Question: My father owns 125 acres of wooded land in central Connecticut and we want to improve our deer hunting. The property is surrounded on three sides by more forest and the fourth side borders an old field. I am looking into clearing and planting a food plot in the middle and trying to increase bedding cover and browse on the property for whitetail deer by hinge cutting trees. I am also going to create watering holes from some streams that flow across our property by blocking them up.
I was wondering if you had any suggestions or ideas on how to maintain better deer health and support more deer as well as increase deer sighting while hunting both does and bucks. Right now the property is mainly tall hardwood trees. I didn’t know if you could help me out so I figured I would send an email and find out.
Answer: It sounds like you need to create some additional forbs and browse by creating some forest openings. I think hinge-cutting or half-cutting trees will work, but also just some small clear-cuts or thinning would work, too. You could even jump start production by planting trees for deer, but I still recommend concentrating on Food plots will definitely help, and in your part of the world they are quite reliable. The best thing you can do is get a solid food plot mix for your area, prepare the ground well, and plant it with the greatest of care.
Spring food plots will hold deer during the summer, but for hunting purposes you will need a fall/winter food plot. I would suggest a mix of oats and wheat and some brassicas so that deer will have forage from early on until late in the winter. Wheat is very hardy and brassicas will grown like crazy until you get a good freeze, then deer will hit them very hard.
Food plots are great tools for holding deer when the plots are growing, but they should always be complementary to habitat management practices. I would highly suggest some small clear-cuts to encourage browse plants. You may even have to protect young tree and brush species from over-browsing by placing loose piles of brush over and/or around them. This will protect them for the first year or two. I think you will have much better deer hunting if you can use habitat improvement and food plots in combination.
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