By Dan Johnson
This time of year a hint of depression usually sets in. Not only because it’s the dead of winter, but the hunting season is over and until the end of the month it’s still too early to go shed hunting. By now, I have already scouted my properties looking for clues that might help me for the upcoming season. Plus, it’s cold as hell outside and I’m not a huge fan of frostbite. So, what’s a guy to do who has a severe whitetail problem? I buy several tons of corn and dump it throughout the properties I hunt in front of trail cameras. I know what some of you are thinking, seem like a waste of money. You’re probably right, but I have my reasons.
As I mentioned in previous articles, I set specific goals each season when it comes to the animals I harvest. This past season, my initial goal was to find and kill a mature buck that was four years old or older, with antler size as an afterthought. I was blessed this November to kill what I thought was a four year old buck. According to the taxidermist, he could even be older. But that’s not the point. The point is, I run trail cameras almost all year long taking them down only for the shotgun season. Because I have my trail cameras out most of the year, I have a good idea what bucks are in the area, their age class, and even take it a step further and evaluate the herd numbers and ratios. So, back to the original point of dumping out piles of corn in front of trail cameras. This allows me to see what bucks made it through the shotgun season. This information doesn’t really provide me any detail about their home range or hunting season travel patterns, it’s just nice to know that the deer I had been hunting the previous season are still alive and healthy. Long story short, I am taking a buck inventory for the next season.
There are also other benefits to dumping massive amounts of corn on the property you hunt. The first, and what I believe to be the most important, is it can provide the herd with additional nurturance throughout the hard Iowa winter. In a way, I feel like I am doing my part in taking care of the animals that I love so much. This can give any wounded or sick animals the extra boost they need to get them through a very stressful time of the year where they might not otherwise be able to survive. With that said, if you have a healthy buck coming out of the winter and going into the antler growing season there is a chance that any nutrition that was going to the recovery of any body weight loss is now going in to the development of antlers. So you could say that it helps with growing bigger bucks.
The second, and most selfish reason I like to dump corn, is to keep the deer on the property you have control of in order to find their sheds. I love shed hunting, it’s something I can do with friends and family and will expand on it in next month’s issue. Depending on how many, and what bucks have already shed their antlers will tell me when I need to start actually shed hunting.
As a whitetail freak, I like to keep tabs on the herd I hunt throughout the entire year and I take it very serious. Knowledge is power, and knowing the who, what, when, where, and why of deer hunting could help you gain the advantage you need on a buck that may have outsmarted you in the past.