February Whitetail Checklist

Show Notes

Cue the slow, sad music. Whitetail season is officially over. With the 2022 season in the rear view, it's time to turn our attention to the fall of 2023 and think about how we can improve our deer hunting in the year ahead. In this episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, Josh talks with Sam Bilhorn of Whitetail Partners to discuss what you can be doing RIGHT NOW to make the fall of '23 your best hunting season yet. 

Sam and the crew at Whitetail Partners specialize in designing topnotch whitetail plans customized for your parcel. Now serving Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia, they've got a regional professional to help you with your property design and habitat planning needs. Whether it's an onsite consultation, a virtual design, or simply a coaching session, they can set you on the path to better deer hunting on your land. Check them out at whitetailpartners.com.

Check out Whitetail Partners on Instagram or Facebook

Connect with Sam on Instagram or Facebook.

Show Transcript

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What is going on? Everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you, BYT Cam. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State, and I'm your host, Josh Rayley. Thank you so much for tuning in with us again this week. Got a great episode for you have my buddy Sam Bill Horn from Whitetail Partners on again, and we get into a whitetail property checklist for February.

Seasons are wrapped up and whether you own land or lease land, or have permission on land, or even if you're a public land hunter, you're surely already looking forward to next deer season and thinking about what you can change, what you can improve, what you can do to make your next hunting season better than this one, even if you had a fantastic hunting season.

Last fall. So Sam and I talked through his checklist. We run some diagnostic questions, some common [00:02:00] things that I hear from people who say, Hey, I had this problem on my hunting property this year. What's the solution to it? Or Why am I experiencing that? And so we walk through some of that and then we also talk a little bit about hacks, cheap tools, easy things that you can do to improve the hunting on your land.

So I'm gonna keep this introduction nice and short today. I don't know if you can tell from my voice, but I am really sick not feeling great, but gotta get this episode out. So just wanna say a quick thanks to our partners. First of all, tact Cam. They're the title sponsor of this show and I am currently getting all geared up for Turkey season.

I've got a Turkey hunt down in Georgia, March 25th and 26th. Excited to take my kids out for that. And then my tag in Wisconsin is good. The first week that is season a, I believe it's like April 19th through the 25th or something along those lines. But you better believe I'm gonna have all of my tact chem gear ready to go for these Turkey hunts one so that I don't miss my kids'.

First potential harvest on camera [00:03:00] and then two, so that I have my own memories that I can bring home and share from my potentially hopeful harvest there. In Wisconsin, their new 6.0 camera is phenomenal. Gives you 4K 60 frame per second footage. The image stabilization has gone way up from previous models and it was really good on the 5.0 and the 5.0 wide.

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Next up, hunt Worth guys. Right now, hunt Worth is running a sale. Everything on their site is 20 to 50% off. Some of the gear that I was wearing this year. Some of my favorites right now are [00:04:00] 40% off. I think that's what the the Elkins were the other day. The Elkins pant and jacket really love that stuff for mid-season, but there are a ton of good deals on their website right now.

If you're looking for some late season clothing, now's the time to buy it. Now that seasons are just wrapping up, you can, like I said, get a lot of that gear, 20 to 50% off. I was looking at some of the heat boost stuff and it looked like a lot of that was in that 30% off range, which guys, their stuff is already not gonna break the bank, and so when you add 30% off on top of that is fantastic.

So go check out their website, hunt worth gear.com, and then finally OnX maps. If you're not using OnX already, you really need to give it a try. As Sam and I are talking in this conversation today, one of the things that comes up actually in the conversation is having some kind of app on your phone where you.

Use that to track yourself when you're on your property, mark locations of potential improvements on your property, and just have for its general usefulness when it comes to scouting your property. OnX to me, stands out [00:05:00] as the best mapping app for Hunters Bar none. You can try it free for seven days.

Just go to the app store of your choice and look up OnX, or you can go to their website, onxmaps.com. Now let's jump right into the conversation talking about the February checklist with Sam Bill Horn from Whitetail Partners. Back on the podcast. With me is Mr. Sam Bill Horn from Whitetail Partners. Sam, what's going on in your world?

It's cold. It's February. It's busy with plans and designs and all the stuff that we do with Whitetail partners. But eager to get onto my property here when things. Warm up a little bit and excited for this time of year. It's the, for the US and the habitat world, it's a very busy time and a fun time.

