VENISON IS IN THE FREEZER, antlers and capes dropped off at Double Nickel Taxidermy, and many great memories are made with friends and family.
January is here, and it’s time to start thinking about hunting coyotes and wild hogs…right? Well, maybe so. But do not give up on whitetails just yet.
In Texas we are blessed with rather long hunting seasons. Some extend well into January and February, particularly those properties involved in the Managed Land Deer Permit (MLDP) programs. There is still some truly great deer hunting to be had in January and in some cases February.
During the first month of the New Year some rut activity is still going on in the Brush Country. Throughout much of the rest of the state there may well be a second rut occurring. In the case of the latter, does coming into estrus likely are six-month old fawns, rather than does that for some reason did not “settle” after being bred during their first estrus.
Interestingly, does can come into estrus as many as seven times each fall and winter at 28 day intervals. Doe fawns, especially if they have been on good nutrition, will experience their first estrus in January and even later.
Several years ago doing deer research on properties where deer never went hungry, we found as high as 80 percent of the doe fawns got bred in January and February.
When it comes to hunting late season whitetails, the best place to find them is around food sources: natural, planted food plots, and here in Texas, baited areas.
Bucks that are still interested in does will cruise food sources because they know that’s where the does are. And too, bucks once again realize they are hungry.
I have a couple of January whitetail hunts planned that will take place the first days of the month and mid-month immediately before the annual Dallas Safari Club convention.
Early January on a MLDP ranch, I am hunting a buck that for the past three years has not been seen until the first days of the New Year. The property is low-fenced. Where he lives and hides until January, I have no idea.
For the past three years he has shown up feeding in a long, rather narrow, winding food plot planted with Tecomate’s Monster Mix. This year he should be as prime as a six or seven-year old.
My second hunt in January is to help a couple of friends take the remaining does that annually need to come off of their property. This is a meat hunt. I will process back straps and part of the high quarters into steaks and cut the rest of the meat to be turned into sausage.
January and February too, are ideal times to do habitat “work,” fertilizing natural browse and mast producing species. Each winter I select certain oaks, pecan and persimmon trees on my home property to fertilize with Triple 15.
I dig a shallow trench on the tree’s drip-line, which is the reach of the outermost branches. This is where the tree’s feeder roots are located. I pour a line of fertilizer, then cover the trench.
This helps the tree-producing acorns, nuts and fruit the following fall. In the case of acorns, fertilizer makes them “sweeter, meaning less tannic acid. Some deer will go to these fertilized trees instead of others, come next fall. I also fertilize native browse species on my property including youpon, Japanese honeysuckle (which I will also plant more of in January and February) and greenbriar. All these respond nicely to fertilizer.
Whitetail hunting for the year is not over yet, but it is also time to start thinking about next hunting season.
Email Larry Weishuhn at ContactUs@fishgame.com