It's getting to be that time of year again. The season ended just a few months ago, but for diehard whitetail hunters such as me, the offseason is a short one. It's time to get the trail cameras back in the woods and take care of spring food plots.
My half acre plot of Tecomate Monster Mix is now a year old and looks pretty good. I neglected it through turkey season and the weeds got a little out of control. To take care of this problem, I sprayed the plot with Vantage herbicide to kill the grasses, and then mowed to take care of the broadleaf weeds. I made sure to wait over a week between spraying and mowing in order for the herbicide to do its thing. Some of the grass was taller than recommended for spraying, but I was able to get the majority of it killed. I also sprayed what was left of my brassica plot from last year and a 5 year old clover plot. I plan on spreading lime in the clover plot and getting rid of weeds this summer, then planting Alfalfa in thefall.
The next item on my list of preseason habitat activities was preparing a plot for a planting of Switchgrass. The area is going to be just under an acre and will be surrounded by over 100 shrubs that were planted in early spring. I gave the area a heavy dose of Round-up at first green up during the spring and took care of the majority of the weeds and grasses that filled the area. The first week of May, I worked the ground, rolled it, spread the seed, and rolled it once more to get good seed to soil contact. The seed is very small and doesn't need to be planted very deep. The roller pushed the majority of the seed just under the surface. Switchgrass is slow to establish. The first year it does most of its growing under the soil. By next summer it should start to fill in nicely and hopefully deer will begin to utilize it as a bedding area.
My finally task was to set up my trail cameras again. One property that I hunt has had cows in it the past 3 season which hurt the deer activity in the area. There was a one acre thicket that was prime for bedding. A local farmer came in and bulldozed all of the brush and left the area much more open that it was. Now that the cows are gone, the thicket is quickly regenerating and this season that area should be much more productive. With the cows gone, I decided to set up a camera on a creek crossing going into the thicket. The area was torn up with tracks so I set it up on the bank where the trail heads down. The next spot I placed a camera was in a little finger of trees that sticks out between two of my food plots. Whitetail deer are constantly hanging out in this area since there is a seep that pools water. It has always been a great place to get pictures through the warm summer months. My third camera was placed on a trail where I moved a stand to after the season was over. The area is right in the middle of the property and deer like to bed all around. I’m only going to keep the camera there for a couple weeks, and then I will pull it out and not go near the area until early November for fear of spooking anything out of a bed near the stand.
The bulk of my preseason work is now done. I’ll spend the rest of the summer taking care of over 300 trees 125 shrubs that I’ve planted in the last two years. With the hot and dry summer ahead, they will need plenty of water to make it. I’ll also be checking and moving camera regularly to locate some shooters for this fall. I’ve also gained access to some ground near the Golden Triangle in West Central Illinois. I’ll be heading up there a few times this summer to scout and hang stands as well.