Think Before You Buy; Understanding Access

 

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You can have the most awesome piece of ground in the county. Lots of big deer. Great habitat. It doesn’t do you any good if you can’t access it effectively. Thinking about where you’re going to be parking. How your going to get back to those stand locations, those fields, those food plots you’re creating. If you’re walking through where all the deer are bedding to get to your hunting areas, its very counterproductive. Knowing and seeing if the property has a good trail system, a network of trails, in place or if you can improve it yourself in putting those with some clearing and some mowing and some maintenance.

Forego the emotional attachment of how awesome the place looks and put yourself in the position of you actually trying to get to that stand without alerting that mature buck that’s bedding on these ridges in between. Can you pull it off? If you can’t do that, as bad as you want that piece, if it doesn’t work and you can’t figure out a way to do it effectively, you’ll be frustrated in the long term and almost regretting the decision to buy that particular property.

Blood Trailing Dogs; An Invaluable Tool When Needed

 

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At Silver Banded Retrievers, we teach dogs to blood trail to help find wounded deer. We also do your basic gun dog training and upland dog training as well. With Daisy, what we did was ran her through a series of obedience training. We want a dog to be very obedient in the field and around the house. With our dogs tracking off lead, it’s important for them to be able to listen when they’re in the field working and even at the house when we want them to do something when you’re just hanging out. After the obedience training, we put the dogs through our blood tracking program which is a 2-month program that teaches the dogs to identify the smell of blood, follow the track, and recover your downed game.

Dogs are so vital for deer hunters. We want to make the most ethical shot possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen and being able to use the dog to recover that game is so important. Through the blood tracking process, we use nothing but strictly deer blood. We want dogs to follow the scent of the blood and not the deer. Teaching them to smell blood, what it means, and that there’s always a reward at the end is so important. What we basically do is lay a mock trail for the dogs to follow. Through time, that track becomes more difficult and harder for the dog. We try to put the dog through the most rigorous test and training so when the client gets the dog to take back home and puts them in the field, hopefully, we’ve exposed them to everything.

It’s a team effort and not just all dog and all nose but sometimes the handler has to pay attention to details as well. We try to share as much of that information as possible. In today’s times, technology is so important with GPS tracking collars and things of that nature. You kind of know where a dog has been and where you’ve been and if you happen to lose scent or blood, you can segment out the areas where you haven’t been and cover that ground and hopefully the dog can pick back up on something. These dogs learn that, over time, there’s more to it than just the smelling of the blood. A deer has a scent gland on the bottom of its hoof that puts off a distress smell when its wounded and those dogs learn to pick up on that as well. So sometimes if the blood stops, they learn what that smell is over time and are still able to track that deer and can recover it.

What I enjoy most about my training and working with these dogs is being able to see them from start to finish and that finished product. When a dog first comes to us, they’re still learning and not a whole lot of knowledge is in that brain of theirs. When they leave it’s like they’re a well-oiled machine. Being able to just see that process and just watch the dogs grow from a maturity standpoint and a physical standpoint, it’s a really neat thing to see. It’s like a building project, watching it start from scratch and building up and then watching them have success. There’s nothing more that I enjoy than during the hunting season, getting calls or texts from our clients and talking about the great track that their dog was on or a big deer that was found. There’s just something about hearing the joy in that client’s voice and knowing that they’re satisfied with the results of their little pup.

Strategies for Predator Control on Small Properties

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I’ve got a camera just down the hill right here. I’ve been getting pictures of coyotes all fall. Every single night. I think that’s one reason our deer numbers are down in this area. We’re not killing any does here just because we don’t see many deer. We’re actually seeing more coyotes in the pictures than we are deer. Initially, when you decide to go in and setup on this little 100 acre farm, were not going in and traipsing through every bit of the woods, were actually trying to be quiet. We’re staying on the top of this field. We’re staying out of all the bedding areas. One, we don’t want to run the deer out. Two, we also don’t want to run the coyotes out of here that we’re trying to catch. What we’re doing is gang setting. We’ve got two sets here, two sets here, so we’ve actually got a quad setup. I fully expect for us here in the next 7-10 days to catch a double, a triple, or hopefully a quad. We’re gang setting the spots that we know the coyotes are at. We’re not going in the timber. We’re leaving everything alone. That’s one of the main things people are concerned about when talking about trapping their place. Is the extra pressure of the presence of people going to hurt your deer? f you do it correctly, the answer is no.

