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This is more a probe for a little encouragement than anything. I have 60 private acres in South Eastern Leelanau county, which I am living on. The 60 is mostly steep oak covered ridges. Some larger white cedars ( I think that's what they are, kinda blanking now ). There are a couple of the valley areas that are filled with maple saplings for undergrowth. For the most part, it is high hardwood type land. A few hundred yards to my west there is a cherry orchard, and on the opposite side of that 40ac is an apple orchard. There is no significant water source in the woods, there is west grand traverse bay, but I don't think they water there. The bay is at the bottom of a pretty serious bluff. I have set 4 stands and hunted them a few times. I have seen some encouraging sight, mainly a doe with two fawns and a healthy 1.5 year old 3 pt. Problem is, they are all I see. I have seen them multiple times, in every corner of the property, from my front yard (tonight!) to the back corner. Should I assure myself other bucks with come by when the rut gets closer? Is it possible they are the only deer around? If the property was better deer ground I might not worry, but it's marginal ground and I have put a lot of eggs in that basket so to speak.
 

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Tornado Jim
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This is more a probe for a little encouragement than anything. I have 60 private acres in South Eastern Leelanau county, which I am living on. The 60 is mostly steep oak covered ridges. Some larger white cedars ( I think that's what they are, kinda blanking now ). There are a couple of the valley areas that are filled with maple saplings for undergrowth. For the most part, it is high hardwood type land. A few hundred yards to my west there is a cherry orchard, and on the opposite side of that 40ac is an apple orchard. There is no significant water source in the woods, there is west grand traverse bay, but I don't think they water there. The bay is at the bottom of a pretty serious bluff. I have set 4 stands and hunted them a few times. I have seen some encouraging sight, mainly a doe with two fawns and a healthy 1.5 year old 3 pt. Problem is, they are all I see. I have seen them multiple times, in every corner of the property, from my front yard (tonight!) to the back corner. Should I assure myself other bucks with come by when the rut gets closer? Is it possible they are the only deer around? If the property was better deer ground I might not worry, but it's marginal ground and I have put a lot of eggs in that basket so to speak.
Fix it. Create habitat that deer want to live in and they will load in.

Some seeds, weed killer, fertilizer, a chainsaw, and hard work should increase the population.
 

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I agree with bioactive. If it's only marginal deer ground, improve it. Get a copy of Grow 'Em Right by Neil and Craig Dougherty. ORDER HERE.
 

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All the above plus buy a couple trailcams and put them up in strategic locations(where you see alot of sign). You could even make a watering hole by either dozing out a site and putting in a liner or put in a watering tank which might take a bit more work to refill.
 

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With the DNR's goals of the population being roughly 35-40 dpsm (right around one deer per 20 acres) in most areas of the state, I would say your property is holding the right amount of deer in a perfect world scenario. Atleast in the DNR's eyes...
 

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is it possible my 60ac only hold 4 deer!?
I would say that is alot of deer. My DMU has been below the DNR's goal levels for way more than a decade which btw is 18 deer per sq. mile (about 1/3 of what you are seeing). Even though I'm in a DMU that has a low population doesn't mean I don't have great hunting. The best habitat will hold the most deer.

I had a similar situation in the late 90s and like you was not satisfied with seeing a deer every few days. I read everything I could on the subject. put together a plan and went to work implementing that plan. All it took to get great hunting was a plan and a couple of hundred hours of hard work annually to reach my goal.

Grow 'Em Right is a great source of information along with Building a Whitetail Paradise series in North American Whitetail magazine. The habitat forum shares many real life experiences with improving what you have. You can also shortcut the learning curve by hiring a consultant like Tony Lapratt or Jeff Sturgis but it will take time and effort on your part to improve your land so it hold a deer population that you are satisfied with.

It will take time and money to reach your goal so spend this season setting up goals, the winter coming up with a plan and next year implementing that plan. I won't be easy but great hunting is within reach in northern Michigan but only if you are willing to put in the effort.

Good luck.
 

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thats just the beginning skipper. By the sounds of the landscape with high ridges, the first thing Id do is create cover and bedding. Hardwoods lack cover alot of times. Hinge cutting and clearing some trees to stimulate undergrowth would be my first goal. Work on one of the descent draws in between ridges to create a thicket to provide bedding cover. This will draw deer to stay on your land when they are holding tight till nightfall. A food plot would provide food but not necessarilly put them on your property in shooting hours. Bedding will insure they are there in the daytinme. Once that goal is reached , then Id concentrate on giving them food so they wont have to leave to eat either!
 

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The guys who own the fruit trees would think that four deer per sixty acres is a more than enough. Lets face it not all acreage is equal for holding deer. Besides, if you " load up" the property with deer the fruit tree guys will probably do one of two things, get their buddies to hunt there or get some damage permits or what ever they call them now and then get their buddies to hunt. Leelanau was never known for high deer numbers and the dnr lowered the antlerless permits to 300(was 400 last year).
 

