deer management matt part 3Part 3 of our series on simple and awesome work you can do this spring to improve your deer hunting this fall, from veteran Illinois hunter and land manager Matt “Flatlander” Cheever.

Hi Mike: I know it’s tough for folks to think about land management when the fishing is getting good and successful turkey seasons are being celebrated but this is truly the time to line up success in the BIG DEER woods this fall.

Planting season is in full swing, from gardens to agriculture fields, and it’s the perfect time to be working on your deer food plots. That said, remember to save some of your plot areas for a later summer planting for crops like turnips, beats and other brassicas.

If you have never done it, try planting the same seed variety at different intervals of the year…for example, put in some soybeans in May and some more in August.  The August beans will still be young tender and flowering while your May beans are almost ready for harvest. The August beans will still reach maturity in the lower 2/3rds of the U.S. You may not reach the yields of the May beans, but then you don’t plan to harvest them–you are planting them to harvest the deer.

This same technique works great for Austrian winter peas and many of the brassicas.  Have two age classes of the same food crop and you’ll have a drawing power none of your “by the book” neighbors will have!

Another management tip is to post your land right now. Many people have been out turkey hunting, mushroom hunting or just hiking in the pleasant weather, and it’s highly likely someone has strolled through your hunting spot this spring. If they don’t see posted signs, they may return this fall.

Take down old faded signs and replace with new shiny metal or plastic signs backed by treated wood. The more recent a piece of land looks posted, the less likely it is that your spot will be infringed upon this deer season.

Lastly, there isn’t much chain saw work to be done right now, but it’s a great time to get some mowing done. Remember to keep a few entry and exit paths on your land mowed short to keep your scent trail minimal, but be very careful because fawns are being born right now and they won’t be old enough or wise enough to run.  Don’t mow over fawns! 

Here’s a good guide for mowing your clover plots: Right after Mother’s Day and again at Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.  These major summer holidays are good reminders to shorten up the clover plots; remember, deer like clover best at 6 inches or shorter to get the fresh tender foliage.

Lastly, Tip of the Month: Poison ivy is flourishing right now and will continue through early deer season, so watch for and avoid the ivy, know what it looks like. And beware of ticks as well!– God Bless and good luck, Matt

If you enjoyed these tips, see Part 1 and Part 2 for more of Matt’s great advice.