Ask Dr. Dave: What Should be my First Priorities Managing New Land For Deer?

Steve W. from western Virginia writes to ask about land management and food plots on his new property.

“I just bought a 200-acre piece of mountain property that is about three-fourths timber and one-fourth old fields. I want to begin a management plan to get some good deer on here. I’ve found some tree stands on the property so apparently someone has been hunting there, although the former landowner says there is not anyone hunting on it. What foods should I plant in the food plots and what supplemental feed and minerals should I put out?”

Steve: Though building food plots and using supplemental feed may be a good idea, there are several things to do beyond that and maybe before that. First, you need to post your farm now with “No Trespassing” signs. Ask nearby neighbors if they know who is hunting it (and it may be them), and plan on patrolling the farm the first days of every type of hunting season (bow, muzzleloader, rifle, small game, big game). This is critical that first year. There is no sense creating good deer for someone else to shoot on your land!

Talk to a local state forester about timber management, and improvement cutting for your oak trees. Make sure you have two good water sources, and create at least one 10- to 20-acre sanctuary with the thickest cover you can create (clearcutting will usually do that, planting evergreens will also help). Set harvest goals and standards for buck and doe harvest, including what antler restrictions you want (and will need). Once you have other people off of your property, put out a few cameras over bait stations (check your state laws for the legality of it) and get some idea of what you have using the property. Once these things are started, then you can think about how many, where, how big, and what to plant in the food plots.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of Food Plots & Seeds!

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of Mineral Attractants & Feed!

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selectoin of ATV Implements for your food plots!

If you have a question for Dr. Dave Samuel, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, manager of Guide Outdoors. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for more than 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years


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