Four Non-Food Plot Ways to Improve Your Deer Habitat
Food plots get all the attention, and for good reason, but there are other things you can do, especially this time of year to improve the habitat on your property for the deer herd. If the only thing you are doing is putting out food plots, you’re neglecting huge parts of a deer’s needs and that means they’re going somewhere else to find them. Here are four other habitat factors you might want to address yet this spring to improve overall herd wellbeing and maximize how deer use your property.
If your hunting property has open space between woodlots, or between natural or manmade food sources, consider adding some sort of a quick cover like switchgrass. Not only will this kind of cover make the deer feel more secure when moving between larger forms of cover or food, it will provide natural cover for the fawns that will be dropping soon as well. These kinds of grasses support more than just deer, as turkey, game birds, and small game will all make use of this fast emerging and dense cover.
There’s still time to evaluate your timber to see what improvements can be made here as well. There’s no one solution when it comes to timber management, you’ll need to evaluate your property and see what kind of trees you are working with, and what the area can benefit from.
Consider hinge cutting likely browse options to provide both cover and a food source. You may also want to clear cut some areas to allow natural understory growth. In areas where you can do either of these and also support already existing travel corridors, or funnel deer to areas that will help you make a plan for hunting this fall, the benefit is doubled.
Want to see what these options look like in practice, or how to make a timber management plan? Check out the Timber Tips episode of Building Whitetails with Josh Pretzer.
Mineral sites can be a controversial topic, and the legality of a mineral site is going to vary state by state. Only you can decide if adding a mineral site to your property is appropriate and legal, but where you can add one, the benefits are many. While many people focus on the buck’s need for minerals to grow antlers, don’t ignore the benefit of minerals for your doe population as well.
Carrying fawns to term, nursing those fawns, and entering the breeding season in good health is no easy task. While the bucks are growing antlers, does are growing future generation’s bucks. Be sure you are supporting all your deer by offering minerals. Pay attention to those labels though, and make sure you aren’t just offering a salt lick. Dr. James Kroll, the famed Dr. Deer, was on the SPYPOINT Podcast recently and addressed this exact issue, along with numerous others. Of course, consult your local regulations before adding a mineral site.
Water might be the most overlooked aspect of a land management plan. Maybe you have naturally occurring water on your property already, a pond or stream. If not, you might want to consider adding some reliable water sources to your property. It can be as easy as putting a kiddie pool in the ground next to your food plot, or as big as a wetland restoration project. Whatever you choose to do, the project and budget can be made to fit what you have available. At the end of the day, it’s just about providing the deer another viable option, especially during the dog days of summer when some natural water supplies may run dry.
There are good reasons that food plots get most of the focus when it comes to habitat improvement, reliable food sources are critical to overall herd health, but with so many people focusing on the obvious upgrade to their property, you can exploit the areas they are overlooking to bring more deer to your area by offering what others aren’t.