Aerial Photo Habitat Improvement and Deer Hunting Plan
Success begins with a solid plan. Before you clear that first food plot, or clear your first trail, make sure you have a good plan in place to make your property hunt as efficiently as possible.
An aerial photo evaluation is the least expensive, and quickest path to a maximizing your properties potential. As deer hunters, we have been taught to seek out fresh sign and hunt it. But hunting the best parts of your land can quickly burn it out, turning the does nocturnal and forcing wary bucks to take up residence somewhere else.
Every property has hidden potential for raising and killing deer, and there are those who do it for a living. Steve Bartylla has been manipulating deer property for over 25 years. He has done a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong, and those experiences have some value to anybody wishing to build and be able to successfully hunt bigger deer. A visit from Steve on a 40 acre piece will cost you $2,000 plus all expenses, but he will get you 90% of the way home with a comprehensive aerial photo plan at $500.
Click here to mark your property for Steve to evaluate.
Will the services offered here help you achieve your goals? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, it will help to a degree. If you answer yes to all of them it is money well spent.
After the first 2 weeks of season, do your deer sightings drop significantly?
Do you wish you could see more 2,5 year old and bigger bucks because all you see are yearlings? (and trail camera pics at night don’t count)
Do you need help determining what to plant to provide year round food for your doe groups?
Does your group struggle to see deer after the 2nd day of rifle season?
No 2 pieces of property are the same, and every property has multiple opportunities to increase the quality of it’s habitat, deer herd, and most importantly, it’s hunt ability. Size, pressure, latitude, composite, terrain features and on and on make a template style approach unusable. Steve has designed and manipulated properties all over the Midwest and he knows what makes each area different and alters the plan accordingly. The swamp island bedding habits of northern MN have no similarity to the ridge related bedding of Illinois. Steve knows what will work in both places, and his aerial photo evaluation can unlock the hidden potential of properties as small as 20 acres.
Photo Based Evaluations and Plans
1) The client will fill out our questionnaire to provide us with a better picture of their goals, abilities and limitations.
2) The client fills out the questionnaire along with completing the aerial markup.
3) After review of the questionnaire, photos and topo map, Steve may choose to conduct a phone interview to follow up with any questions and concerns any of us have.
4) A photo based plan addressing both habitat improvements and hunting strategies is formed and the clients individual URL (web page) is created. On your personal web page, your habitat and hunting plan will be posted for your review and will include both video links and written instructions so you can execute the plan.
5) A follow up interview is conducted with Steve to address any questions and comments the client may have.
Is this site right for you? The following questions should help answer that:
Do you spook deer more than 5% of the time when going to or from your stand?
Your property can and should be laid out in a way that offers maximum hunting opportunities, while minimizing your activities. A properly planned layout is job 1.
Do you notice a drop off in deer sightings the more you hunt a stand?
If so, either stand access, departure or placement is not setup to provide the ghost factor. Another probable issue is that your stands are either not targeted for each phase of season or not in the best locations. Through careful planning and property layout, we can help make each trip to the stands provide maximum hunting opportunities.
Are your biggest bucks nocturnal?
To an extent, this is to be expected. However, most properties are laid out and hunted in a way that makes this situation far worse than it has to be. Their layout and hunting efforts most often actually train deer not to move in the daylight. Between making you a ghost in the woods and careful design of sanctuaries – areas that are off limitsto human activities – we can train them to move during daylight hours, with a design to focus movement past your stands.
If you aren’t getting more than 10% daylight pictures of the bucks you want to kill, odds are very good our staff can help. The properties we manage provide 15, 20, 25 and even as high as 35% daylight pics of the bucks we want to kill. Again, it’s all in layout, the ghost factor and allowing these bruisers to feel safe moving during daylight hours.
Do the deer numbers on your property plummet each fall after leaf drop?
If yes, your own hunting pressure, the property’s lack of protective cover or both are likely to blame. As noted, we will show you how to make deer feel safe, but that only goes so far. The other issue is that these deer require a surplus of thick, protective cover to WANT to be on your property during daylight. We will give you several tools to effectively accomplish that.
Once hunting season really starts ramping up, do you see more or less deer?
Each year, the deer numbers climb on our staff’s properties as hunting season progresses. We can help you identify the problem and reverse it.
Do you struggle to establish thriving food plots?
