This post was originally published on March 4, 2016, and updated on October 17, 2019.
“How do I attract quality deer to my property?”
This is a question that comes up quite often in my conversations with landowners. There are a number of things to consider when you want to improve the likelihood of having high-quality deer frequent your property. Like any improvement project, knowing what you currently have on and around your property is a good place to start. Once you know what you have available and determine the areas that are lacking in the development and/or enhancement of the necessary components of whitetail habitat on your property, you can increase the chances of attracting quality deer.
Quality deer management (QDM) includes management of the 4 H’s:
- Herd Monitoring
If you are properly managing all four of these factors, you are well on your way to improve your herd population. Improving the habitat on your property and then understanding how deer use the property around you is the key to bringing more wildlife to your acreage. Proper management of the natural resources by restoring/enhancing the habitat, as well as doing your homework ahead of time, will save you time and money in the long run. Whether you research and do this yourself or find assistance from someone that has experience in this field, you’ll need to make a plan so that down the road, you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of a well-managed resource that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.
What steps do I need to take?
To start, you need to know what resources you have both on and around your property. You’ll need to know if there are acres of dense timber, grasslands, croplands/food plots, and protected wildlife areas, as well as neighbors or hunting pressure in close proximity or barriers that would limit deer movement. Monitoring the deer numbers/movement, including feeding and bedding activities in your area will help considerably when deciding what the habitat might be missing and what may need to be enhanced. These are just a few of the things that need to be determined to help with making the right decisions on how to make your acreage the paradise you want it to be.
One of the tips that I generally suggest to landowners, is to obtain a topographical or large aerial map of their property and the surrounding properties. These can be acquired online on Google Maps or at your Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm Service Agency Office in your county. With your property boundary delineated on this map, you can start to see what lies adjacent to your property and what potential corridors there might be for deer movement. Having a federal, state or county wildlife management area close or adjacent to your property is a huge asset. Even a CRP grassland or a wildlife corridor can offer habitat that could be used by wildlife as a passage or escape cover. Having an abundance of diverse and dense escape, bedding, and fawning cover dramatically improve the year-round attractiveness of your property.
You’ll also need to determine the location of and how much dense timber you and your adjacent neighbors have, as well as any additional habitat that may be attractive such as a water source, bedding areas (grasslands), travel corridors, and food (croplands, foodplots, etc.). Most of this can be determined from your topo/aerial maps and some on-site observations.
- If you don’t have an available food source on your property, consider a food plot (i.e. clover, alfalfa, milo, chicory). If you have the acreage, 1-3 acres is suggested.
- The location for your food plot is another important decision that requires some advanced planning. Adjacent escape cover being one of the primary objectives to a well suited food plot.
- Planting grasses/forbs (if this habitat is in short supply) for a bedding area would be another way to encourage the resident deer to use your property.
- Another improvement to consider would be a water source (i.e. windmill, stock tank, dugout waterhole) if you don’t already have one available. This may encourage deer to include your property in their daily movements.
Whether you are interested in hunting or just wildlife observation, monitoring your acreage for deer signs (i.e. scrapes, rubs, deer trails), as well as including trail camera monitoring, can go a long way toward realizing what wildlife movements are occurring in your area. Learning the travel patterns of the whitetails in your area will help you with knowing the terrain and edge habitat that they prefer. All of this information will help with putting together the management plan necessary to accomplish your goals you have set for yourself.
If I can assist you with any of your questions on this topic, please feel free to get in touch by email or phone.