Last May my deer-hunting club held its annual corporate meeting as required by the Secretary of State’s office for registered corporations in Mississippi. Once we got the formal agenda out of the way, we concentrated on the real issues: How to continue to transform our 600-acre holding into a really good deer-hunting property?
“During our annual meeting we try to formulate a work plan that we usually tackle sometime around Labor Day, but we try to start earlier in August to be ahead of the game,” said Gary Adams, who heads up a partner-owned hunting property on the Big Black River in Holmes County. “We all dread it, because the humidity nearly equals the noon temperature on that weekend, but the work has to get done. At least we know all the jobs we can get done early mean the more ready the deer camp will be and the more time we can dedicate to deer hunting.”
What we do at our camp might be of interest to you on your place. Maybe you’re just starting out with a new hunting property of your own and are wondering what to do. Perhaps you have owned or leased hunting land for a while, but are just looking for new ideas to improve your deer hunting efforts. We’ll share our ideas with you.
Schedule the essentials
Dog days deer camp jobs in August start with regular maintenance tasks. This means mowing the whole place. That can take two to three days alone.
We only have access to a loaner tractor and bushhog big enough to handle part of our workload. We mow the camp yard, and all of the ATV trails leading to hunting areas and stands. We cut the side ditches of our main roads and trim up other access areas.
As soon as weather conditions are conducive in September or early October we start planning our food plots for the fall. To date, we have laid out 16 areas each with a hunting stand of some kind. We mow all the food plot ground on each of these sites to keep them from a permanent overgrowth, but we rotate disking and planting active food plots to save money.
You might find this an advantageous approach to implementing your food plot strategy. More and more landowners and hunters are challenged by the ever-increasing costs of doing plots from preparations to buying seed and fertilizer. Fertilizer prices have escalated by five times over the past 10 years. So maybe pick out just a few areas each season and concentrate on them. Rotating plots will also help keep deer from patterning your hunting the same areas year after year.
We hire a local farmer to come in to mow, disk and plant our wildlife food plots. At $35 an hour it is more cost effective for us to hire out some work. He brings his own equipment, handles buying the seed and fertilizer from the local co-op, and planting the plots we mark for him on a camp map.
It is a pretty turnkey operation.
Once the camp is whipped back into shape generally, then we focus on all the hunting stands. We have collected quite a variety over the years, and some are getting some age on them.
We have shooting houses with roofs, open shooting windows and bench seats. They vary from 6 to 8 feet high for better visibility.
We also have a number of commercial metal tripod and ladder stands.
We check every stand for stability and maintenance issues. Each is cleaned out, bolts are tightened and squeaks are oiled. If a tin roof was torn loose by high winds, we nail those down. We check all stairs and ladders. With 16 stands, this takes a while.
Whatever stands you use or plan to install, they will need maintenance. Maybe some need to be moved. From time to time we find certain hunting areas have produced fewer deer sightings and harvests.
We might abandon those sites for a couple years as a sort of cooling-off period. We don’t have a sanctuary area, but this comes close.
Each of the owners on our place owns a personal cabin or shares one. There is always work to be done around the camp area and to the structures. We share the work for major repairs, such as plumbing, electrical or water issues. A general, overall cleaning and restocking is always in order.
The weedeaters always get a good workout around the camp, the deer cleaning station and the shooting range.
When we have our annual meeting and during the fall work day, we stop to share a meal and dream a little. It is easy to get lulled into apathy about a hunting property, thinking everything is in order and nothing new needs to be added.
In reality that is never the case.
From past brainstorming we came up with the project to build a first-class deer-skinning rack. It sits on a concrete floor with a covered roof, electric lights and two electric hoists. We piped water over from the cabins to clean the deer during the skinning process.
It was a really good project.
Other projects we completed included a covered shooting bench at the range with a concrete floor. We built a downrange target berm to absorb bullets and constructed a target screen to hold targets with clothes pins.
It might be hot now, but get some big camp jobs out of the way early. Then you can spend more time hunting and dreaming later.