When it comes to curbing the overbrowsing of his food plots, Pat says he has tried a lot of different things over the years like high fences, snow fences and liquid sprays. The most effective method though is a dual perimeter electric fence. Pat says a single hot strand should be run on the outside fence at about 3 to 4 feet off the ground. Inside that fence about 4 feet, another fence should then be run and this time with two wires, one lower than the outer perimeter strand and one at about chest height. The outer hotwire and the shock it provides quickly educates deer and teaches them to stay away from the fence, but that single wire on its own is not enough. Deer will either jump or duck just a single strand. Pat says the purpose of the dual fence is to provide some depth perception for deer as they get a visual of the wires and think twice about jumping as they don't want to get hung up on the second fence that is directly behind the first. Dual perimeter electric fences are especially effective on interior food plots that are located back in the timber and other secluded areas with heavy deer populations, Pat says. It's in these areas that deer will mow down beans and other food sources with such regularity that those plants won't ever have a chance to mature and grow. Putting an electric fence around those food plots keeps the deer out until you are at a point in the season where you are ready for them to graze that food source.
Water is a crucial element for any hunting property, as well. All animals need water several times a day. On each of their hunting properties, Pat says he likes to install water holes in strategic areas that are not only beneficial for the wildlife, but beneficial from a hunting standpoint, as well. Creating a water source doesn't have to be a big investment and the waterhole itself doesn't have to be huge. Pat says the water holes he creates are generally 20x20 and shaped like a cereal bowl. After clearing the area, shaping the water hole and smoothing out any rough or sharp edges, the pond then needs to be lined so water doesn't immediately seep into the soil. While an expensive thick rubber pond liner can be purchased for this application, Pat says he prefers to go the more economical route of picking up a thick tarp at the farm store. For under $50, a tarp acts as a great liner for small water holes. Pat says he lays the tarp out over the hole and then back fills the entire area with about a foot of dirt to keep the tarp in place. Because of the cereal bowl-like shape, these water holes fill quickly with a little rain and the tarp below helps to keep the water there. Location is a key factor with ponds as you want to put them in a place that is advantageous for animals making it quicker, easier and safer to get to a water source. At the same time pond locations need to be carefully selected so hunters can place blinds or treestands within a reasonable distance to capitalize on deer coming into water.
Finally, Pat talks meat hunters versus trophy hunters and offers his thoughts on why most hunters are actually both. If everyone was being honest, he says, if given the opportunity to shoot a big buck or a young, there probably aren't very many hunters out there that wouldn't take the buck. Generally, hunters are going to seek out more mature animals and take the best/largest one they are given a chance at. Over the years, Pat says his own hunting has evolved and he has become more selective in the animals he shoots seeking out bigger, more mature, "trophy" animals. However, regardless of antler score, that buck still provides a lot of meat for his freezer giving him the best of both worlds - food and a nice mature buck. Pat says he taught his own kids from a young age that hunting isn't about shooting the biggest buck, yet instinctively each season they hope to do better than the previous and they become more selective in what deer they are willing to shoot. This is a situation where hunters can have their cake and eat it too - they can shoot a nice big buck and also get a lot of great meat out of it. Pat weighs in on the impact social media has on hunting and says, like it or not, those on social media are more likely to post a photo of a deer with big antlers than they are to post one holding a doe. In that way, he says, management practices may shift more toward growing and supporting trophy deer in order to cater to today's hunters. Balancing out the desire to have a "trophy" animal moment for social media is the growing fascination with field to fork eating. Here, the emphasis is all on the meat and there is no mention of what the animal looked like or scored. There is a big push right now, Pat says, to eat more natural and healthy foods and to know where your meat is coming from. That eating movement prioritizes meat over trophy potential. It's important to remember that there is room for all kinds of hunters in this sport - meat hunters, trophy hunters and anywhere in between. Pat caps it all off by reminding hunters that whatever their goal is, a "trophy" is in the eye of the beholder and the hunting experience itself is more important than the size of the animal.
Listen in as Pat Reeve of "Driven with Pat and Nicole" joins The Revolution to talk protecting your food plot with a dual perimeter electric fence, creating water holes and meat versus trophy hunting. You can watch "Driven with Pat and Nicole" on Outdoor Channel, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET or catch previous seasons and episodes any time you want with MyOutdoorTV.