Kick-Starting Your Management Plan

Last month we talked about mapping and planning habitat improvements and hunting setups. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and go to work. Naturally, with its rugged construction, passenger capacity and box capable of holding all your gear and tools, your Polaris® RANGER 800 XP® is the perfect vehicle for QDM work.

Your mapping plans designated at least one deer sanctuary on your property. But a simple “hands-off” policy isn’t enough. Make this zone attractive to deer—especially mature bucks—by creating the thick cover whitetails love. Visit your sanctuary with a chainsaw and begin felling or hinge-cutting any trees that have little or no timber value. Species such as box elder, aspen, sweet gum and maple are perfect candidates. While a small clearcut will look ugly at first, young brush and sun-loving saplings will quickly sprout in the openings you create…and deer will flock to this nutritious browse and dense security cover.

The next mission is to begin food plot construction and planting. Unless you have access to a tractor, it may be necessary to hire someone to till and plant larger destination-type food plots. But your property blueprint includes several smaller hunting plots, and the perfect tool for creating and maintaining these areas is a Polaris RANGER 800 XP. This new RANGER has an 800 Twin EFI engine and Dual A-Arm Front suspension, a feature that makes for easier steering, no harsh feedback over humps and superior ground clearance. Even better, the RANGER 800 XP’s exclusive True All-Wheel Drive reacts automatically to terrain changes. This way you can easily handle the XP to clear, till and plant food plots. You’ll have the satisfaction of creating a food source—and hunting area—that will exist for many seasons. Finally, don’t forget to include a mineral lick near some of your plots; they’re not only attractive and beneficial to deer, they provide an excellent place to mount a trail camera!

If you’re new to food plotting, deciding what to plant can be confusing. Start by buying seed from a reputable company and consult with them about what grows best in your area. Their advice on preparing your plots, successful seed varieties and planting timetables can save a lot of time and money. Generally, it’s best to divide even smaller plots in half, planting each section to a plant type that will mature at different times to offer deer another choice when they visit your salad bar!

Finally, it’s never too late—or too early—to begin work on stand sites. Here again, your RANGER is the perfect tool for hauling stands, ladders, steps, saws and other tools you’ll need to set up the perfect stand site. And don’t forget your chainsaw! Dropping some trees to steer deer into a food plot (or through a funnel) exactly where wind direction and cover favor you is a good hunting tactic. For example, deer will have several entry trails into one of your hunting plots, and some of them may be downwind of your stand. Dropping one or more trees across these paths forces whitetails to loop around them and enter the plot upwind—and in range—of your site. You’ve taken a good spot and made it a great one!

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Deer Population by State

It's time to go hunting. Use our Deer Population tool to see where you should go on your next hunting trip!

Weekly QDM Tips

Prep for Winter: One quality many properties lack is an absence of prime winter cover for deer. Plant conifer (evergreen) trees like pine, spruce and fir to provide the thermal cover whitetails love during the cold months. State game agencies usually sell seedlings of such wildlife-friendly trees for a very nominal cost, and they can usually be ordered in bulk quantities.

Read More Tips >>