I just wish Brian would get a little quicker at making these traps.

How To Identify and Combat Army Worms

 

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We’ve got a few issues today. Normally we wouldn’t be loading the sprayer in the back of my side by side towards the end of September. Yesterday I was checking some food plots and changing some batteries on a camera. I had the right wind to slip in because were so close to season that right now I just tiptoe around, but I noticed the food plot didn’t look quite right. I walked over there and looked at it and we’ve got army worms. They’ve totally destroyed one of my plots, so it got me worried. I came over here to grandpa’s to look at our plot and we’ve got them in there but they’re not terrible yet. They’ve just started stripping some plants down. Were loading the sprayer, we’re going to put some chemicals in and take care of them real quick today.

This is the plot that we came in and looked at yesterday. It looks really good. We’ve got a great stand of Pennington’s Feeding Frenzy, but we’ve got a small issue that if we left it alone it would turn into a big issue in the next few days or maybe even overnight. We came in here last night and you can actually see these plants, if you look on this rye and this wheat, these army worms are in their first stage of life. Basically, what they do is they eat the under sides of these leaves and they don’t eat all the way through it. That’s their first stage of life and you can see those little translucent membranes that is left. Right now, it’s not a big issue, but they’re definitely eating forage.

When those worms hit the second stage of their lives, they consume 90 percent of the plants. If we left this alone and didn’t touch it, we’d come back and it would be nothing but a dirt field in a couple days and maybe even less. What I recommend you do if you’ve got army worms or if you see an infestation, go to your local coop and tell them that you have army worms and let a professional tell you exactly what chemical you need. You definitely want to take care of these before they totally wipe you out.

Now we’re back in the plot that I initially found the army worms in yesterday and we looked at this about 10 days ago. I’ve got a camera right over here and these deer come out and they walk right by the camera and out into these big ag fields. I walked over here, and it looked weird, got down on my hands and knees and started looking and these little worms are everywhere.

I don’t have a lot of experience with army worms. I did a little research last night and these seem to be army worms. They’ve got a little inverted “Y” on their heads. You can see those two little stripes that make the inverted “Y” and they’ve got green and white and grey stripes down their back. They move really quickly, and these are our culprits. You can look at all these plants here and its just riddled with them. We’re going to get this sprayed, so I’m hoping we can salvage some of this plot.

No Way In? Creating Valuable Access on Your Hunting Land

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There’s nothing that I like better than sitting on the tractor, bringing the bulldozer up here and clearing out roads and figuring how I’m going to get from one ridge to the other and tie everything in. It’s just something that I love to do. Its tractor therapy, you hear about it. Nobody can bother you. You can’t hear your phone ring. You just get on here and drive and think about what God’s done for us. What God provides for us. What you can provide for yourself. How do you make it grow. What can you do to make your little piece of heaven better.

As you can see, we came in here and we’ve been here maybe 30 minutes and if I knew what I was doing running the machine it would probably take about 15 minutes. There’s a learning curve to this, to see how the tress fall and how they cut. see what you can cut and what you can’t cut. We probably made about a 100 by 100 foot opening here. Its going to work out really well, were going to carry it back up the ridge and the other side of the road. What we really wanted was some opening to where we could really get in here and hunt. That’s the main objective of what were doing here today.

On this piece of property there’s so many ridges that what we’re trying to do is get trails connecting every ridge. If we’ve got a turkey gobbling over here on this one ridge, we’re going to try to make a path to get to him quietly and effectively. Not on an ATV, but we need something. The woods are so thick around here that you can barely walk.

What we’re trying to do with this property to turn it into a turkey hunting Mecca. I want a road out of every ridge that we can walk quietly and hunt and then a road connecting where you have to go down in the holler and you can come up the back side of it instead of going back around it. It’s my ongoing project We’ve got some cut a ways but you can see a path going out that ridge and that’s what we’re trying to do here on every ridge that we have. I can’t stress how hard it is to hunt up here because its so thick and this is what were trying to do to make this the best turkey hunting property that we can have here in Alabama.

If you came in here with a chainsaw doing this, you’re probably looking at a 2 or 3 day project. We’ve been in here for about 15 minutes left of running this saw and that’s about what its going to take to finish up this project today.

