Southeast Deer Study Group 2017

Southeast-Deer-Study-Group-450x337The Southeast Deer Study Group meets annually for researchers and managers to share the latest information on whitetail deer. The 2017 study just concluded last week in St. Louis, and here are a few of their findings:

As always there was interesting new info on the whitetail rut. Researchers from Mississippi State’s Forest Resources revealed a study that shows when bucks of similar age and body weight are present and available, does in estrus prefer to breed with the buck with the largest antlers.

Another finding confirms why during peak rut you need to keep as many trail cameras rolling across your land as possible: Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia noted that you’ll get the most cam photos of mature bucks during peak breeding days.

There was new info on Southern whitetail herds, many of which were established from northern deer that were trucked in and stocked in parts of Dixie many years ago. This caught my interest, as I recently hunted the rut in late January in south Alabama.

Researchers from Miss. State studied dozens of herds in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and found that only 1 deer (from Alabama) showed a genetic link to its northern source (Michigan). While Southern deer have all Southern blood nowadays,  they still rut more than 2 months later than northern deer in some parts of the South.

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have been studying whitetail vision for a couple of decades. Their latest finding: A deer’s eyes and vision are acutely adapted to detect movement at dawn and dusk, which makes perfect sense since those are the times when does and bucks are on their feet and moving the most.

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Lastly, my favorite new finding that in no way will improve your hunting, but which is another of nature’s fascinating trivia: A wildlife student from Georgia was able to identify 28 unique fawns out of 1,454 trail camera images by their unique spot patterns on their little hides!

Amazing Wild Turkey Trail-Camera: Kansas Birds Gone Wild!

 

kansas 83 turkeys and countingMy friend Brian Helman, who lives in southeastern Kansas and works for 180 Outdoors, sent me this image the other day with the message: If you get a chance come on out this spring, these turkeys are waiting on you…  

The more I study the image the more amazed I am. I can definitively identify at least 18 longbeards, and surely there are many more, though some of the black blogs must be hens. Moreover, looking back to the far wood line, I count at least 83 birds marching out into the field, and who knows how many more are still back in the woods?

How many turkeys do you count? Isn’t this the most interesting turkey image you’ve ever seen?

BTW, I hunted deer with Brian last December and had a great hunt, which you’ll see on BIG DEER TV later this year. In fact I hunted a ladder stand in that same field where these turkeys are one evening and saw and filmed a lot of the same birds, though not as many. I definitely plan to return to hunt deer with Brian next fall, but for now I’m thinking I might take him up on it and go back for a few days in April—can you imagine how much gobbling you could hear in those surrounding woods at daybreak?

Note: To enlarge the photo above and get the full effect of it, just click on it.

10 Ways to Improve Your Deer Hunting Land

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(Photo: Matt “Flatlander” Cheever)

Scatter food plots of about one acre across your ground. Design and build them to take advantage of thick cover and the predominant winds in the area in fall deer season. The closer you plant to a thicket where a mature buck can pop out to feed with his nose in the wind, the better the chance you’ll see him in daylight hours.

Give deer a salad bar. Plant 60 percent of your plots with a perennial like a clover/chicory mix that will provide a steady food source for three to five years. Plant the other 40 percent with a fast-growing, tasty annual like oats or wheat.

Planting 1,000 yards of logging road is like putting in a one-acre food plot. Old roads are already open and easy to access, so it’s a no-brainer. Clover tends to grow best on north-south roads that get 3 to 4 hours of sun each day, but plant and fertilize as many sections as you can for maximum food and edge for deer.

Check sunny road edges for blackberry bushes and other briars and brambles. Deer love ‘em! Fertilize the browse once this year with 10-10-10 to make it even sweeter.

Mow your plots (and planted roads) two to four times this summer to stimulate new clover growth and to help kill grass and weeds. Mow when the plants get about 12 inches high. Don’t cut too low, just clip off a third to half of the plants.

