How to Create Your Own Successful Hunting Property: Pressure & Habitat
Posted on May 31, 2013
This exclusive special will bring you several informative installments on the many things one must consider before creating your hunting property. If you keep these things in mind, you will be on your way to success!
The dream of owning an expansive parcel of hunting property where one can grow “their own” monster bucks is for most hunters often just that—a dream. High real estate prices combined with financial constraints usually results in a reality check. Buying or even leasing smaller acreages of hunting property, though, is well within the financial reach of most hunters, and that trend has resulted in an explosion in small-acreage hunting properties. Small-property managers are thirsty for knowledge on how to enhance the land for optimal hunting opportunities, while at the same time, becoming true stewards of the environment.
In 1989 I finally realized my dream of owning hunting property. As Michigan real estate goes, it wasn’t considered an exceptionally valuable parcel since the 39 acres is predominated by wetlands, some of which are mucky enough to swallow a man whole. The property showed great hunting promise; however, there were many tasks to be completed before the property’s full potential could be reached.
Limiting the hunting pressure on my property was perhaps the most important first step. Before I bought my land it had been open to anybody that wanted to wonder over it. At first I talked to all my neighbors and explained my goals for the property and how I wanted to hunt it myself and didn’t want anybody else to infringe on my plans. I also posted the property with “No Trespassing” signs to give everyone else the message.
Even after those measures, I still caught about a dozen people trespassing in the first couple years, most of which were neighbors or guests of neighboring property owners. At first I politely just asked them to leave and explained my reasons. However, after a couple of repeat offenders kept showing up on my land, I decided that being polite was ineffective, so I started pressing charges against some of the blatant trespassers. I caught one neighbor trespassing on my land right behind my house, and he had just poached a 12-point buck. The conservation officer caught him red handed with the buck hanging in his barn. I also pressed trespassing charges against a guest of a neighbor for trespassing. It was the second time I’d caught him on my land, so there really was no excuse for his transgressions.
After those two incidents, my trespassing problems were largely solved. Word got out that I was through messing around with lawbreakers. I truly believe that having the law deal with violators is the most effective way to solve most trespassing problems.
Most bowhunters over-hunt their properties to the extent that deer alter their movements to a more nocturnal pattern. If pressured enough, they will also relocate more on neighboring properties. To prevent that, I spread my hunting out over as many properties as possible. I have over a dozen spots I hunt on my own property. My land hunts the best during southerly winds, so when winds are not ideal, I hunt other locations. Hunting my property lightly keeps stands fresh, and done right, the deer will never know they are being pursued, making them easier to hunt.
I have stand setups on the front of my property that I frequently hunt during the early part of the season. I save the prime, primary scrape areas found on the back of my property until November rolls around. I want the deer to feel ultra-safe in those areas until the rut is peaking and won’t go near them until the time is right. That way, when I do hunt them, my chances for success are maximized.
Habitat Improvement With Food and/or Cover
Ideally, every acre of one’s hunting land should either feed and/or provide cover for deer. Land managers need to prioritize their habitat improvement projects based on what the land needs most. If there is plenty of cover on the land then priority needs to be given to creating or improving food sources. If the property lacks good deer cover, then that shortcoming really needs to be addressed with gusto.
My property had some good cover, but a large portion was a deer wasteland that provided neither cover nor food for deer. The back of my property consists of an ultra thick mixture of woods and brush that makes perfect deer bedding territory. The front half had some hardwoods with minimal ground cover along with lots of open land that was once used as pasture for cattle.
I started out with an aggressive woodcutting project that took out most of the timber on the front half of my property. Those cut over areas quickly sprouted up with thick regeneration that made for perfect deer habitat. In the open areas I planted thousands of pines and spruce trees along with 2,000 hardwood seedlings that were comprised of maple and people. I also planted some bare-root apple trees, which took off like crazy. I followed that up by planting thousands of tag alders and by seeding cattails and other tall wetland plants to transform my once open marsh into an ideal whitetail thicket. Now, the only open areas on my property are food plots. I even turned my yard into a food plot.
Stay tuned for the next installment on the proper food, water, and minerals needed for a successful hunting property!
By Michael Veine