Considerations for a New Hunting Land Buyer

 

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We’re out today in a beautiful, sunny afternoon here in central Indiana. Today we’re talking about what to look for if you’re in the market or prospecting about buying a recreational piece of ground for hunting. Not just for hunting, but for your family to have a weekend getaway. It could be a place just to camp. It could be a combination farming, hunting, fishing. There are 3 or 4 fundamental things that we want to talk about today, but there are also a lot of side details to consider when you’re looking at different properties. Obviously, price point is on everybody’s mind. There may be some things that you don’t consider and hopefully some of the topics that we’re going to talk about will open your eyes to consider those few things.

Starting out here, my friend is looking for a piece of property that he can deer hunt on and manage for deer. He also wants to be able to camp with his family and do some fishing. Turkey hunting and small game as well, but primarily a deer farm that he can manage. One of the obvious things is you’re going to look at the timber and some of the benefits that will attract deer and keep deer on the property.

This particular piece that were on is about 55 acres. Right off the bat, you can see it has got a pond. It’s a stocked pond. So automatically there’s a great spot up here in the front where the family could put up a cabin or park a camper and have a place to get to. Considering where your base camp is or where your staging area is on the property is one thing some people don’t think about. It’s important to how it effects the hunting of the ground.

We’re on the east side of the property. The northeast side to be specific. Here in central Indiana the predominant wind is a west wind and being on the downwind side from your approach of where you’re going to be accessing your deer hunting areas is a pretty good strategy. It’s not always going to be a west wind, but for the most part, you can be sure that when you’re base camping up and heading out from there you’ll be in an approach that will allow you to enter your stands from downwind the majority of the time.

Milorganite; an Inexpensive Alternative for Protecting Soybeans

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It was about 2 weeks ago today that I came out and planted this mixture of production soybeans along with forage soybeans both round up ready and all three of our food plots. I had mentioned at the time that this was a cleanup year. My big field that is usually in clover, its been a long time since its been planted so it was time to set it back and start over again. We burned, round up sprayed all three plots and put them all in round up ready soybeans so we have got to protect these guys from over browsing. If these beans are clipped off below these leaves at this stage of their growth, that plant is dead. We’re here to protect our babies and let them get big enough to really help grow our deer. This was a big investment in time and seed cost so we’re going to do our best to keep them out a little bit longer and then let them in.

We are going to put an organic fertilizer called Milorganite down. It does add some elements to the soil, like nutrients, but the main thing we are going to utilize and benefit from is the odor from the milorganite. A university of Georgia study has shown that it does an adequate job of repelling deer for at least 2 to 3 weeks if you put it down at the proper density. If these beans are clipped off below these leaves at this point in their growth, these plants are dead. We have got to allow them to get up to a point where they’ve got enough bud growth on them and shooting out new leaves that if a deer does begin to forage on them and nip off the leaves, that’s okay after a while they get to a certain size and they can survive that and it encourages new growth on the plant.

Hidden Oasis; Food Plots in the Timber

 

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Food plots are one of the simplest and easiest ways you can make a property improvement for better hunting and more attraction for wildlife. If you’re looking at an all timber tract, think outside of the box a little bit. This place has a little clearing already that would make a fantastic inside-the-timber food plot. In an area that you have the potential to do a timber harvest or if you have a younger stand of vegetation, it could be brush or saplings, look at the topography of the property. Sometimes it’s easy with a dozer and some machinery to clear a spot where you may not have been able to build a food plot at some time in the past. Looking at the topography we’ve got a flat bench here with winding little fingers that drop off to different side. If this was growing up with young trees and sapling a dozer could have this cleared in a half a day and for a relatively inexpensive bit of machinery time and costs you could have an immediate field.

Sometimes you can correlate clearing an area along with selling some timber. If you could instruct your timber guy and say you want to clear off this acre top and he could go in there and more aggressively harvest the timber and take everything of value for you to leave the job behind less of an overwhelming undertaking of clearing big trees.

We’ve got an opportunity here for a setup of what we would call a stop-over or an interim food plot where you would have deer who were transitioning from here to the big grain fields out west of us here. Really a great setup to be able to ambush a buck before he heads out to the big fields at night to feed. Looking at the ability, if it doesn’t have clearing for a food plot situations, just looking at the lay of the land and the topography, is it possible to work one in here. Thinking in terms of, don’t look at what the immediate situation is but have a vision for what you could do in the future with it.