Creating Trails and Cutting Shooting Lanes During the Off-Season
What Things Do You Do When Cutting Shooting Lanes?
Food plots are a great way to attract deer, not only to your property but also to a specific location on that property. But they’re not the only way. There are other ways you can modify the habitat to make it more huntable. Spring and summer are good times to start because any disturbance you cause will be long forgotten by hunting season.
One of the simplest steps is cutting shooting lanes around existing stands. This is important for both gun and bowhunters, but more so for the latter. Over time, stuff naturally grows up into openings. Perhaps you overlooked something the last time you cut, only to discover the hard way when it obscured an otherwise clear shot. Even a small evergreen could obscure a rifle shot and a single branch could prevent a bow shot.
Recognize food sources while afield. Look for apple, pear, persimmon or other soft-mast producers that are being crowded out by larger, less desirable species and cut out the competition. Remaining trees and shrubs will often respond quickly to the additional sunlight and soil nutrients. In bigger clearing operations, you can even put the waste products to use. By piling cut brush in rows you can build natural fences, funneling deer movement toward your stand.
While you’re at it, this is a good time to work on your ATV trails, and not just to facilitate travel. More astute land managers will have already taken advantage of their ATV trails by planting them with perennial mixes. They’ll attract and feed wildlife for several years with little or no additional maintenance. However, trimming the edges back to allow more sunlight in, and treating the soil with lime and fertilizer will enhance that. Hook on a hitch-mount spreader and broadcast as you travel to and from your various clearing projects.
If pastures aren’t being used by livestock, create an opening in a fence line. If the land has no fencing, consider putting some in. Deer can jump over it if they want, but even 100 feet of 4-foot-high fence can funnel deer movement past a particular location.
There’s plenty more you can do to improve the huntability of your land. Circumstances vary with location and conditions, but beyond that, you’re limited only by your own ambition and creativity.