May is upon us and with it comes the warmer weather and brighter days that most welcome after a long winter. But for whitetail fanatics that welcoming of Spring is tempered by the sobering realization that May is farthest away on the calendar that one can get from November! It is literally the 180 degree opposite (being 6 months since the last November and still 6 months till the next) from the magic time most whitetail hunters associate with prime deer hunting. So what is a hunter to do? Here are 5 things to do RIGHT NOW to become a better hunter when November finally rolls around…..
- Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more
Effective shooting (whether archery or firearm) is a matter of repetition. No tricks or shortcuts will change that fact. Spending time simply shooting (which is easier when the weather is nice) is the only sure way to make sure you get better at this essential skill. This should be number one on every hunters off season to do list.
Knowledge is a powerful weapon that many “less serious” hunters overlook. The off season is a time to go over trail camera pictures, scout out changing travel corridors, and beef up on your deer knowledge. By understanding how deer are operating in and using the land you hunt you will be better equipped to place stands and identify blind locations for a higher likelihood for success in the fall.
- Work the land
Once you have identified stand locations and deficiencies in your land, its time to go to work. Moving stands, cutting shooting lanes, brushing in blinds, setting up new cameras, planting food sources, and setting out minerals are just a few things to keep you busy.
- Focus on nutrition
One of the best things you can do for the deer you manage during this time of year is to evaluate and improve the nutritional resources they have access to. Each hunting plot will be different as some come full of natural nutrition sources and others less so. But at a minimum a food plot (even if its just a shooting plot) and mineral sites are must haves for effective management.
- Knock down some predators
Where once they were rare east of the Mississippi River, coyotes now pose a real threat to whitetail deer in almost every state. Aside from humans, they are the whitetail deers number one predator. While you may not think you have coyotes in your neighborhood you will want to confirm this by regular scouting and checking trail cameras. And if you happen to identify coyotes inhabiting your hunting spot most states have open seasons ‘and now is a great time to target them.
Just like with professional athletes of all kinds, when you are a serious deer hunter like the WhitetailEdge team members the reality is that there is really no off season. It’s just different tasks and jobs at different times of the year to give you the best chance at encountering a trophy buck in season. So if you are looking to make that jump to the next level of deer hunting success head outside this off season and apply a few of these recommendations, we know you won’t be disappointed!
Shed Hunting Tips
Finding buried treasure… That must be the closest feeling to finding a shed antler in the woods.Or perhaps at the least finding a forgotten $20 in your jeans pocket on laundry day! That unexpected and exciting rush if familiar to every shed hunter. While there are surely practical benefits of shed hunting like the role it plays (when combined with trail cameras and other tactics) in conducting a post hunting season census of your deer population and of course stretching the legs after a winter of confinement. But it’s that rush of excitement of finding something left by nature just for you that gets the blood of true shed hunters pumping and is something everyone who loves the outdoors should experience. Whether you are a hard core shed head or just looking to see which of your bucks made it through the winter-shed hunting can be a useful tool for the hunter. So if you want to try your luck in the woods this spring, here are a few quick things to keep in mind. Think like a hunter, sort of….
When hunting sheds the focus needs to be on where deer spend the most time. You probably have a good idea of where that is at the spot you hunt and while you most likely steer clear of certain areas (like bedding areas, etc) during hunting season these will be prime spots to check for sheds. So a good plan is to start there and work you way outwards along travel corridors. Take your time
The biggest mistake shed hunters make is moving too fast. The woods may be clearer due to the winter months but sheds bear a striking resemblance to sticks and twigs and are a natural color that blends in to the forest floor. So taking your time (about the pace of a spot and stalk hunt) can help you pocket more sheds. Consider a dog
Shed hunting dogs have gained popularity in the last few years. Really any breed will do and many say that older dogs can even be taught the skill. One thing is certain, a dog will cover more ground than you can and provide some company for you in the woods. And if you just like sheds, don’t forget about overlooked areas. Asking around to neighbors and farmers about the possibility of shed hunting on their land, even if they don’t allow hunting, can prove profitable as they may be less averted to you simply taking a walk. City parks and public land are also great places to shed hunt as they are they are often forgotten. Check out this video of the Whitetail Edge team and their shed hunting adventures this spring!
