Summertime prep work means better deer hunting in the fall

Salt and other minerals are highly attractive to deer during the heat of summer. (Photo by Jeff Burleson)

Deer season isn’t that far away

It’s the middle of the summertime and it will not be long until the opening day of deer season. 

Every year, many hunters regret not being a little more prepared for hunting season. Preparations can take many forms, from tree stand site activities and food plots to mineral supplementation for the deer themselves. 

Surely it is hot in July and August. But pre-season preparations have many benefits to both the deer and deer hunters.   

Summer preparations can take on a wide range of intensities from simple activities to investing massive amounts of time and energy into large, complex pre-season projects. Hunters looking to get the most out of their time investments should prepare a priority list for the most important items to take care of right now. 

Deer benefit greatly from mineral supplements. Especially during the summertime when a deer’s diet consists of foods with high water content. When animals consume large quantities of vegetation with a high-water content, they can develop a temporary salt deficiency. 

Deer will also intake more water when it’s hot as well. Mineral supplements contain high levels of sodium that can be very attractive to passing wildlife. 

Give ‘em minerals

Additionally, antler growth is high in summer. So bucks are craving sites enriched with calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals to replenish their skeletal systems from the antler growth process.

Mineral sites can be low cost and easy to establish. And existing mineral sites can be refreshed in summertime as well. Both does and bucks will be attracted to mineral sites. So it can be a low-cost and easy way to retain deer on the property as they consume items their bodies crave.   

One of the largest pre-season activities relates to housekeeping around stand sites. Tree stand sites will often get overgrown quickly from aggressive vegetation. And while some additional summer growth can occur throughout the rest of the growing season, heavy-duty cuttings now can reduce the majority of the competing vegetation to open up shooting lanes and remove woody obstructions. 

Heavy cuttings in the summertime can be made with tractor-led bush hogs and even large forestry tractors with mulching heads attached. Or heavy chainsaw work can quickly get the job done for large limbs and whole trees that are just in the way. But these types of heavy disturbances are better suited to take place in the summer long before the season arrives to allow time for the landscape to heal and return to normal operating procedures. During deer season, it is preferred to reduce human intervention as much as possible. So summertime maintenance can make a huge difference. 

Pathways of least resistance: Deer will create their own pathways when necessary. But they’ll gladly use naturally-created or man-made paths when it takes them where they want to go. Funnel them to your desired areas by establishing these pathways right now before hunting season starts. (Photo by Jeff Burleson)

Funnel the deer

In addition to trimming lanes and brush around existing tree stands, bush hogging and clearing access lanes to food plots and other major food sources can be excellent ways to funnel deer to a specific location or by a specific location. 

Surely deer will travel to and from food sources and bedding areas using their own-created pathways. But they will also take advantage of clear paths whether natural or man-made. Deer will often follow deer hunter access paths to food plots. And the smart hunter will create these paths to funnel deer right by tree stands or blinds. Summertime is the best time to get these paths established long before deer season arrives when pressure makes deer weary.  

Finally, the summertime may not be the ideal time to plant food plots. But plots can be worked in July in preparation for the fall planting season. Early tilling and pH balancing with lime supplementation can be ideal pre-planting techniques months before burying the first seed.  

Summertime isn’t a time to ignore opportunities to improve the land. And when deer season arrives, hunters will not be sorry for all the hard work invested during the middle of these hot months.

About Jeff Burleson 1309 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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