February and March are great times of the year to do wildlife Habitat improvements on your hunting land. Most hunting seasons are over, and the weather is still cold or cool, hardly any bugs or snakes out moving around, and you can really see what your habitat looks like at its lowest point of the year. Every year on my place we try and make 2-4 spots each the size of a football field where we hinge cut unwanted trees or areas where the trees are too thick to produce quality timber. This gives us a two-fold return, one we get some great wildlife habitat and second, itâs giving us TSI (Timber Stand Improvement) which equals a better timber stand for future logging operations. In this case we are really wanting to take areas that have lost the natural vegetation growth due to heavy tree canopy and open the forest floor for better food and cover for the deer herd and turkey flock. In five years of doing this we have documented the deer and turkeys have flourished. The neat part is it takes very little money and most landowners will agree to this effort if you present a solid plan to them. This is only one of the tools we have implemented on the property but goes a long way to improve the hunting and wildlife living in and around the property. The key is to make our property more appealing to deer and turkeys so they will stay longer then on the neighboring propertyâs. The pictures on this report show what the area looked like before we started and then after we completed the TSI. We had two chainsaws going with one person cutting and one person pushing and spent approximately one hour to complete an area the size of a football field, leaving only the best quality trees standing. It was a great time to bring the kids and teach them the importance of quality habitat and what it takes to keep a good healthy deer herd. I will post more pics of this area as spring and summer growth occurs. I also plan to put out a few trail cameras to capture wildlife use in this area.
The last day of the primitive season I was fortune enough to take a nice buck with my .35 Remington CVA Hunter. I decided to drop the gut pile in front of one of my trail cameras. Within a few days there was nothing left but cleaned dirt. Buzzards started first followed by foxes, coyotes, and then the hogs rooted up the blood-stained grass down to dirt.
Iâve been spending the last few weeks in the woods getting ready for Turkey season and checking on the deer herd. Bucks have started dropping their antlers the last few weeks. I am also hitting the racoon population hard to try and help the turkeys nesting within the next month or so. Racoons are horrible on the turkey nest. I wish every club and turkey hunter would get involved with trying to reduce the numbers of predators. I have seen and read that most southern states have seen a drastic decline in turkey populations over the last few years. I believe and have also read the main culprit is predators. Iâm using the DP coon traps. They work great, very easy to set and use. I use marshmallows for bait as a racoon can not resist a big marshmallow. I hope you enjoy the trail-cam pics. The month of March will be spent doing habitat improvements by hinge cutting and hack and squirt to unwanted tress and along the edges of my food plots. I will post pictures later on how that project is going.
This past Saturday afternoon my good friend took this nice 10 point from my place near Sicily Island. We had numerous trail-cam pics of him and had him patterned pretty good during bow season but just could never close the deal. Gun season changed that and he was able to put this nice buck down with one shot at 100 yards. If you have been following my post we put a lot into major habitat improvements every year and also are very strict on NOT taking young bucks. With those two combinations we are seeing some great returns and a good age class of bucks coming up.
Just returned from my annual deer hunting trip to Nebraska, this year made 26 years I have been chasing deer in that state and have enjoyed every season. The weather was unusually warm but that didn't slow down the deer action much. There were five of us hunting this year and we all had our two buck tags and lots of Doe tags. We were hunting both public and private land in the Pine Ridge unit. It was neat to see Mule Deer, Whitetails, Antelope, and Elk all on the same trip. It was just a great DIY type hunt with great success and a lot of fun in wide open country.
While running through several thousand trail-cam pics I noticed something strange, while taking a closer look I saw that I had a big rattle snake under one of my feeders. I had over 20 pics of him just laying there while the Doe was feeding around. It finally decided to move on.
I want to share this info as I just love monitoring my property along with the deer herd. Over the last 5 years I have put together that the majority of the Does on my property give birth around the 4th of July. If you backup 200 days that puts the peak of the rut around Mid-December in my area (Catahoula Parish). This big Doe is still carrying on August 8th and by the looks of it will give birth any day. Backing up 200 days puts her getting bred around January 21st on the 2nd rut. If you look at the âLouisiana Estimated Deer Breeding Periodsâ That the LDWLF puts out is dead on the mark for peak rut in my area. Collecting data every year and bouncing it off of the LDWF data they have can help tremendously when planning vacation time for hunting the rut.