Yeah. So when it comes to, making time for your own property, how are you squeezing that in? Because you gotta make hay while the sun shines for your clients as well. So how do you balance the. I don't . It's funny, it's it's like the accountant that doesn't have his checkbook balanced, [00:06:00] right?

Yeah. So it's I struggle to get some projects done. In fact, I, what I'm doing and had this in my post a little bit la lately too, is I'm hiring some help and I think that it's okay to say, Hey, I know what I want to do. That isn't the problem. And hiring some trusted people to come help me get a few things done this year is my plan.

And I think that'll really get done with some things that I've been wanting to do for a couple years now and just haven't had the time for it. Yeah. Let's dive into that piece just a little bit. That's something maybe we haven't covered very much in our previous conversations when it comes to hiring some of this workout.

You might go online and look at what's a hinge cut and how to cut it in a bedding area, watch it on YouTube. It's oh, okay. Just grab a chainsaw and cut some stuff down. But you can really quickly make a mess of your property and so can other people if they're not, if you hire some contractors who have chainsaws, they may not really understand the intricacies of cutting in a good betting area or cutting in a good travel corridor.

What are you looking for when you [00:07:00] hire out some of this work and how are you ensuring that they understand the plan because maybe they're not on that planning side of. . Sure. At first I would say there's a couple different levels of people. So you the contractor, the guy who can use a chainsaw, those sort of things.

You can hire some help if you're watching 'em very closely and you know what you're doing. And you can educate people to work, the work with you pretty quickly, for example you could take just, you could take anybody and have 'em come help you and be extra muscles in the woods and all that.

And that's great. You can hire the neighbor kid or whomever just to get some help. And that can be okay. But you gotta watch 'em close. And I would never just turn over a plan to somebody that I don't, haven't worked with before and don't know what my expectations are.

And I think that's, More of the, the Habitat professional is someone you wanna look for, somebody who's in land management understands the concepts of the plan, speaks the same language. And, really, and the clients that we have [00:08:00] and work with closely is there's only a few people we'll work with either through Whitetail partners or refer them to and have them do that service because that's, that isn't something we self-perform.

We're more strictly in the planning and helping advise people on properties, but getting the right person in there, right equipment, all that stuff it's important to, to understand the, like you say, the difference between different types of cuts and what the objectives are and trafficking deer and all these things.

Yeah, I was watching a video the other day. and I just love to consume YouTube content, especially as I'm doing dishes or something. It's easy to pop in the earbuds and or the AirPods and watch away and I'm listening to this person say, here's how we cut all of our hinge cuts. We want 'em to be, need a hip high, somewhere in there.

We want 'em low. And then I look up at the video and all of his hinge cuts are like, neck high. And I'm like, , dude, you're this is not, I think you got, I think you're mistaken here as to what you're showing everybody. But that's an one of those easy [00:09:00] examples where if you just very quickly describe to someone who's unfamiliar, Hey, hinge, cut this.

They may have something totally different in mine. And if you get neck, high, chest, high hinge cuts, they're not gonna be nearly as beneficial for directing traffic or providing quality bedding. Yeah. So on that I, there, there is a height of cut for a variety of different things. I'm not gonna be guy, a guy that says, that.

Specification height is 36 inches and you shall not vary plus minus two inches. You forgot the quarter inch. Yeah. Yeah. The it's it's not that simple. You have a lot of different approaches depending on what you're cutting. Yeah. Like you say, a corridor versus a bedding area, for example.

Very different objectives. And that's the importance of understanding this and what you're looking to do. If you're headed out there to do yourself, do it yourself. A great way to do it is to hire somebody for a day to come help and teach you, that is something that I do a fair amount of and working with landowners to help them learn, teach how to do that.

That's one of my [00:10:00] favorite things to do is go out there and show how to do a few things and enable them to go out there and have more confidence in doing it. Yeah. So speaking of beginning of to do some of the work, it is February, you just posted your February checklist on Instagram the other day.

I love these. Love that you do 'em. Now, depending on where you're at that checklist, you may have to bump it back. You may bump it forward. We actually had a conversation. You still, you're still hunting the rut down there, Josh? Basically, yeah. So I had to cancel my rut trip, which is really sad. So we've gotta a, we traditionally hunt the first week, or, February 3rd through the 10th, we try to hunt Alabama because that's our that is basically November 3rd through 10th in Wisconsin.