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First of all, without doing a photo-census you are just guessing as to what the deer density is on your property.

Secondly, SE Leelanau Co. is generally the part of the county that has the highest human density and the two highways that have the highest traffic counts. Increasing deer densities in that part of the county would not be a good idea generally, simply from a safety/human interaction standpoint.

Leelanau Co. is also intentionally managed at a low deer density to prevent agricultural damage. Instead of engaging in the typical knee jerk reaction that more deer are always better and the "plant it and they will come" mentality , maybe you should think twice about attempting to increase the density on your property substantially, given your geographic location.

This time of year, in SE Leelanau, the deer are going to be in the corn and close to the apple orchards. Mature hardwoods are not much of a draw while AG products are still in the fields. During the winter months, your mature cedars will be a draw, both as food sources and as thermal cover.
 

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Four Deer on 60 acrers ia about right. The key word is healthy. I'm sure there are 1 or 2 you've not seen. Then toss I a couple traveling Bucks a little later and it sounds like things are pretty goodM.
Rather then builing a hunting preserve, just ppay to hunt one. Might even be cheaper.:)
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Tornado Jim
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The guys who own the fruit trees would think that four deer per sixty acres is a more than enough. Lets face it not all acreage is equal for holding deer. Besides, if you " load up" the property with deer the fruit tree guys will probably do one of two things, get their buddies to hunt there or get some damage permits or what ever they call them now and then get their buddies to hunt. Leelanau was never known for high deer numbers and the dnr lowered the antlerless permits to 300(was 400 last year).
Using your fruit tree scenario, by growing food nearby he may actually diminish the damage to the fruit trees by providing more desireable food. Why do you assume he is going to increase the density of deer by providing food and habitat? The idea is to attract them to his property so he can do his part in reducing the number of deer by shooting them.

Using per square mile goals is by the way totally misleading. No critters are ever evenly distributed in the environment. The agricultural operation would prefer them to be distributed off his property, and the hunter would prefer to see them concentrated on his property.

Any fisherman knows that most of the time 90% of the fish are found in 10% of the lake, and 90% of the fish are caught be 10% of fishermen. Imagine a lake with no fishing spots, where fish are evenly distributed, what fun would that be?

You can be a guy who is happy having a randomly distributed deer herd, or you can create habitat that localizes them at times to your property. You don't necessarily change the number of deer by altering their habitat, you change what routes they take, where they sleep, and where they stop for a bite to eat.

If I own a lonely spot on a highway that is vacant land, and I want to "see" more people (I am lonely out there and want to talk to folks), I might consider building an ice cream shop there. By doing so I don't change the number of people that live on that square mile, but for some odd reason I might change the number of people I get to meet and chat with on that location throughout the day.
 

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Tornado Jim
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First of all, without doing a photo-census you are just guessing as to what the deer density is on your property.

Secondly, SE Leelanau Co. is generally the part of the county that has the highest human density and the two highways that have the highest traffic counts. Increasing deer densities in that part of the county would not be a good idea generally, simply from a safety/human interaction standpoint.

Leelanau Co. is also intentionally managed at a low deer density to prevent agricultural damage. Instead of engaging in the typical knee jerk reaction that more deer are always better and the "plant it and they will come" mentality , maybe you should think twice about attempting to increase the density on your property substantially, given your geographic location.

This time of year, in SE Leelanau, the deer are going to be in the corn and close to the apple orchards. Mature hardwoods are not much of a draw while AG products are still in the fields. During the winter months, your mature cedars will be a draw, both as food sources and as thermal cover.
This notion repeatedly comes up that somehow, a guy on 60 acres that plants a couple of small food plots is going to change the density of deer in the region. It won't, but it may cause more existing deer to visit his property, so that he can do his part in reducing the population:D.
 

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This notion repeatedly comes up that somehow, a guy on 60 acres that plants a couple of small food plots is going to change the density of deer in the region. It won't, but it may cause more existing deer to visit his property, so that he can do his part in reducing the population:D.
If you are in an area where the herd is managed at a low level (which is the case in this situation) and where there is limited amounts of natural browse during significant portions of the year (after agricultural crops have been harvested), there is very little question that planting supplemental crops, particularly the type that provide forage during winter or spring periods, can help to sustain an increased herd density. Denying this is simply denying reality.

Even if increasing the density is not an issue, creating seasonal pockets of deer concentrations has some implications that should be taken into consideration. The general area that this property appears to be located in has relatively large numbers of residential subdivisions and also has M-22, a heavily traveled traffic corridor going through it. Drawing deer from adjacent areas that have less human density is going to result in increased negative deer/human interaction both in the form of property damage and car accidents. It might be prudent to take a step back and look at the overall implications of ones actions, instead of viewing things only from the standpoint of the immediate personal gratification of increasing deer density on ones property.

