Deer Summer Doldrums?
“IF IT GETS ANY HOTTER, the lead bullets in my Ruger Wrangler pistol may just melt out the end of the barrel!” said my son-in-law Lance Tigrett, as he dragged another cedar limb onto a pile.
I laughed as I wiped sweat from my brow and walked toward the shade of an ancient live oak.
For the past hour, I had been sawing limbs from cedar trees that had died during a severe drought a few years ago. Lance had been making numerous piles about eight feet in diameter and three or so feet tall. We had earlier that morning selected each site based on the presence of green briar, Japanese honeysuckle, mustang grape, as well as persimmon, white oak and pecan saplings from seeds we had planted.
Before creating our “limb piles” we also scattered a small cup of 13-13-13 fertilizer. We dropped a few okra, native and domestic sunflower seeds on the site; then piled cedar limbs on top.
“Kind of like sinking Christmas trees into a pond to create fish habitat, isn’t it,” commented Lance. “We used to do that to create protection or habitat for bait fish, but also a place for crappie and bass, creating food and cover.”
He was exactly right. The limb pile would create cover for the growing browse- and mast-producing trees. This helped protect them from over-use by wildlife and livestock. It would also create nesting and roosting areas for birds.
My goal for the morning was to create ten more wildlife brush piles. Once those were completed,I had other things on our to-do list on the small property I own, and the adjoining property I lease for hunting.
Our morning chore completed, we headed to “the deer pasture” after lunch. A little over a year ago, I had fenced off approximately ten acres along our usually dry creek. This would keep cattle out, except those days when I allowed grazing access to my brother’s cows and calves.
We graze it only a couple of days per season. This helps reduces the grass cover. Because the pasture is only 10 acres, the day prior to grazing it with usually 35 to 50 head of cattle, I hand-sow the pasture with a mixture of Tecomate food plot seeds mixed with native wild flower seeds.
I gather these seeds during late spring when wild flowers seed out. Hoof action from the cattle helps “plant” the seeds.
The results of these simple techniques have been dramatic. This helps create habitat for all wildlife, not just targeted whitetail deer. Since we started on our whitetail deer habitat improvement program I have seen a huge increase in butterflies, song birds, game birds, squirrels, and rabbits.
I am certain a variety of wildlife the remains unseen most of the time also benefits. We have greatly increased the quality, quantity and variety of forage and browse for whitetail deer. But in fact all wildlife species as well as the habitat itself have benefited.
Because of this, the vegetation has gotten “thicker” and taller. I mention this because deer—like people—tend to take the path of least resistance. Because of this, I have created “meandering” trails through the pasture using a regular lawn mower.
These paths are predetermined to route deer by specific places such as a ground blind I built using lumber and tin from my grandfather’s barn. We can see them from there during hunting season, or, earlier. Lance’s trail camera can record them and see their rapidly developing antlers for next fall.
Doldrums of summer…. I don’t think so.
Email Larry Weishuhn at ContactUs@fishgame.com