The Hunter's Guide to Summer Property Maintenance
We all know that hunters lead busy lives. If it is not some wildlife season, then it is time to prepare for the next or, at the least, tidy up the property. Summer marks such an occasion—an occasion for much-needed property maintenance. Spring planting and turkey season might be said and done, but the work is far from over. Here is a quick to-do list to ensure a well-maintained tract.
#1: Whack Weeds in Your Food Plot
If you spot weeds in your food plot, resolve to knock them out ASAP. Weeds spread like wildfire, taking away nutrients and sunlight to beneficial plants and perennials. Note: if turkeys nest in your food plots you may want to wait until late June to ensure you don’t disturb the nests.
Sometimes, the weed variety is one that a selective herbicide may not work or do more harm than good. In these situations, opting for a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup may be the best course of action. These cases will require some property maintenance finesse; you will likely want to spot-spray the desired area with an ATV rig wand or backpack sprayer.
For more widespread weed issues, proper mowing can control it to a degree. However, there are times when mowing by itself falls short to keep weeds at bay. Annual weeds can quickly outgrow and consequently choke perennials. The solution? Using a commercially branded weed wiper can be set to effectively clear perennials and deliver deadly doses of herbicide to weeds.
#2: Pull Soil Samples
Soil quality is the most important factor in establishing and maintaining great food plots. Pull your soil samples in early summer so you have ample time to apply lime or other minerals. You can get soil sample boxes at your nearest USDA/FSA county office. Ensure you collect samples from several areas in each food plot and mix them together to get a more accurate report. With a little bit of effort and at minimal expense, you will know exactly how to optimize your soil for your fall plantings.
#3: Replenish Your Mineral Sites
Have a deer herd to take care of so they are optimal for the upcoming season? Ensure they are well-fed as bucks transition from milk and antler production to pre-rut. During the mid-to-late summer months, bucks antlers undergo dramatic changes, with bucks growing several inches of antler each week—sometimes daily.
Replenishing mineral sites with protein-rich food helps keep the herd healthy, vibrant, strong, and growing. Whitetails search out protein sources during summer as it offers ample amino acids for antler growth, muscle building, and body fat for the rut to come.
#4: Property Maintenance in Preparation for the Next Deer Hunting Season
Summer is an opportune time to do some pre-season preparation and property maintenance. You can set up tree stands and/or put up ground blinds, cut back and prune shooting lanes for clear line-of-sight, and trim up approach and retreat trails.
Summer also presents an opportunity to establish an ambush site. Even hunting pros leave behind telltale marks of their work that your average layman can spot. Bucks can likely sense something too. Laying the groundwork for ambush sites in summer helps ensure enough time for the site to settle and let nature do its thing.
Finally, summer offers a time to set up trail cameras to track whitetails and get an idea of their behavioral patterns before the thick of hunting season.
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