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Preseason Readiness - Deer Season is fast approaching
Tue, 03 Sep 2019 11:04:15 EDT
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My main focus is providing proper habitat for wild pheasants, and in so doing it
has worked to the benefit of all wildlife, including deer. The majority of the farm
entails prairie grass fields, which have evergreen windbreaks all around the outer
perimeter, and it didn't take long for me to realize the very adaptable whitetails
absolutely love prairie grass and are readily attracted to it (it has proven to be a
preferred and ideal "nursery" for does and fawns). Figuring out how to effectively
hunt deer each fall in this mainly grassy environment has been a steady learning
experience I much enjoy.
Typically, I've found being up above the ground and getting a bird's eye view
is the best way to go for stand placement, and I'm fortunate in that many of my
windbreak trees have finally gotten large enough to place stands in them, as well
as I have some mature hardwood trees here and there along our ditch and
fencerows. However, I had one special location which required something
different for obtaining some elevation, and a couple years ago I purchased a two-
person tri-pod stand. I remember it required two healthy young men just to lift it,
still boxed up, into my pickup bed.
I left it in my truck until my son Jake could help me unload and assemble it
right at the hunting site amongst some young spruces bordering the prairie grass.
This was definitely a two person job, from following a chart and assembling all the
countless pieces, to actually raising it upright into position. According to the
directions, the putting-it-all-together time would only take "90 minutes", but that
timeline must have been for a crew of people who knew which part and exactly
which bolt (of which there were many different sizes) went where. I'm guessing it ?
took Jake and I at least four hours to put it together and then stand it upright, but
it was well worth the effort as it has proven to be an ideal setup for that location.
This all points out to the fact that preseason readiness often requires a little
extra hand and teamwork, not only for convenience, but certainly for safety as
well. Personally, I'm not into free-hanging tree-stands and I much prefer ladder-
stands because they are still connected to the ground which is also supporting
most of the weight. Originally I used one-person ladder-stands for my sons and I,
but with grandchildren (and other kids of course) coming into the picture who
must (and should) be accompanied by an adult, I've been going to the two-person
variety whenever possible, and if hunting alone, I certainly don't mind the extra
space at all.
Putting up the typical one-person ladder-stand in my opinion requires at
least two people, and I prefer three for additional safety (I'm sure there are some
muscular and independent types who feel they can do matters singlehanded, but
I've had enough thrills already in my life challenging gravity, and I don't bounce
too well anymore either). The only one-person ladder-stand I'm aware of which
requires only one person for easy setup and takedown is locally made by Lucky's
Hunting Blinds ( www.luckyshuntingblinds.com ) of Ubly, called the "Crab Claw".
I've been using one for a couple seasons now and it is very sturdy (it is the most
sturdy I have ever been in) and works exactly as advertised, and can be easily and
quickly moved singlehanded to a different location.
Two or better yet, three people should always be on hand for setting up the
Where allowed on private property, I often leave my ladder-stands in place
all year if they are in a good hunting site (especially near dependable travel
corridors and notable pinch-points), as it saves having to deal with matters, and
I've found quality metal stands tend to be quite weather durable. However due to
annual tree growth (and weather/storms), I check them well before opening day
to see if they need resetting and new nylon ratchet straps (I buy plenty of ratchet ?
straps and have them on hand for this purpose). Besides annual tree growth,
there is also dry rot caused by continual exposure to weather and the sun's rays
that affects the integrity of tough nylon.
When it comes to chains which are more weather durable than nylon, I've
seen annual tree growth actually weaken and even separate heavy duty steel
links. I also have a wooden platform I lag-bolted between cottonwood trees near
my pond, and it was quite sturdy. I had high hopes of even completing it into a
tree-house/blind but that all got dashed this summer. Cottonwoods being
cottonwoods, and with all the rain this spring and summer, they did some serious
growing, and while the lag-bolts held firm, the (treated lumber) boards they were
holding didn't, causing the boards to start splitting. So it is definitely a real good
idea to double check any "permanent" wooden hunting stands bolted or nailed
into trees, no matter how well built.
Hunting blinds I do put up and take down each year are my portable and
dependable Lucky's Ground Blinds and I like to do this in certain spots well ahead
of time to let deer readily adjust to them. Then there is my wooden deer "shack"
blind that I just discovered raccoons have been using as a playroom (and "litter-
box") all summer after breaking in through a window, and the roof certainly needs
some repairs too. Yes, my hands are full right now, but it is all a part of the picture
and the anticipation of the hunting shared with family and friends is what makes it
all very worthwhile, and admittedly, I really do enjoy this preseason stuff.
This also includes scouting to understand what deer are hanging around in
my hunting area, and I've been doing this whenever possible all summer. Bucks
are usually in bachelor groups throughout the summer and well into September
(sometimes there is a solitary buck out there, and these do perk up my attention
because they usually have been around awhile and are a bit more moody and less
social than the rest).
The scouting process gives me an idea of where the deer overall are feeding
regularly, and this is important to when I (try to) pattern certain bucks (and why
blinds/stands are located where they are). For me at least, the buck-patterning
process (per food sources and bedding areas) can work during the early archery ?
season right up until the peak of the rut starts easing in, then matters can turn
topsy-turvy when bucks go on the move and some even seek different pastures in
their pursuit of does. This is when knowing doe-patterns really helps, because
where there are does, bucks aren't far away.
I've actually taken some nice bucks during the peak rut that I was never
aware were around before, and I'm sure some were possibly transients from a
ways away. Here in the Thumb, the annual fall harvest of farm crops can cause a
quick change in deer patterns as well.
Trail-cameras certainly aid in the scouting process and I fully appreciate
what they can do and have plenty of friends who use them. However, I'm none
too high-tech with some matters and I have yet to give trail-cameras a personal
whirl. I still rely on the old school tactics of "reading deer sign" (tracks, droppings,
well-worn trails, scrapes and rubs) and glassing from afar with binoculars. So far, it
has always worked plenty fine for me.
With summer winding down, the deer seasons are actually not that far
away (I've already "adopted" a kid for the mid-September Youth Hunt) and I plan
on being fully prepared before it gets here, and I do love it so.
When you are hunting from this high up, it is best to be sure everything
is safe and very secure. Wind, weather and sun can challenge the integrity
of tree and ladder stands.
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Bob Peruski Jr. of Lucky;s Hunting Blinds in Ubly, manufactures a wide
variety of top quality "made in the Thumb" hunting blinds.