Without question, all of us would like to have access to prime deer hunting areas, especially locations that hold big-racked bruisers. Unfortunately, places like these usually cost an arm and a leg to hunt and are out of reach for most hunters. However, there are some inexpensive ways you can transform your property or hunting lease into a whitetail sanctuary. Follow these easy steps this season and you’ll be able to attract more deer and turn your property into a target-rich environment.
Step 1: Grow Food Plots
The quickest and easiest way to draw more deer to your property is by providing year-round nutrition. With a wide range of ATV farming attachments and hundreds of commercial food plot mixes on the market, it’s fairly inexpensive to add food plots. This season take a soil test to find the pH and what nutrients your ground needs. You may need to add lime to the soil to increase the pH. Next, it’s best to treat the area with RoundUp in order to kill off all existing grass and weeds. Once the defoliant has done its job, prepare a proper seed bed with a disc or tiller to break up dirt with no large clumps or grass. Make sure you only plant the seed ½ as deep as it is wide and spray an herbicide to prevent unwanted weeds from competing with the plot while it’s establishing. Try to grow food plots for each seasonal period that will attract and hold deer throughout the year.
Step 2: Add Watering Holes and Mineral Sites
If your property or hunting lease does not feature water sources, consider building some. Strategically placing water holes between known feeding and bedding areas can create perfect ambush points, especially during dry periods. Another good strategy is to add mineral sites along the edges of feeding and bedding areas. Digging a wide circle about seven to eight inches deep and pouring a commercial blend mineral to the site will attract a lot of deer. These mineral sites are also great places to hang trail cameras to determine the numbers of whitetails you have on the property along with what caliber bucks are frequenting the area.
Step 3: Provide Thick Bedding Cover
Providing sections of thick cover that are located several hundred yards away from the food plots is another deadly strategy. This forces whitetails to travel longer distances to reach bedding areas, which increases your chances of connecting with a nocturnal buck right at daylight or just before dark. Cutting scrub timber and allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor can dramatically improve your property. A lot of plants, briars and weeds that deer can browse on will quickly emerge in these areas. Secondly, cut timber, weeds and briars provide whitetails with thick bedding cover and a place to escape hunting pressure. These areas should be left alone throughout the year to create a sense of security that will ultimately keep deer on your property. Try these steps this season and transform your hunting area into a whitetail sanctuary.—Travis Faulkner