The Whitetail Deer Rut is Hard on Bucks

Spring is over and early summer is almost upon us, so many hunters are not thinking about deer hunting right now. Not a soul is thinking about the whitetail deer rut that happened six or seven months ago. Whitetail bucks are putting on new antler growth, but many of the bucks that you passed on this past season may never make it to the next one. Testosterone poisoning, a term than many hunters have never even heard of, could be of importance to them now.

Most ranches involved in active deer management programs, are busy with habitat management techniques, filling protein feeders and waiting to burn brush piles, assuming it ever rains. It’s been an awfully dry year thus far and deer habitat is paying the price right now, with habitat conditions as tough as ever. Bucks of average body condition that did not succumb to hunters or post-rut death after the season may now be finding very little to each. Continue reading The Whitetail Deer Rut is Hard on Bucks

Early Antler Shedding by Bucks in Texas

White-tailed deer hunters know that bucks in Texas usually experience antler growth during the spring and summer and then shed their antlers during mid to late winter each year. This typically ends up being sometime in January, February, or possibly even March. Although the bulk of 2010 was an outstanding year for the habitat that produced an abundance of forbs and browse, some ranches discovered that their bucks had gone through early antler shedding. And by early I mean these bucks lost their antlers in late summer. What? Yes, antler shedding during August and September.

Yes, you read that correctly. Landowners and biologists on several properties in South Texas first noticed otherwise healthy bucks shedding antlers during late summer and early autumn, often when the antlers were still in velvet. Because some of these bucks were photographed regularly at feed sites, they could be readily tracked as autumn progressed. Several of these bucks began growing antlers again, resulting in small antlers whose velvet was then shed. Continue reading Early Antler Shedding by Bucks in Texas

How to Make a Mock Scrape

Learn how to make a mock scrape

Question: I have enjoyed whitetail hunting for years, but have never learned how to make a mock scrape. Can you give me some instructions on areas to look for and some mock scrape tips so that I can use them to attract bucks to my hunting area? Any info on mock scrapes will be greatly appreciated!

Answer: Mock scrapes can be an excellent way to bring in the big boys to your deer hunting area. The act of making a mock scrape is relatively simple, so don’t get too bogged down in the details, but the whole idea behind creating a fake scrape is to make any buck in the area think there is another buck there, too.

You can do this by actively working a found scrape or by making a mock scrape. When creating your scrape, first make sure you are scent free and then be sure that there is a licking branch located about 40 inches above the ground — this is a must!. Start out by working the ground with the heel of your boot to reveal some fresh dirt. Create a circular shape of fresh dirt that is about 20 to 24 inches in diameter. Continue reading How to Make a Mock Scrape

Whitetail Hunting the Solunar Table

Deer hunters have been trying to identify the best times to head out whitetail hunting since there have been deer to hunt. With research and wildlife studies it would seem that technology could be used to give us the ultimate hunting tool. Although there have been some applications developed for computers and mobile devices, they are all based of the Solunar Theory developed by John Knight back in the 1930’s.

Knight was an outdoorsmen and sportswriter who perfected his fish and game activity theory over a period of many years, making observations while whitetail hunting and out fishing. This solunar table pioneer found that all fish and game — including deer, turkey, bass, and trout — are more active during different times of the day and night. Continue reading Whitetail Hunting the Solunar Table

What is Good Deer Habitat?

Better Habitat Management for Better Deer!

White-tailed deer are very adaptable animals, but good deer habitat usually includes a mixture of trees, shrubs, vines, forbs, grasses. High quality deer habitat will also contain important foods such as fungi and even sedges. Of course, specific plants within each of these categories benefit deer more than others. If you really looked at a deer’s mouth, you will notice that it’s quite small and relatively pointed. This is because deer are highly selective with regards to their diet.

Palatable plants should be well interspersed throughout an area, so that the whole area functions as deer habitat. Over much of the whitetail’s habitat, adequate woody plants should be present to provide food, shelter and concealment. The enroachment of woody plants into areas that were once dominated by grasses is an important reason for the expansion of the whitetail deer. In addition to browse plants, some sort of water source should be available about every mile for deer watering. Put all these habitat requirements together—food, cover, water, and space—and you’ve got whitetail habitat.

When it comes to deer habitat, plant diversity is an important because deer require a variety of plants to provide their various needs. Many plants are utilized during only one season (when they are growing/available) or a portion of a season. Keep in mind that each plant that is eaten provides only a portion of a deer’s nutritional requirements. However, many plant species are not consumed by deer. These plants are also important, serving as cover and concealment for traveling and loafing animals. Continue reading What is Good Deer Habitat?

Whitetail Hunting Is Not Just Food Plots

There is nothing in the world that I love more than whitetail hunting. There is something about it that I really enjoy, and it’s not all about hunting season. In fact, I get just as much fun getting ready for deer season. I don’t own a huge tract of land, although I am lucky enough to have 134 acres on which I’ve been able to implement my very own whitetail deer management program. I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years about deer behavior, what deer eat, and what they need.

In the end, for those landowners and hunters that are serious about managing deer populations, we should want to create the best whitetail habitat. For this is where quality hunting opportunities are literally born. The real secret that I’ve determined when looking at properties where individuals want to improve the deer herd is finding and enhancing the most limited habitat element. It’s easy to concentrate on one single facet of habitat and provide a whole lot of one thing, but they need it all! Continue reading Whitetail Hunting Is Not Just Food Plots

Whitetail Hunting

Hunting white-tailed deer is not only challenging, but it is exciting as well. For centuries, hunters have gone whitetail hunting for food, but more recently deer hunting has also involved sport hunting. In addition to recreational hunting, hunters and landowners have begun to implement intensive whitetail deer management programs to improve the health and quality of the deer and habitat found on their properties. When it comes to whitetail deer hunting, all hunters are looking for techniques that will make them more successful. Whether it be bagging a deer or bagging a mature buck, whitetail deer hunting is a challenge. Continue reading Whitetail Hunting

Whitetail Hunting and Small Food Plots

Example of an exclosure in a small food plot

Food plots are commonly used to attract and supplemental whitetail diets. However, small food plots are not always the best for improving deer nutrition or whitetail hunting. I planted two small winter food plots this year for the first time. Both of these plots are about a 1/4 acre in size. I used a mixed seed variety from the local feed store.

First, I disked the areas to be seeded, then limed, and finally fertilized. Everything looked good, but I waited for a week before seeding and then dragging to cover the seed. We got a nice rain and everything starting coming up within a week’s time. That was about month ago, but here is the kicker. If I had not built an exclosure in the middle of the plots, then I would not have been able to tell if the deer were eating or not.

To build the food plot exclosure, I placed two “T” posts about 2 to 3 foot apart and wrapped the area with 5 foot high net-wire fence. I did this to keep whitetail deer out and to see if plots were either not growing or being consumed by the deer. Continue reading Whitetail Hunting and Small Food Plots