Mineral licks, like this RAK lick, if placed in areas deer travel, can help create a healthy herd. This buck hit this lick several times a week and before it could be refreshed, goes deep in the ground to get the minerals it’s needing to grow to its full potential.(Game Camera Photo)
One of the major mistakes that deer hunters make is to put off their preparation for deer season until just prior to the opener.
Deer spend most of their life within a small area and are used to what they see, day in and day out.
The woods, deer live in could be compared to our homes and since we’re in it every day, if something is moved or missing; we’re going to notice it.
It’s the same in the woods, if there’s a drastic change in their environment, they’re going to notice it and stay clear until they’re certain that it’s not something that’s going to harm them.
Deer and other wildlife have to be cautious, as every large predator in the woods are out to make them into their next meal, so if something changes and they aren’t used to it, they’ll become weary and change their patterns.
This is why it’s a good idea to get ready for this falls deer season as early as possible because, any changes you make now gives the deer time to adjust to them.
This isn’t much of a problem if you hunt out of the same stands year in and year out because those dark objects in the trees (deer stands) have always been there.
However, because deer patterns change, chances are you’re going to have to do some modification no matter how long your stand has been there.
There are several reasons why deer patterns will change, one of these is if the adjacent landowners cropping system changes from corn to bean or from alfalfa to some other crop.
Changes such as these may cause the deer to not use or quit using the same trails that run into these fields; those, that in past years have ran right past your stand.
Another might be that emerging vegetation and new trees down the line from your stand now force the deer to swing wide, farther away from the stand, you hunt out of making it a longer shot or out in an area where you have no shot.
These are just a few of the reasons you should get out early, inspect the area and open up your trails you want the deer to use, blocking those you won’t want them to use allowing you to direct them where you want them to be.
I try to get, as much of my maintenance on my tree stands completed in the spring after turkey season when temperatures are cool.
Unfortunately, it seems like there’s never enough time, so I end up doing some of it during the early morning hours in the summer.
First, I like to open up my trails past the stands, especially in the heavily wooded areas where I hunt.
Many things can change in a year, dead trees may have fallen, blocking the trail, vegetation and smaller trees will shoot up, all of which can block the trail leading to your tree stand.
Since I’m an optimist, I believe that the monster bucks with the huge rack will be the one coming down my trail past my stand, so I widen out the ones that I hunt. I feel that deer with larger racks are more apt to travel along a trail with more headspace than one that’s tight and bangs against their antlers with every step they take.
You don’t want to open up too many trails or you’ll make it easy for the big bucks to travel wherever they want, making it a guessing game as to where you’ll need to put your tree stand.
If I have to relocate or put up a new tree stand or deer house, I make sure it’s done in the spring giving the deer time to get used to it before hunting season opens.
Like all of God’s creatures, deer are creatures of habit, and take the easiest route to and from their feeding and bedding areas. If I can make that route right by my stand or into my food plot, then that’s what I’m going to do.
I had a couple of places where there were good numbers of deer traveling on neighboring tracts of land, unfortunately these trails had them traveling around my hunting area.
To get them onto and through the area I hunt; I create an area in the fence line where it’s easy for them to cross. Using mechanics wire or a similar soft wire, I’ll pull the top strand of the barbwire down where their trail comes close to the property I’m hunting, giving the deer easy access into the area.
The lower wire, allowing the deer that had traveled by to cross the fence, creating a well-worn trail from the deer’s bedding area into the area I hunt.
This is not a good idea if there’re cattle in the neighbor’s field, as the lower fences are an invitation for the cattle to come over onto your hunting area, so before doing it, it’s best to let your neighbor know your plan.
As I and numerous other deer hunters travel to hunt in numerous states to hunt, before adding anything, minerals or food plots, my best advice would be, to know what is legal and what isn’t, as each state has its own set of rules on mineral licks pertaining to deer hunting.
I’m a true believer when it comes to mineral licks, as on the property you’re hunting, there may not have the minerals needed by the buck or doe need for the doe to be in excellent shape as their fawn is developing after the fawns are born.
In order for bucks to reach their full potential, they need certain minerals to develop that trophy rack
Over the years, I’ve had numerous mineral companies asking me to try their product, some worked okay, while others had very little if any attention paid to them.
After trying numerous brands, where I discovered with a mineral the deer wanted and needed so badly, causing them to dig deep to get every bit left in the ground.
“RAKS” minerals are my Go-To” minerals when I establish a lick, how do I know this, the deer have told me as my licks are all guarded by game cameras with photos showing a buck deep in a lick up to its head and front shoulders, doing his best to lick up every bit of minerals that may still be in the lick.
Food plots are another reason for wildlife to visit your area; they can be planted in either the spring or fall and are legal to hunt over in most states.
A good food plot is worth its weight in gold, but won’t do you a bit of good, if the deer aren’t traveling nearby, so the closer you have a food plot to the deer travel routes the more deer it will attract, putting them on your ground and not your neighbors.
One misnomer, when it comes to food plots I, that they need to be large, there’s nothing further from the truth because several smaller deer plots will work better than one or two larger ones.
One reason for this is that’s it’s easier to hunt small food plots, especially for one hunter, as tree stand placement on smaller plots is easier to figure out than a stand on larger plots. Larger plots will also require more stands in order to hunt them affectively.
Also, if you don’t have a mineral site set up, or have new land you’ll hunt next season, to establish it when it warms up, when the bucks are developing their racks and allowing the does to produce a healthy fawn.
Don’t wait too long to prepare for opening day because if you do and have to make many changes in the area, the deer will shy away and you could very well find yourself sitting up in your stand waiting for that deer that may never appear!
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award- winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster and in 2017 was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.” Howey is also an award-winning writer, producer, broadcaster, former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide and in 2017 inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”. He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. He’s the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa. If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’soutdoors.com , and www.outdoorsmenadventures.com, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.