If yes, there may be many reasons why. Perhaps your soil health is lacking, maybe your planting techniques need adjusting or you may be planting seed types that will not thrive in your specific soils/climate. This is yet another area where our incredible staff shines. With a vast array of experience establishing food plots in nearly every condition imaginable, if plants can grow, we can help you realize that lush, deer drawing plot.
Are your food plots hot during certain times of season and a desert during the rest?
This is a far too common problem that can be easily addressed by mixing plantings to ensure that a desirable food source is available throughout the entire season. In fact, we can most often suggest blends of seeds that will feed deer the entire year, which can be critical in improving the quality of animals you hunt.
Do your food plots run out before season ends?
Even on small plots, showing you how to deliver a 1-2 punch will significantly increase the length of time your food plots are drawing and feeding deer.
If you are at a loss of how to combine the above Q & A into a comprehensive property plan you are in the right spot.
Any property can be made to hunt slightly better, and most only realize 20% of their potential. Most of our customers are not even aware of the problems we create by hunting a property year after year without a cumulative plan. Flat out nothing is as important for improving both the habitat and hunting as having a well-constructed plan. This plan should not only address how to improve the habitat for deer (resulting in its ability to healthily support more and more physically robust deer) and be laid out in a manner to drastically improve your hunting, but each and every improvement must work together, all towards a common goal. There’s no doubt in our mind that you can not find a full staff of individuals that are as qualified to help as ours. Yes, we know what a bold statement that is. So, don’t take our word for it. Check the bios when our new site is unveiled and dare to compare. When considering making improvements, do you worry if you are making the right moves in the right locations?
If yes, good for you! This should be a serious concern. Even simply making habitat improvements that your land desperately needs can actually hamper your ability to allow your property to reach its full potential, IF it`s done in the wrong location or not working in unison with other improvements and habitat features.
What makes our site so special?
Frankly, it’s our staff. There are other highly qualified individuals that provide habitat and hunting consulting services. However, most often work individually or in pairs. We applaud their efforts and believe the best of those groups provide an invaluable service to their clients. However, there is more than a grain of truth to the old saying that there is great strength in numbers. When one reviews our team, you will find it contains several of the top whitetail research biologists, renowned how-too whitetail hunting “experts”, several top end habitat and hunting consultants and a tremendous wealth of experience in applying these principles in a hands on manner on a wide variety of habitat types. These guys don’t just show others how to do it. They have many, many years’ experience of doing it themselves. To put it bluntly, it’s a dream team of the best of the best. A major problem is that we’ve been trained by magazines and TV to believe food plots are not only THE answer, but the ONLY answer to improving our hunting and growing and holding bigger bucks. If you believe that, don’t feel bad. It’s been a carefully orchestrated and very effective advertising campaign that has trained many of today’s hunters and land owners to believe that. Most importantly, it’s helped keep hidden from us that there is so much more to improving the hunting on one’s property. Are food plots important? Of course they are, but they are only one part of a five part equation. We WILL give you that equation and show you how to use it to come to the right answer for making the hunting on your property the best it can possibly be.
We understand that membership in this site will not be for everyone. Frankly, there’s only so much we can do to help someone that owns 5 acres with a house in the middle of it. In that case, you’ll likely benefit from being one of our free members, but we suggest you think carefully about even joining our P&Y ranks. Even those small membership fees will likely not be worth the extra value in that circumstance. Don’t get us wrong. Some 5 acre pieces can provide great hunting! We just want to be certain you get your value. The same applies to those that just plain can’t spare 20 hours a year to work on their habitat or afford to pay someone to do that work for them. Again, the free membership will no doubt help, but any of the paid levels are unlikely to provide you with the value you deserve. One doesn’t have to invest countless hours to get a benefit from many of our techniques, but many do require some time investment, whether it’s yours or hiring someone else.
For the most of the rest of you, we firmly believe we can provide a service whose worth blows our membership fees away. As you will be able to clearly see by our pricing, our goal is not to get rich off of this. It’s to provide as much value as we can, while being able to cover our expenses. If we cannot provide a value well above and beyond what we charge, we have failed.
Food plots failed
So its midsummer and you decided to take a little drive and check out your bean and corn food plots
for deer. You get there and what do you find? Nothing the deer are going to be flocking to. Its a bummer when your food plots failed, but you have options. Today we are going to break down one example of how you can make lemonade when your food plots failed.
