgrown fields into pocket bedding with browse trails connecting them. A nice little waterhole along the creek. The does will move confidently within the property and form a number of small family groups with low social pressure (lines of movement in tan) excellent stand locations around the entire exterior of the property. Mature bucks would move onto the property with the ability to circle and scent check everything in one loop (purple trail). A few strategically place COMMUNITY mock (soon to become active) scrapes and your the one defining and hunting the quality DAYLIGHT MOVEMENT! EXCELLENT PIECE OF PROPERTY!

Dream big. Aim small. Miss small.

From: Rugerno1
14-Dec-20
Wow Sandman, I think you've given me an equal amount of work to research what you wrote as it is to do the work on the property :) Once I read thru it a few more times, and do a little research, there will be questions. Thank you!

From: Sand man
14-Dec-20

Sand man's embedded Photo
Shot @ 9 yards on November 17th. 8:13am He came in to work a mock scrape established 8/19/20.
Sand man's embedded Photo
Shot @ 9 yards on November 17th. 8:13am He came in to work a mock scrape established 8/19/20.
YouTube Wildlife Habitat Solutions (Jeff Sturgis). A lot of great videos and information. I have one farm that I am the only bow hunter on. The land owner is a great friend I’ve known for 20 years. He has a great passion for wildlife but no longer hunts. He has a young granddaughter he wants to be able to take hunting once she gets a little older (4 yrs old). He allows me to “manage” the property, I started doing habitat improvements 3 years ago. A nice buck when I started was 120”-130”. What a difference using the things learned from Jeff have made in just a few short years!! The buck pictured was shot off a 4 acre isolated waterway pocket of habitat established using Jeff’s information. Over a mock scrape I had 3 shooters showing during daylight from Late October until November 17th when I shot him (also numerous decent young bucks) This buck had the second largest rack with the largest being a younger deer! Looking forward to getting out and continuing the work as well as reaping the results. I would be more than happy to answer any questions and would love to hear how things go. Nothing like doing the work to have a deer step into a 4’ circle and having a chance to harvest it!

Good luck in your endeavors. Dream big. Aim small. Miss small.

From: dizzydctr
15-Dec-20
I have begun strip mowing and harrowing some of my older fields, and supposedly better timing for this is in the fall/early winter. You might consider researching it online to see if is applicable to your farm.

From: Rugerno1
17-Dec-20

Rugerno1's DeerBuilder embedded Photo
Rugerno1's DeerBuilder embedded Photo

Sand Man - I've done some research and watched (a ton of) videos that you recommended. Very informative. I edited further the plan you edited above and have the following questions: 1) I circled the 'dots' - are those proposed stand locations? 2) The '?' I drew in, are those areas proposed food plots? 3) The black lines connecting the dots are access paths? 4) The interior areas connecting (what I referred to as) the food plots? are the 'strip travel plots' you referred to above? (I have to apologize as I am color blind, so color based legends are lost on me)

Drilling down: 1) Would switch grass be a good planting for the area you have in white? 2) The 'strip travel plots', would those be good to plant in clover?

The more I review and better understand what you've done, the more I like it. My issues are that I am currently not in control of the entire property, so I can't eliminate the access paths/roads, but I can plant them. There are also (currently) other hunters that enjoy driving (the deer off :() the property during rifle season. I'm working on resolving or reducing that occurrence. The NW corner and the NE corner are likely going to be untouched in the next few years.

Finally, getting back to my original question/concern: If I brush hog the old crop fields on the North border, will that effect the deer patterns? Looking to get that done in late winter/early spring in hopes of having cover by late summer. Specifically, my thoughts are for 2021 to plant 5-10 acres of switchgrass in the North crop fields. And establish the food plots, which I have been planting buckwheat in the spring to reclaim the soil and then a blend of rye grain, PTT, and clover in late summer.

Thanks so much for the input!

From: Sand man
18-Dec-20
1) yes, potential stand locations. 2) no, these would be bedding. 3) correct. Keeping access on the edges and out of the interior. 4) these would be strip/ travel “paths” frost seeding with clover and fall broadcast of CEREAL RYE.

I would not plant the South edge in Switch. Brush hogging it down and planting Egyptian wheat 15’ wide would provide a screen from the adjoining property owners. The goal would be to establish an open zone that the deer would use after legal shooting light to access the primary food (the neighboring corn/beans). The open area would also provide a good view (using trail cameras) to monitor, not for deer, but for anyone (non authorized) accessing your “holding/hunting area.

Additionally, I would use switch grass to “thicken” the proposed bedding areas by planting pockets.

The goal would be to creat a number of areas where a few does can bed vs. fewer large bedding areas where the same total # of does bed.

Screening doe groups from doe groups will dramatically reduce social pressure which will result in increased natural daytime movement. This will also create a scenario where the bucks can move area to area to area checking for does during the rut vs a walk by to check them all.

A few well placed “mock scrapes” that compliment stand sites with great access....

YOU WILL BE THE HERD INFLUENCER WHO BENEFITS FROM THE WORK!

As far as planting Switch on the North side...be mindful to not encourage deer to bed where they will see, hear, or smell you as you access your stand locations.

Good luck with your endeavors!

Dream big. Aim small. Miss small.

18-Dec-20
I didn’t read anything but the OP. So, I don’t know the layout of what you have. But, here’s my advice.

Having 20 years of experience in Forest Resource Management, I think it’s important to note that you have food sources in those fields you are talking about cutting. So, I’d look at them that way. Good natural browse and cover is what holds deer.

To me, I’d strip mow some of those fields/field. Spacing is something you can fool with. But, I’d not give them to many choices. Because the deer will begin moving in those strips surrounded by the thickets. I’d even spray those mowed strips, break the ground and plant them with clover or wheat. Or a mix of both. As an added food source within cover.

Find the best place and get you a blind stand or ground blinds in those strips. Bingo.

If I had enough old field I’d mow a section and get some chestnuts and fruit trees in too. Not a huge segment but, I’d make it’s space a percentage that would feed deer into late fall or December.

The rest of the equation is staying on top of your timber. Keep the good mast trees healthy. Don’t be afraid to log if need be. And enjoy that place.

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