Mother nature dictates most of what we do in deer management. In 2012, much of the country has experienced a record dry and hot summer. Casey Shoopman, editor and videographer for The Management Advantage, has had to rewrite his management plan for his family farm in Illinois because of the weather. This year, Casey is planting his Fall food plots with Pennington Wildlife Seed as late as possible in hopes of the weather turning wetter. His Summer plots of Eagle Forage Soybeans look incredible despite the adverse conditions. Another negative result of the weather is poor crop yields in many locations on the farm. With nearly no corn to harvest, he can selectively cut corn and leave some standing to improve his deer hunting opportunities this Fall. He will be choosing locations to leave standing corn to maximize the amount of cover for the deer, provide the deer with some food, and conceal his entry and exit routes for his stand locations. He is also working on having more mast producing trees and cover on his farm, which are two key components to productive deer habitat. To fill this void, he has been planting Switchgrass the past two years and is currently mapping out locations to plant trees from The Wildlife Group.
All of this work is a part of long-term management program that Casey and his family have put their farm into. Deer management is not a one step process. There are always projects you can do on your farm to improve the habitat for deer. The plan you have for your ground won’t always go smoothly because of the weather or factors that are our of you control, but you can adapt to fit the situation and provide better quality habitat.