Plant for the Future
No matter if you own 20 acres or 1000, there should be strategy with your forages that you provide your deer. Some have a goal of growing big bucks; some want to attract and hold more deer. Here are some overlooked concepts.
A buck’s growth curve is set early on in their life. Their immune system and growth rates strongly are influenced by its mother. The volume and quality of the mom’s milk is important. That mom requires a tremendous amount of calcium in her diet for her fawns. The number of fawns she has, and feeds really makes a difference as well depending on if it’s a single, twins or triplets. What that doe needs are high quality browse and food plots that are high in calcium and the major minerals. A doe needs quality forages close to her fawns. The volume of milk produced by the doe is influenced by her ability to lay back down as quick as she can after feeding herself her fawns. A doe’s blood flow to her udder helps produce milk. That blood flow is elevated by her laying down. Deer are ruminants. They also need to lay back down to “chew their cuds.” That means to chew, regurgitate and continue to break down the forages and browse that they consumed.
The goal for properties I work with is to have multiple plots right next to summer bedding. You also need water and bedding by a food source. This is where laying out one’s property is important. Quality water is essential for quality milk production and enough volume of that essential milk.
As those fawns feed off their mom, their growth going into the winter makes a difference the following spring. We want to build up their reserves so that when spring hits, there is no “compensatory gain.” If a deer is depleted of their reserves, they will use a higher amount of nutrients to recharge their bodies. If that deer is a buck, you will see a larger rack when that early spring nutrition is not needed to rebuild itself. We want that young buck or young doe to hit the ground running that year 2. That year 2 affects year 3 and so on.
The concepts are simple for all deer on your properties. Match food sources with bedding sources for that season. The lay of the land dictates where you need to work on the appropriate seasonal bedding. Stop and think about where you would lay when the temps are 90. Where would you lay when snows or rains are falling? Lastly, ask yourself how you can reduce the steps from seasonal bedding to the deer’s next bite.