As with last year, we have evaluated next steps to improve the property for the '15 hunting season. The plans from last year can be found by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. As always, plans for this year may change as time marches on. With that being said, listed below are the plans and the approximate dates we will be working on the property to prepare for next fall. I've attached the full map layout at the bottom of this page to reference.
Connecting Trails (Jan - Mar): Extending the connecting trails is a major focus for this year. Most of the improvements last year were creating connecting trails, which produced great results and definitely helped funnel deer traffic to areas as designed. We will extend the trails from just west of the Main Plot South Section north to the next ridge. From the ridge we will run the trail east along the north side of the Main Plot North Section. This will eventually tie into the North Staging area. Another connecting trail will loop around from the NW section back to the Main Plot South Section. The goal of these trails is to enhance / create circular travel patterns.
New Bedding Areas (Jan - Mar): Additional bedding areas are needed. We want beds just north of the ponds and also along the two points west of the Main Plot North Section. Since the Iron Buck immediately went to an existing bedding area upon being shot, there is no doubt bucks are using these areas on the property. We are holding mature bucks on the property and more is better.
Enhance the NW corner of the property (Jan - Feb): All of the enhancements planned in '14 were not completed. We worked a little and did some hinge cutting in this area and created a stand access trail along the north edge. But not enough work was completed to make this area what it can be. I only hunted this area a couple of times in '14 and didn't see much. Again, the challenge is accessing the area without bumping deer. Both times I sat in this stand, deer were bumped on the way in and no mature bucks were spotted. The topography is ripe for holding mature bucks and there is a natural funnel from the north onto the property. The plan has changed a little compared to last year. We are hoping to put in a staging area between the two small streams, as one runs from the north and another from the east. The challenge will be how to do so with the larger trees in the area. These trees are not big enough to timber, but could be nice to harvest in the future.
Enhance South End of Property (Jan): This was also in the '14 plan, but was not executed. Placement of stands in the area will be difficult, but there are a couple of points where bedding can be created. In addition, we found a nice rub line in this area. More hinge cutting needed. This area can have the amount of holding power that the north side has produced the last couple of years. Again, depth of cover is the goal.
Screening Cover (Jan - May): Screening cover on the plots was improved last year, but much more is needed. Targeted areas will be the center section of the Main Plots. Does were bedded there with bucks during the rut and I was busted by a nice 9 pointer. To my surprise, he was bedded right at the edge of the Main Plot South Section. I would also like to improve the screening cover for accessing the box blind. I need to add some screening to block the view when we climb into the stand.
Plot Soil Analysis (Jan): Samples were pulled in late December while the weather was good and the ground was not frozen. Next steps are to dry out the samples, package, and submit for analysis.
Natural Forage Fertilizing at Mature Buck Traps (May - Jun): Not completed in '14, we still need to have Jim Ward fertilize the natural forages near the buck beds. This is kind of a unique process that we will highlight this spring and summer with posts on the blog detailing the process and results.
SW Native Grasses Field (Mar - Apr): Last year the native grasses were a disappointment even though it was the second year. The amount of growth anticipated was not not reached and the area was full of weeds. We are going to give these one more shot. I plan on spraying the plot early with glyphosate to kill off the weeds. Hopefully this will free up the native grasses. If not, we will re-evaluate and adjust as needed. This might mean disking under and planting something else. Time will tell, but this was a major piece of reaching our depth of cover goal.
Spring Plot Soil Ammendments (Mar - Apr): Based on soil sample results, apply necessary lime and/or fertilizer. Over the past few years, we have been able to build up the soil on a rotation that focuses on either lime application or fertilizer application every other year. Last year we fertilized. This year the soil samples should indicate a need to apply some lime and not have to fertilize.
Spring Plot Planting (May): The plan this year is to introduce more diversity with the plots. The East Plot South Section will be left alone for a third year with Arrow Seed Full Potential, even though the alfalfa is gone the clover is fantastic. The East Plot North Section will be a mix of forages. We are not sure exactly what the mix will be, but it is planned to include a new forage we have never tried....Sun Hemp. This grows extremely tall and provides a good deal of tonnage. My plan is to plant along the east side of the plot to create a screening wall. The Main Plot North Section will be left alone again. The Whitetail Chickory and Clover did great last year. We hope this holds true again this summer. If not, we can always disk and plant a fall / winter forage. The Main Plot South Section will need to be planted in something new this year as we planted fall / winter annuals in '14. Once this forage is determined, I will update this section of the plan. All of the staging areas and connecting trails will be planted in clovers and chickory. A new plan this year will be to over seed all plots with winter wheat and rye cereal grain in September. These have been critical for winter forage this year in the Main Plot South Section. Having this in all areas will provide tonnage needed until spring green-up.