As summer draws to an end and I keep watching the bucks grow their head gear itâs getting very exciting. My mineral licks and trail cameras have been a valuable tool for me to get an idea of the quality of deer I have running around on my place. With 5 years of intense habitat improvement projects and letting the young bucks walk I am seeing some very good results. My next major project is to try and eliminate the coyotes as much as I can. They are taking a toll on my deer herd as my fawn count is way down again for several years in a row. Hope you enjoy the pictures
Here are a few neat trail-cam pics of a Doe in Hot weather and you can see the blood veins on the back of her ears on a sunny hot day, then the next picture itâs has been raining and the temp is 10 degrees cooler. The ears are a cooling mechanism to help with body temperature. The last pic is just a neat pic of the 3 Does and a small buck in the back ground. Hope you enjoy.
Checked my trail cameras on my mineral licks this past weekend and see the bucks are putting on their head gear and the Does are about to bust with fawns.
This was my second trip of the 2019 Texas spring turkey season. This trip I would be down in Zavala county chasing big Rio Gobblers in that south Texas brush country. I had two tags left to fill and I would be hunting a huge ranch which had a solid turkey population. I have hunted this ranch for the last 8 years and know the area pretty good. I left Port Allen around 4:00am on Thursday for the 11 hour drive. Picking up my close friend near San Antonio we arrived at the ranch just in time to unpack and ride around the ranch to see if we could stir up any gobblers and put one or two to bed. I was able to fire up a few gobblers and setup on them only to have young birds come in. I also bumped into a huge rattle snake while trying to close the gap on a gobbler. Talk about an adrenaline rush! He rattled when I got within a few feet of him as I wasn?t paying attention to the ground. A quick shot of turkey load put an end to that threat! As dark approached I could hear what sounded like several gobblers along a creek about ï¿½ mile away so I eased closer down a road that ran along the creek towards them. As I got closer I could make out several gobblers strutting in the road about 400 yards from me. I just sat back and watched them until they made their way towards the creek and flew up on the roost between the road and the creek. So I was set for the morning! I had what appeared to be several big gobblers roosted and I also heard a few more close by. Friday morning I went back to the area the gobblers were roosted in. It was about an hour before daybreak as I wanted to ease in as close as possible down the road where I had last seen them before they went to roost. I set out my hen decoy and eased back into some bushes where I could watch down the road. The view was tight as I could only see down the road and I knew I could have birds come in from behind me but this was the best setup I had. As the song birds started their morning off so did the Gobblers! I let out a few soft tree yelps and the woods exploded with gobblers. I couldn?t believe what I was hearing. It sounded like 8 or 10 gobblers along the creek stretching for about 150 yards are so. Every time one would gobble the others would answer. I would let out yelps and the creek bottom would explode with gobbling. This was a once in a lifetime event to hear something like this. After good light and about a thousand gobbles later I heard the closest turkeys fly down. They were close and less than 100 yards from me. Down the road about 80 yards I watched 3 long beards appear in the road and start strutting and gobbling. 3 Jakes showed up and was between the hen decoy and the 3 strutting gobblers. They were freaked out and didn?t know what to do and just stood there. About that time something caught my eye to my left and two big long beards stepped out in the road right next to the decoy. They circled the decoy and immediately knew something wasn?t right. I put the bead on one of them and BOOM, hit him with 12 gauge 3 ï¿½? Winchester #6 XR Turkey load at 30 yards. He rolled and before I could get another shot at the other one he had run out of site. My Gobbler had a 10 ï¿½? beard with 1 3/8? spurs. Friday afternoon I setup in the same general area and called in several young gobblers and Jakes. So right before dark I moved locations farther down the creek about a mile and roosted several more gobblers for in the morning. Saturday morning I setup in a nice clearing that ran along the creek. As daybreak came so did the gobbling. There were two gobblers within 200 yards of my location. I made a few soft tree yelps and had both of them fired up and gobbling. I heard the closest one fly down and I made a cackle which put him in high gear heading towards me. I saw him walking fast down a cow trail towards my location out at 100 yards. I threw out a few yelps and got him all fired up. He was gobbling and strutting. The other gobbler was closing in but I couldn't see him yet. The first gobbler approached to within 70 yards and hung up and the 2nd gobbler went silent. The gobbler I was looking at had me pegged and was just strutting around in circles. After about 10 minutes we he turned around facing away from me in full strut I made a soft yelp, he came out of strut and came in to 35 steps. He went back into full strut and I got ready and clucked at him. He came out of strut and stretched he neck out looking for me. BOOM, I let him have a solid load of #6 Winchester XR turkey load. I smoked him and he did a flip. He had a 10 ï¿½? beard with 1 1/8? spurs. What an awesome Texas turkey season I had this year. Two great trip in two different areas that produced 4 great Rio Gobblers with tons of awesome memories. Back to my place this coming weekend in Catahoula parish for the last weekend and hope the weather finally cooperates. Take care be safe and hope you turkey hunters are enjoying some of the great outdoors this spring.
