May brings some great hunting opportunities! It may not be for deer, but staying involved in the outdoors will sharpen your skills for whitetails later in the year. Here are 5 tips for May that will help bring consistent success on big whitetail bucks.
The carp are in late in the month and what better way to sharpen the shooting skills than flinging arrows at carp! Be careful not to get into bad shooting habits because often our bowfishing rigs are different from our whitetail setups, but bowfishing is fun and will strengthen muscles so have at it!
- Study Deer Resources
Remember one of the most important elements in consistently shooting big bucks is hunting where big bucks live! In this day and age, habitat, politics, and disease are forever changing our deer hunting landscape. Areas that were incredible just a few years ago might be avoided now, and vice versa. By studying up on areas you hunt or may want to hunt, the serious big buck hunter ensures himself or future opportunities. Stay ahead of the curve and spot trends in population or antler quality. What are the record books telling you? What are land values telling you? What’s the DNR saying? Attend local meetings where DNR seeks input from hunters. By talking with locals and officials, you can get a good feel for where things are at and if you’re investing your hard earned hunting time into the right areas. For example, the Michigan DNR recently sent this hunter survey out to hunters for their input. I encourage you to contact DNR officials for the results of surveys like this.
As a father of 3, spending quality time making memories with my kids is way more important to me than anything else. I believe if you have any chance at your kids enjoying whitetail hunting later on, you should first involve them in some “less intense” outdoor activities. Turkey hunting as well as other small game and waterfowl hunting, is a great way to get them involved and likely see success sooner than we experience in the whitetail woods. It’s important to keep kids comfortable, having fun, and experiencing some success, so take time this month to take a kid turkey hunting. Not only is it tremendous fun, it’s a time to introduce scouting for deer at the same time! Point out various animal tracks and sign to them, explain to them where a good deer hunting spot might be when you walk by one, and take time to answer the million questions they’ll have!
- Check Crops
Crops are going in this month and starting to grow, so take note of what’s planted where because this will absolutely come into play in the fall. Talk to farmers and find out what their plans are for harvest. A cornfield that will be harvested early as silage is much less interesting to me than one I know will be standing late. If you’re a food plotter, it may be time to get plans moving. If I’m going to wait and plant just a fall annual, May is still a good month to run a disc over things so you can use less (or no) herbicide later in the summer. It’s a great, organic method of weed control.
- Apply and Plan!
In May, I apply for Iowa deer and Michigan bear (Michigan’s elk application period is this month too but I’m no longer eligible since I drew my hunt of a lifetime two years ago!). Wyoming’s app period for deer ends this month too. If you’re going for points only, however, you have until the end of October. My main point is, apply! Research the states and tags you’d like to hunt someday and start applying so that in just a few years, you can get your tag of choice! For those draws that have been completed, now’s the time to start planning if you drew! I’m already making calls and studying maps for my New Mexico elk tag that I found out I drew last month! Onyx Maps and Google Earth Pro are my favorites right now.
- Bonus Tip: Plow Down Clover
Something I learned a couple years ago from John Barsody, owner of Frigid Forage, is to plant an annual clover early in the spring, then plow it under in mid to late August. It will act as a green fertilizer and aid your brassicas come fall! I use their Plow Down Clover and it’s worked great!
Mistakes to Avoid in May
The average hunter isn’t thinking about whitetails in May, so just getting out there and putting boots in the woods, whether it’s morel mushroom hunting or turkey hunting, or whatever, will put you ahead of the curve on whitetails come fall.
Good luck with your next buck!