That's the equivalent. And I actually had to cancel that. We've got some friends coming in to visit, which is good. They're actually coming down from Wisconsin for a little bit of respite from the, from the cold weather. They're gonna come hang out with us in Georgia. But anyway, so looking into the checklist.

I love that you do these though, right? Whatever, if [00:11:00] you're calling in from, or if you're listening in from the south, maybe some of this stuff, you bump it back just a little bit. But let's run through that checklist and talk about some of the things that you have on there as far as. What people should be doing this time of year, where would you start?

Like what would you say is the highest priority? Sure. So I always like to throw a little bit of variety on there. These checklists you could have almost, 30 items, one per day are our internal list, so to speak. The things that we talk about is more extensive and we just try to give a flavor of that.

So on the front end of it, I always put something hunting or scouting related. And for me and myself I'm still running cameras. I run canvas pretty much all year now. I probably bring 'em in for a month around March when things are most of the antlers are dropped and activities changing up with the spring and all that.

Good time to get 'em cleaned up, maintenance, all that. But. , I run 'em, I just enjoy it. Like seeing how Deere use different areas in different parts of the year. And I think one of the, because there's really nothing wrong with putting a camera in an odd [00:12:00] area. I put 'em all over the place just trying to catch something new and see, oh, a buck might be in this spot or that spot.

And yeah, it may not relate to hunting season, but it's just a fun thing to learn and enjoy. So scouting on that end I, a lot of people like the chatter of shed hunting this time of year. That is, it's coming. And certainly people there, there are sheds out there to be found. It's happening.

But generally I'm holding off until March on my property. There's no real reason to be out. Forcing it at this time. Plus I don't wanna bump a deer in if I don't need to be doing some work out there, but I'm curious getting into the habitat, oh, go ahead. How much of an emphasis do you put on on shed hunting?

I know for some guys that's like their thing. It's like they can't wait for deer season to end so they, they can hurry up and shed hunt. Yeah. For me, I'm more of, I'd rather be scout. I'm pretty much always scouting. I get distracted by deer sign. Yeah. And if I stumble across a shed, great. But it seems like, I don't know, shed hunting continues to fall further and further down my priority list.

What about you? Yeah, it's [00:13:00] on the bottom. Okay. I just don't care about it. It, I enjoy going out there. It's neat to see it, but I'm not making any shed hunting trips. It's fun to find a big shed and all that. It seems like most of my sheds, I find I trip over 'em because I'm looking for something else, and, there it is.

Oh yeah. I just stepped on it type of thing. I wasn't looking for it in the first place. Cuz I, like you say, I'm scouting, yeah. So I like finding 'em. It's always fun. Throw 'em in the four-wheeler box and away we go. But for me, I'm usually out there looking at the habitat, not so much the shed plus, it's interesting to find a big shed or any shed, but it isn't something I'm going to key on for hunting season.

I think the timing and everything is just completely unrelated. Yeah. And for me, you've heard the difference between fishing and catch. Some guys don't really like fishing. All they wanna do go do is catch. That's me when it comes to shed hunting. Yeah. I like shed finding. Yeah. I don't like shed hunting.

Like the thought of just walking around, only looking for shed's. Kinda nah, I don't really have time for that. Yeah. Any shed hunting for me turns into a [00:14:00] scouting trip. That's right. Very good. Very good. So the next thing on your list there is layout and for those who have a plan I , I don't think I can emphasize the importance of layout too much.

I'm working on a property right now with a client in Georgia, and one of the things that we are looking at as in implementing this plan is the topography. It's extremely steep. He's got 60, 70, 80 2% slope in some areas. So you're talking repelling down the side of his ridge lines. So when you come back and you put a plan together, if you don't lay that plan out with.

Proper flagging and take all of that into consideration when you're out there and you're just gonna be rigid with the plan that you've been handed, you could really run into some trouble. Yeah. So the plan we provide is a good guide to how to set up the system for the property, but getting the actual layout done.

And when we say layout, I'm talking I have, I don't know what it is, a [00:15:00] dozen different color ribbons. I'm talking like surveyor tape ribbon that I have in my tool belt going out there and. , every single color relates to that on the plan. So we're going out there and finding the details now. Now we're actually looking for the tree.

Like we know based on the plan, we should be hunting here. Now we need to find that actual pinch point that identify the tree. We're gonna put the tree stand in, the exact spot in the ground. We're gonna put a mo scrape and a water hole. I'll drive a, put a flag or a lath in the spot.