I just completed my first of two spring turkey hunting trips to Texas this past weekend just east of San Antonio in Guadalupe County which is a 4 gobbler tag county. I arrived in the afternoon on Thursday and the weather was perfect. 70 degrees, sunny and very light breeze. I headed out to a creek bottom Iâve hunted before that runs along a cow pasture. I setup where I could see both the creek bottom and flat along with a view of the cow pasture. I also decided not to use my decoys as not knowing how many turkeys were in the area and cows get very curious of decoys. Once settled in I made a few soft yelps and got an immediate reply from a gobbler some 200 yards away. I got a little aggressive with my calling and got him fired up and gobbling at every call I threw at him. Shortly I caught some movement along the creek and watched as 4 hens were walking fast in my direction. They had me pegged and was walking straight at me. I knew the gobbler would be following so I got ready with my shotgun pointed in the same direction as the hens came from. All 4 hens walked up to within 5 yards of me and stopped. They were looking around but making no calls. After a few seconds they moved around behind me and started walking off. Thatâs when I saw the big gobbler coming up the same trail as the hens did. He was a Hoss with a big rope for a beard! As he came in one of the hens which was behind me made an alarm call and froze the gobbler in his tracks. But it was too late as he was standing 40 yards in a nice opening. BOOM, I let him have a load of 12 gauge 3 Â½â number 6 Winchester XR Turkey load! What and adrenaline rush! I was only there for less than 30 minutes and had my first gobbler of the trip down. He had an 11 Â½â beard with 1 Â¼â spurs. I still had plenty of daylight left so I moved to another location and roosted 4 or 5 gobblers for the next morning. Friday morning as daylight came I was deciding which gobbler to go after as the woods were alive with gobblers gobbling on the roost. I settled for the closest one and worked him for several hours playing cat and mouse with him. He had several hens with him and I caught several good looks at him as I would try to out flank him. I had no luck breaking him away from his hens so I decided to try him in the afternoon. Friday afternoon I setup in a nice flat with scrub oaks that was adjacent to a creek bed. I put out both my gobbler and hen decoy in a nice opening about 20 yards from my location. I started making soft yelps and as the afternoon went buy I started getting a little more aggressive with my calling. About an hour before sunset I got a response from what I thought was two gobblers. I threw out a few more calls and had them locked in on me gobbling at ever call I would make. It was so cool as it was one of those picture perfect hunts. Every time I would make a call they would gobble and get closer. I got my shotgun ready and pointed in the direction I last heard them gobble which was only about 75 yards away. I made a soft yelp and there they were only 20 yards gobbling. To have double gobblers that close to you gobbling is awesome! I put the bead on the biggest one and BOOM. He rolled and the other took off before I could get a shot on him. This was another good gobbler with 8 Â¾â beard and 1 1/8â spurs. A cold front came in Saturday and the wind really picked up and the temps fell. I did work several more gobblers but they were locked up with hens and had no interest to come see a lonely hen in the bushes calling to them. I found a few awesome antler sheds from this past seasons bucks that survived which is always a neat find. I plan to head back to Texas in a few weeks and try to fill my remaining turkey tags on some of those big Rio Gobblers. Louisiana Season opens this coming weekend at my place near Sicily Island which I hope to connect with a big Eastern bird. I hope you enjoyed the story and good luck if you are trying your luck at any gobblers this season.