Food plots failed
Today finds us in the upper midwest, looking at a food plot of soybeans that never really germinated. We may have planted them too deep, or the seed may have been old, but either way they did not grow. We need some good tonnage as this is a high deer density area so we have decided to plant a brassica blend. 2 pounds rape, 3 pounds of purple top turnips, and 5 pounds of a tillage radish on 1.5 acres. Luckily when we look through the weed bed bed, we can see enough dirt to know that one good rain will pound our tiny seeds into the ground for soil contact. We are going to spray, then fertilize, and then broadcast our seed. 400 pound of triple 19 willl do the trick here, and we may top dress with 200 lbs of urea later on, especially if we notice the leaves turning purple, indicating a lack of nitrogen.
Bears love corn
Food plots failed
The plan is to not disturb the seed bed by turning the dirt, and by spraying the short weeds, they will fall over our seeds making a blanket to trap the moisture for germination during the heat of summer. These seeds may struggle with limited rain, but the compost we will make is like a dead nurse crop that helps our young plants get started.
Food plots failed
This technique will work for addressing low spots that died out, or very weedy areas that need some help before the deer season. Your food plots failed in spots, but you can jump in there with a backpack sprayer and some seed and be back in the game. If you fertilized well early on, take some of those credits and use less this go around, but always fertilize brassica. Many food plots failed because it was not fertilized.
By planting our brassica 70 days before the first average frost, we will hit that 60 – 90 day window that allows lots of growth and tonnage of forage, without letting the plants mature making them unattractive to the deer herd. We sprayed, planted and fertilized this plot on only 3 hours. It helps that we did not have to work the dirt because we could see it, and even though our food plot failed, we will still have greens this fall. Check the average first frost in your area to discover a good time to easily plant a brassica blend when your food plots failed.
Fall food plots for deer
Fall food plots for deer consist of either annuals like corn and beans planted in the spring, or annuals, perennials and bi-ennials planted late summer. Today we will focus on a strategy for attracting bucks in the early bow season and until the first few hard frosts in areas where the deer feed heavily on clover, alfalfa or soybeans all summer long. Described as a green to green transition, this fall food plots for deer strategy is a dynamite way to get close shots at the biggest deer on your property.
Early fall food plots for deer are green and growing
As summer rolls into early fall, most of the plant life is shifting the focus from growth to seed production and energy transfer to it’s root system. When this happens your deer herd will shy away from previously attractive soybeans, clovers, forbs and grasses because as they stop growing, they just do not taste as good. Your job as a hunter is to find what they are switching over to and hunt that source. Acorns are key this time of year but they are everywhere and hard to hunt. Your best strategy is to give them some fresh green growth that is tasty and attractive. A late season planting is the best fall food plots for deer strategy in this scenario.
The first frost marks a huge shift in active fall food plots for deer
Nothing will turn the switch faster on which fall food plots for deer your herd is using quicker than that first killing frost. Within days the beans all yellow and virtually all plant growth is done for the year. Certain annual grasses such as cereal rye, winter oats, and winter wheat as well as triticale are a super draw for the next 3 – 6 weeks or longer depending on snowfall amounts and where you live. In Minnesota I plant these cereal grains in late August, preferably the last week. I may fudge earlier or later if the clouds say rain, but if I can get these grasses in late August I am rich with deer in the early bow season. They will withstand frost after frost and keep right on growing, providing one of the highest quality, lowest cost deer attractants you can buy.
Fall food plots for deer as a nurse crop
Do not ignore the power of these crops as a nurse crop in your fall food plots for deer. Add clover, alfalfa, or vetch or any other perennial to the blend, and these perennial crops will receive minimal pressure in the fall allowing them to establish their root systems and thrive the next few years. It’s a killer fall food plots for deer strategy.
Size of these green to green fall food plots for deer
I prefer to establish these small green plots by first picking the tree I want to hunt. It’s much easier to pick an area to plant, but the best plots are always strategically located where deer like to travel, and more importantly in spots you can access without spooking and educating deer. If you can only hunt it once it’s a waste of time to play with. I also like to keep these spots small. On my farm I transition the deer from a 3 acre soybean field to a 1/10 acre green spot. I can almost shoot the whole plot with my recurve. Every one of the deer I watch in the beans in July and August will transition to the only green growing chow after the first hard frost. Like fish in a barrel? Hardly. But it is one of the best fall food plots for deer.