Here it is, the last week of May and fawns should have dropped or if not, should be shortly. I spent a day last weekend at the property to mow the food plots. If you go outside right now, there are farmers raking hay they mowed within the last 24 hours. In West Central Indiana, the weather has been awesome for cutting and baling hay. The point I'm making is that farmers always target the three warm season national holidays to cut hay....Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. I target mowing at least a week earlier, and make my last cut in mid August to allow as much growth as possible going into the fall and winter.
As a result, I mowed the plots last week. The East Plots are in excellent shape with the clover and alfalfa at an 18" height. The browse pressure on these plots was greater than I ever remember in clover. As illustrated in the photos and the video, you can see clear sign where the deer are feeding. The tonnage these plots are providing is extensive for the small amount of tillage this involves, and I have yet to even fertilize this year due to a hectic schedule. One failure was not placing an utilization cage prior to the green-up. I would have loved to document the amount of growth within the cage compared to the height outside. I have rectified this going forward and now have a cage in place.
The Main Plots are somewhat of a disappointment. I frost seeded clover and chickory in the south section, which appears to be an epic failure. The North section has some growth, but far less than the East Plots. Hopefully by mowing, we release the seed that was frost seeded in March. If not, we will consider turning and replanting the south section. With what.....I have yet to decide. Either way, I will plant something that will provide both fall and winter forage.
One significant sign of deer activity in the East Plots I should have documented with photos and/or video was the presence of deer beds in the tall clover and alfalfa. There were deer beds everywhere indicating that the deer bed down while others are feeding. Some of these could even be fawn beds. Given I have not changed out camera cards the last three weeks, I have yet to get any fawns on video. Hopefully we have a good group this year and the extensive habitat work / hinge cutting will yield the cover they need for protection against the predators.
I have also included in the video and photos a status update on our Dunstan Chestnut Trees. All five planted have taken root and grown leaves. I can even see vertical growth within the tubes. I can't wait to see what these do as they become mature. This is just another diverse food source that will hold deer on the property.
Stay tuned this summer. I have a busy schedule and will do my best to continue updates on the blog as we prepare for the upcoming hunting season this fall.
Andy Hayes is a devoted husband and father of 4 kids living in West Central Indiana. Outside of his family, his passion is hunting whitetails. He does not claim to be a professional hunter, but simply wants to share what he learns during his quest to improve whitetail habitat and hunt mature bucks.