With deer seasons over in much of the Midwest and Northeast, now is one of the best times to begin your off-season management strategy to make improvements for the 2015 season.
A lot of deer hunters and land managers only think about food plots and game cameras. Those are important, of course, if you’re interested in them. Some guys don’t (or can’t) plant food plots or add supplemental food, like fruit or mast trees, and focus only on camera surveys.
At least two other important considerations are vegetation management — weed control — and predator management. The former can help with creating fawning cover and benefiting other species; for example, adding or mowing ragweed or beggar lice for quail, turkey, rabbits and, of course, deer.
Predator management is a year-round project that requires a level of commitment many deer hunters don’t (or, again, can’t) think about. Trapping is the most effective means of controlling predators that harm deer, namely the coyote and bobcat. Where legal, trapping and hunting these species can have a great impact on your deer population. Reducing coyotes and greatly improving your fawning cover are two solid ways to help your deer.
Finding a good trapper is easy by going through your state trapping association or others like this one and this one. If you’re interested in learning about trapping, be sure to visit Trapper & Predator Caller.
Predator hunting is a fantastic way to spend the off-season, too, because it gives you more opportunity to learn about the property and wildlife. Just like with shed hunting, predator hunting helps you put boots on the ground and see what’s going on. You’ll learn about movement of predators on the land, when they’re most active to feed and support their families, breeding times and more.
Plus, predator hunting is just gut-tingling cool when you can use a great call and have a coyote (or two, or three) come in to your setup. Or maybe a bobcat or fox. Be sure to check your state regulations and also the desires of the landowner if you’re in a club or lease property.
“There’s not a more effective tool for calling coyotes sure-kill close than an electronic caller, such as ICOtec’s Model GC500, loaded with the realistic sounds of the critters — rabbits, birds, rodent and, yes, deer — they eat,” said Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Gordy Krahn. “The variety and realism you get from these recorded sounds will make you an instant expert, which often translates to more success in the field.”
Coyotes likely are your No. 1 nemesis, though, so having a versatile call is a must. You’ll be better off with rabbit, bird and other distress calls that have good range and realism. Today’s electronic calls are inexpensive and lightweight, so you can hike in, set up, maybe add a decoy and then put the hammer on the song dogs.
Make plans to add an electronic call to your hunting this year. Get your family involved, too; it’s a great way to spend family time and enjoy the outdoors.
Check out this nice piece from Michigan Out of Doors about trapping and predators: