John's Journal...

How to Produce and Harvest Your Own Trophy Bucks with Dr. Keith Causey

Avoid Excessive Hunting Pressure, and Improve Food Quality

Click to enlargeEditor's Note:  Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife science at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, has studied the habits and haunts of the whitetail deer for more than 40 years. Causey has used radio telemetry and penned-deer studies to gather much of his research on white-tailed deer. Causey, one of the nation's leading deer researchers and an avid bowhunter, tells us how to produce more quality deer on the lands you hunt and/or own how to hunt those whitetails more effectively.

You may have five to 10 really big bucks 3-years old or older on the property you hunt and never take them, if you don't control the hunting pressure on the land. A 3-year-old buck or older becomes very sensitive to human disturbance in his habitat.  I believe these older-age-class bucks have in their memory banks the signs, the smells and the sounds that hunters make that cause the deer to bury-up in thick cover and keep you from ever seeing them in daylight hours.  If you can minimize the amount of hunter activity on the lands wheClick to enlargere you attempt to establish trophy bucks, you'll drastically increase your opportunities for harvesting these bucks during bow season.
* Eliminate the use of 4-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and any type of mechanized form of transportation in the areas you hunt.
* Go into the regions you want to hunt only with a favorable wind to avoid spooking the deer.
* Approach your hunting area quietly and slowly and leave that land in the same way.
* Hunt no stand site more than once a week.
You'll find your odds for taking quality bucks much greater if you don't hunt when you know you'll spook more deer than you'll see.  If you have 2,000 acres to hunt and divide that 2,000 acres into 200-acre blocks, never hunt any of those 200-acre blocks more than once a week to increase your odds forbagging big bucks with your bow.  If you realize you don't have a correct wind to hunt any one of those woodlots without allowing your human odor to go into the bedding area, then don't hunt that patch of woods that day.Click to enlarge

I saw the dramatic effects of hunting pressure when I did research or deer in Louisiana.  During hunting season, I would fly over vast areas of woodlots and croplands, looking for trophy bucks.  I discovered that in areas of high hunter pressure, I'd often see trophy bucks bedded-down in the middles of 200- to 500-acre fields of cotton, corn and rice stubble. No hunter expected to find a trophy buck in a place like this, but the bucks had learned that by bedding-down in these big fields all day long, they'd never encounter a hunter.  Even if a hunter did approach, the buck could see the hunter at a great distance and still had plenty of time to escape.  Excessive hunting pressure forces trophy bucks into areas where most hunters can't hunt.

For a buck to grow to his maximum potential, it needs to have a year-round food supply that contains at least 17% crude protein.  Good soils with limited hunting pressure and a deer herd that doesn't surpass the carrying capacity of the land may produce this quality of food naturally.
However, on many hunting lands, you can have an abundance of food by artificial means that will help the deer grow heavy body weights and big antlers.  These simple procedures will yield more foods to grow bigger bucks on the land you hunt:
* Fertilize abandoned pastures, clearings, logging roads, firebreaks and power line right-of ways.  Forb plants, Click to enlargeextremely high in protein, often lay dormant in clearings throughout the woods.  By simply scattering fertilizer just before a rain, you can stimulate the growth of these forbs, which will provide more protein and a higher quality of food than the land normally produces.
* Increase the amount of fruit trees on the property produce and the quality of fruit those trees yield by fertilizing naturally-occurring fruit trees on the property.  I recommend that you fertilize persimmon trees, wild apple trees, muscadines, wild grapes and any other type of naturally occurring fruit.
* Fertilize the nut trees.  After you fertilize acorn trees, the trees will produce more acorns than they would if they were left unfertilized.
* Plant green fields for winter food with small-grain crops like wheat, oats and rye, and then plant with clover for the spring. To get the most yield from your greenfields, you must locate them in the best places. Try to plant the green fields adjacent to thick cover, so the buck will move through the thick cover, step out on the greenfield and have a thick-cover sanctuary to retreat to if he needs to dodge hunter pressure.

Tomorrow: How to Bowhunt the Trophy Bucks You Produce

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Produce and Harvest Your Own Trophy Bucks with Dr. Keith Causey"

Day 1: How to Choose the Right Soil Type
Day 2: How Many Acres Do You Need to Produce A Trophy Buck?
Day 3: How to Identify and Protect Younger-Age-Class Bucks and Control Population
Day 4: Avoid Excessive Hunting Pressure, and Improve Food Quality
Day 5: How to Bowhunt the Trophy Bucks You Produce



Entry 413, Day 4