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As I wrapped up my second season on my farm, I’m continuing to learn a lot about the deer patterns and the surrounding areas. I only have about 22 acres to work with so nothing huge or fancy. During bow season (mainly during the first week of November) I had multiple trail cam pics of a few 3.5-4.5 yo bucks along with numerous 1.5-2.5 yo bucks and doe family groups. Once gun season hit, it was a ghost town. 1 or 2 small doe groups, just a couple 1.5 yo bucks and that was it. I don’t believe I over hunted my property but that is certainly a possibility but what i was more interested in was how to compete with surrounding Ag.

The Saturday after the opener, the neighbor caught us as we were walking out. We hadn’t seen anything all morning. He said they saw 35 that morning in his bean fields, some of which were still standing. That explained a lot to me. The deer had no reason to leave his place. Thick bedding not far away from my property and standing beams right next to it. So my question is, how do I compete with that? Maybe the answer is I can’t as there isnt a way to make deer go they don’t need or want to go.

I don’t have enough property for large food plots to be a consistent draw for the deer. I have about 7 acres of open fallow fields that I am working with (see attached for my current plan). Would these smaller micro style plots of some sort be of any draw to the deer on a consistent basis?

I have also attached some larger aerial pics. The neighbor I spoke of is to my south (down in the pics). To my immediate north, that neighbor hunts pretty heavily so I figured I needed some cover to protect myself from his pressure and maybe get the deer to feel more comfortable on my place. Also note, the timber to my west is largely all flooded most of the year so it’s pretty much a waste.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Access might be a problem. I'd add another access trail along your south line. We have a lot of northerly winds in November. Walking in along your north line all the way to the west blows out your whole property.

What's the purpose of the hinging? You have more ground west of that. Maybe have a few areas of hinging? How open is your woods?
 

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Real early (first week) of the season might be your best bet of bagging some quality deer as your property sits right now. You either have to recreate your land to be the thickest piece of property around or try and hold a crop (like beans) and hunt it later in the season. Otherwise your piece is just a travel route. I have somewhat your same issue. I’ve been thickening up my 56 for years now. I’m getting close.


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Seems like it may be hard to compete with surrounding properties with food. The neighbors just have more than you could put in. Since you’re willing to convert your fields into non-ag that might be the best route.

Thicken up the parcel to be the most secure spot around with some strategic food added. Let them eat the neighbors beans at night after they’ve left your small protected plots.

With a long thin parcel access might be your biggest issue. As you walk in you may bump deer so make sure you can stay completely hidden from sight and smell. Maybe add a couple rows of along the property line then 100’ wide switch, then your food plot. Just gives you an extra barrier (long term). Like someone mentioned before, probably a good idea to have a north and south access route.
 

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Might try for other food sources and variety in your plot. Add some trails to the destination plot. Add clovers,rye,etc to trails not access ones. Maybe sugar beets and maybe some crab apples if there aren’t any in the area. Don’t hunt poor quality days and wait for the better days to hunt. Get a cell cam to let you know when bigger bucks show up then hunt if conditions are right.
 

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My area is all beans & corn, no hay/alfalfa fields. So I focus on green= clover, chicory, alfalfa, turnips radish kale, winter rye.

Definitely want my place to be thickest cover around.

Did u see deer while hunting? I only hunt evenings during early October, the bucks I'm after will already be bedded before daylight.

Your best friend could be 100ft of snow fence. Gotta pinch those deer down. Put your stand 20 yards from end of fence, shoot buck during rut, lol, pretty simple
 

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IF the oldest bucks are your target , your cams tell when the window of opportunity on them is.

To compete as a destination field , you'd need to duplicate or expand on the competing field.
Even then , there may be other factors as to why the neighbor's field has more deer in it.

You can add small plots.
By having deer bed on your site they can browse briefly before heading out to neighboring destinations.
My smaller site tries to keep deer busy. And does with those that bed on or near at times.
That time when shooting hours end and I used to worry about how to get out undetected I've found if I just wait , the deer leave/head out to other destinations ,often ag. fields.

