Never too early to scout deer food sources 

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As I’ve moved along in age, I’ve developed a habit that I find useful when the moment comes around to begin my deer hunting.

Being blessed with an abundance of free time, the routine of checking the food sources that whitetails may visit, particularly those that grow near my hunting spots, is an action I’ve made certain to perform for a good dozen years now.

A recent day with cooler air —at least compared to the days of oppressive heat — found me stirred enough to check some choice hunting places where I have some treestands posted. The first spot I checked has a couple of nearby thick and sturdy beechnut trees growing. Last year they were loaded with as many nutty fruits as I’ve ever seen. This year they are barren.

There are also a couple of large red oaks nearby, and search as much as I could, I was unable to spot a single acorn.

At this spot, much of the area is also full of tall tulip poplars. Throughout these tall, straight poplars are places of thick underbrush. Much of the underbrush is comprised of some younger poplar, a scattering of a few small oaks and beechnut. Some small red birch — there are some larger ones in this area — a couple sugar maples, large greenbrier bushes and thick vine growth.

This mix offers the deer great protected travel routes through this section of forest on their way to nearby grain fields (deer have no problem spending time in farm fields also — see above photo I took in a bean field). The greenbrier, some ivy growing on trees and the leaves of the sugar maples offer foods to munch on to and from the fields. There is also an older logging road passing through that I hunt next to, one laden with green grasses.

There are no fruit trees in this area, but there are plenty of forbs that edge along the planted grain fields of corn and soybeans.

Wild forbs — which are non-woody nor grass-like — are broadleaf plants such as milkweed, sunflowers, clovers, daylilies and wildflowers, to name a few. It is estimated that forbs provide as much as 60% of a deer’s diet in warmer months, plus they offer more energy than all other type foods they may consume.

I may consider moving my stand at this spot because one of those nut trees I’ve mentioned, happen to shed their fruit upon the logging trail, and being barren this year, means less of an attractant for the deer. That’s a decision I’ll make later, but also a reason I come early in the year to check the available food for the deer I hunt that grows near my stand.

I haven’t checked my other spots yet, but I will. To walk into a hunting location without a certain level of knowledge of the food in the area, may prove to be an eventual waste of time, and there is no sense in doing that.

Deer hunting requires scouting for the best probability to succeed. An early trip to a favorite spot, searching for and examining the details of nearby obtainable food deer eat, will certainly not hinder one’s chances for filling a tag.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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