5 Steps to Kill- Part II

Posted on December 25, 2013

This is the conclusion to last week’s post with steps 1-2 in “5 Steps to Kill!!”

5 Steps to Kill

Follow this simple plan to line out where to shoot next year’s buck. 

By Steve Bartylla

Prepping stands in spring is important to keep deer ignorant.

Prepping stands in spring is important to keep deer ignorant.

Step 3: Making Funnels

Another thing that should be done this far in advance is creating or improving funnels. Just because you don’t have a funnel, or one is too wide cover or needs improvement doesn’t mean you have to live with the situation. We have the potential to change it, and it’s more effective to do it now.

Take, for example, a great stand I used to hunt on public land. The loggers had clear-cut two large areas, leaving about a quarter-mile-long strip of woods connecting the two mature woodlots on the north and south sides of the clear cuts. The net result was a 100-yard-wide strip of mature timber slicing through the two clear-cuts and dumping into mature woods on both ends. It was a very well used funnel.

The problem was that the funnel was 100 yards wide. So I collected every bit of brush, limbs and larger debris I could find and blockaded it down to 30 yards wide. Just that easily, I created a funnel I could cover.

When contemplating  creating and improving funnels, it’s important to remember that a funnel is anything that helps constrict deer movement through a specific travel corridor. Open your mind to this concept, as well as the fact you can make funnels better, and all sorts of options come to mind.

For example, fence and ditch crossings are common funnels. These crossings often exist in locations that are easier to cross than other areas.

It’s relatively easy to improve them, too. On barbed wire fences, loop a strand of wire around all the individual strands. Cinch it tight and draw the strands closer together, creating an easier spot to jump or crawl under. Next, block with brush anywhere else the deer are crawling under along the fence. Drive some poles into the dirt or string an extra strand of wire above the top strand to make it harder for them to jump.

On a banked ditch, creek or river crossing, bring out a spade and make the slope even more gradual on your crossing. Then, block all others with some brush.

In either case, these activities won’t force every deer to use your crossings. Still, the easier you make yours combined with making the others more difficult, the more deer will go where you want them to.

Remember, all you need is just one to use yours while you’re sitting in the stand. When that happens, it’s well worth the effort. Think creatively and you’ll come up with all sorts of positive ways to create and enhance funnels. Now is the best time to employ these efforts.

The author was able to establish this lush Antler King clover plot despite a harsh drought by getting a jump on it during the post season.

The author was able to establish this lush Antler King clover plot despite a harsh drought by getting a jump on it during the post season.

Step 4: Food Plots

Post-season is also the best time of year to start designing your food plots. When it comes to putting in perennials and spring plantings, you will also need to start preparing now, as well.

The first step in creating a thriving food plot should always be getting a soil test. It’s easy. All you have to do is collect a tablespoon of topsoil from several evenly distributed areas of what will be your food plot. Place each in a bag, mix them up and drop the bag at your county agriculture department or local feed mill. When doing so, also tell them what you will be planting.

In about a month, you’ll receive a detailed report on how much lime and fertilizer to apply.

Lime is critical for food plot success on acidic soils. Unfortunately, it takes time for lime to break down into a useable state. The sooner you can get it applied and worked into the soil, the faster the results will be realized.

Finding clusters of rubs is a great sign of a staging area, but true “rub lines” are few and far between.

Finding clusters of rubs is a great sign of a staging area, but true “rub lines” are few and far between.

Step 5: Ponds

In arid regions and northern states, this is also a great time to create ponds. For whatever reason, ponds aren’t big draws in the Corn Belt. Personally, I believe it’s because the midges that transmit EHD breed there. Regardless, ponds just don’t produce in states like Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. But in states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, they’re gold.

Late winter and spring is a great time to establish them. Doing so this time of year allows them to collect the spring rains, as well as condition deer to use them as water holes well before season begins.

Whether you are going to bring in a dozer or simply bury a plastic tub to the rim, it will work best if you select an area that naturally receives some runoff but not so much that it rages down the slopes.

Also, just like with food plots, build them where you can hunt them effectively. Go so far as to pick the tree before putting in the water source. Trust me, it really stinks putting in a water source only to realize there isn’t a good tree for a stand.

The first couple months after season ends offers some of the most valuable prep times for do-it-yourself hunters. Between scouting, stand prep, improving funnels, food plot work and ponds, there’s more than enough to keep us busy. Jump on these activities. They will pay off handsomely next fall.

 

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