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Discussion in 'Whitetail Deer Habitat' started by boofer3233, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Hillsdales Most Wanted

    Hillsdales Most Wanted

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    THE HILLSDALE
    I would try my best to make food plots & a small watering hole in the RCG area. I would hinge 4 acres on the east side of your woods for bedding/browse. I would make pinch points/funnels in the rest of your woods. When the rut roles around i want does bedding on my property. A good transition area needs cover to keep deer comfortable, i believe your woods are to open. Let some light in.
     
  2. StevenJ

    StevenJ Inscrutable Mastermind Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    This watering hole was established about 15 years ago. It is about 20 feet wide and ten feet deep (although I've really never tested the depth). The water table is up to the rim during the wet season, esp in the spring. During mid summer it typically drops about 5 feet.

    It is something a hired excavator would dig.
     

  3. boofer3233

    boofer3233

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    Good point!! Thanks for the advice.

    They don't ride on it anymore, it's overgrown long grass and shrubs.

    This helps a lot! Thanks for all of the information. I'll be planting a lot of different kinds of food plots and will get a better idea what grows best on my property. I'm assuming there will be some flooding in the spring, but all of last hunting season there was no standing water - just moist soil. Thanks again!
     
  4. boofer3233

    boofer3233

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    I'll definitely make sure that if I do burn, it won't be near my house!! Your property looks great! I'm planning on spraying my RCG early in the spring, and will repeat a couple more times as needed. I should be able to stay on top of spraying, etc. as I live on this property. Which will be very beneficial when I start planting all of my trees and shrubs this spring. I'll be able to monitor them to make sure the RCG isn't suffocating anything I plant.
     
  5. boofer3233

    boofer3233

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    I definitely need to cut some trees! All of the maples aren't allowing any sunlight in. I agree, I definitely want does on my property when the rut rolls around.

    Looks good! Do you have a lot of deer activity around your watering hole?
     
  6. smith34

    smith34

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    Spoken like someone who has never battled rcg! Lol it is not a battle, it is a war! And not one you can let up on for years. You can win, just prepare for it not to be a few simple sprayings.
    Oh, and im sure if you do burn, any neighbors will appreciate it not near their homes either. Lol
     
  7. StevenJ

    StevenJ Inscrutable Mastermind Premium Member

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    Most certainly. If you click on the picture and expand it, there are few hoof-prints.
     
    farmlegend likes this.
  8. jrs1986

    jrs1986

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    I'm going to go against my modis operandi of keeping my mouth shut and respectfully disagree to an extent on this.

    While I agree that bucks will generally travel less distance during the rut when the population is high, the doe 'sink' theory doesn't hold any water for me. And that includes when it is called a doe 'factory' or any other adjective one may use to describe such a situation. I feel it is a term used either by consultants to scare people into believing they need their services, or by people looking to explain why a habitat improvement didn't yield the expected or desired results. It's a safe blanket that can be thrown onto a lot of situations.

    In my albeit limited experience, I've just never seen any truth in this. And I do have a fair amount of experience dealing with a high population of does.

    Most would describe the farm I hunt in Jackson county as having a high population, seeing 25 deer in an evening isn't an overly unusual event. The farm adjoins 2000 acres of contiguous, unbroken habitat with over 1200 acres being dense dogwood swamps with scattered hardwood ridges. Agriculture surrounds the entire area, but likely only accounts for 30% of the total area. Also, hunting pressure is moderate to low in the immediate area especially during bow season (at least by Southern Michigan standards). In short, it attracts lots of does during hunting season, and lots of deer in general, as high quality escape cover is abundant in every direction.

    With all that said, I've just never seen any evidence that does drive bucks away or that bucks will hole up in a couple acres and not move for lengthy periods of time during the rut.

    Back to the original post. If the OP can get does to bed off of his small staging plots that will assure more daytime buck movement than just the crepuscular feeding activity that would occur if all of the does were bedding on the neighboring ground.

    The question in my mind isn't whether bucks will come searching for the does, but whether he can convince the does to bed on his ground instead of on the high quality bedding areas on the neighbors. When the time is right bucks will seek those does out, no matter what. They may not all be mature bruisers, but if you have an estrous doe laying in your property rest assured that an antlered buck will be giving her attention.

