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Summer Whitetail Preparation: 7 Projects to Improve Your Deer Season

Greg Kazmierski

During the heat of the summer months, it can be difficult to work up the motivation to get out and put in hours improving your whitetail property. To boost motivation and enhance a property to its max before hunting season rolls in, I like to focus on a manageable to-do list of projects that will have the biggest impact. Here are seven projects you can add to your summer preparation list to get yourself ready for the upcoming season. 


Travel Corridors

I like to complete most of the heavy timber work on a hunting property before the summer months in cooler temps with lower foliage levels. Although the first project on the list involves some cutting, it's not nearly as time or labor-intensive as other timber projects such as creating new bedding areas.

Installing travel corridors can be completed with only your chainsaw and a tank of gas. They are a great way to influence movement patterns and help you develop a game plan for the upcoming hunting season.

My goal when creating travel corridors is to provide the deer with the easiest path of travel between two highly desired destinations. While the extent of your cutting will vary depending on your hunting area, a general rule of thumb I like to follow is opening up the corridors just outside of my shoulders following the natural flow of the terrain. Although subtle, these travel routes can quickly become a preferred path of travel for that mature buck.

Shooting Lanes

Assuming you have your stand site picked out, the next bit of cutting work you can complete is your shooting lanes. When possible, I like to focus on clearing shooting lanes in the late summer when foliage levels are closer to what I will experience during deer season.

This project can be completed a lot more efficiently with the help of a friend as one person positions themselves in the stand and the other canvases and clears the area on the ground. An extendable pole saw works great for this project and provides you with the flexibility to clear limbs at all different heights.

Hunter Access

The final cutting project I like to focus on during the summer is my hunter access routes. I preach over and over about how secure access can often be the biggest influence in a successful hunt, so this project shouldn't be overlooked.

When opening up these access routes I am trying to remove all of the limbs, debris, twigs, etc. that will cause any extra disturbance as I head to the stand come deer season. As noted with the travel corridors, deer like to use the easiest path of travel between two destinations, so I try my best to keep that in mind when planning and implementing my access routes. Straight lines and abrupt ends are both good ways to keep the local deer herd from using your hunter access routes.

Trail Cameras

trail camera

Arguably the most fun project of the summer is hanging trail cameras. The anticipation of looking at the first picture of your target buck in velvet is something many deer hunters look forward to. If you are looking to run trail cameras as part of your summer scouting efforts there are a few things I always like to keep top of mind.

Don't let summer deer patterns have too much of an influence on your deer hunting for the fall. Outside of an early opening day, it's unlikely that your target buck will be doing the same thing in the fall as he is in the summer. With that in mind, I still like to place cameras in places I will get a good amount of inventory pictures such as summer food sources and mineral sites. While you may not get to pattern individual bucks, you can still get a better idea of their full home range.

Prep your trail cameras so they perform in the field. There is nothing worse than hanging a trail camera that doesn't collect pictures. Paying close attention to having the right equipment (fresh batteries and formatted SD cards) is often overlooked, but crucial. It never hurts to double-check!

Food Plots

food plot

Food plots come in all different shapes and sizes, but all come with the same goal of providing deer with a food source on your land. There is a laundry list of projects to complete in your food plots before the season starts.

Preparing the soil, planting, mowing, and spraying are all required to help establish and keep your food plot ready for opening day. With more extensive projects like planting and maintenance, I have found it helpful to create an operating procedure to follow and stay organized to make sure I'm not missing any steps.

Mock Scrapes

Whether you need to freshen up existing scrapes or establish new ones, late summer is the last time I enter these areas before heading in for a hunt. A well-placed mock scrape will see a high amount of deer activity, so I like to keep my impact in these areas to a minimum.

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect location for a mock scrape, what type of licking branches they like to use, and what scent they place in the exposed area below the branch. My best advice is to try out a few different methods that align with your style of deer hunting, analyze the results through trail cameras and time on the stand, and keep crafting your system year after year.

Water Holes

Last but certainly not least we have water holes. Water hole activity increases in the summer as the temps rise and remains a preferred stop even as the weather turns cold. Even if you installed your water hole back in the spring, it's worth it to spend some time on maintenance in the summer.

Clearing out debris, refilling with water, and ensuring you have your rodent stick handy are all things I am focusing on when keeping up with my water holes in the summer.

Watching Summer Turn to Hunting Season

Improving your land in the summer can be a lot of work, but those hot days spent going the extra mile can often be the difference in filling your tag during the upcoming deer season. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and enjoy your time out doing what you love.

Read More: Maximize Antler Growth with No-Till Farming

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