with Mark Drury
The real secret to consistently taking older-age bucks is your ability to manipulate the habitat, plant food plots and control access to that property. In February, I purchased 120 acres of all hardwoods in Mercer County, Missouri. To get into that land, we’ll have to drive to a dead-end road and cross another piece of private property that I have an easement for to get to those woods. Right now, we’re using a bulldozer to create a road system throughout the new land and bulldozing two major food plots on the property - one on the south end and one on the north end. One of the food plots will be on the top of a ridge. The other food plot will be down in a valley.
I've walked this entire property three or four different times, and I’ve plotted out every deer trail I’ve discovered on the land. On a map, I’ve noted where:
- the bedding areas are;
- the south-facing slopes are;
- the thickest cover is;
- I need to access the property any time I hunt it; and
- the food plots are in the areas where I think I can get bucks to appear during daylight hours.
I’ve marked the two food plots I believe I can get into with favorable winds without spooking the deer. Based on my scouting, both of these two food plots are very close to the deer’s bedding areas, and I’ll be able to get into and out of them relatively easily and quietly. We've already planted wheat and clover in these two food plots, and I’ve already put Reconyx trail cameras on these food plots to try and inventory the deer feeding there.
Another advantage I have with this new property is that the previous landowner allowed me to put out trail cameras in December, January and February. Then I got a general idea of what size bucks and how many bucks are living on this property. I’ve established multiple mineral sites on this land and put a pond close to the food plot on the ridge. Right now, I’m considering planting BioLogic’s DEER-Radish on the ridge for early season bowhunting. On the food plot on the bottom, I’ll plant BioLogic’s Maximum as well as Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets. I've put a lot of effort into this new property, because I've got to learn all I can about it and the deer that are living there to produce some 4-6-year-old bucks on that land.
More hunters are realizing that you can produce high-quality bucks on small acreages like this new 120 acres I’ve just purchased. Another advantage to this property is that it’s very thick and overgrown without a very good tillage value. So this property is something that most people looking for land won’t buy. However, this past spring, we took three gobblers off the new land. Remember, this property didn’t have any food plots on it before we bought it, and the land would have been almost impossible to turkey hunt. Once we opened up the land and put in the food plots like I mentioned earlier, the gobblers showed up, and they were all mature longbeards.
Because I put cameras out in December 2016, I've already seen 10 or 11 bucks that are 3-1/2 years old or older. One of those bucks will probably score 150 inches on Boone and Crockett. So I'm expecting to see bucks on that property this fall that will score from 130 inches to 160 inches.