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Outdoor Life: Deer hunters prepare with this summer checklist

Deer season is still several months away but if you plan on having a good chance to score a major kill this fall you need to make sure you have done everything possible this summer to increase your odds.  The months of June, July, and August are critical to your preparation.  Whether you lease or own the property on which you hunt there are some things to get done.  There are also some things that you should have already done (like planting food plots) and it’s not too late to do that but you need to get cracking.  You want to get the deer accustomed to finding some of their favorite foods so they will stay close by all summer long.  Clay and iron peas, clover, and oats are just a few of the choices you have.  
    I talked to Morgan County resident Jeff Banks who is an expert in the field of growing big bucks and the author of Producing Power Bucks The Banks Farm Way.  Banks and his hunting club members have put together one of the most prolific tracts in the state and take their trophy management seriously.  Their efforts produced a Boone and Crockett deer that scored over 172 and they take deer on a regular basis in the 140-160 range.  Banks was kind enough to offer the following tips.
    Things that need to be done now are supplemental feeding (you need to build and put out feeders), put out mineral blocks (not just salt blocks) and put out trail cameras.  With supplemental feeding, select protein rich food so your deer will maintain their health and put on weight.  Feeding the deer on your property is a year round process (except for hunting season) but even if you start now the benefits will be obvious when you start taking deer in the fall.  You also need to check your mineral blocks and trail cameras on a regular basis so you can get an idea if the areas are getting regular traffic.  If you don’t see signs of use, you may want to consider moving the minerals, feeders, and cameras to different locations on the property.
    As you get into July it wouldn’t hurt to get a soil sample done to make sure the areas where you are going to put food plots (rye grass etc.) are in good shape.  You will probably need to lime those spots as well.  Also it’s a good idea to trim shooting lanes in wooded areas, around fields and along roads in the hunting zones.  If some of your feeder crops get hit hard you might consider replanting them.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on your mineral blocks and trail cameras and start trying to get a sneak peek at some of the deer using the food plots.  Sometimes it’s easier to see a deer for yourself just to confirm what the cameras and signs are telling you. 
    As summer wears on another good idea is to bush hog the roads on the property if needed and remove fallen trees that may impede you once the season starts.   You can also do repair work on towers and stands to make sure they are all safe.  Stomping around in the woods in the weeks just prior to opening day is a mistake that could negate all your hard work and preparation.  Get those things done now.
    As Jeff Banks will tell you, true trophy management is something that can only be undertaken if you are willing to work at it twelve months a year, for years on end.  His Boone and Crockett buck came after twelve years of intense management although trophy deer were taken just a couple of years into the process. 
    Here are some resources to help you with managing your property.  Call your county extension agent if you need a soil test.  For general questions the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a locations around the state.  You can get specific help with the Quality Deer Management Association in Watkinsville by calling 1-800-209-DEER.  Another possibility is Southern Forest Consultants at 229-246-5785.  If you have had trouble with poachers in the past you can call the Turn in Poachers number at 1-899-241-4113 for help on that topic.  One of the best sources of information is the book by Banks and Duncan Dobie that was mentioned earlier in the article.
    If you are a serious deer hunter and want to create more opportunities to take larger and healthier deer it’s time to get out there and make sure that these important details are taken care of.  Planning and working your property ahead of time will pay dividends down the road.

    Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at dar8589@bellsouth.net

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