August 2006
Featured Articles

Late Summer Wildlife Management

by John Howle

 
  Take your wildlife management plan beyond food plots with products available at your local Co-op.
Even though the weather may be too hot to think about suiting up in camo and grabbing your bow or gun, August is an ideal month to take your wildlife management plan to a level beyond just having a warm season plot or two in the ground. Providing supplemental feeding and minerals are a high priority this time of year. In addition, add a game camera or two and you can know just what’s out there in time for hunting season. Fortunately, everything you need is available at your local Co-op.

Salt and Minerals

Bucks will be developing their antler growth in the summer. Pouring salt and minerals into the ground during August will help keep deer in the area and provide nutrition for the upcoming breeding season. Providing minerals is a relatively cheap and easy way to hold the deer in the area and provide them with the necessary minerals that will be needed.

First, dig a hole large enough to pour in a 50-pound bag of mineralized salt. This is the salt that you would commonly feed to cattle throughout the year. Next, pour the salt into the hole. Finally, cover the hole with the removed dirt and pour a small amount of salt on the mound. This will encourage the deer to begin licking the ground.

This particular method has a variation that will allow you to remove stumps from the field. Pour the salt around the base of a tree stump, cover it over, and watch as deer progressively lick the surrounding soil from around the stump to make stump removal quick and easy.

 
Dig a hole large enough to pour in a whole bag of mineralized salt.  
According to Craig Hill, assistant chief with the Alabama Division of wildlife and freshwater fisheries, you can use any salt or salt mineral you desire during times outside of hunting season. However, during hunting season, only pure, white salt with no additives can be used. This is because many varieties of mineralized salt can include molasses, apples, or corn chunks that can have you defending yourself against a charge of baiting.

Feeders

Feeders provide an ideal source of instant food for wildlife. Many of the new varieties such as the 30-gallon Moultrie Pro-Feeder work off a six-volt battery. The feeder can be set to go off any time of the day or night with 16 hourly feeding options. The feeder distributor slings about one pound of feed in five seconds.

The main grain fed in these feeders is usually corn. Corn does supply plenty of carbohydrates and nutrition for deer and turkey. Soybeans, however, have a higher protein content. If your goal is building bigger antlers on bucks, the soybeans will provide a higher protein option for supplemental feeding.

You can build your own gravity fed corn feeder and save some money up front. However, you might have to contend with mold and spoiled feed if it’s not eaten fast enough, or you might have the opposite problem of overconsumption. The deer can clean out a 50-pound bag of corn in a short time when it’s continually available.

 
  The 30-gallon, Moultrie Pro-Feeder provides supplemental feedings of corn or soybeans through a pre-set timer.
Using a grain feeder is legal in Alabama according to Hill. Just make sure the feeder is empty and all grain residue is gone from the ground for 10 days before hunting the area. Whether you use corn or soybeans, summertime is the ideal time to give supplemental feedings. Once hunting season starts, the antlers have already been developed.

Game Cameras

Trail cameras, whether film or digital, help the land manager have a better idea of the deer that are on the property. These cameras take deer herd information to a higher level than just examining tracks entering and exiting the food plot. However, like all things of value on your property, there’s the risk of theft. Be sure to place the camera in a concealed spot away from main roads or commonly traveled areas.

Moultrie makes a digital trail camera that is, like their feeders, powered by a six-volt battery. The camera, the Game Spy 200, is a 3.1 mexapixel digital and can be removed from the post or tree and used in the same way as a digital point and shoot camera. This is especially handy when you harvest a fine deer or turkey and want to preserve the memory.

Just like a point and shoot digital, this camera uses a memory card. If you want to view the pictures on the Game Spy you have a few options. With cables and cords, you can plug the camera into your home computer or laptop, or run it into your television. The most convenient way I’ve found to review the photos is to bring my point and shoot digital camera into the field with me. Pop the memory card from the Game Spy into my digital camera and scroll through the images.

Place the game camera within 10 feet of your salt and mineral lick or your game feeder. This close distance allows the camera to pick up the body heat of the animal and set off the sensor for a picture. This digital camera uses both motion and heat change sensors. For instance, if you cut a tree down in front of the camera, it won’t go off. However, if you fall down in front of the camera, it will because of your body heat.
 
The timer on the feeder can be set to go off morning, night, or both through 16 pre-set times. The camera card is the same one used in some digital point and shoot cameras. It can be removed from the game camera, and images can be viewed on your digital camera.

Tend your Natural Food Sources

Some of the most commonly overlooked food plots occur naturally. Honeysuckles and briar patches provide not only cover but a palatable source of food for many varieties of wildlife. Late August is an ideal time to fertilize these food sources giving them more growth and palatability for early hunting season.

Just before a rain storm is headed your way, if you do no more than broadcast 100 pounds of ammonium nitrate per acre in these patches, you’ll see quick, green growth followed by heavy deer browse. Don’t let hunting season slip up on you. Use those hot, August days to take your wildlife management to the next level.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.