Over the past few weeks, I’ve been extremely busy yelping, cutting and busting fired-up longbeards. Without question, it’s really easy to get caught up in all of the gobbling action and great fishing in the spring. However, whitetail fanatics should also be thinking about those thick-necked bruisers that will dominate the upcoming fall. In fact, right now is actually the perfect time to jumpstart your deer season by completing some prep-work projects that will pay off next season. On that note, let’s take a quick look at three easy steps you can take to create an antler rich environment this season.

1) Grow Some Groceries
Adding food plots to your favorite hunting area can help attract and hold more deer in just about any situation. You don’t have to be a veteran farmer or have access to expensive equipment to effectively grow productive food plots. Currently, there are a number of affordable ATV farming attachments that will enable you to tackle just about any job. For example, the Tarter Gate Company offers a variety of compact farming attachments that are ideally suited for growing food plots inside of those secluded locations that the big boys call home.

In many cases, smaller plots that are surrounded by protective cover will generate more close encounters with top-heavy shooters than larger agricultural fields. Special seed blends and mixes from companies like Hunter’s Specialties and Evolved Harvest can easily be grown off the beaten path. It’s even possible with some of these blends to plant smaller plots without tilling or plowing the ground. Hunter Specialties E-Z Grow or Throw & Grow from Evolved Harvest are both very shade-tolerant and provide no-till forage that can be easily planted without the need of heavy equipment. Visit or for specific product info and growing instructions.

2) Add Watering Holes & Mineral Licks
Another simple and economical pre-season project is strategically constructing small watering holes near key ambush sites. During the opening weeks of the season, a cool watering hole that is placed inside isolated areas with adequate cover can be big buck magnets. All it takes is a shovel or mattock to build the perfect spot to intercept a long-tined giant, especially during extremely hot and dry periods. In states where it’s legal, add mineral licks along the outer edges of bedding or thick-covered areas. Plus, both secluded watering holes and mineral licks are great places to hang trail-cameras. Setting up pre-season surveillance systems that overlook these high-traffic areas will allow you to monitor deer activity and pinpoint a shooter by the end of summer.

3) Construct Mock Trails
By now, most hunters have probably used mock scrapes at one point or another to spice-up their stand locations. You can actually apply this same concept to creating mock trails and travel routes. Simply using a weed-trimmer (on private land) or rake and sheers (on public-land) to clear out deer paths can be a deadly hunting tactic. The trick is to carefully direct these mock trails through prime ambush locations that can be safely reached and hunted without bumping or spooking bucks. Adding straight buck urine (without rut-related scents) along mock trails can condition shooters to start using the routes that you’re going to hunt. Without question, making mock trails and completing these other two steps during the spring will help put you right on top of a wall-hanger by opening day.