Wood Haven Stinger ProFLEX Deer Grunt™ and Bleat Call Review
While in the stand, Ben covers a couple of his favorite grunt and bleat calls for the rut in this WoodHaven deer calls review. Ben is currently using the Stinger Pro deer grunt, an easy and great sounding grunt call for the price point.
Pic: The Stinger Pro is designed to be easy to use and requires very little air to operate. With the Stinger Pro Grunt you can produce a wide range of calls, varying from whisper soft to very loud.
The doe bleat call Ben uses is the WoodHaven ProFLEX Bleat™ call. This bleat can produce an appeal for both bucks and does, making for a great call to use periodically throughout the hunt.
Pic: The ProFLEX Bleat is an effective call throughout the deer season. This call is capable of producing very realistic distress bleats and bawls of a young deer that during the early season can trigger the maternal instinct of does. Many times when a mature doe hears this sound, she will immediately investigate for a closer look. The ProFLEX Bleat also produces very realistic doe estrous bleats that are highly effective at calling in mature bucks during the rut.
Interested in learning about other powerful tools for the rut? Check out which deer scents Ben is using for the rut!
Rut Hunting | Best Deer Scents for the Rut
While in the stand buried in late October rut action, Ben discusses some of the best deer scents for the rut, and how he uses them when hunting. By far the best scent to use during the pre-rut, rut, and post rut is doe estrus. This can be used for scent drags, downind scent streams, scrapes, scent wicks, and several other applications. As the rut peaks, bucks will continually be traveling during daylight through, between, and downwind of bedding areas and food sources. With this in mind, Ben likes to keep the scent up in the tree and fresh downwind of his stand. This acts as a deer attractant and a cover scent for meandering bucks.
Pic: This doe estrous scent is the finest estrus lure in the market! Hot-N-Ready XXX is only collected during the absolute peak of the estrus cycle, when the doe is ready to stand and breed. These doe’s are so hot we had to give it a triple X rating.
To keep a downwind buck from catching human odor in the mix of the doe estrus, Ben uses the new Phaze Foam system from illusion hunting systems. A quick dowse in the foam eliminates odor on the skin.
Pic: PhaZe 3 Field Treatment is your last line of defense. Field Foam outperforms field sprays in 3 ways:
- Entraps NEW Body Odors
- Prevents Loss of Skin Cells
- Non-Drifting Application
PhaZe Out your body odor in 3 simple steps and experience the next level of scent control this hunting season! For optimum results, use PhaZe 3 Field Foam in conjunction with the entire PhaZe system.
How to Create Mock Scrapes
In this episode of Booner School, Ben shows how he creates mock scrapes on the edge of a food plot. There’s a common misconception on deer scrapes and that they’re only good for just the rut. White–tailed deer communicate via there orbital gland and interdigital gland scents 365 days a year. With this in mind Ben plans to have two primary scrapes, one on each side of the field/food source for either wind that may occur.
If you can’t find the proper setup when creating a mock scrape site get creative by attaching a limb (pine, sassafras, etc.) or grapevine to an already existing branch and scrape the ground directly below. As far as deer scent choice Ben recommends Black Widow Deer Lures Matriarch Doe or Scrape Master scents.
Ben’s tree stands have already been set on both sides of the field and the combination of the new mock scrapes and camera setup will help provide intel as to what bucks are using the setup. Once that information is attained Ben will be able to make a game plan for hunting the area.
Deer Food Plot and Kill Plot Setup Strategy
On this episode of Booner School, Ben Rising discusses how he plans to set up a food plot for deer that works with his hunting strategy, access, and stand sites. This deer hunting and kill plot strategy and planning is how you make deer come to you.
Ben’s strategy is to use two fields that neck down to about 20 yards to his advantage in funneling deer. Where the fields come together and empty into a 30 acre CRP field there happens to be a couple big multiple stemmed cherry and hickory trees that make a perfect tree stand or tucked away redneck blind location. With this in mind, Ben plans to plant Antler King® Slam Dunk or Honey Hole mix with a drill to create a kill plot. The food plot species in these mixtures will pull deer into the plot during the hunting season and with Ben’s mowed access trails, should provide ample hunting opportunities.
