Deer season may only last a few months, but for a lot of us maintaining our land and the deer herd is a year-round activity. No matter the time of year, there is always something to be done. I enjoy the non-hunting portion of it as much as the hunt itself.
To me the early summer is the most exciting time. Getting to see which bucks you still have around and watching their antlers develop is what starts to build the excitement that carries you through to the opener.
Before the cellular camera days that first card pull, from a camera over a mineral lick, in early summer would have you so worked up you couldn’t get the card in the computer fast enough. Now, getting the pictures sent in real time is even worse. Every time you get that notification you can’t wait to see what is standing in front of your camera.
Aside from watching the cameras there are plenty of other things to keep you busy in late spring/early summer. This is when our food plot maintenance gets busy. Much of our early season hunting is done over beans, clover, or alfalfa but the beans and alfalfa are maintained and harvested for agricultural purposes. Hunting over them is just a bonus. For the remainder of this article, I will be focusing on just the clover plots.
We try to start mowing cover plots as soon as we can (mid-April/early May here in Kentucky). Getting ahead of the grass and weeds with mowing is the best way to keep them looking good. In a well-established clover field, if you can keep it mowed, you may be able to avoid having to spray them. Also, the deer like the new growth better than when it gets tall and stemmy. If you are not able to get it mowed in time to help the clover gain control some spraying may be needed. There are many different chemicals that will do the job but depending on your situation you may have to use more than one to solve your problem. You are usually dealing with either some sort of grass, weeds, or both. There are some chemicals available that will kill broad leaf weeds and not hurt your clover and the same goes for the grass. In some of our plots we problems with thistles and unfortunately the best way I know to get rid of them is a grubbing hoe. After we have gotten rid of the unwanted vegetation in our plots, we continue to mow them every few weeks or so through the early summer depending on the rainfall.
Maintaining the food plots is just a small part of “farming for deer”, but it’s something I enjoy. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the growing of the deer as much or more than the actual hunting.