    Without any bedding taking place on your property, you basically have crepuscular hunting opportunities with your only predictable activity coming as the deer head toward food in the evening and toward bedding in the morning. Have 'some' does bed on your ground changes that entirely as cruising bucks will be forced to search your property during daylight hours if it regularly holds does, as opposed to strictly searching the surrounding area.

    I'm not suggesting that the OP take my advice on this, just trying to offer a different perspective.
     
  9. StevenJ

    StevenJ Inscrutable Mastermind Premium Member

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    jrs1986,

    I think your different perspective is good.

    You don't say how big your hunting property is with the vast surroundings.

    We all have our frame of reference. My frame of reference is being 10 miles away from Boofer, having a high deer population, I do actually have a doe sink and it does prevent bucks from moving significant distances. They simply don't have to travel distances to find a receptive doe. The bucks use more marginal undisturbed areas to bed and roam. I can count on nearly 24 does bedding on or around my 35.5 acres in back (I have three acres frontage). I have good food cover, bedding, water and lack of hunting pressure (I hunt rarely and am not that experienced with a bow. 95% of my time and efforts are habitat--I love it--and 5% hunting). Tremendous hunting pressure and neighborhood disturbances. Human presence and domestic dogs, as well as over-hunting neighbors. 3 1/2 year old bucks and older are not stupid or lack instincts to be anything but nocturnal when they need to be. And they don't have to move to find does in the 60 DPSM area.

    But I do have exceptional habitat. And do have a doe sink. It is not a scare tactic by habitat managers. I see it on stand all the time. I do see a fair number of bucks, just not shooters on stand during legal shooting times. And I don't spend enough time on stand because I got other things going on.

    It is not unusual for me to see the first 24 deer in a blind during EAS firearms seasons be all antler-less. Three years ago I saw 40 deer during opening day firearms. One was a 2 1/2 year old impressive looking buck that I took a pass on at 45 yards (waiting for a 3 1/2 year old, which never came. I just have no desire to harvest a 2 1/2 year old).

    I agree that if Boofer has no bedding at all he should create it and it won't be a detriment.
    You make good points. Only Boofer can do what's best and write his own script based on what he sees and adapts to. But too many does, excessive hunting pressure and over harvest of immature bucks will present a problem. You are right, having do bedding is probably a good thing for him to shoot for.
     
  10. jrs1986

    jrs1986

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    Thank you for your very civil response. I hope you can see that I wasn't trying to start an argument or say that you're wrong, but rather have an discussion with someone with different viewpoints. Perspective is a funny thing, and although we've had somewhat similar experiences our opinions vary greatly.

    My property is 42 acres with 1 acre of frontage. It is a mixture of tillable, hardwood ridges, dogwood thickets, and scattered Reed Canary Grass pockets. Along with that there is ample water provided by a pond, a creek, and several man-made drainage ditches. While some does do bed on my property, I feel the majority of the bedding and especially buck bedding takes place on neighboring grounds. Despite this (and high concentrations of does) we've been quasi successful at harvesting 3.5 y/o and older bucks over the years. And as we improve our habitat and minimize our impact during hunting season, I'm confident that we can increase our odds in the coming seasons (just my brother and I hunting it currently).

    With that said I fully agree that habitat manipulation is more enjoyable than actually hunting. But for me deer season is a year round event, I just can't get enough of it. I'm presently on year 4 of about a 10 year plan. Also, being young with no kids yet, a very understanding and awesome wife, and a seasonal self-employed business that affords me the ability to spend literally as much time as I want in the fall to chase whitetails, I'd say that I'm rather blessed.

    I would be surprised if our density during hunting season is anything less than the 60 DPSM that you mention and 75 DPSM wouldn't really surprise me. Included in that estimate, I say we have a good percentage of antlered bucks, which usually includes a few in the 3.5 range, and usually at least 1 or a small handful in the 4.5 range (5.5 and older bucks are very rare, I'd say we have 1 around every 2-3 years at best).

