The Trout Zone: Crazy Trip: Little River Report: Fishing trips, while always anticipated, tend to fall into a predictable routine with predictable results. In general, I know what to expec…
The Trout Zone: Lightning!!!: Along with spring comes the return of thunderstorm activity. Several recent storms have produced some dramatic skies which I love to documen…
The Trout Zone: Pigs Beware: While wandering the rugged eastern Cumberland Plateau in search of new fishing holes, I came across an area where the locals are putting a h…
Mid Missouri Morels and Mushrooms: A Bad Day Morel Hunting is Better Than a Good Day …: Teamed up with Shroom King a Mid-MO hunter I have hunted with for a couple of years now. Good old guy as most mushroom hunters are if you ge…
Teamed up with Shroom King a Mid-MO hunter I have hunted with for a couple of years now. Good old guy as most mushroom hunters are if you get to know them.
Not a lot of time to write must soak aching muscles and tired feet. So here are some more videos and photos to help keep your morel needs at bay.
Fish Missouri: St. Francis River, Wayne County, Missouri October …: Kayak fishing St. Francis River, Missouri EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking in Missouri I put the kayak in at the Greenville area (run by…
Fish Missouri: Kayak fishing Lake Sherwood, Warren County, MO, Su…: Got the Feelfree Moken Fishing kayak out for the first time this year up at Lake Sherwood in Warren County, MO. This lake is really known f…
The idea of making big, elaborate food plots that require heavy equipment and hours of labor tends to intimidate landowners. But there’s a much simpler and cheaper way to join the food plot craze. Grant Woods, one of America’s top whitetail biologists and head of a deer management consulting firm, creates and hunts over what he calls hidey holes. “They’re just small woods openings where I sweeten the deal in a place where deer already like to go–like putting ketchup and mustard on a hot dog.”
These micro food plots require few tools: a small sprayer with Roundup herbicide, one bag each of lime and fertilizer, a rake or a leaf blower, and some seed. Building the plot is simple, and you can backpack in everything you need in a trip or two.
THE PERFECT SPOT Think small. A quarter acre is as big as you’ll want to go. “An excellent place is around the trunk of a big, old tree that’s been lightning-struck or killed by gypsy moths,” Woods says. “Suddenly there’s an opening in the canopy where sun hits the ground for a good part of the day.” Log landings (cleared areas where loggers have piled timber), woods roads, and natural openings also work.
Woods preps the seedbed by spraying grass or weeds with Roundup. “Woody brush will have to be girdled [the bark scarred with a knife or hatchet] first,” he says. “But don’t go through the headache of clearing out dead trees–just work around them. You’re not creating a field here.”
If leaf litter is all that covers the ground, Woods uses a gas-powered blower to remove leaves and sticks for maximum soil-to-seed contact. “A leaf blower is one of the handiest tools a food-plotter can have. Not only does it do a beautiful job of clearing out the plot itself, but it’s also great for creating an entry and exit trail to your stand.” If you don’t have one, use a steel-tined garden rake instead.
With the debris gone, Woods applies pelletized lime and fertilizer (which breaks down more quickly than the powdered variety) with a handheld spreader. “This is an essential step,” he stresses. “Nearly all woodland soils are so acidic that even if plants grow, they’ll taste bitter to deer. So I spread as much lime and fertilizer as I can haul in a couple of trips.”
TASTY TREATS Finally, broadcast the seed on top of the lime and fertilizer. Deciding what–and when–to plant is critical. “You have a very specific mission: having that plot at peak palatability to deer when conditions are right for you,” Woods says. “Seed it too early, and deer can wipe out a plot before you hunt it.”
In most areas you’ll be planting about three weeks before the opening of bow season, then hunting the site a limited number of times, depending on the crop. You need to consider both its attractiveness and its durability. Deer love peas, for example, but can eat an entire plot in about a week. Clover also draws whitetails and will buy you several more days, depending on the population density. Brassica blends are another favorite, but they mature at different times and give you maybe a month to six weeks.
It takes about four hours to establish a micro plot, according to Woods. “Some folks say that given the little time you can hunt one, you’d be better off just scouting more. That’s true if you have exclusive access to a large tract. But if you’re hunting only a small acreage or sharing land with other hunters, hidey holes provide an edge that’s worth the time.”
Hunting for Shed Antlers
If you’re like most deer hunters, you spend the majority of your time in the woods during the fall and winter of each year. However, the habitat that deer live in, just like the animals themselves, are found there year-round — so get out and explore it, learn more about it, and find some shed antlers.
With spring just around the corner and whitetail bucks starting to shed antlers, there is a good opportunity to learn more about your hunting area and the deer that live there. Most hunters get excited when bucks start growing their antlers each year — it’s a chance to witness the impact of past management and look forward to future harvests. It really is something to get pumped up about.
But on the other hand, there are those hunters that get excited as the hunting season ends. It marks the fact that soon bucks will be dropping their coveted antlers. You know, there are ways to get a huge set of antlers on your wall other than shooting the big boy. He may have eluded you during the season, but you can still find his shed antlers!
Finding shed deer antlers not only ends with great rewards you get to take home, but also with some valuable information you can tuck away in your back pocket for next season. Information such as the quality of bucks that made it through the last hunting season, the number of different bucks that were in the area, and specific areas that these bucks used while in your area.
Shed antlers also allow you to physically track bucks that you may have been keeping a close eye on. Measurements that can be taken from year to year include common measurements such as beam length, tine length, and mass measurements.
A few tips to increase your chances of finding deer sheds:
- Look in and around late-season food plots.
- Examine travel corridors and water sources.
- Use a game camera to ensure most bucks have shed.
- Don’t wait too long. Rodents will eat and destroy antlers due to the coveted minerals they contain. In addition, warming weather will spur grass growth and make finding antlers more difficult.
- Keep an eye out for new hunting locations.