Managing the Trigger
When it comes to hunting, patience is a virtue. When it comes to management, patience is a necessity. You can’t grow mature bucks, balance sex ratios, and create an ideal habitat in one afternoon, but you can easily delay your progress. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind that will keep your deer alive and your management plan on track.
We can’t control everything that happens to the deer on our land. Between EHD, poachers, predators, and other environmental factors the best we can hope for is to provide deer with a safe place to reside and an ample amount of food. Many hunters understand the importance of food sources, stand entry routes, and strategic management principles. One trait of improperly managing your herd is failing to let deer reach maturity. This may seem odd because most land managers know how to age deer on the hoof along with gauging their antlers, but the truth is people get excited when they see a buck that is “close enough” to harvest. The problem with harvesting these “almost” deer is that you aren’t allowing the bucks to reach their full potential. You are basically limiting all of your management efforts by not managing your trigger finger. Of course this doesn’t mean harvesting an immature buck or two will obstruct your goals. Letting a novice or youngster harvest a young buck is perfectly fine (and encouraged) but harvesting a buck a year before he would be a beast, that’s what can do you in.
This doesn’t just apply to bucks. This is also a problem with antlerless doe harvest. By not meeting your doe quota you are essentially asking for an increase in the deer population the following spring. Antlerless deer management is connected with the intensity of the rut, the forage provided throughout the year, and the overall health of the herd. By procrastinating on your doe harvest you are creating a hole that you will have to dig yourself out of later the following year.
There are only a few ways to keep this from happening. Spending as much time judging deer and aging them on the hoof is the best way to avoid such problems. Also, if you are able to keep trail cameras out and check them regularly this will assist you in recognizing individual bucks. This helps me because I am able instantly identify a buck by his headgear when in the field, but I’ve already had time to analyze him and estimate his age via trail cam photos. I essentially use his headgear as a tool for an individual buck’s recognition of which I already know his age. During the rut you will probably see a few bucks that you haven’t seen before. A hot doe has the ability to pull bucks in from all over the area. These bucks are harvested by wandering onto neighboring properties because the landowners haven’t had the time to properly age them. In this case you should try to age all deer you see, even the newcomers.
Letting your excitement get the best of you and making decisions on a spur-of-the-moment basis can thwart your goals. This fall during the rut, be sure to remind yourself that you have strived hard all year long planning and managing your land for optimal results, so don’t let a trigger-happy decision hinder your progress. As always, the key is to have fun and enjoy the sightings and excitement that entails the annual rut.
~ Andrew Walters Mossy Oak PropertiesClick here to return to our blog