Images and story by Thomas Allen | Originally published on Outdoor Hub
Editor’s note: This is the 10th installment to a 12-part, comprehensive series about building a hunting club with buddies from nearly the ground up. Author Thomas Allen will share what he learns as he learns it. His hope is that anyone who reads this series can learn from his successes and failures, and apply them to a one-day fruitful hunting club. Click here for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth installments.
“Your starting point does not determine the end game. Your attitude, work ethic and drive do, so never forget where you started, but continually move forward to achieve every goal you’ve set forth.” ~Anonymous
In just about every installment of this series I’ve commented on the mountain we had to climb in order to enjoy our first season as a club. And that was the absolute truth. But now as we look to year two, we have another mountain to climb.
During our first few trips through the property, we noticed some obvious improvements that would be required to become established. But after a full season of hunting that list got much bigger.
Just like the very beginning this year’s list will take commitment and personal investment. Truth be told: The list is far from insurmountable; it starts with getting started.
Here’s a look at our plans for the next month.
Most of our shooting houses are positioned correctly and are huntable. But every one of them is infested with wasps. I hate wasps. We’d like to seal each house and add closable plexi-glass windows. I know how to get this done effectively, but the bottom line with that will be buying the materials.
Sealing each house is a big, expensive project. But, we’ll have to see what we’re able to do. Right now that task is up in the air.
We also plan on erecting two new shooting platforms that we might place a ground blind on for this upcoming season. We plan to remove three and completely rebuild them.
If you’ll recall, Paul, our wrench man, has a sawmill and more felled logs than he knows what to do with. That means our access to inexpensive lumber is plentiful. You can read more about that and see our shooting house wood gathering here.
Two of our projects are not only to make better a crappy house, but to also move the houses to better locations. One of which is literally on the food plot edge. It’s just too close, and the food plot is barely an acre. Getting in and out without spooking deer is nearly impossible.
We’re going to move it back up on a hill about 60 yards, which will allow for easy in and outs. Access is a critical aspect to successful hunting, yet an aspect that is very much overlooked everywhere across deer-hunting country.
This is our single biggest and most expensive task. My suggestion to anyone looking to build a club — myself included: Take it slow. Do what you can do, and don’t hold your expectations too high.
There’s a good chance that the next installment of this story might be completely about shooting house renovations.
It’s hot in Alabama, just like about everywhere else deer clubs exist during the summer months. As humans, it’s essential to maintain fluids and electrolytes when spending a great deal of time outside when it’s so warm.
Deer are no different — except for the fact that they have no choice than to deal with it day in and day out. Naturally they know to consume water as often as possible, but adding Trace Mineral to your summer feeding plans will help for sure.
Consider it their version of electrolyte maintenance. When it gets hot, they pound salt and minerals. The Trace Mineral is a good combination of both, and they will certainly take advantage of it if you put it out.
Plus, it creates a great scenario for a Wildgame Innovations trail camera.
This summer I’m experimenting with the loose, granular version vs. the cheaper blocks. And to mix that plan up even more, I broke two of the salt blocks up into smaller pieces while leaving two of them together. My objective? To see how long each lasts compared to the other, and compare deer traffic.
I’ll report back.
Trail Camera Update
If you’ll recall back to an earlier installment, I pulled most of the cameras down for the post season. The reason for that was to reduce off-season work and pressure. I kept eight cameras out across our 614 acres, mostly over mineral sites and feeders.
The production of photos has been impressive nonetheless. We’re beginning to see lots of large, pregnant does, bucks are growing antlers at all stages: Some have small nubs, others are past the G1 turning the corner and pushing out 2s.
Below are a few photos from the Wildgame Innovations cameras:
We’ve got a lot of work to do here, as well. I don’t think we’re planning to change much other than add additional spots on the gas pipeline. More food, in other words, can’t hurt.
Last year we got a late start because we couldn't take possession of the land until the end of September. This year, however, we’ll be able to get way ahead of that timeline.
My job has me on the road for most of June, but July and August will be our months to prepare the ground and get seed planted. We’re still discussing if we want to try different food types, but with additional time this year, we should be able to get ahead of schedule.
Our fields are pretty well grown over at this point, which is normal. We may decide to skip the spraying all together and just mow and disc a few times. We’re also looking to lime a few of the fields, a timeline on that is also still under discussion.
I pulled a bunch of my treestands down from a different property that I don’t hunt any more, and I have plans to put them up on this club later this summer. This work provided me with an opportunity to share my method of maintenance and storage.
I think you’ll find this simple and helpful.
There have been a few strong storms that hit our area this year, and as you can probably imagine it’s created lots of extra work on our property.
Whether I’m hanging or checking a camera, or even driving through out property, I keep a small handsaw and pruners with me at all times. You’d be surprised how handy they are throughout the entire year.
I’ve been through some garbage variations of these for years. But that all changed when I bought Wicked Tree Gear. This essential equipment was designed for hunters by hunters: You can’t go wrong with the Wicked Tree Saw or the Wicked Hand Pruners.
A new gate appeared at one of our property line access points. This is a good thing I believe, as we’ve had some trespassing issues. This new gate was installed thanks to the power line company, and adds a clear barrier to our property.
Again, I don’t see this as a bad thing at all.
Good Time Together
It’s hot and we’re all looking forward to fall. But don’t let that keep you at home on the couch. Great memories can still be made with your loved ones or fellow club members by checking cameras, refreshing mineral sites or indulging in wild black berries that grow alongside the property roads.
Get out with your family and keep the outdoor lifestyle real. It’s worth every drop of sweat.