Why March Is a Key Month for Whitetail Deer Hunters

The NCAA event. St. Paddy’s Day. Mardi Gras. All of them do what they’ll to stop March from successful Yawner Month of the 12 months. But when that’s not sufficient, contemplate the 2022 fall deer season. That ought to maintain March from being a slog for you, as a result of should you’re critical about searching and managing whitetails, that is crucial low season month of the 12 months, and there’s heaps to do. In truth, it ought to rank solely barely under any month when the deer season is definitely open.

Along with the shed searching, there’s scouting, stand-hanging, timber administration, and frost-seeding meals plots. Positive, you possibly can theoretically do a few of these issues in different months, however let’s be trustworthy: As soon as April and Could get going, there’s turkey searching throughout a lot of the nation, in addition to a few of the greatest fishing of the 12 months. Plus, quite a lot of what must be performed within the spring is far simpler to do earlier than green-up turns your open hardwoods right into a jungle.

So let’s get going. Right here’s what you might want to get performed.

1. Spring Scouting

photo of buck rub
Final season’s rubs and scrapes are as seen in early spring as they had been in fall. Dave Hurteau

Many of the properties I hunt are comparatively small tracts of 100 acres or much less, a few of which I’ve chased deer on for greater than 20 years.  However I nonetheless scout them each spring. Why? As a result of issues change, and since I by no means get as a lot scouting performed as I wish to in the course of the season. However in March, the woods look precisely like they did in October and November, so I can see what the deer had been as much as final fall and anticipate a few of subsequent fall’s motion too.

As a result of meals sources can change so drastically, even between now and fall, my March scouting periods give attention to two key spots: bedding areas and terrain funnels. I do know, for instance, that my bluff-country bucks are inclined to mattress on ridge ends. However strolling these spots in March lets me pinpoint whether or not bucks are laying up close to a pile of blowdowns created by a windstorm final fall, or whether or not a maturing forest has compelled them to change their bed room to a spot the place they really feel safer. The very best beds are these the place the buck has laid in a selected spot so many occasions that he’s altered the panorama; I’ve discovered dished-out beds devoid of leaves or particles with a number of piles of droppings in or close to the mattress. I do know these lairs are ones a buck is trustworthy to, which is vital info to have come fall.

Terrain funnels are most likely my favourite locations to hold a stand, as they affect the actions of greenbacks and does, making them the highest-odds spots for motion in the course of the rut. That is very important intel on any new property, however even on farms I do know effectively, I make it some extent to verify conventional hotspots and search for new ones. Storms can drop timber that shut down one funnel and create one other, or a logging operation can create habitat that wasn’t there the 12 months earlier than. As I stroll out ditch and creek crossings, benches, habitat edges, and different funnels, I maintain a relentless look ahead to buck signal. Rubs and scrapes, that are nonetheless simply seen in March, will at all times tip me off to the popular journey routes of mature bucks, which convey us to the following merchandise in your to-do checklist.

Associated: Why Early Spring Is the Best Time to Scout for Deer

2. Stand hanging

The easiest deer stands I’ve hung over the course of the previous couple of a long time nearly all got here immediately on the heels of spring scouting missions. Some of the memorable was a set I hung in a staging space following a late-March scouting trek. The little backbone ridge was the right connector between two bigger bedding ridges and, solely 75 yards off, a secluded farm subject. I hauled a stand in there the following day, reduce my taking pictures lanes, and left. The farmer noticed an enormous 10-point utilizing the sector edge all July and August, however simply because the September archery season opened the buck disappeared. I gambled that the buck hadn’t deserted the world, however was staging up on my ridge and never hitting the sector till darkish. On the primary afternoon that the wind was proper, I slipped in for the gamble—and gained.

The obvious benefit of hanging stands now’s you can penetrate delicate spots, like bedding areas, which can be greatest left alone in the course of the fall. I’ve zero hesitation about sliding into sanctuaries, getting my get up and reducing my taking pictures lanes, then leaving the place alone for the following six months. If my exercise bumps a buck out of there and he remembers it subsequent fall, effectively, that deer is simply too sensible to kill anyway.

Second, I can actually take the time to decipher trails and brush out efficient taking pictures lanes to them. The buck talked about above fell solely as a result of, simply after I thought I’d completed my trimming job, I made yet one more loop to see if there was a path I’d missed. Mature bucks are notorious for following faint trails ignored by different deer, and I discovered simply such a path after I made my remaining search and discerned a tiny path that snaked via thick cedars. I grabbed my pole noticed and clipped sufficient branches for a shot to that path, which was simply the trail the buck selected, and the one alternative that offered a shot.  

3. Land administration

photo of hinge-cut trees
Now could be the right time to hinge-cut timber to create safety cowl for deer. Nationwide Deer Affiliation

We’ve talked about hinge-cutting and other timber management efforts recently, and that is the right time to finish these initiatives. The primary hinge-cutting job I ever helped on occurred in July and it was completely acceptable (and positively higher than nothing). However the perfect ones have all been in late winter or early spring; not solely does this era give me loads of time to finish the challenge to my satisfaction, however dropping timber now offers extra time for regrowth to happen within the lengthy days of summer season.

Associated: Fire Up the Chainsaw, Deer Hunters. Now’s the Time to Do These 5 Spring Timber Management Projects

That is additionally the right time for frost seeding, an effective way to spice up development in a clover plot. However that’s not the one meals plot work that may be accomplished now. If I plan to broaden a plot or create a brand new one, this can be a excellent time to get a skid loader (or different heavy gear) into an space and begin transferring filth. And as quickly as the bottom thaws, it’s time to take soil samples and get them to the elevator for evaluation. It seems like this 12 months will likely be a harder one for getting lime, fertilizer, and herbicides, (my farmer neighbors are already anxious, so I’m too), and getting a leap on inserting an order is a good suggestion.

Associated: Give Your Clover Plots a Boost by Frost Seeding Now

4. Shed searching

photo of shed antler
Shed antlers are enjoyable to search out and might tip you off to the place a deer likes to gap up in your property. Dave Hurteau

I do know deer hunters who’re absolute shed-hunting maniacs, who fill truck beds with antlers and discover matched units that gross-score greater than any buck most of us will ever kill. For them, shed searching is a sport all by itself. And that’s nice. For me, it’s extra about strolling my deer searching floor with an opportunity of discovering a horn and possibly studying a little bit extra in regards to the whitetails that stay right here. Both method, it makes March a extra enjoyably month.

The truth that most of my shed searching is completed whereas scouting for subsequent fall’s hunts makes every antler I discover, a minimum of in my thoughts, fairly essential. Along with letting me know which deer have survived and can probably be round within the fall, I usually get some clues in regards to the buck’s habits. If I discover an antler near thick cowl, I’m can assume that I’m near a most well-liked bedding space (if not proper in it). Simply a few years in the past, I used to be scouting a ridge after I noticed a sidehill path that simply appeared form of “bucky” to me. So I dropped down and adopted the runway for 100 yards, and simply the place the path crossed a ditch, I noticed a matched set of sheds from a 3½-year-old buck mendacity aspect by aspect on the trail. I knew instantly that I’d discovered an important path to arrange on for the following searching season.

So, whereas I’ll poke round a couple of prime winter meals sources particularly on the lookout for antlers, as quickly because the snow leaves I’m within the timber, additionally scouting for signal that can assist me for subsequent fall’s hunt. I nonetheless discover some shed antlers, and as a substitute of simply being chunks of bone mendacity on the bottom, they develop into an important piece of the scouting puzzle.

Associated: 20 Tips for Finding More Shed Antlers This Spring

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