For most of us in the Mid West and North East, this has been a season of abnormal rainfall. The wet conditions have impacted the farming industry with delayed and canceled crop plantings. I know that much of the corn in North East Ohio was not knee high by the Fourth of July. Reports on the internet show that same set of circumstances are spread across much of the corn belt states. It was just too wet to get it in on time.
Being afflicted with Whitetail OCD, my mind immediately turned to the deer herd and the impact that crop delays and cancelations would have on the deer movement for the 2019 season. I honestly couldn’t help myself. 24/7 365 whitetails on the brain.
I first hypothesized that the deer would wear down the natural browse too quickly with the lack of agriculture to supplement their diet. The end result would be lack of available browse in the fall after the crops came off. This is a time when the deer normally have an abundance of natural browse.
I discussed my theory with friends and we came to a consensus that the plants now are in a regenerative state and that it would be awful hard for the deer to consume everything. I also forgot to factor in the soft and hard mast crop that the September and October months bring to further aid in the deer’s diet.
Not fully sold that I was on the right track, I branched out and asked for some assistance from Drury Outdoors. I was more than excited when they emailed me back and said to “Give Mark a call and he can help me out.” While I never got the chance to talk directly with Mr. Drury, (my 9-5 got in the way of that), he was gracious enough to return my call and left a voice mail answering my question.
According to Mark, the crops in his area were put in and he didn’t think that because of this we would see much of an impact on the deer movement this fall. “A lot of the crops around here were put in the last few weeks, we were wet, we dried up, and I don’t think it will be that much different”, Drury said.
Mark also offered his opinion on acreage were farmers chose not to plant. “Those farmers who took PP or preventative planting will no doubt have a cover crop on those fields that are not planted right now. They are required to do so by the FSA offices,” he said.
I had wondered how the decision not to plant would impact the herd. According to Mr. Drury, it will, but not in the way I had expected. “That could change deer movement a little bit because often times those cover crops are winter bulbs, some sort of wheat or a rye”, he explained. He went on to detail what that meant: “If that is the case you will see giant green fields pop up where there are no crops right now so it would be like giant food plots or green fields that they haven’t had in years.”
My takeaway from this is that these large “cover crop” fields would be creating huge destination green fields for the herd. So the bed to food movement could be changed with this additional available green food source. He recommended that we “keep our eye out” for these this season because this is something that we will need to adjust to as season nears.
My thoughts are that this will not only have an effect on the early season, but the rut could be impacted as well. It is common knowledge that bucks, like to check food sources for hot, does during the rut. Acres of green would be an excellent place for the local doe family groups to congregate. Rut stand locations may need to be adjusted and planned for if these types of cover crops are used in your area. Look for good cover downwind of these locations were the bucks can cruse without exposing themselves and set the tree stands accordingly.
Mark added with a final golden nugget for the 2019 whitetail season: “The silver lining to wet springs is often times the antler growth is a little better than dry years. I have noticed that the wetter the spring, the better the antler growth that fall.”
While I wasn’t right, I wasn’t entirely wrong either. Deer movement changes every year with the crop rotation and mast production etc. Every year we adapt to these conditions and 2019 will be no different. Yes, deer movement could be impacted, but as we learned, for different reasons than I expected. Like every other year, we will need to wait and see.
I want to thank Mark Drury and Drury Outdoors for taking the time to share these insights. DOD is definitely a resource for deer hunters everywhere. To learn more about Drury Outdoors and Mark Drury click the links above to catch up on all things Drury! You won’t be disappointed!
As always, Stay Afflicted with Whitetail OCD!