John: Yeah, and this has been something that I started doing at some seminars recently. Because the wildlife industry, we all hear about the great things. If you do this, this is what’s gonna happen. But nobody talks about, well, if you do this, this is the down side, this could be a negative. And again, in life, everything has a positive and has a negative. Any action, there’s a reaction. So that’s something we discuss with people, you know, and those are things that I think more people need to look at. You plant trees here, you plant apple trees, right, what might happen? You plant switch grass. Okay, that could help divert deer. But what’s the down side? There’s… Not everything has a con, but most species… You plant certain desirable species… What happens if you plant too much of a desirable specie in too big a area? Harder to hunt. So that’s one thing that, you know, I really wanna emphasize. We can talk about it a little bit here more about…
And that’s where I like to look at a property, have a plan, dial it in, tell people why we’re doing certain things. But then I also will say to people, “Okay, we wanna do better, right? We wanna have better food plots. Well, you’re gonna have more growth, right? If we have more growth, that mines more nutrients from the soil. That’s a negative. We mine more nutrients from the soil, we gotta spend more money on fertilizer, right? But then again, if we do a better job at that acre of land, we maybe don’t need to plant that second acre of land. That could be a pro.” It can be a cycle.
Bruce: So, you know, everybody, high schoolers, you know, every action, there’s a reaction, and so there’s response. Nature will respond to everything you do, just as a buck will, and a doe. So when you start thinking, and we said it in the last segment, kind of, ended up with this, you know, you gotta start thinking It’s not just, “We’ve done it this way, and the point stand’s been there for 15 years. We’ve taken 15 bucks. Why should we stop ever hunting them? And the only time we see bucks there is during the rifle season when they’re funneling down into this ravine, and it works. Why? Because they’re being pressured, it’s an escape route, it goes down into nasty stuff and nobody’s gonna go in there so the deer know they’re safe, all the deer do.” So you think about that, okay, so that stand probably isn’t gonna go anyplace. But there’s no food, it’s climax forest, you know, it’s just not gonna change. So that stand might be there for the reason…topographical reasons that I just talked about.
But what about the other places that every once in a while you see the buck, every once in a while you shoot a doe? Why is that on again, off again, you know, stand site? And throw it all in together, and I can guarantee you, the on again, off again stand site is because something changed and you didn’t look at it. I’d almost, you know… I’m not gonna bet the farm, because I don’t own a farm, but you get what I mean. Your thoughts on that, John?
John: Yeah. My background, and I’ve talked about this probably too much to people, my background is from managed intensive grazing. I talk about Mother Nature all the time.
Okay, there’s guys that might love their certain types of forage beans. There’s certain people that just love oats. There’s certain people, for five years straight, they’ve loved their chicory and ladino plot, right? Maybe weather’s been perfect. Maybe your deer numbers are a little lower. There’s a lot of factors that come into play. What happens if we have a plot that’s basically, you know, a three-way clover plot, and all of a sudden we get a drought? And there’s stunted growth, or no growth, on your favorite plot that’s been very productive for a number of years. All of a sudden, it’s not productive. All of a sudden, the deer are gone. Where have they gone? Maybe your neighbor’s got alfalfa and chicory, or some other more drought-tolerant species that are surviving from the stress that Mother Nature threw at us. Maybe, just maybe, like the last couple years in Wisconsin, we’ve had…seems like our seasons are getting a little longer. The first frost date’s getting pushed back more. So guys that are all of a sudden… For a number of years they’ve loved their brassica plots, they plant it in early August, and the deer are there. And then all of a sudden, they’re gone. Where have they gone?
A lot of these brassicas, they mature in 60 days, planted August 1st. That means October 1st they’re mature. Maybe we still got another two to four weeks of growing season. Our forages are over-mature. They’re bitter, they’re not palatable. Maybe your neighbor planted two, three, four weeks later, or planted some other species that mature a little slower. Five years straight, your food plots are great, but because we got a late frost this last year the deer are gone. Where are they? Maybe you get something else in the other end of the property. Maybe across the fence line, your neighbor’s got alfalfa. Maybe the neighbor’s got some brassicas that need 70 to 90 days to mature versus those standard grapes and turnips that need, you know, 45 to 60. People don’t think about that.
Maybe you got an excessive amount of rain. You love the oats, the deer love the oats, but all of a sudden they’re disease-stressed because it’s been too wet. You’re like, “Why aren’t they eating it? They always ate my oats before.” Yeah, but wasn’t this kind of rain. That’s why I’ve thrown this out there. We wanna have biodiversity of species of food plots. We wanna have diversity of bedding cover. We wanna have diversity of fruit trees. We wanna have diversity throughout your property to best handle the unknowns, the unknowns. What we’re really doing is we’re becoming risk managers. We’re becoming like our own little insurance agent. We’re trying to assure that no matter what happens, the deer are gonna stay. That’s one of the things that I really wanna emphasize, and that’s where I really focus. When I do recommendations, we might have 6, 8, 10 different mixes on a property. Deer eat 365 days a year, no matter what the weather is. Think about it.
Bruce: So when we’re looking at, you know… You were just talking about food plots, and diversity of seed, and maturity, and all that. So when you look at your plot of land, you have to figure out, okay, where’s the best place for those food plots? See, the food plots don’t come first and you figure it out. You figure out the plan, land management, to take the best possible pieces of your land and maximize them. How do we do that, John?
John: Yeah. The one thing that I wanna bring up that…to make things easier to hunt, to have better back-up stands, to hold more deer, is to have more food plots but smaller. And again, if I had a choice… Let’s just say, if a guy’s got four acres of food plots they can plant, because maybe that’s their budget, maybe how their property lays, amount of deer numbers, whatever factors come into play, I’d rather have, you know, a quarter-acre to a half-acre plots than one big field. Easier to hunt. One big field, the buck can stand on one end, [inaudible 00:08:44] not see a deer and another doe there. Go to the neighbor’s. You got a big field, you probably have less biodiversity.
And again, remember, I talked about we wanna have a highway? A lot easier to keep bucks moving throughout your property when the buck is moving around and checking for does that maybe are coming into heat, to maybe try to run some other inferior bucks off the property by having multiple food plot locations. And again, by having multiple food plot locations, we’re better able to…you can’t fool Mother Nature, but to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us, you know, by having that diversity of not just species but a diversity of locations, and that’s what we like to do. More plots, smaller plots, same acreage.
Receive a $50 goHUNT Gear Shop Gift Card by using code WR when joining Insider http://bit.ly/2s8dX5k
Whitetail Rendezvous podcast receives compensation each time a new member joins Insider via our link
Here’s a quick demo about goHUNT.com/insider https://youtu.be/YFNMzEUtcys