This deer food plot and kill plot strategy will work anywhere. A nearby bedding area, CRP field, and kill plot that funnels deer movement by trees or a location where you can hunt will always be deadly.
Deer Hunting Creek Crossing
On this Booner School video host, Ben Rising discusses deer hunting creek crossings. Creek crossings can often be great areas to intercept bucks, especially creek crossings like the one in Ben’s video. The crossing is between a cool bottom bedding area and a summertime food source in the form of soybeans.
The bucks tend to stay in the cooler bottom during the summer months and travel through the pinch points of the creek crossings to get to the food source. This usually allows hunters to spot crossing points for stand placement. While the arrival of fall may change the bedding area and the food source, bucks will still cruise the crossing between bedding areas during the fall and the rut. As a result, ben discusses where you might want to put a tree stand to appropriately hunt the creek crossing.
Don’t forget, Season 3 of Whitetail Edge is now streaming. Check out the link below to watch the first 6 episodes!
Timber Stand Improvement for Deer
Ben is out marking a timber cut for deer on a client’s property. While doing so he stops to explain why this property needs timber stand improvement (TSI). The landowner indicated that deer movement across the property is not satisfying. Put simply deer are not staying on the property and instead merely moving through it. Ben’s first impression and assessment after walking through the property is that several areas of the property consists of big timber, timber which shades out the understory growth that deer favor for cover and food.
For this property, Ben is marking a 10-15 acre cut. Ben is targeting the bigger timber but plans to leave several smaller white oaks, red oaks, and even some larger white and red oaks for mast production. This timber cut area or TSI area will become exceptional deer habitat. The landowner plans on making this a substantial bedding area on the property for hunting, but Ben explains that this cut will also lead to another great timber stand for harvest 30-40 years from now.
While this type of selective timber harvest might produce slightly cricked trees (as they compete for sun in the holes of the canopy), it is one of the best for deer habitat. Ben explains that there is a place for select cuts like this property, and a place for creating deer bedding or clear cuts, It just needs to fit with the goals and best interests of the landowner and/or hunter. A timber harvest that produces nice thick habitat combined with food sources on the edge of the cut or transition areas coming off the cut creates ideal areas to catch big bucks.
Whitetail Edge Hunting Gear Reviews | Rogue Bowstrings Review
Ben and Javin run through a Rogue Bowstrings review. Ben and Javin explain that Rogue produces high-end professional bowstrings that outperformed their expectations. Through Rogue’s process of end loop serving, engineered stretch, and twist count, the bowstrings will consistently outperform any other string you put on your bow.
Ben and Javin both shoot the Whitetail Edge addition of the R19Pro. The R19Pro bowstring uses the latest BCY 452X material money can buy and it is paired with the BCY-Halo servings and POWERGRIP center serving. The R19Pro bowstring is fully customizable in color, including the Whitetail Edge edition in fluorescent green and black.
Check out the R19Pro Bowstring below!
Clover Plot Weed Control
Ben Rising discusses maintaining clover food plots. More specifically Ben’s explains how he institutes weed control in clover food plots through the use of herbicides. To control broadleaf weeds and grasses in clover you need a combination of a grass selective and broadleaf selective herbicides.
To control grasses in clover plots Ben uses Select Max (Clethodim) at 16 oz per 10 gallons per acre. To control broadleaf weeds in clover plots Ben uses Butyrac 200 (2-4DB) at 1 quart per 10 gallons of water per acre, which does not harm legume species (clover, soybeans, alfalfa). This mixture of herbicides needs to be accompanied by a crop or methylated seed oil to speed up and guarantee the herbicides process of working into the foliage of the weeds. Ben suggests 12 oz of crop oil to 10 gallons to mix with the Select Max and Butyrac 200.
These herbicides give the option to control all the weeds in a clover plot in one pass. This option presents the opportunity to add liquid fertilizers and plot sprays like Antler King’s Jolt and Plot Max.
Mowing is one way to control weeds in clover plots, but if you want a great stand of clover without mowing off food and moisture in the clover, herbicides are your best bet. These herbicides are not cheap, but a needed part of proper clover plot maintenance.
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