If you are a deer hunter, this is your time of year. Archers are in the field and starting to have better success now that some of the harvest is over. We have special park seasons where there is an overabundance of deer. We have muzzleloader and late anterless seasons that allow hunters more opportunities. What more could a deer hunter you ask for?
For archers, now is a great time to be hunting deer. Temperatures are cool, but not brutal. Some parts of the state have just experienced the first frost and that means mosquitos are less of a problem. There are fewer hunters in the field to pressure deer and that means deer are less disturbed, more relaxed and easier to get close to.
I’ve been talking about this topic with a number of fellow hunters and the topic of writing about a few tips for hunters came up. These tips are probably a “refresher” for most veteran hunters and food for thought with hunters new to the sport.
All deer, regardless of where you hunt, need the same basic elements to survive: Shelter/cover, water, food. If you do your scouting and find the areas that provide these needs, you will be successful.
When I watch/scout deer I make a note of where they are coming from, where they are going and where they stop to forage. I then attempt to back track them to their bedding areas. Bedding areas are usually a constant thing. Deer may change their travel patterns or food sources due to harvest or movement of people in the field, but they will continue to use the same bedding areas unless disturbed. These are normally deep, dark tangles of vegetation. Look for the densest brush in the areas you hunt and you will likely find deer.
Next, I search out where the deer get water. If you are hunting ground that has rivers, streams, creeks or farm ponds, that may be tough to figure out. There are lots of places where they can get water, but they do tend to use certain places more often. If you’re hunting in wider open areas or in the Sandhills, hunting near water sources is a very good tactic!
One more thing on the topic of water; rivers and large lakes act as barriers/obstacles and can funnel deer into predictable travel patterns. Look for places where deer trails funnel into constriction points. Find these spots and set up a blind on the prevailing downwind side of the trail.
Now for food…..days are growing shorter and temperatures get cooler. Growing season has stopped and deer instinctively know leaner times are coming so they began to feed more, both in volume and more often. Crops like corn and soybeans are ripe now, just when deer need them. I look for heavy trails where deer enter and exit crops in the fields.
Apples are a favorite food item with deer. If you have a few apple trees where you hunt, check them out for feeding activity. Trees on abandoned or overgrown homesteads will hold more deer than a manicured orchard. Too much activity occurs around a working orchard and deer will tend to find elsewhere to eat. The one exception I’ve found related to human activity is vineyards. Nebraska’s wine industry is growing and more vineyards are on the landscape. Deer apparently like grapes, too! I have had several vineyards ask me if I could help “thin out” their deer populations.
If you are lucky enough to hunt where there are oak trees, particularly white oak trees, deer love eating white oak acorns. When I lived on the eastern end of the state, there was a farm I hunted that had a large tree claim filled with old stand white oaks. The trees were probably 100 years old or more and generations of deer knew they were there and regularly used them.
A little scouting now can pay off with big dividends later. Get out there and start watching deer where you hunt.
Grilled Turkey Breasts
The fall turkey season has been going for a while and I have been asked for a recipe or two. This is a very easy recipe to prepare at home or in the field. The finished meat has a sweet and spicy taste to it. Give it a try
2-4 Turkey breasts (boneless, filleted from the bird)
½ Cup of Heinz 57 Sauce
½ Cup of honey
Mix the 57 Sauce and honey together. Clean and prepare the breast fillets for cooking (be sure to remove all shot). Place on the grill over medium heat (be careful not to overcook). Grill on each side for one minute to seal the fillets. After both sides of the fillet have been cooked for one minute, begin brushing on sauce mixture. Cook for an additional minute, flip breast and brush on more sauce mixture. Repeat this process a couple of time until you have a thick layer of the sauce on the meat.