For many hunters like myself, the land acquisition phase of your whitetail program is quickly approaching. This year, I find myself in a real conundrum. I have lost access to two separate properties that were hunted in 2010. Both are being sold to new owners whom, either hunt themselves or are not interested in having hunters take to their woods. One property sold so quickly that we lost a buddy stand when the new owners moved in before we had a chance to remove the equipment. Quite frankly, it's like starting fresh. This coupled with the very poor corn planting season this year in Ohio, leave me quite concerned about where I will be hunting this fall and whether or not the population of deer will be easily accessible.
I have already begun to strategize about new locations to scout and prepare for the 2011 season. It appears that I may be hunting more public land than private, which means that I will be sharing this property with hundreds of other eager hunters. This brings a whole new set of challenges and a few advantages as well. It will be very important that I have light gear that I can easily haul in and out of the woods each hunt. I will not be able to leave anything behind, which denies me the ability to utilize trail cameras or feeders (Ohio law prohibits you from leaving gear in the woods on public land). I have scouted a local state park and feel very confident that I could have great success there, particularly given the vast amounts of land that are often left untouched for much of the early season as many hunters are not willing to trek deep into the woods. I believe that this will be my greatest chance to take a public land trophy.
As is the case in many states across the country, the heavy rains in the last few months have left farmers unable to plant their corn crop here in Ohio. It looks as though a large percentage of the corn will not make it to seed this year. This is concerning for numerous reasons. Obviously on a larger scale, the low corn production will mean higher costs for consumers and will leave many farmers struggling in an already tough economic time. In terms of the 2011 hunting season, I believe this may greatly impact the ability of whitetails to easily find food sources. I am hopeful that this will not in any way jeopardize the health of the deer, but I feel confident in saying that it will certainly change my strategies moving into opening day. I think it will be important to manage your land well and gain access early to begin scouting, tracking, preparing for what could be an interesting year.
The next few months will bring much negotiation as I continue to knock on doors and work to gain access to new land. I am hopeful that a break in the weather this weekend will aid in the corn planting process and that some of the farmers that did get crops planted will allow hunters to help them keep their productivity high by assisting in controlling the deer population. It should be a great learning experience for me either way.