Thirdly, your argument that increasing deer densities or concentrating deer in a given spot will actually result in a decrease in the population is unlikely, at best. Leelanau Co. does not have an over-population problem and only 300 antlerless permits are available for the entire County. In order to have a meaningful impact on the population, the land owner would have to load up his property with dozens of hunters, who would all have to be successful and anybody that knows anything about hunting knows that putting dozens of hunters on 60 acres is unlikely to produce a very high success rate. ;)
 

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Tornado Jim
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.

The general area that this property appears to be located in has relatively large numbers of residential subdivisions and also has M-22, a heavily traveled traffic corridor going through it. Drawing deer from adjacent areas that have less human density is going to result in increased negative deer/human interaction both in the form of property damage and car accidents. It might be prudent to take a step back and look at the overall implications of ones actions, instead of viewing things only from the standpoint of the immediate personal gratification of increasing deer density on ones property.
If I use your logic than of course it would be morally suspect to build another house in the area because that would result in "increased negative deer/human interaction both in the form of property damage and car accidents."

A hunter on 60 acres who puts in a couple of 1/4 acre food plots will not support more deer in the area, he will simply divert the travels of deer that are already in the area. Your arguments suggest that deer would be attracted by more than a short distance off their regular trails. You create an image of deer streaming in from other counties, having heard about the horn of plenty, causing traffic jams and accidents while trying to make their way towards the bounty of food Sam would provide.

I suspect most people see the paucity of real world logic in your arguments and so I won't get into one of your nuanced intellectual duels. Have fun.

Sam, if you plant a little food and create some bedding areas and travel corridors, you will see more deer without damaging the economy in the area and causing carnage on the highways. Believe me, you cannot ruin the fine ecological balance in your county with anything you do on your 60 acres:lol::lol::lol::. By the way Sam, here are some pictures of Munstr's food plots--God forbid you do the same::sad::lol::lol::

http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=305708&highlight=plots

There is some serious effort at feeding going on there:evilsmile:.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow fellas! Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. One thing I really should have mentioned it that it's not mine forever! I am leasing it now, and won't likely do so in the future. It's a bit complicated, but I didn't just lease the land, I am leasing the house and the land came with it. I really don't think I will be able to get on there again in the future.
I agree, if it were an option, a series of small plots would be a fun way to increase the viability of the property. I would likely add pond one way or the other. As far as what musterlandr said about adversely affecting the car/deer accidents and whatnot, that's absurd. Would you honestly expect anyone to make the decision NOT to enhance their property, which they purchased for deer hunting, because they were worried that the deer would be too close to a rural highway? OR other houses? or an orchard? That sort of thinking only gets a voice here.

I understand that 4 deer that actually live on my 60 isn't a bad deal at all, what I was concerned with is that there don't seem to be any others passing through, or around. I walked the land and there were very few trails coming onto or leaving the property. Big woods hunting there are fewer deer than that without a doubt, but you know that they travel and wander so there is always the chance of seeing others especially as the rit approaches. I hunt the part of the UP that sees the greatest migration, (not this property I am talking about of course) and you just never can be sure what an area holds.
 

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It's simply amazing how some seem to lack the capacity to ever acknowledge that food plots can actually have some negative consequences. :lol:

If your property is in an area that is surrounded by developed residential subdivisions and high traffic, do you really think that drawing more deer into that area and increasing the local concentration is absent of any potential negative consequences? Really? Or do you just not care about those consequences because to you growing deer is Job #1 and any other potential impact is unimportant.

I'd agree that a couple of 1/4 acre food plots are unlikely to increase the density much. They are also unlikely to provide much of a draw in an area that has hundreds of acres of apple orchards and hundreds of acres of standing corn in the immediate area, at least until those crops are harvested. If you know anything about SE Leelanau Co, the major concentrations of deer tend to be in the inland watershed areas, that are surrounded by agricultural land that is located at higher elevations. For example, the area surrounding Mann Creek and the other small creeks that drain into either Cedar Lake or Lake Leelanau, provide natural travel corridors and bedding areas in the wetland/lowlands along those creeks. The deer tend to stay in these travel corridors and then leave them to feed in the adjacent corn fields or orchards like Staneks.

The hardwood ridges that line the M-22 corridor along the bay tend to be pretty mature and offer little incentive to draw the deer away from the inland agricultural/bedding areas. I suppose you could spend thousands of dollars and countless hours of time attempting to compete with what's already there, but in an area that is managed at about 20 DPSM, how many additional deer are you actually going to draw and is it worth it?

And Bio, I spent 10 years looking for the right location prior to purchasing my property. It's located in one of the lowest human density areas in the County and the road frontage is on a secondary road that has almost no traffic. That was not accidental, those were features that I was intentionally looking for when examining property. Your comparing apples to oranges. If Sam's property was located in a different part of the County with a different surrounding geographic make-up, extensively managing his property might make more sense but given the location described, he is likely fighting an uphill battle and even if successful it may have some unintended negative consequences. Just food for thought.
 
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