Summer Projects That Will Increase Bow Hunting Success

FEATURE: STRUTTINBUCKS

We all too often fall into a rhythm of comfort. We as humans in this day in age are a creature of habit and comfort, most of us completely satisfied with a 9-5 job to come home, see the kids, cook dinner, just to do it over the next day. This unfortunate truth often predates on our hobbies and passions as well, including bow hunting. Sure we would all love to hit the slopes of Colorado in search of bugling bulls but the facts don’t lie that probably 80% of us won’t leave the state we call home. We are homebodies that have fallen into the rhythm of deer season. Worse yet is that this “disease” of comfort has overflowed into our hunting strategies, bow practice, and even summer preparation. This year we are challenging you not to stay within your comfort zone and instead take a serious look at some of the most effective summer projects that you can do to improve your bow hunting.

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Overcome Your Limits

Now obviously this will be in the confines of your limits. Either with your budget, your equipment, or the land you have access to. Somehow, someway we as hunters overcome and get around these issues. Where there is a will, there is a way. If you strive and put forth the effort to create a better situation for deer season, then you will eventually get there. In regards to “overcoming your limits” the limits are not actually physical but mental. When the time arrives to start working on summer projects so many of us stop before even getting started. The mental block is easy to settle with, it’s comfortable to make excuses. Getting over this initial mental block when looking into summer projects is the first step you need to take.

If you are one of the lucky few that get past this road block then you stand an excellent chance of coming out of this year’s deer season well-off. So now what?

You have prepared yourself mentally to decide that you will overcome your limits. If the limit you have identified is land then maybe it is time to start really looking into your friends, family, or neighbors for land to hunt. If it is a budget issue, then it’s time to borrow equipment or discover the cheapest ways to make a big impact on bow hunting. Tackling these initial issues first will now leave you in the right mindset to start on these summer projects.

 Getting Started

There are a lot of resources online when it comes to summer projects for deer hunting. You have been subject to these for multiple years, reading and watching everything from sound advice from professionals to downright ridiculous tactics that are unrealistically hopeful at best. Before even attempting some of this online noise, you need to sit down, stop, and think! Logically thinking through your hunting property, strategies, stand setups, entry and exit routes, and food sources will result in a better end result for your time and effort. Grab a computer or laptop, download the now free Google Earth Pro, and start diagnosing your hunting property.

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This will make the summer projects listed below make sense in seeing how they fit with your bow hunting strategy…as well as more make for a more successful season.

What are you looking for?

The first thing you want to look for when diagnosing potential areas of improvement on a hunting property are the basic three needs for a deer. This is simple stuff. Identify and mark/map out food, water, and cover. This will give you a base into how your property works, what areas you should treat as sanctuaries and what areas might work potentially as potential hunting spots, new food plots, or could be enhanced with a summer project.

After this initial mapping, really take a look at the bigger picture.  Understand that deer will not reside solely on your property but will also travel, bed, and feed on your neighbor’s property. Remember, to a buck there are no such things as property lines!

Now here is where you start to locate room for improvement. Ask yourself what is missing from the landscape. Sure you have located the food sources but when will be the peak of the food source, when will the food be limited in your property’s direct surroundings? If you are surrounded by corn and beans, then the late season is a prime opportunity to improve upon. However, food should not be your only concern! Deer need a bit more than food to survive and thrive in a landscape. Where is the water, where is the cover, are they year round sources or just temporary?

After these initial considerations rank these items. The highest priority item will be the most lacking, likewise what is plentiful on the property or on your neighbor’s property will be low on the list. You list might look something like this:

(A list for a common Midwest property)

  1. Late season food source
  2. Thick early successional cover
  3. Water source
  4. A sanctuary to relieve hunting pressure

This initial list creates room for expansion, but it also narrows your thinking. As hunters we are shown countless “projects” on social media that may or may not be useful. It creates excitement for a potential opportunity to increase property or hunting success, however they can be dangerous. You’ll be spending time and money on projects that may not be fruitful, when you should be concentrating on the priorities on this list. Summer projects like the ones covered below are great tools and tactics to be used but only where they make sense. Keep this in mind as you continue reading. Also keep in mind summer projects do not have to be limited to the property…they might be as simple as planning for your bow hunting strategies come deer season.

The Summer Projects

Let’s cut straight to it. Some of the projects listed below are some of the most common summer projects you will see on social media this year, others are not common ones but offer real tangible benefits when reviewing investment.

To rank these summer bow hunting projects for quick reference we have assigned 3 levels of “popularity”(Low, Moderate, and High) and three levels of “effectiveness” (Worthless, Worthwhile, and Deadly).

Waterholes for Deer

Waterholes for deer is definitely one summer project that comes to mind to increase bow hunting success. These tiny honey holes where water is lacking on a hunting property can not only offer wildlife relief but can become deer social hubs. However, like most attractive resources such as bait, water, and minerals, some states rule placed waterholes (in tanks and pools) are considered illegal to hunt over. Be sure to check with your local conservation officer on these rules. Regardless, offering this waterhole can create social hubs for deer. These social hubs centered around water and food in key points such as transition areas and adjacent to bedding areas will create hotspots for deer activity even when the “bait” is removed.