We want to define things that precisely, and then corridors and things like that. On, on a corridor, for example. I'm gonna locate that some of these are following existing. Corridors. A lot of them are, for the most part we're trying to emphasize the major movement. But then also at other times, we're creating it where we're connecting a spot from A to B that we want deer to go through there.

But there was some, some trees that fell or whatever other thing that we need to cut through. And that's all part of it. So I'm [00:16:00] putting a three or four foot ribbon, the, they're quite obtrusive in the woods because you want 'em to be, especially if your cuttings aren't gonna happen then until summer.

And putting one every 25 yards and really laying out, making it very visual in the timber. Everything is to where it goes. And then providing explanation further. And sometimes there's little tweaks. We're gonna put a. A tree, Stan, we end up moving at 20 yards from where it was on the plan, because that's the tree we wanted to use when we got there.

So it's about taking the concept of the plan and transferring it to the detail of the timber. Yeah, that's really good. That's really good. One thing you alluded to there is I think another topic that we haven't really touched on very much, but as we're doing layouts and as we're thinking about implementing a plan.

Now again, all of this assumes that you've got a plan, right? It assumes that you're not just busting up into your timber, just willing to, you made your own plan. Yeah. You're not just throwing random improvements across the landscape. That's great. But when you do this, when you're putting in a pinch point or putting in a travel [00:17:00] corridor or setting up your food plot, some of the things, or one of the first things you're taking into account is what is the tree that I'm gonna be hunting from?

Tell me a little bit about why you start there and the importance of starting there as opposed to going in the reverse. I for starters, and I'd like to use the example of a location, we're gonna put a mock scrap and perhaps a water hole along a corridor. All three of those things, I can move fairly easily.

I can adjust them with cuttings and sometimes even with a little bit of earthwork to, to move things around I can adjust those You know where I want 'em to be. What I'm looking at first is like you say, the tree. I want to find the tree that we're gonna put a stand in that we can easily access the right type of tree.

Maybe it's a larger tree that has good back, or it has the right lean for the stand. It has the a nice access point. It's along a drainage so we can come up from the bottom of the drainage and get into that tree without [00:18:00] exposing ourselves silhouette and things like that. Too much on the landscape.

And then also considering perhaps a backup tree. Anytime I put a, the effort into a setup that's gonna be permanent, I wanna make sure that if this tree goes down, I got another option. It's particularly important in places where you have I'll just say a, like Ash Bo for example. I'm really careful about an ash tree because I don't expect it to be there in 10 years.

And that sort of thing. So the tree, you can't move as well. You can't move. Whereas the corridor, you can't, you can adjust that. So then I look at it and say, all right, if we're trying to hunt this movement, approximately 20 yards, where's the best tree? If that tree ends up being at 30 yards, maybe that corridor gets moved in a little bit.

Or if it's a little closer, that corridor gets moved out. And the, that adjustment then happens with the chainsaw adjusting where you want the deer travel to be and downing those trees perpendicular to the line of travel. So those, in the example of the tree stand [00:19:00] with a corridor, you have your.

Tree stand is outside of that corridor from the from the hunting or you're hunting outside of this corridor, you wanna down trees in the direction of that stand so perpendicular. Sometimes that correlates with a shooting lane just exactly where you need it. And then also up and down that corridor, having these trees down perpendicular.

So it continues to funnel that traffic down that corridor. Yeah. Yeah. That's really good. Yeah. And if you really don't want to end up scrambling in the other direction of Hey, all right, we've got this corridor. We put in all of this work. Now where in the world am I gonna hunt it from? Oh wait, there's not a tree within 40 yards.

Not very beneficial ? Yeah, exactly right. Oh goodness. Let's jump into bedding now. That's the next on your on your list, but maybe you're not going full bore with the bedding right now. May, if you're, especially there in Wisconsin, if you're doing some bedding, cutting. You're probably gonna return to that.

So tell me a little bit about the two stages. Yeah, so at this point in time, [00:20:00] especially I use, like right now as an example in the north where we have bitter cold temperatures I don't want to be hinge cutting. Some people might force that it's the, they wanna get it done, which being careful and, working with a tree that, that can be okay.

But the trees are brittle when they're cold, they're frozen and they just don't wanna bend as easily and you end up with poor quality hinge cuts when you're trying to do that. And I do use hinge cutting as a component of bedding areas. So it is okay though to fell the trees a larger trees.

