Finding deer during hunting season can be challenging enough for some and easier for others. Quality hunting ground varies throughout our state, as does hunting pressure and other anomalies. No matter what the circumstances are, deer will always need the basics to survive. Knowing and locating their necessities are fundamentally important and directly related to having repeated encounters with them.
As mentioned in my previous articles, I prefer early season whitetail hunting over the rut primarily because deer are habitual and tend to follow their basic instincts to survive. Those instincts lead them to food sources, cover and of course, water. In my early season scouting, I always look closely for solid sources of water that are in close proximity of the aforementioned. Once found, I concentrate on micro scouting these locations for evidence of repeated visits. From there, it’s the luck of the draw.
This information isn’t anything new if you’ve ever read my past articles. I call this my 200-yard rule for locating early season bucks. It works, simple as that! My point here is not to beat a dead horse but rather to offer help to those who don’t have the luxury of hunting large enough tracks that carry such terrain. It’s not the size of the ground you hunt that’s so important as it is the type of ground that’s available to you. When size is cut short, all is not necessarily lost.
When key elements are missing on your hunting property; why not develop them? These days many hunters are spending the time and money on food plots, and although they are helpful, the efforts can be fruitless if your area doesn’t carry the much-needed cover and water to fulfill the rest of the equation. Food plots will bring them in; but will they stay?
Habitat creation doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars in reconstructing the landscape nor does it mean you have to have an elaborate financial plan drawn up. It means you simply supply what the deer in your area need. One of those needs is water! With the multitude of hunting land surveys I do each year, I can tell you countless stories of how landowners spend thousands of dollars in food plots, equipment, etc. and neglect life’s most used resource, water!
Having an ample supply of water doesn’t mean you’ll have to dig a large pit, hire and excavator, etc. It simply requires an area to hold a fair enough amount of water where deer can rely on it day and night. That “area” should be in proximity of a good food source and cover close enough for comfort. That’s the key to holding deer on or close to your property! Make it convenient and inviting for them to remain on your premises and they’ll have no reason to leave, simple as that! (This is also the main reason I recommend property owners to create a sanctuary as it provides another degree of safety and comfort).
Making a stationary source of water can be very easy for most. Considering most of Illinois’ forests consist of gullies and small streams, simple dams and restrictions can create a pool of water large enough for wildlife to drink from, yet allow the movement of water to exit and replenish itself constantly, virtually eliminating any problems associated with stagnant water. It’s a very inexpensive solution in providing the third ingredient for deer harvesting success!
When implementing or creating a solid water source, make sure you have the other 2 necessities in place. If you have a food plot, make sure you have ample cover. If you have ample cover, locate your food plot within a short walking distance of that cover and your water source. Remember, it’s all about keeping everything within limits that will keep your deer feeling like they’re at “home”.
When I provide a hunting property survey, my recommendations sometimes are so simple and cheap, it makes my customer’s head spin. Many have expressed relief having been under the assumption habitat creation would be this long and expensive project. Lets face it; this is Illinois and it’s in the Midwest!
Deer already have what they need. It’s up to you to offer them a reason to stay on your property. Without having a complete habitat plan, your efforts can be futile. Do it right and complete the project and expect results!
If you are interested in a hunting property analysis, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ ll be happy to discuss your options. Many of these property analysis are priced from $450.00 – $1000.00 with over 70% of them being in the $450.00 range. Although I use historical weather patterns and other data when offering advice, many improvements are based on the deer in YOUR area. There’s no need for shoveling an excess amount of money improving your property for whitetails if you know what makes them tick! Further more, if you do want to spend money improving your grounds, then at the very least put it in the right places!
A little bit of knowledge, elbow grease and determination can work wonders for early season deer. Do your part and enjoy the rewards!