    Despite the high population, I still feel they must move in order to find a receptive doe during the rut. Now certainly the distance will generally be less in a population of 60 animals per square mile as opposed to 15, but distance must be traveled nonetheless if they desire to breed. And by the limited rutting activity I've seen after late November, I believe that the overwhelming majority of it takes place during the primary breeding phase. This combined with other thoughts, brings me to the conclusion that the does bedding on my ground are being courted when they go into estrous in early November, despite the likely fact that some of the bucks may be bedding 1/4 to 1/2 mile away.

    Perhaps the difference in our situations is the surrounding pressure. It's sounds as though yours is very high, while mine is generally pretty low. Our greatest pressure always comes from within, and the only way to change that would be to stop hunting. We have 90 acres of immediate and adjacent dogwood and tamarack thickets that act as sanctuaries, with virtually zero hunting pressure.

    Maybe there are things that neither of us understand or have even thought about, and to me that's half the fun of this.

    So again I just can't wrap my head around the doe sink theory, it's just too easy to poke holes into in my opinion. But who knows? Maybe I'm entirely wrong, I like to consider myself a constant student of all this stuff. And I truly hope that never changes.

    Another point from a previous post of yours I agree with, is that does bedding on the OP may screw up his hunting. That is very possible if they are bedding randomly, it will likely make accessing stands without bumping deer very difficult. If this is the case nearly everyone would agree that his hunting would deteriorate fast. But if he can design known bedding areas which will allow him access to great stands without giving away his position, that would tip the ball in his favor. And if possible, it is my opinion that this is what he should strive for, along with the transition plots

    But again only Boofer can make that determination and set goals as to what he'd like to try to achieve. I would just offer the advice to set realistic goals, if there haven't been any 4.5 year old bucks around regularly for years, there is likely nothing you can do about that. Unless you want to buy out the 600 acres around you, and even that may not do it.
     
  11. StevenJ

    StevenJ Inscrutable Mastermind Premium Member

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    You really are young, aren't you?

    Great pressure here and in Livingston county. Makes the mature bucks go more nocturnal. They are around though.

    Sometimes it's a legacy issue because of really good doe habitat. I don't get out much hunting lately though. Three sits a year. Could be lack of hunting skill.

    I'm not disappointed in the least--my mindset is outcome independent.

    And I have to say: One of the most memorable days I had last year was EAS firearms hunting with RMH and OSXer. Mostly because of the harvest. The deer weren't moving in the morning because of the storm the night before (After we left LoBrass's fish fry party down near the Ohio border).

    We shot five antlerless deer that day. But the camaraderie was what made it so special besides the "shooting fish in a barrel" harvest that is the EAS firearms season at my place

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  12. Radar420

    Radar420

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    Doe sinks/factories are REAL and they blow. (Unless you're purely a meat hunter with access to ample antlerless permits)

    They are nice to hunt during the rut because bucks will move during that time, but outside of the rut, antlered deer sightings can be few and far between IMO.
     
  13. brokentines

    brokentines

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    I know I am stating the obvious, but access in and out of stands is of utmost importance to me. It doesn't matter if you have a great plot if you bust deer going in or climbing down out of your stand. It doesn't matter your scent program if the deer can watch you walking to and fro. If you can get in and out like a ninja, and not get scent busted you can put more sits in. I have some good spots in my head I believe I need to put stands in, but won't do it until I have the time to implement great access.
     
  14. jrs1986

    jrs1986

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    Seeing antlered bucks few and far between outside the rut is sheer truth anywhere in the whitetail's range. They simply are reclusive and highly nocturnal outside their core area.

    Include the amount of pressure present in Michigan combined with fairly intense harvest of antlered bucks and limited sightings of antlered deer is the only possible outcome.

    Fact is that once velvet is shed, bucks become extremely reclusive and nocturnal.

    Perhaps the so called 'doe sinks' have been labeled this because the habitat is simply not something that a buck would choose to occupy regardless of the amount of does in the area.
     
  15. jrs1986

    jrs1986

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    I fully agree, everything should be designed with access in mind, and not just entrance but departure as well.