Grading Your Hunting Property….and Season

Dec 17

Grading Your Hunting Property….and Season

Grading Your Hunting Property and 2012/2013 Hunting Season

Another deer season is history, or close enough to consider the following.  If you have a tag or two left and a few more sits in mind, I’m going to give you something to think about while on stand as the season winds down.  If your tags are filled and your season is over grab a note pad and pen and follow along.  I’ve created a personal tradition at the end of every hunting season.  I sit down and consider all of the hunts I can recall: any kills, close calls or misses (just that one long beard this year-while my 6 year old watched and my brother filmed…Grrr), friends and family I’ve shared hunts with, my habitat and property management successes and failures, including food plot management and of course, my hunting journals and observation data.

As a wildlife biologist and deer manager I find it extremely helpful to grade myself on how well I managed my properties throughout the year.  I have developed a grading criterion over the years and I really enjoy it.  It’s had a positive impact on the way I manage properties, hunt, and my business.  The following is an exercise that I require all of my retained clients to practice.  Perhaps it’s something you should consider?

A few of the questions I ask myself include: what new food plot strategies did I employ that were a big success?  What food plot products were complete failures?  What new information did I isolate from my trail cameras?  How many projects did I do with the chainsaw?  This little technique allows me to tweak areas that I’ve neglected, celebrate the smart moves that I make on occasion,  and improve my habitat and herd management techniques with each passing year.  You may have noticed by now that I really haven’t even mentioned whether I killed deer or not.  Although that’s certainly part of my “curriculum” I’m still grading “the process”.  As biologists and managers we call this “adaptive management” and it’s been the business model for Drop-Tine Wildlife Consulting since day 1.

My personal journals include out of state hunts and mentions of those that I’d like to add to the bucket list for future years.  As a fan of the North American Super Slam and Grand Slam my bucket list is rather extensive.  I’m proud to say that my 2012 journal will have a new entry for my first filmed whitetail hunt in the Peace River region of British Columbia that will air on the Outdoor Channel in 2013.  I never imagined that there was whitetail country that offered a true wilderness adventure for WHITE-TAILED DEER!

Here’s where I’d like some interaction and input from you.  What parameters would you consider when grading your 2012/2013 hunting season?  There are no right or wrong answers here.  More specifically, let’s focus on the management process.  From mineral supplementation (thank you Trophy Rock!) to trail cameras, food plots, stand site selection, products chosen during the process and anything else that comes to mind.  Once you’ve graded yourself, what grade would you apply to the property you hunt?  I’m not asking you to compare your property in North Carolina to one of similar size in Iowa.  Considering the record books and the potential of the top end bucks that your area has to offer, how does your hunting property compare to others in the neighborhood?  In other words, if you’re not a solid A+, what addition(s) make it an A+?  What would you like to remove from the equation?

Some possible talking points:

  • How would you grade the entry and exit routes of your stands?
  • Is your property difficult to access at certain times of the day?
  • What high quality food sources are available RIGHT NOW for your rut-stressed bucks to rebuild?
  • What high quality food sources will be available in Jan, Feb and March to bridge the gap until spring green up and the warm season food plotting season?
  • How are your neighbors impacting your management program?  Are they on board?
  • How many neighbors can you buy out? (my personal favorite)
  • Are all members of your group on the same deer management page?
  • Are poachers a problem on your property (trespassers are poachers as well)
  • How productive is your natural habitat right now?
  • What timber management activities do you have planned and have you consulted with a GOOD Consulting Forester lately?
  • Does your property have enough diversity and edge to promote the proliferation of early successional species like white-tailed deer?
  • Perhaps you’re hunting the wrong property if your goals and expectations don’t match with what can realistically be expected from the property.

I have thought of many, many more good questions that need answered before next season…Can you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>