Firearms deer season is right around the corner, but for many, the season began months ago. Does the deer season really end? Yes, if you’re talking harvest of a deer, but preparation for the deer season is a year-round activity which involves winter scouting for well-traveled trails, after-season buck activity, creating productive food plots, or just spending time in the woods.

One of my favorite pre-season activities is trying to enhance the food plots we have planted in different locations on the land we hunt. Planting food plots is an easy activity which can be as simple as disturbing the ground with a rake and exposing the soils so a mixture of clover seeds and chicory can be broadcast on the ground. Lightly working the soil with your hand tools, a handful of fertilizer and some sunshine and rain should get a pretty decent germination. Many hunters are also creating food plots with the use of their four-wheelers or side by sides by purchasing one of the many aftermarket drills/planters and discs which are custom made just for this type of use. These smaller implements do a great job getting the soil preparation and planting job done, allowing the average hunter to actually make a fairly large food plot with ease. In our case, we are always enhancing a field in which we bale hay from. Each year after cutting, raking and baling the hay field, I will take the disc and tractor and lightly work the field. We will disturb it just enough to expose the dirt where we can then either hand broadcast seed or use a small spreader behind the four-wheeler. This method has been very successful and also enhances and makes for a better hay field the next year. One of the keys to success is making sure you are using a seed mixture which is compatible with our northern climate. I also like to look for a seed mixture that is a perennial mixture and will keep working for years to come. I like to use a mixture of clovers, chicory and timothy. I always throw in some beet or turnip seed just for a seasonal boost knowing this is a one and done application.

New for this upcoming deer season, the Department of Natural Resources has expanded the youth deer hunt to cover the entire state except if a permit area is posted as closed. The youth hunt will take place over MEA weekend starting Thursday, Oct. 17, and ending on Sunday, Oct. 20. This is a time frame which many of the kids who are eligible to participate statewide will be off of school. Youth who are ages 10-17 are able to participate. Also, kids who are ages 10, 11, or 12 will be offered free licenses. All the youngster needs to do is provide their Social Security number and their birthdate, and the license vendor will issue a valid tag for the early youth season.

I am personally looking forward to the new youth season. I will be mentoring my granddaughter on her very first deer hunt. Our plan is to go at this without a lot of pressure to get up early and sit most of the day. We may just decide to go out for the afternoon hunt looking for a doe, letting her decide if she wants to make the shot or not. Hopefully this opportunity and the possibility of hearing the gun go bang will excite and engrain the tradition of deer hunting in her that we as adults have enjoyed for years.

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