Your flooded timber on the west makes a good edge for deer traffic. Somewhere between standing water and the dry ground beyond. IF deer feel secure along it. And how they use the wind. Observation of how wind is used along that kind of edge can be surprising. Meaning if they want to use the edge , they will.

With hunting pressure accelerating as season progresses deer can and do get scarce for me too.
They are not far away. With some bedded as close as possible to night time destination fields. Then getting out into them with hundreds of yards distance from cover/roads/suspected human areas for browsing areas.
Others slinking in the densest cover and staying remote as possible from humans , real or suspected.
While others cover ground after dark towards those fields.

I'd rather compete for security cover than ag. field itself.
Part of that is the scale of the ag. fields near my site. Most if not all are bigger than my entire property.
 

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A good mix of beans and corn on 7 acres should do what your asking. It just takes equipment and time. Both to putting it in and when the AG gets harvested.

Another is first work the ground broadcast RR soybeans then use a corn planter with RR corn then cultipacker. Now if you have a grain drill you could accomplish both at once. After a couple weeks spray field with round up. After 3 days and right before rain broadcast on top crimson clover. This makes a good mix. If you want shooting lanes use clethodim to kill corn in the shooting lanes or a brush hog when it's about knee high but the soy is shorter then the cut your making. In short do not cut the soybeans.

At least that's what I would do it creates cover and food source even during late season.
 

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A good mix of beans and corn on 7 acres should do what your asking. It just takes equipment and time. Both to putting it in and when the AG gets harvested.

Another is first work the ground broadcast RR soybeans then use a corn planter with RR corn then cultipacker. Now if you have a grain drill you could accomplish both at once. After a couple weeks spray field with round up. After 3 days and right before rain broadcast on top crimson clover. This makes a good mix. If you want shooting lanes use clethodim to kill corn in the shooting lanes or a brush hog when it's about knee high but the soy is shorter then the cut your making. In short do not cut the soybeans.

At least that's what I would do it creates cover and food source even during late season.
Excellent advice….


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Make it thick and they will come. Select cut or chainsaw out the big trees and cut in some shooting lanes thru the thick stuff. My buddy only has 15 acres adjoining ag and he has the thickest 5 acre sanctuary for miles and we see the most mature bucks. Maybe put in a small kill plot of something the ag fields don't have like brassicas, alfalfa or clover. Even with tons of food around deer like a varied diet.
 

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Make it thick and they will come. Select cut or chainsaw out the big trees and cut in some shooting lanes thru the thick stuff. My buddy only has 15 acres adjoining ag and he has the thickest 5 acre sanctuary for miles and we see the most mature bucks. Maybe put in a small kill plot of something the ag fields don't have like brassicas, alfalfa or clover. Even with tons of food around deer like a varied diet.
 

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Hopefully next year he plants corn and gets it out sooner for your sake. My issue is kinda the opposite from you, I can't plant enough food plot to get through bow season so the deer leave for greener pastures, so to speak.... I don't have a high deer population at all but if you get a few does, their fawns and a handful of yearling bucks in your food plots every night they will wipe out everything I plant on my four acres of plots. That all being said it's only your second year, give it time and keep developing your property. As each season go's by you will figure your deer herd out a little better each season. That knowledge will help you tweak your habitat plans for the better. This was my fourth year on our property and I am already making plans on tweaking the improvements I made last year. I don't think it will ever end, and I hope it doesn't!!
 

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I don't even try to compete with the ag around me. I let them feed the deer I just want to kill them. If I try to plant competing crops they are wiped out before hunting season. We plant fall kill plots, usually oats/ww and cc. Our plots are transition plots as they head out to the ag fields at night. The key is bedding.
 

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In the surroundings you have I'd be doing some heavy hinge cutting but don't mess up your access. Beans are tough to beat but creating the best and thickest hingecut cover is not. Fall plots and dense cover.
 
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