Big Success on Small Tracts
You don’t need 1,000 acres to attract and hold deer. By David Hart Photos by the Author
f Steve Scott had a nickel for every time he heard a variation of, “Why bother?” he could take his family out for a nice dinner. As the vicepresident of Whitetail Institute, he talks to a lot of deer hunters who have doubts whether food plots and other management activities are pointless on small acreages.
The author killed this buck in a plot of Winter Greens planted on a 22acre tract surrounded by a 500-acre pine plantation hunted by a club that does not practice any management.
“They tell me they only have 20 or 30 or 50 acres and that there’s little, if any, benefit in doing any management activities because the deer don’t stick around and they get shot by their neighbors,” Scott said. That’s true to some extent. Whitetails have home ranges of a square mile or more on average, so it’s almost impossible to prevent a deer from hopping your fence. That can dash the hopes of the most enthusiastic small-tract landowner. Don’t tell that to Sam Fleener, though. The 31-year-old Indiana resident not only keeps lots of deer on his 50-acre farm but keeps some impressive bucks around, too. His secret? A two-acre plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover tucked along the back edge of his property. “You aren’t going to keep a deer on 40 or 50 acres 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Scott said. “That’s not realistic. But the longer you can keep deer on your property, the better your hunting opportunities will be. If increasing the time they spend on your land goes from 10 minutes per day to an hour or from a few days per year to a few weeks per year, you’ve already come out ahead. The goal is to have them spend as much time on your property as possible. Food plots are one of the best ways to encourage deer to spend more time on your property and the addition of fruit trees such as pears or
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Vol. 26, No. 1 /
WHITETAIL NEWS 67
Volume 26 Issue 1