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The hunt isn’t over when season ends…

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You might not be able to hunt whitetails in the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the woods. Tree stand maintenance, brush clean up, and food plots will keep you busy until it’s time to get back in your stand. Your worried about spooking deer from your land though, right? Don’t worry. The territory intrusion will be long forgotten by that big buck on your mind.

Food plots are a great way to bring big whitetail deer onto your land and keep them coming back. Soybeans, and clover are two of the most commonly planted crops, but while seen less, radishes and alfalfa are also deer favorites. Options like clover and alfalfa give the benefit of being perennials, making less work for you, and a consistent food source for the deer. You should plant by early summer, at the latest, if you chose to use a year by year crop. Throughout summer you will want to check the growth, and how much of the plot seems to be eaten. Many hunters place trail cameras near the plot so they can get a judge of what type of deer, or other critters, are paying a visit.

Tree stand maintenance should be a crucial part to any hunter’s summer routine. Storing your stand for winter is key, but sometimes you just can’t get it down because of weather conditions. Before you go climbing back up the tree, you should check to be sure the stand is still structurally sound. Checking over every nut and bolt, and connection points for cables and straps may seem meticulous but could save you from a real catastrophe. Take note of any rust you notice popping up. You should plan to prime and paint these areas. Using a quick touch up paint to cover any chips, scratches, or minor nicks can also help prevent rust. The seat is often overlooked, but you’ll want to be sure it isn’t damp when put into storage, and that it doesn’t have any holes, rips, or tears. If you notice any, you should plan for a comfortable replacement before fall rolls around.  Now that you’re confident your stand is ready for fall, you should plan to store in in an area that will be stable. An environment that will be a constant temperature and free of moisture/humidity is best.

Cleaning up your land after winter is important. Deer like to travel paths that don’t lead to many obstacles. Clearing well worn paths of down trees from winter, and fresh spring growth can help them keep their normal routes. Other critical places to check are areas that are prime for bedding. You’ll want to ensure trees have not disturbed the brush, and that it is not too overgrown. Now that you’ve checked the deer’s habitat, time to make sure you have a shot. It’s always a safe call to be sure you have several clear lines of sight to shoot your whitetail. There are few things worse than seeing a deer and not being able to take a clean shot because of some brush or a tree, why not prevent it when you can. You should be sure deer also have a clean path to a food source (that food plot we talked about above if you have it) and a clear path to water if the land offers it. Land clean up gives you a great chance to hunt for shed antlers as well. To read more about shed hunting, click here.

Many hunters talk about missing being in the woods for hunting season, but there is plenty of off-season opportunity to be out. You are able to learn more about your land and how the deer are using it, and making sure you have all your essentials, while setting yourself up for a successful fall and winter whitetail season.