Ask Dr. Dave: How do I Improve The Quality of Bucks on my Land?

Todd P. from West Virginia writes to ask about how to improve the quality of bucks on his land.

“I only have 180 acres and am careful about what bucks I (and friends and family) harvest. However, all of my neighbors shoot any buck that walks, so the quality of bucks I have on my property are not good. I protect small bucks, but my neighbors shoot them before they can mature. Is there anything I can do in this situation?”

Todd: that is a great question and I hear it all the time. I have two thoughts. The first idea is one that most of you in this situation have probably tried, but with little success. Go to your neighbors and attempt to get them on board with an antler restriction that everyone follows. OK, that one may not always work.

The second thought is to create one or two 10- to 20-acre sanctuaries in or near the center of your property. Maybe a clear cut. Do whatever it takes to create the nastiest, thickest habitat you can create. Then reduce the activity on your hunting area. No use of 4-wheelers at all, and no shooting there in the off season.

It’s maybe OK to have a family picnic or weekend outing, but not a lot of them. Just cut down on all human activity, especially a couple months before hunting season. You want the bucks that are disturbed elsewhere to feel safe on your farm, in your sanctuaries.

Once created, you never, ever want to enter the sanctuary. The only exception is when trailing a wounded deer. Once bucks learn to go there for security, especially when the neighbors start shooting, your sanctuaries may be the place they come to. Have some food plots nearby and you may develop the hot spot in town where big bucks go. Good luck!

Guide Outdoors Readers: Have you run into a similar situation like the one from Todd above? How have you handled it? Please comment below.

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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