Spring is here and with it comes warm weather, spring rains and turkeys gobbling in the forest. We will look at some projects you can engage in during the spring months that will improve your hunting land, help your wildlife and give you an opportunity to enjoy this great land in the spring and summer months.
Perennial Food Plots
Perennial plots are high on my list of habitat improvement projects. These seeds are different than annuals in that; they will grow and propagate throughout your land for many years, decades and under the right conditions, forever. We select plants that provide high quality nutrition for our wildlife, are native to our area, and are aggressive re-seeders. Some of the seeds that we planted this spring are Illinois bundle flower, Beewild Bundleflower and Maximillian sunflower. Areas that we clear brush and mesquites out of are great locations for perennial food plots. Mesquite and cedar trees consume as much as 30 gallons of water a day, taking this precious commodity away from preferred plants that provide much needed nutrition to your wildlife.
Annual Food Plots
We plant spring and fall annual food plots in strategic locations on our hunting land. Annual plots are seeded with plants such as peas, beans, Okra, chicory, peanuts, soybeans and lab lab that grow rapidly and provide excellent high protein forage for a shorter amount of time than perennials, typically a season. We planted a mix of annual seeds from Heartland Wildlife Institute that is designed for the Texas area.
Supplemental feeding is just that – a supplement to what your habitat offers your wildlife. January, February and July and August are stress periods for the deer and they really hit the feeders hard during these months. March, April, May and June typically bring spring rains and with it plenty of new growth of natural forbs and legumes that provide plenty of nutrition for the deer.
Camp and Road Projects
Spring is the time to move blinds, fix things around camp, improve roads, or other projects that you don’t want to do during the fall hunting season. I have an on-going list of things I would like to do around our place and try to knock one or two of these projects off each year. This spring I did a project with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to clear some brush and reseed with a perennial grass and forb mix. I will go into detail of this project in coming articles and videos.
Shed Antler Searches
This can provide hours of exercise and an opportunity to get to know areas of your hunting land that you should not go in during the deer season. I once found a shed from a buck that no one had ever seen before and two years later my son shot this buck 100 yards from where I found the shed. Finding that particular shed gave us clues about where to hunt and motivation to hunt harder than we otherwise might have and ultimately provided an exceptional father son experience that we will always remember.
Keeping Predator and Varmint Numbers In Check
With fur prices down, not too many people trap anymore. This has resulted in an explosion of coons, coyotes, possums, skunks and other critters that if not kept in balance, can do a lot of damage to the game birds and deer that we are trying to grow on our lands. Coyotes can kill as many as 70% of a fawn crop and coons and skunks will raid quail and turkey nests resulting in incredibly low hatch rates. Varmint hunting can be a great winter/spring activity that allows you to keep your hunting skills sharp and will help re-balance wildlife populations to more normal ratios.
Spring is a great time of year to stock your ponds with fish. If you have ponds or stock tanks on your property, you might want to consider stocking them with bass, catfish, perch and minnows. The size of the ponds will determine what type of fish you stock it with. Watch your newspaper or ask your local feed stores when the fish trucks will be there and get those ponds stocked with fish.
Spring turkey hunting is a great sport and goes right along with the other activates we have been discussing. I love to wake up early, call in a big tom turkey and then have the rest of the day to plant food plots, find dropped antlers or just hang out and enjoy the company of my fellow camp mates. This is a great time of year to be in the woods.
Taking on a project or two each year will have long term effects on your property, resulting in better habitat, healthy wildlife populations and give you rich bonding experiences with your fellow hunters. Good luck turkey hunting and on the projects that you engage in this spring and summer.