|Right Hook 2018 2.5 Year old…summer scouting picture|
by Eric Hall
Eastern Ohio has hit the DOG days of summer. The temperature and humidity are up but mother nature has been kind. The July drought has ended with rain the last two weeks and more to come in the forecast. The rain in the forecast is both a sigh of relief and a hope that it continues. First to hold off the whitetail killing disease EHD that thrives in drought conditions and secondly, GROW food plots GROW! While we cannot control Mother Nature, there are some key activities we can do now that will pay dividends later.
Scout and Scout Smart
If you haven’t already started scouting, start ASAP! The bucks are in velvet and they are on a good summer feeding pattern. The best time to scout is just prior to dark. Check the surrounding bean fields and cut hay fields at this time of the year. My own scouting consists of glassing the fields and noting time and wind/temp that have the deer out in daylight. Summer patterns will change before the season starts in Ohio, but summer scouting is a great way to get a handle on the herd and helping to identify which deer made it through the winter. I have already noted one particular deer who is now two and a half years old that I passed last year at one and a half. His antlers carry the same characteristics as last year. I nicknamed him Right Hook. It is good to see he made it through the winter and I am interested in seeing what he looks like if he makes it to three and a half years and beyond.
It is time for our trail cameras to be out if they are not already. Place them on the summer food sources and the trails leading to and from bedding. Knowing how buck home ranges may change between summer and fall, you may not get the “big boy” right away. Knowing and understanding the herd will help make our plans for October and November much easier. Be smart about checking cameras. Play the wind and use a calendar to keep from checking too often.
Pay attention to food
I recently admitted to a friend that I used to never pay attention to crop rotation and the impact it had on the deer herd. BIG MISTAKE. Crop rotation in the area is key to hunting whitetail deer.
This year in my area what was a bean field last year was planted in wheat this year. The wheat has been harvested/straw baled and now the field is barren. What was a draw for deer in 2017 has absolutely zero attraction in 2018.
Other nearby fields that were in beans last year are now in corn. Another man-made behavior shift for the deer. Last year the deer needed to be in the timber for cover because of the bean fields. Now the whitetails use the standing corn as both a bedroom and a dinner table. Knowing this, I need to adapt my season strategy to the corn. I also need to plan for the days the farmer harvests the corn and the deer are forced into the timber for cover. Cut corn fields are a huge attraction and knowing where they travel to food from the bedding area in the timber will be key in the fall.
Also look at the mast crops in August. Acorns will be plainly visible in the trees this time of year. Find your white oaks (if any) and red oaks and look at the canopy. Identify these trees and plan for your access if they are loaded with acorns. If you have white oaks, these will typically be the primary acorns the deer will consume first. Red oaks acorns are more bitter than the whites. Now is the time to locate and identify the potential or mast production and plan accordingly.
The everpresent need to practice is again part of the Now for Later series. You cannot put a price on the benefit of practicing with your equipment. Making the shot at the moment of truth requires muscle memory developed through practice. No matter if you are shooting a bow, crossbow, or a long gun, the need to shoot and get your mind and body in synch is paramount to success. Shoot as much as possible and make your practice count. Find your weak points and focus in on developing the skill and procedures to overcome these weaknesses. You will be glad you did.
August is here and the September/October season openers are around the corner. Dedicate some time each week to the things above. Actions now will produce results later when it counts the most.