If you’re in a hot, dry region, plant some of your plots up against a western edge of tall trees so they won’t burn out. Also, leave three or four large trees out in the middle of a plot to provide some shade and cool the field down.

Scour old farm fields and clear-cuts for hidden fruit trees, like wild apple, persimmon, etc. Open up the trees by clearing away tight brush; prune a few limbs and pour some fertilizer over the roots. A tree should make some soft mast just in time for bow season, and you’ll have a new honey-hole.

For a long-term investment, plant a double or triple row of pines along a county road and on the western edge of a field or food plot. In a few years, the pines will shield deer from cars. The taller and thicker the trees grow, the safer the does and especially the bucks will feel moving and feeding in daylight. The pines will give deer shade in summer and a wind break in winter.

One of the best land improvements doesn’t take a drop of sweat. Study an aerial photo, pinpoint some of the thickest, roughest cover and terrain, and designate it a buck sanctuary. No hunting, no walking, no nothing in there year-round! A good sanctuary is so gnarly a buck feels safe and hidden if you walk or drive an ATV by at 50 yards. Leave 20 to 30 percent of your total hunting land as a sanctuary.

Strap a chainsaw to your ATV, hop on, and ride the property lines. Stop and saw trees and logs here and there 20 yards or so inside your boundary. Establish a trail that wends the entire perimeter. Use the trail for 90 percent of your access when planting and mowing, scouting, and going to and from your tree stands. By not driving and walking all over the interior of your ground, you’ll hold more deer and more big bucks.

Oklahoma 20-Point Buck

Robert Nichols, who creates the best amateur deer-skull art I’ve ever seen, says:

Ok nichols 2016

Hey Mike: Just wanted to share. My youngest son, Ethan Nichols, shot this buck on 11/23/16. The rack has 20 points total! Ethan had been watching this deer since early August and had a lot of trail cam pics of him. I’m super proud of him. You did a blog on Ethan’s first deer 2 years ago, and it made his hunt even more of a success to him. Thank you for that, and thanks for checking this one out.—Robert from Oklahoma

Clyde Roberts: Oldest Hunter In the U.S. Shoots His Biggest Buck

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Photo by Meghan Marchetti

Last year I posted on Mr. Clyde Roberts and the buck he shot from a tree stand during the 2015 Virginia deer season. Still hunting strong at 103 years young, Mr. Clyde shot his biggest buck ever during our state’s 2016 muzzleloader season.

va clyde roberts

He was hunting in Bedford County that afternoon with his granddaughter, Christin Elliott, who told the Virginia Game Department:

I (saw a deer and) held my hands out in front of me to describe antlers and he just smiled. I knew things were going to happen quickly, so he got the gun up and ready. Papa was so calm when the buck walked out broadside. I knew he was a great buck and time literally stood still for me. I never heard the gun go off, never saw the smoke, just watched the buck fall with one well-placed just shy of 100 yards.

Papa likes to tell everyone that I got so excited after that. Of course I did! Not only had I been able to hunt with my 103-year-old grandfather but I had witnessed him take the biggest buck of his life. Most importantly, I had the hunt of my lifetime with him! It was one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my hunting career. I will never forget it. Papa is still on cloud nine and I have relived the hunt every night since.

Interestingly, Mr. Clyde was not always a hunter. He started hunting in his retirement years at the urging of his son Mike—40 years ago.

“I bought him a rifle when he retired to keep him busy,” Mike said. “My father is a very simple person and a devout Christian. He says the secret is ‘hard work and living for the Lord.’”

As I blogged last year, this story makes me proud to be a Virginian, a Christian and a deer hunter. Mr. Clyde Roberts, you are a great man and an inspiration to all of us.

Side note: Our producers are planning to be in touch with Mr. Roberts and his family, and we hope to visit Bedford County and film a TV segment with him soon for an episode of BIG DEER TV to air later this year on Sportsman Channel.