Popularity: Moderate

Effectiveness: Deadly (if you can hunt over them)

Set a Deer Sanctuary Aside

You do not hunt every square foot of your property, do you? Setting aside a portion of your property say 10% and devoting it to a deer sanctuary could result in holding more deer. A deer sanctuary is a place that you do not enter, hunt in, hunt around, or even monitor with cameras. It’s a section of the property entirely devoted to be a stress and pressure relief for the deer residing on your property. These sanctuaries in the right locations obviously create the potential to strategize your bow hunting. You can gather that these areas will have a high amount of traffic coming in and out of them. Summer projects like food sources, trail cameras, minerals, and waterholes pivoting on the movements coming into and out of the sanctuary will inevitably create an opportunity for you while bow hunting.

Popularity: Low

Effectiveness: Worthwhile

Minerals for Deer

Placing mineral sites out for deer during the summer is about as basic of a summer project as you can get. The project of summer minerals is worthwhile as they offer great places to hang trail cameras. This allows you to keep tabs on bachelor groups and later in the year to start forming a hit list for early season hunting.

Popularity: High

Effectiveness: Worthwhile

 

Summer feeding

With small properties or properties simply not offering enough food to the deer herd utilizing the property supplemental feeding is worthwhile. Obviously hunting over feed in states where legal is a deadly but controversial topic. This particular blog, however, is discussing the project of supplemental feeding over the summer.

Supplemental feeding programs on the properties mentioned above are worthwhile over the summer. They can provide the quantity and quality of feed deer need during the summer months. Obviously the big need during these months Is protein!

Popularity: High

Effectiveness: Deadly if you can hunt over feed, Worthwhile during the summer

 

Habitat Work

Habitat work such as prescribed fire, harvesting timber, promoting early successional growth, hinge cutting, and installment of native grasses and cover are often not as popular as they should be. These offseason projects are not specific for hunting purposes, rather create the opportunity for more deer and bigger bucks. It’s simple, habitat work equals deer habitat which equals deer food and cover. The one thing hunters do need to keep in mind is that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If your habitat work goes above and beyond, you may start to have problems when hunting. If every acre of your property is great deer habitat and lacks planning, your deer will have no script to read. This means that it will be harder to pinpoint stand sites and places to encounter hit-list bucks!

Popularity: Moderate

Effectiveness: Worthwhile (if not overdone and well planned)

 

Create a Trail Camera Schedule

Sure everyone puts out trail cameras, but how often do you sit down and plan out your entire year’s trail camera schedule? This means planning out what your trail camera strategies, setups, and setting will be for every week of deer season. While setting out trail cameras over the summer is relatively basic, deer season creates the need for a detailed weekly plan. While mock scrapes might be the perfect trail camera location one week, within a couple days if not hours, a trail camera over a rut funnel could gather 10x the data! Sit down, do your research and come up with a plan for your cameras. You may not know exactly where they will go, but at least you will know what to look for and what settings will be best for that timeframe of deer season. This tactic can reveal data that is absolutely crucial to killing mature hit-list bucks. Even one photo can mean the difference in your season’s bow hunting success!

Popularity: Low

Effectiveness: Deadly

Reduce the Pressure

Another summer project (more like conscious effort) that is low in popularity is to reduce the pressure on your property and deer herd. Sure we are all busy with other summer projects, but in what way can you reduce the impact of every visit to your property? How is this done? To start only enter your property using a truck, side-by-side, four wheeler, or tractor. Drive in, leave them running, and drive out. This tactic is a lot less stressful and intimidating versus a hunter trying to slip in and out of a property which deer associate with predation. Another project to start incorporating this summer is entry and exit routes. By either planning out wind direction, stand location, and which route is the safest in not bumping deer, or creating an entry and exit route by screening can work wonders for you come deer season. Another project to reduce hunting pressure that is very low in popularity is to simply plan out your days of deer season. Keep to only hunting on the “best days” or by what your observations and trail cameras are telling you. This might end up as only hunting cold fronts in October, the best days of the rut, and then a couple afternoons in the late season. Hunting time might decrease substantially but each sit has a higher probability of success!

 

Popularity: Low

Effectiveness: Deadly

 

Food plots

Obviously, the summer project of installing and managing food plots is extremely popular and deadly. However, because of these attributes bow hunters can easily fall into a trap. This trap is either not researching what the best food plot might be for their situation or not planning the food plot well enough to benefit their bow hunting strategy. Before planting fall food plots or next year’s spring food plots work through the location, species, and strategy of every plot. You should ask yourself what you want in terms of a food plot…Is it a kill plot, a feeding plot, an early season plot, late season plot, or simply some attraction in a random field or opening? Where is the nearest bedding area, water source, staging area, and stand site? Paying attention this year might be the project you need to focus on…not just planting food plots.

Check out the best bow hunting food plots here!

Popularity: High

Effectiveness: Deadly

Conclusion

This year we are challenging you not to stay within your comfort zone and instead take a serious look at some of the most effective summer projects that you can do to improve your bow hunting. Hopefully, this article will inspire you to get up and start working on your hunting property. Mock up a plan, prioritize each item, and get to work! Summer is short lived and bow hunting season is right around the corner!

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