with Marshall Collette
Editor’s Note: Marshall Collette from Greensboro, North Carolina, is a regional manager for Mossy Oak’s Pro Staff, and a retired contractor who’s been on the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for 26 years. His favorite camo pattern is Mossy Oak Break-Up Country. Deer season opens in North Carolina the Saturday after Labor Day. We asked what rituals Collette goes through to be ready for the opening of bow season.
I get all my tree stands out and check them to make sure they don’t make any noise. If they do, I grease the spots that squeak. I check my straps for signs of wear and replace them, if needed. I check out all the archery gear I'll be using and make sure it’s ready for the upcoming season. Then I put up a tree stand in the yard, place targets at different distances to check out my bow, and get accustomed to shooting from a tree stand again. I practice, and I practice, and I practice.
Because I primarily hunt private land, I want to get the land prepared for bow season, which is just as important, if not more important to me, as having my equipment prepared for the season. Right now, we’re watching the Weather Channel on television looking for rain. We've got the ground prepared. All we need to do is plant our Mossy Oak BioLogic for deer season. But there's no point in putting seeds in the ground until we know we’ll get the rain we need to pop the seeds out of the ground. For the most part, the summer has been extra dry here in our region, although I realize much of the U.S. has been very wet. When we did get rain, it came too early for us to plant our food plots for deer season. We’re glad we didn’t plant, but the weather pattern seems to be changing now. So, when we see we’ll have rain in the forecast, we’ll start planting.
Our hunting club has been hunting on an 800-acre Black Angus cattle farm in Person County, North Carolina, for 20 years that has a lot of pasture land. We’ve planted clover around the pasture edges, and there are quite a few white oaks, mostly on the edge of drainages. From what we've seen, we expect to have a good acorn crop this year. We’ve got seven food plots in and around a 4-year-old clear-cut. For early-season bowhunting, we’ll plant different types of Mossy Oak BioLogic clover as well as clover for late-season hunting. At some point, the clear-cut will be sprayed to kill all the vegetation, so the landowner can plant pine trees there. We’re doing all we can to make sure the deer have plenty of food and good habitat, even after the vegetation is sprayed.
Our hunting club has another 500-acre farm in Caswell County that we've been hunting for almost 30 years that’s a working tobacco farm and also raises corn and soybeans. That farm basically plants the food for the deer for us. Too, this farm has a lot of persimmon trees, as well as old-growth hardwoods that produce a good crop of acorns.
With the two farms, we actually have about 1,300 acres to hunt. Only three of us hunt the property in Caswell County - my brother, a lifelong friend and me. We’re like family to the owners of this property. We have 15 members in the club in Person County, because the land is so expensive.
Scouting with Trail Cameras
On both properties, we've instituted a one buck/two doe limit on our hunters, and the buck has to be a buck that the hunter plans to mount. My brother will put out six or eight trail cameras on the Caswell farm, and we have a member in our other club that will put out 10 or 12 trail cameras on the Person farm. Each year we make out a hit list of bucks we want to take, based on the trail-camera pictures we get.
We also have a fail-safe rule. During the rut, other older-age-class bucks will migrate in to both of the properties that we hunt. The fail-safe rule is if you see a buck that’s not on the hit list, and you will mount him, then take him. One thing that we've learned over the years is the easiest clubs to manage are the ones where all the members are like-minded and a management program is being followed.
To learn more about deer hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” Go to www.amazon.com/Bowhunting-Deer-Mossy-Pros-Bucks-ebook/dp/B013F0T58O.
Part 2: Early Season Deer Hunting with Marshall Collette