Hunting season has come and gone here in Oklahoma. for some whitetails have left their minds only to return come next fall. For the 365 days-a-year whitetail manager like myself, the end of hunting season means the preparation for next season has begun. So today we are going to talk about offseason projects to increase the odds of filling your tags on some big bucks next season.
In recent years, in my part of the country, feeding protein has become a big deal. Most people don’t think about filling their feeders until the spring and summer months when the antlers are already growing, but this is definitely not the most effective way in my mind. If you have the means I would strongly recommend starting now (or 2 months ago is even better). Coming out of the rut into the depths of winter the deer’s bodies are as run down as ever and the food supply and quality are at a low point for the year. So in my mind, this is the most important time of the year to get the deer fed back to good health. That-a-way once they start the antler growing process they can put more nutrients to the antlers and less to regaining pounds lost during the rut.
A couple of other cheap and effective projects that can be done this time of year are TSI (Timber stand improvements) in the form of hinge cutting and prescribed fire. Hinge cutting is a great way to increase bedding cover and also bring food down to ground level where it can be available to deer. Hinge cutting will also allow more light to reach the forest floor which in turn will increase the amount of browse and undergrowth which is great for cover and food. Prescribed fire is also another cheap effective tool that can be used to promote new and preferred growth to all wildlife.
I know the exciting time of hunting is over but I would recommend that you don’t completely put deer hunting on the back burner until next year. If you want to have the most success possible, getting out this time of year and putting in a little bit of hard work will greatly increase your chances of filling a tag next fall