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Scouting Monster Bucks in a Drought by Adam Hays

July 17, 2012 by  
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Adam asked me to post this new summer time scouting article for him while he’s on vacation this week.


With one of the mildest winters we have had in some time, I was looking forward to the chances of having a tremendous year for antler growth! I’m sure that the majority of the deer in the Midwest at least, had to be in better shape this spring than they have been in a while. Unfortunately, extremely low rainfalls may have the opposite effect on antler growth and development and an even worse effect on the soybeans and corn that help create the monsters of the Midwest! I’m not so concerned about these record temperatures, my understanding is that the hotter the better for antlers. During extreme heat, a deer’s blood pressure will rise, pumping more blood than normal through the velvet which in turn makes them grow faster! I know there’s not much we can do about the rainfall and the crops that our local farmers may end up losing, but there are a few things we can do to help our local deer herd.

With a drought situation in much of the country, this may be a great season for hunting over water during early season. Any ponds, creeks, rivers or even man made watering stations could be the key to early season success this year. You may want to take a close look at your property and find out where the water is available for the deer and what sources may have dried up. If you don’t have water readily available for them, a drink tank or bringing in a water truck to fill up favorite drinking spot may be the ticket. I do know that stagnent water can attract the insects that produce the blue tongue disease so this is definitely a concern when it comes to idle water. I’ve never had a situation come up before where I had to supply water for the deer but I would bet a call to the local game biologist would be a good idea first. Either way, water sources may be the key piece to the puzzle this fall and you may want to start planning accordingly. I know I have moved some of my cameras and mineral sites out of their normal locations and put them closer to available water.

Normally, I’m a big fan of hunting any soybean fields that may be still be green during the opening part of the season. However, by the looks of the bean fields around home I doubt that will be an option this year. I’m guessing here, but this may be the year to spend a little more time developing some key fall food plots, giving the deer something green and lush to feed on when everything else may be burnt up! Small food plots are easy to establish and easier to water compared to a farmers field. I’m planning for the worst, and if the crops are lost in my area, I want to have some attractive food sources for the deer I’m hunting, which may even draw in animals that may not normally live in the immediate area. Products like the Whitetail Institutes Pure Attraction is an annual blend specifically designed for fall plantings that include high sugar, cold tolerant oats and lettuce type Brassicas that will establish and grow quickly,  providing early and late tonage for the deer. A favorite of mine are their Tall Tine Tubers, which many consider to be the most effective late season food plot product, providing both above ground deer foliage and underground turnips which just so happen to be the most attractive turnip variety ever tested by the experts at the Whitetail Institute.  If you don’t have access to farm equipment or just want to plant something in a remote area around your treestand, products like Secret Spot and No Plow are best for these situations. They require minimal ground preparation and provide maximum attraction throughout the hunting season. These products also establish and grow quickly and can get by with 3-4 hours of broken sunlight per day! These products are all great for fall food plots and could really be an ace up your sleeve if things don’t turn around here soon with the weather.

Just a couple ideas for you to consider, it’s always the little things you do that make the biggest difference in your success and you can bet I’m going to be prepared for early season. Water and food are the keys to harvesting a big buck during September and October and if you keep that in mind you may be better prepared also.



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