The advantages of having year-round food sources on your property that provide sustenance, even throughout the offseason is important, Michael says. This spring has been difficult for many hunters to get food plots in the ground in a timely fashion because of excessive rain and flooding. However, Michael says there is still plenty of time to get seed in the ground, make up for lost time and ensure you have viable food sources come fall. Beyond relying on food plots, there is still a lot of natural browse that the deer use, and you can also supplement with minerals, Michael states. A little goes a long way with minerals, deer don’t feast on a mineral site like they will a clover field. Instead they will lick or consume small amounts of minerals, but a good site can be a big draw. Michael explains why he believes in minerals and how he has seen deer create deep holes in the ground to consume the mineral that has soaked into the soil. They don’t compete with food sources, they are purely supplemental, but mineral sites can be effective draws to your property that also provide nutritional benefits that extend beyond antler mass but also help increase body weight, milk production, immune system health, disease prevention and fawn health.
Does are an important part of a well-established deer herd, but in many cases they also need to be managed. Michael says there are different philosophies when it comes to doe management and harvest rates, but in general he is a believer in keeping doe numbers in check to prevent large overgrazing problems. A large population of does can come in during the late season when that is the only food source around and decimate the food plots you have. By keeping the doe population in check, Michael says you are better able to ensure that all deer will have food throughout the harder winter months. On the flip side, Michael says you have to walk a fine line with doe management as it can impact the bucks too. If you take every doe you are permitted to take it can pressure the entire herd, he says. Pressuring the does can push them off and where the does go the bucks will follow.
Living in Georgia, Michael is very familiar with the hog problem that plagues many of the southern states and is rapidly spreading elsewhere. Predator control is an important factor to managing any property and feral hogs are formidable opponents. Hogs are smart, adaptable, highly influenced by pressure and tough to kill. During the warmer summer months, Michael says the best way to hunt them is with good thermal optics under the cover of night. When it’s hot, they go nocturnal and travel when it’s cooler. Hogs are some of the most nomadic creatures anywhere, Michael says, constantly on the move. This time of year, Michael focuses on ag fields using either spotlights or thermal, because that’s the way to go. As for knocking them down, hogs are tough critters so well-placed shots are a must. If you’re bowhunting, Michael says your shots need to be tucked behind the shoulder blade, not too high or you’ll risk hitting the shield. A good quartering away shot makes this much easier. A hog’s strong shoulders and shield are very adept at deflecting and keeping things out, Michael says, so you have to sneak your arrow in deep. Michael highlights the tough nature of hogs and how even after hitting a hog with a rifle, it survived several more months and had another litter before they ultimately dispatched it for good. Throughout the summer, while other big game seasons are closed, it’s a great time to get after hogs – you just have to be willing to sit in the heat or go nocturnal.
Be sure to watch for the all-new, 15th season of “Backwoods Life” premiering on Sportsman Channel July 2nd. You can watch every Tuesday at 10:00 pm ET and you can also catch previous seasons and episodes of “Backwoods Life” with MyOutdoorTV, check it out!
Let’s burn some bacon,