Want to have a successful hunting season? These 5 simple tricks will attract more deer to your land.
OK, it’s June and you’re thinking about the next fishing trip, a vacation to cooler climes, any way to beat the heat, and, surely, dreaming of that first cool autumn day.
You know what happens then?
That night, in that minute before you go to sleep on that hot summer night, the memory of those cool mornings in a deer stand waiting for that buck you saw last year coming into gun range takes you into dreamland.
Admit it: you’ve done it, and the dream repeats almost nightly to the point where it becomes a haunting hunting nightmare. You know that trophy buck hears something stirring, or he catches wind of you, or, dammit, he just decides to do something big bucks like to do — like vanish.
So, these days, while you’re dreading the next time you need to mow the lawn, think about those soon-coming days, and think about the things you can do to keep ol’ Mr. Buck in your zone, things you can do today that could lead to successful hunting when the season opens — and it’s coming faster than you think.
There are five relatively easy things you can do in June to help your hunting later this year, some safety oriented and others have built-in “sweat” equity. Now that the state has banned the use of doe-in-heat (deer urine) attractants, you’re going to have to come up with other ways to keep deer in your hunting area.
1. Add lime to your soil NOW
Mother Nature seems to have shorted our dirt on a valuable mineral — lime — and if you want fertilizers to have full effect when you plant the clovers and other deer-attracting succulents to your plots, then now if the time to let spring and summer rains dissolve this mineral into the soil.
It’s also a good time to collect a soil sample and send it to the LSU AgCenter.
The website: lsuagcenter.com.
There you can find the “Services” pulldown, then find the “Soil Testing Lab” section to find out how to take samples and where to mail them. There’s a small fee, but it’ll be worth the effort and maybe a few dollars to find out exactly what you need to add to your plot’s soil.
You’ll have to know what’s there and what seeds you plan to use for a specific recommendation on how much lime and fertilizer to use. It’s always better to have the soil ready for the seed in August, but the downside will be stimulating growth of unwanted vegetation. You can take care of that problem when you’re taking the soil samples.
2. Fertilize these trees
David Moreland, a veteran deer biologist and former chief of the wildlife division of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the past two years have been first-rate mast producers in virtually every corner of the state. “Mast” is the term for acorns and other nuts most game animals use for food — nuts are high in fat — and the tannins present in acorns help clean our their insides. Yeah, feral hogs like ‘em, too.
Moreland has been around the block long enough to know heavy mast production is the best way to keep deer in your hunting locale.
While it’s usually good to let Mother Nature have her way in the woods, you can help the trees produce good crops.
First, find the white oaks, the trees like cow oaks that produce big acorns. Deer will eat the smaller red oak acorns but really like the big nuts, and if you listen closely during the fall, you can hear deer crunching down on this feast.
Fertilizers during the spring help: use a simple 8-8-8 or 13-13-13 fertilizer and use a heavy prod or pointed shovel around the tree’s drip line under the tree’s outermost branches. Punch holes at the drip line and fill the holes with fertilizer. You’ll be amazed how this helps acorn production.
Fertililize briars, too, because heavy stands of briars can lead to keeping deer close. Deer browse on these plants, especially in swampy areas, and will eat the fruit and succulent new growth.
3. Set up a salted stump
Old-timers swear by salt blocks, and there are enough companies making all sorts of this attractant. The best around is a mineral-laden salt block set on an old stump. Let summer rains wash the minerals and salt into the stump, and you’ve set up a spot, deer will visit almost day after day. I’ve seen stumps literally torn apart by salt-desiring whitetails that will return to the spot after the stump is worn down to the ground.
4. Kill the hogs
Problem is, feral hogs like salt, too, and hogs are destroying deer habitat across Louisiana. If you have hogs, take time to try to thin them out this summer. Yeah, it’s hot, but not only will hogs eat like pigs, but they’ll also use the salt and other deer food to breed like rabbits, and they’ll wallow out good deer-food places. The state allows night hunting for hogs. Check out the Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet for the regulations. You might not know if hogs have invaded your spot; checking now could save you lots of problems in the future.
5. Summer-ize your stands
In past years, you’ve waited until the week before the season to head into the woods and make sure your stand is clear of all sorts of unwanted things. It’s then when you’ve rattled around enough to let the deer know you’re getting ready to come into their neighborhood. Get rid of the poison ivy vines and the creepers now. Clean out leaves that have fallen into the stand since your last trip, so little critters don’t find a home. You remember you wanted to change out something in the stand when you left it. Now’s the time to do it.
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