White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements

White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements

Steve Bartylla’s new book White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements will start mailing in June.

White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements

White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements
White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements image

This is a book review of the book “White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements” written by Steve Bartylla planned for a hard cover publication release in early June. Steve has authored three previous books on deer hunting which are; “Advanced Stand Hunting Strategies”, “Bowhunting Strategies that Deliver Trophies”, and “Big Buck Secrets”. Steve writes articles regularly for Deer and Deer Hunting magazine and for North American Whitetail magazine. He also hosts two web shows for “Deer and Deer Hunting” magazine’s website. The show most important to habitat enthusiasts, “Grow ‘em Big”, is a 4 to 8 minute video which airs every other week.

Steve’s diverse path of outdoor activities, both professional and personal, uniquely qualifies him to create property plans for managing and hunting white-tailed deer and to design habitat improvements. With prior professions in fur trapping, survey and contour map creation and habitat design through onsite visits across the United States, coupled with 35 plus years of hunting deer on both private and public grounds, a foundation for habitat design had been formed. Why fur trapping you may wonder. Barry Wensel lit the fire under Steve over thirty years ago when he shared with him the idea that deer could be encouraged to walk where we want them to similar to how Steve had steered furbearers to step in blind sets on his trap lines.

Steve also has twenty-five years experience in long term management of private ground for their owners. For these grounds ranging in size from 40 to 4,000 acres he created, implemented and maintained the property plans until fully tuned. Steve has created property plans in every White-tail state and Canadian province thru his Photo-evaluation service  www.food-plots-for-deer.com . Many of the best landowner managers of today hire Steve to create property plans for their properties. Steve Bartylla is likely one of if not the absolutely best qualified person(s) today to write a book titled “White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements”.

“White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” in its 319 pages explains how to manage a property’s habitat in order to grow and keep a healthy deer herd while improving the hunt-ability of the property. It also includes how to manage and hunt the deer herd to meet your goals. The book takes one through setting goals and designing a property plan taking into account all of the details unique to one’s particular properties. Steve points out that the variables for the many aspects of a property preclude the use of cookie cutter designs for planning out a property. Each property design must be tailored to the specific aspects unique to that property and the book covers all of them giving details of what to consider and how to proceed. Surrounding properties, local deer populations, property topography, strong and weak points, access, goals, size, tillable acres, plant succession stage, available browse, geometric shape, neighbor hunting practices and deer travel patterns are just some of the items he addresses when considering laying out a plan. This book is not a hunting story book although stories recounting hunts of specific bucks are included to demonstrate effective hunting strategies. Photographs, property maps and actual property plan maps are judiciously used throughout the book to further explain and reinforce his concepts.

This picture shows a pond as a complement to this secluded food plot.

Habitat management tools explained in “White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” with uses demonstrated in different scenarios in various property plans are sanctuaries, buck sidewalks, bedding areas, low impact access, perimeter access and exit, blockades, screening, hinge cutting, high odds-low impact stands, buck core area, water holes, licking branches, planted mock scrape trees, edge feathering, scrape lines, rub trees, dead zones, funnels, property sectioning, staging areas, shrub, tree and NWSG plantings, selective thickening, wind directions and finally food plots. While using all of these tools in a useful location seems at first a daunting task it becomes almost simple as the book explains how each aspect/tool is used in habitat management and how each tool can be used to fit into a plan to encourage the flow of deer to spend time on your ground and ultimately walk by your stand during legal shooting hours. The book did not contain info on crop tree releasing which is a valuable tool for promoting increased fruit and nut production from native fruit and nut trees. It is a tool that I use extensively on my property and feel that it would have been a good addition to the habitat management portion of the book.

“White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” also covers managing the deer herd. It explains the importance of “carrying capacity”, how to determine where your property is on the carrying capacity scale and how to modulate the capacity to produce the most and healthiest deer. Steve shares a simple process he developed on his managed lands for determining which deer to shoot and which to let walk in order for a property to produce the best deer it can. He tells you how to determine which does to cull, when to take them, as well as which does are your friends and should be treasured. Also covered are strategies to use to help mature bucks choose to live on a property, and how to inventory and age those bucks each year. The buck management strategies he uses are clever in a way I have not seen before.

Additionally “White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” shares Steve’s low impact hunting strategies which he advocates on his managed lands. He explains how hunting can directly reduce the deer population and activity on a property and how to overcome that through his low impact hunting strategies. He further explains the philosophies and techniques for low impact hunting. And as expected the book covers every aspect of hunting a property on high odds days at high odds stands while making the least amount of disturbance to the deer on your property as possible. In the short but effective chapter on tree stand safety Steve explains techniques he uses while hanging 100 to 150 stands annually for his managed land customers as well as safety while hunting from a tree stand.

A couple of quotes from the book show some of Steve’s philosophical thinking when creating a property plan:
“You can influence deer to spend the majority of their time on your land by giving them a higher quality of everything they could need and want than they can get on surrounding grounds. Do that and you reduce their motivation to leave, and increase their desire to live on your property. It is really that simple. Accomplishing it is the major challenge.”
“Every improvement we make should improve and insure the health of the resident deer, encourage them to spend a majority of their time on our land, and create a flow of deer activity that results in very low-impact high-odds stand locations.” “The keys to influence the deer to spend the bulk of their time on your ground are: provide them with better food, water, comfort, breeding opportunities and sense of safety than they can find in the surrounding properties.”

In summary this is the finest, most original and complete book on creating property plans for habitat management, buck hunting and management I have ever read. Some great books have been written before this, but for right now “White-tailed deer Management and Habitat Improvement” is the dominant buck on this subject. This is not to say that a better book will not be written someday because Steve and people like him are always striving, trying new things, sharing ideas and learning new things about the white-tailed deer. But for now this is the very best book available (come fall) on white tailed deer management, property designs and hunting mature deer. It gives the reader the tools and how to blend them to create the best property plan so everything flows together to meet one’s goals.

“White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” will have a huge positive impact on improving properties for deer and deer hunting. The book ends the same gracious way as it began with a THANK YOU from Steve to the so many people that have helped him learn so much about everything whitetail as well as to us his audience and consulting clients for enabling him to do for a living what he would be doing anyway just for fun. To read “White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement” is to know its’ author Steve Bartylla. Steve has really given this book his all and the result really shows it. Thank you Steve.

White-Tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvements

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