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Improving Wildlife Habitat is About More Than Big Bucks

Bob and Suzie Smith of Lexington, Tennessee, joined the Mossy Oak GameKeepers ProStaff in May 2017, when they were recommended by another ProStaffer, Jason Patterson. 

buck in field

I have a 4 p.m. doe that comes by my stand every day. I also have a 9 a.m. doe that comes by my stand every day. Once the rut kicks in, I know there’s a very good chance that those two does will have a buck following them during the rut. I've learned to pattern the does and set up a timetable of where and when I see the does at certain times of the day. Also, by using the game cameras, I can see when the bucks start following the does. We've also learned that by having more does on our property, the bucks will set up a regular route to come through our property to check for estrous does during the rut. They’ll come by the food plots, because they know a lot of does are out in the food plots feeding, and they can scent-check to see if any of those does are coming into estrus. 

We want the bucks moving through our property to know that we have the ladies on our land, and they usually can find those ladies at the salad bar. That deer food is what’s pulling the bucks onto our property, even though we don’t have any resident bucks living there. One of the things we like about wildlife management and being GameKeepers is that we can improve our property and plan on our improvements based on the amount of cash we plan to invest in the land, and what type of wildlife we want to have on our property for us as well as our family members to hunt. 

We have four ponds on our land. One of them is stocked with bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. Another pond is stocked strictly with catfish. The third pond is our mystery pond. We never know what type fish will be in it, because when the river floods, fish from the river overflow into this pond. When the water recedes, those fish stay in that pond. We have a 5-year-old grandson who loves to fish. He really doesn’t care what he catches as long as he's catching fish. So, by manipulating the habitat, increasing food for wildlife, building ponds, managing predators and doing the other recommendations of the GameKeepers program, we've not only improved the land for us to hunt and fish, but also improved the amount of wildlife we have. We've improved it to the point that our family can enjoy the time we've put in as GameKeepers to provide more wildlife for more people.

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