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Best land management for deer

11/14/19 @ 6:15 PM
User since 1/14/13

I’m in the process of buying 120 acres of land strictly for deer hunting. The land is basically a 1/4 mile x 3/4 mile rectangle and it was logged recently so it consists of mostly new 6-8’ tall popple thickets, dogwood brush thickets, and a few areas of mature hardwoods and mature white pine.

The parcel I’m buying has AG land on 2 sides but I think it’s mostly just hay fields right now... 

 The only thing that I know for sure is the fact that I’m leaving about half of the property alone and never or very rarely setting foot on that piece. 

I’m looking for suggestions on how to best improve the other 60 acres. I’m thinking lots of apple trees in different varieties that drop at different times. I’ve also experimented with food plots in the past but I really don’t want all that activity on the property every year. Would it be worth it to dig a small pond? The closest water source on a dry year is about a mile away. I have a skid steer so the pond could be done relatively cheap but would it be beneficial? I’m just looking for some ideas and thoughts. Thanks!!

8/11/20 @ 10:13 PM
User since 1/10/03

I’d add pine and apple tree saplings.

8/7/20 @ 4:40 PM
Analog man
Analog man
User since 12/10/18

The best management tools are a chain saw and doe permits.  But that's just me,  I could be wrong. 

8/6/20 @ 9:27 PM
User since 1/14/13

Unbelievable how fast summer goes by and I never seem to get as much accomplished as I’d like. Work and other obligations always get in the way... 

I’ve been working on the property almost every weekend for the last month and a half. Most of the trails around the perimeter are now established. Almost 2 miles of trails cleared with chainsaws and loppers..... We also cleared 1 area about 1.5 acres in size and planted brassicas last weekend. The timing was about 10-14 days later than I wanted but that’s just how it worked out. The soil is a heavy clay but the ph is better than expected so we should have decent results if we get some timely rains. It was raining lightly all day when we planted so I’m hoping there was enough moisture in the soil to jump start the process because it’s been very dry the last 10 days up here. 

We had the mini excavator on the property for a day and put in a small pond. What a wildlife attractant the pond is already! I’m expecting good things from this and I’m glad we spent the time on it. With the heavy clay soil, there’s no need for any kind of liner. there’s not much, if any percolation happening. Bad for future septic. Good for pond!

One thing I learned is that I will need a decent size tractor and a few implements if I’m going to continue with more food plots. The heavy clay soil is hard to work with. We’ve spent a lot of time and money on broken equipment so far this year. It seems like every weekend we’re spending as much time fixing things as we are actually accomplishing goals. Oh well, it’s all part of the fun. 

I believe we have 10 cameras out right now and will update with pics as the season progresses. 

1/11/20 @ 8:34 PM
User since 1/14/13

For the guys that use skid steers for food plots: If you could have 2 attachments for food plotting, what would they be? I’m looking at maybe a grapple root rake and maybe some kind of brush cutter or mower. Keep in mind I’m breaking new ground and any big stumps/rocks that need to come out will be removed with a dozer. The root rakes seem very useful for breaking ground, removing debris, hauling brush. A mower might be great for keeping trails open. Thoughts?

1/10/20 @ 3:13 PM
User since 1/14/13


Sent you a pm

1/8/20 @ 5:01 PM
User since 1/14/13


I agree with you that 1-2 food plots would probably be more effective for hunting than 5 plots. It’s something I’ve contemplated over and over. 

I’m definitely getting 5 areas ready, not sure how many I will actually plant this 1st year. 

1/8/20 @ 2:57 PM
User since 1/24/02

As long as you can gather soil you can get a sample. You can sample each plot or combine the samples for an average. Dig down to a few inches and take "slice" of the hole. Remove any ground litter. You may be able to get a sample bag from the local feed store or just use zip lock sandwich bag. The county extension can help you out with it.

1/8/20 @ 2:51 PM
s.s esox
User since 12/22/14

1.I highly recommend adding a water source.  A shallow pond is best, deer just seem to enjoy spending time in the water. Second best option is a stock tank buried in the ground. A water source is very important you should put it high on your list. 

2. Have the timber logged. this creates food and edge and also creates pinch points and travel corridors that can be hunted. I've been very happy with  MFL. It is really a win/win for everyone. Unless your a tree hugger who likes to pay taxes. I have never felt once that I have lost control to the government. That stuff if for the conspiracy theory crowd. I will admit that I have gotten a sick feeling after seeing my land logged. Its ugly at first, but truly is the best thing you can do for creating deer habitat. 

3. Plant food plots. Its fun to play in the dirt, run equipment and see the fruits of your labor and also  mistakes. They also improve your deer hunting, although I don't believe as much as the actions above. Its hard to beat to Clover for an all season long attractant. You will find out what grows best and the deer prefer. Just jump in with both feet and have fun experimenting. 

4. Here's the most important part. Keep your expectations real. Just because you make all the improvements above  doesn't  mean your 120 acres is going to turn into Iowa or Buffalo County. Look for small incremental improvements and try to enjoy yourself. The most important thing you can do to grow big bucks is to let them get older. In most places in WI that isn't going to happen even if you own 120 acres.

1/8/20 @ 2:46 PM
User since 10/24/11

I'm no expert so I'd like to hear other opinions on the number of plots to put in.  I read somewhere, and it kind of makes sense to me, is to limit the number of food plots.  If your goal is to see deer, I would think you'd want to have the deer go to one place.  Is it better to have your 1 plot in the middle so the deer will use that one and you can put up stands based on wind and how they go to the plots?  You can use the one plot and put different varieties of plants in that plot in strips so the variety is all in one place and they have food throughout the year.  Nothing worse than having a camera on your plots and seeing that the big one was in plot 1 while you were sitting on a trail leading to plot 2.  Again, this is what I've read, but am interested in other opinions.   

1/8/20 @ 10:52 AM
User since 1/14/13

I’ll get on the soil samples ASAP. Is that something I can do now? There’s no frost in the ground under the 2’ of snow as of last weekend so I can get soil. I know I will be doing 5 plots and I need different samples for each plot. Total acreage for plots will be around 7 acres. 4-1 acre plots on perimeter and a 3 acre plot dead center of property. At least that is my plan right now. Thanks

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