This past weekend while checking my trail-cameras and looking for antler sheds I ran across a mature Doe that had been recently killed and half consumed. It was covered up with leaves and small limbs and the guts had been removed and covered completely up about 10 yards away. Known predators in the area are coyotes, bobcats, and bears. Iâve never seen coyotes cover their kill and not sure about bears, but bobcats yes. I thought this would be a good thread to start and see what opinions might come up and what has other people seen. I setup two trail-cameras to see if I can catch some action but I left a lot of human scent while examining the remains. My best guess is there is a highway about 400 yards from kill site and maybe the deer was hit by a passing vehicle and then taken down by a predator. No drag marks from kill location which indicates it was killed there.
Also found one very nice new buck hooking and have several bucks on camera starting to drop their antlers.
Finally getting a few fawns starting to show up on cameras around my place in Catahoula Parish, best guess they were born around first of July time frame. No twins yet just singles. This could mean two things 1. The Momma Doe is moving each fawn separately which is good or 2. The coyotes, Bears, and Bobcats and picking them off. Time will tell as we move closer to fall and I monitor the fawns on camera and hopefully start seeing twins. I also have a big pregnant Doe on 7/25/18 which indicates secondary rut (mid to late January). Coyotes are an ever growing problem and need to be kept in check. Hard to do this year round and wish we could trap them during the summer months.
Here is one of my food plots where I planted Iron Clay Peas back in Mid-May. The deer pretty much left it along until around July 4th. At that time something changed and they started hitting the peas hard. Within a few days all the peas in this small half acre food plot was whipped out. Deer day and night eating until most all the peas were gone. Even had a Doe bring out her little fawn to get in on the action.
One of the biggest and most important projects you can do on your hunting property is improve wildlife habitat. Every bit helps even if itâs just on an area the size of a football field. Good quality habitat is by far the most important over supplemental feeding or food plots.
This spring it was time to thin out some pines on my place in Catahoula parish. I worked with a logger and we walked over the property and I showed him what I wanted to have done. I was interested in thinning a heavy stand of 15 year old pines and develop some great wildlife habitat in the process. There was also some stands of gum, willow, and less desired tress which I wanted removed. My goal was to open the forest floor enough so I could get good sunlight on the ground for native grasses and briars to start growing. We did a heavy thinning and removed every pine that was not straight or had multiple splits on the main trunk. We developed shooting lanes and made a nice food plot in the process. Now that we have completed the cutting I will help the native briars jump start by planting seeds from blackberries I have picked earlier and dried out. One quart bag of blackberry seeds will plant about 25 acres. I completed briar planting two years ago on a 25 acre clear cut and Iâm seeing some awesome results. I now have briar thickets that are 6-8 feet in height and 20-30 feet in diameter. This is going to make for some awesome cover for deer, rabbits and other wildlife in the coming years.
Lots of people donât know where to start when it comes to improving wildlife habitat on their hunting grounds. Weather you lease land or own it get with your local Wildlife biologist, your local Forester, and work with the landowner. Most landowners I deal with are more than understanding when it comes to improving their timber stand which improves wildlife habitat. Go in with a plan and you will see results very quickly.
I am also working on another part of my property doing Hinge Cutting which is a technique of cutting unwanted trees about chest high and leaving one side of the tree attached, then pushing it down. The tree will stay alive for several years and produce unbelievable cover for wildlife. It also lets sunlight in which creates more natural browse for wildlife. I try to do several areas about the size of football fields each year. You can search on YouTube for videos on Hinge Cutting and Improving wildlife habitat. Check it out as there is some interesting information on improving your wildlife habitat.
I hope you find this interesting and I will post pics of the hinge cutting we have been doing over the last few years in the coming weeks.
Here is a big Bear on my place in Catahoula parish reaching up and pulling down the feeder motor. Last pic his eyes are closed as I guess he got an eye full of corn! Funny stuff but they are very destructive animals.
Here is another trail-cam pic from my place in Catahoula parish of what I believe to be a dog, but some of my friends believe itâs something else. What you think?
I wanted to share a very cool trail-cam pic from my place in Catahoula Parish. Full moon setting in background with a nice 6pt. One of the better pics I have seen from my place.
Big Cats from my pier in Lafitte, catching the big ones at night and using cut bait. Even the big flathead bit on cut bait!