Thank God it’s spring. You and I are not the only creatures on the earth grateful the Spring Equinox arrived over the weekend. Take a look at these photos from my friend Cody Warne. Warne owns Warne Ranches a hunting operation in central South Dakota. If you’ve read this blog before you probably recall the name and it’s because his property is a wildlife Disney World. As you can see from the photos he focuses on pheasants (lots of them). He’s also a big buck guru and constantly oversees the deer on his land to ensure they reach maturity.
Warne manages approximately 8,000 acres for wildlife and that includes 2,400 acres of blended prairie grass and alfalfa intermixed with a variety of food plots. Of course this year was different. Record snowfall, brutal prairie winds and a never-ending winter did a number on Warne’s food plots, burying them until the spring thaw.
Not only does he winter the deer living on his Garden-of-Eden property, he supports deer arriving from dozens of surrounding farms. I’ve been at his ranch in winter and routinely see 500 whitetails on the place. In difficult winters that number jumps from 800 to 1,000 animals. Forget about counting the pheasants. You’ll go crazy in the process.
Since Warne works with his father in agriculture he has access to additional feed. This came in useful this winter. It was used to provide feed supplement to ensure the animals living on his property and visitors, made it through the toughest conditions seen in more than a decade.
Generally the food plots and native habitat carry the animals on his land with ease, but this year was different. Instead of worrying about a major winterkill Warne supplemented the food plots with hay and grains stored on their ranch. It doesn’t take hungry animals long to find “Free Food.”
As of this week the snow is melting, most of the antlers have dropped and the pheasants are crowing to advertise the upcoming nesting season. The Spring Equinox is definitely a welcome event for everyone in the North Country and hopefully these photos are a thing of the past.