Shawn’s Place: Small Tract Mgmt Feb 26th, 2012

It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted and a few things have started taking shape on my place. I’ve been out scouting a few times, I hinge cut some trees around a few bedding areas and started making a list of the materials needed for the coming year including seed, trees and equipment. Unfortunately for me, the original land manager closed on a Iowa farm and is now is the process of moving (I wish him all the best). The land manager’s referral source doesn’t have all the resources that he had but the new guy (Chad) is still great with timber stand improvement (TSI) . I had Chad out this past weekend and showed him around and discussed my overall management plan . Chad didn’t have to walk far before commenting how highly he thought of my place and believes that I’ll have the local hotspot once the timber is improved and we have the right food planted.

Chad will be out to my place in a couple of weeks so I’ll share some before and after photos with you once everything is finished. After bouncing some ideas off Chad, we came up with a good food plot plan to complement the TSI so I’m now going to tweak what I plan to plant, how much I plant and where it is planted. I still have to meet with a forester to get an official forest plan so I’ll share that with you once everything is set. I’m having a forester write up a plan because what I’d like to do is take advantage of Wisconsin’s Closed MFL program and see about some possible grant money to offset some of the costs I’m going to incur to get my land set up properly.

This week’s focus was to primarily tell you the status of my local herd from 2011’s perspective and what I hope it will be this coming fall. While I did not officially own the place until November, I had a couple trail camera’s out since early October and also surveyed the neighbor’s observations as to what was hanging out at my place. Being that I had no direct food source out other than the two gallon limit that Wisconsin allows and that the local deer population was down and that this place was half horse pasture up until two years ago, I was presently surprised at the amount of deer that were around.

I have to be honest, I totally expected maybe 3-4 does hanging around and maybe 2-3 bucks cruising by as well. My final tally showed is that there were actually 20 different racked bucks that passed through my property at least once (18 caught on trail camera) and four doe family units consisting of 2, 3, 3 and 5 deer (three were nubbins). That’s a grand tally of 33 deer, not bad for a place that is really just full of potential. It also make perfect sense that I had more bucks in my tally than does because they have a larger home range and obviously they are not all living on my 56 acres.

The 2011 buck breakdown as follows: Four 4 ½ yr old 10pts, One 4 yr old 8 pt, Two 3 ½ yr old 8 pts, Five 2 ½ yr old 8 pts, Eight 1 ½ yr olds and then there are the three nubbins. Of these, two of the four year olds relocated mid September and another only showed up a couple times late October. The other two mature bucks would show up one to several times a week. The three year old 8 point showed up in October many times but hasn’t been seen since so I suspect he was a fatality. The ten that did hang out on my place decided it would be a great idea to chase a doe on our gun opener and was taken by my neighbor before he could cross onto my property. The same neighbor also took one of the two year old eights. They were both the first bucks he had shot in many years, so my hat has to go off to him. On the plus side the same neighbors let a spike and a fork horn go for another year. The only other buck I know that was harvested is a 1 ½ year old six point. I’m sure a few more were taken but still I think the local buck kill was low so couple that with a mild winter, 2012 is looking great! My trail camera also shows that 10 out of the 13 antler-less deer I considered local made it through our gun season.

For 2012, if my buck count stays the same I’ll feel pretty good about the raw count. What I really want to focus on this year is to get the frequency of visits to increase and to have more daytime activity. If I can continue to save a couple young bucks each year from being killed, I think we’ll see a slight increase in the age class ratio.

In the next installment, I’ll talk a little about antler size and area genetic potential of these deer and where I see it going forward.

Here is a sample of the bucks on my property from last season:

Working for the Nextbuk!

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