Who wouldn’t love a huge chunk of country to manage for trophy whitetails? I’ll take 5,000 acres in the Midwest and hold the high fence. Just because you and I might not ever have that much country under our direct management doesn’t mean you can’t be productive on smaller properties, even with 40 acres or less. ( Shown Left: Art Helin with the payoff from small-property whitetail management. )
The best example I have with this is from my good friend Art Helin, a pro staff member for Realtree, New Archery Products and Hunter’s Specialties. Helin lives in southwest Wisconsin and it’s there he manages a 40-acre whitetail wonderland. Is he able to hold all the bucks he captures on trail camera on the plot? No, and he’s a realist. He understands that bucks roam, but by catering to the deer and giving them the best of the best he hopes they’ll call his property home the majority of the time.
Before he starts a tractor or ATV Helin maps out his entrance and exit points based on wind and keeping all deer-loving investments away from the neighbor’s fence. He wants deer to stay in the center of his property as much as possible.
What does he offer the deer? Of course he provides food plots in several locations and adjacent to every food plot he’s been creating water holes so deer can get water before or after they feed. To create food plots and water holes Helin has had to clear some brush and timber, but he doesn’t let the debris go to waste. He uses limbs and tree trunks to build piles of brush to create even thicker bedding cover than is found on his property. And while he’s doing forestry work he notes the location of all mast trees, some of which he selectively fertilizes to boost their crop.
One of his latest projects is to create deep-woods water holes for bucks to use in early season when it’s still hot and muggy, and for bucks to visit in the heat of the rut. To entice more activity at these locations he’s been planning apple trees for an added mast bonus.
Each year he has a front row seat to mature bucks that not only grow up on his 40 acres, but his improvements attract other bucks during the rut as well. It’s the perfect honey hole and Helin’s family enjoys the great deer hunting season after season.