And again, just a reminder on safety is, trees that are much bad, it depends on species, but much bigger than eight or 10 inches, you probably shouldn't try to hinge, cut them, you'll end up with potentially some dangerous situations you want to avoid. So anyway, get those, getting those big trees down.

So when you're making a bedding area within a hood timber, you're, you want to open up the canopy, you wanna get some of the larger trees down. And if you're doing it safely and comfortable doing these cuts, it's a [00:21:00] good time of year to do it because those trees getting them down and getting the sky opened up, then you can come back later and I'm talking in the spring, once things are starting to warm up and you have warmer temperatures for the trees and do those subsequent hinge cuts and other detail cuts throughout the bedding area that you need to to finish it off.

Yeah. And even if you're working in the spring already, you're gonna start with those big trees anyway. If you don't have the big trees down Yeah, when you're in spring. Yeah. You're gonna start there anyway, so you don't end up just basically trashing all the other work that you've tried to do.

That's right. And I think in the winter, great time because man, that's a lot of food on the. . Yeah. That's absolutely true. In fact, if I have any cuttings that I can get done I like to do that because it, it puts a lot of brows down on the ground and it just gets hammered all winter long then. And great thing to do it.

Also just a side note on that I've plant a lot of conifers on my property, and [00:22:00] in doing that especially like a Norway Spruce for example, they can get some browse pressure in the wintertime. You get a fair amount of snow on the ground and they'll start to wanna browse on those trees. A good way to save your young Conifer plantings is to get annually, get some more trees down on the ground, doing it in strategic areas.

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So let's now talk about the neighbors. Okay. We are in a time of year where the pressure is off, right? Like seasons are over. I'm not as stressed about whether or not the neighbors know about this or that specific buck, maybe. , the odds are the stakes are just a little lower, it feels like at this time of year.

, you have in your in your checklist updating signage. I think that one's pretty obvious, right? Get out there on the property boundary. Update all your signage, keeps everybody honest. Lets everybody know, Hey, I'm present on my property. I take trespassing [00:24:00] seriously. I'm not gonna mess with your land.

Here's my property boundary. I appreciate it if you don't mess with mine. It's an . It's also a great time to in many ways, befriend those neighbors or invest in those relationships in a way that may gain you an ally in your goals for your property. So talk to me a little bit about maybe your strategy for doing that and how do you approach those conversations?

Sure. The way I look at it is and you're absolutely right to talk about this time of year, people's guards are down. Everybody's I don't know, maybe around July, everybody goes in, turns inward and becomes strict and cryptic and all these things that become difficult, but.

Generally things, people let their guard down. One of the things I love to do this time of year is I'll text neighbors pictures and say, Hey, this deer made it through. That, that might spark something out of them. And at least they're, thankful and curious that you, you do that and then they might start reciprocating.

So I guess that's what, if [00:25:00] you give a little bit, you might get a little bit back, and pretty soon they're more willing to do that into season and letting down some of the guards. I had one guy that, the first time I met him got an argument over a really silly thing and I just put my hands up in the ear and walked back slowly and said, Hey, I, I.

Anyway, that's a story for another day. But I think we're gonna have to, I think we're gonna have to do that one though. That's gonna be its own episode, I think. Yeah. Yeah. That was a special one. But anyway, it was a little adversarial and did get the guy's number out of it and I started texting pictures and just saying, Hey, I saw this buck the other day, thought you might be interested.

And it, and just trickled in and, I wasn't hitting him all that often, but, every few months, couple times throughout the season and then afterward and the guy lightened up and we've actually become, friends or at least willing to talk to each other and sharing some information.

And he comes to, come to find out he is probably one of the more avid bull hunters in the area. And he knows what's going. , and he may not be forthright during the season on all of his information, but the little bit that we can exchange[00:26:00] it's was good. And at least it makes it productive because, you get into either you have to work with your neighbors you want those relationships to be productive.

If they're not it just, it doesn't ma it's not fun and can be really difficult. You hear these terrible stories of people not letting somebody retrieve a buck on their land or whatever the case might be, and you just don't want that. Yeah, and I think I, there's such a temptation and even with, a lot of landowners that I've talked with recently to view your neighbors in this very adversarial manner, like the, it's almost like the assumption can start that.

They look, they're on that side of the boundary, therefore they're bad. Like that's the reasoning behind it. But yeah, I think as we can start those conversations, all of a sudden they can become. A very important ally, and maybe we're not gonna disclose every buck that we're after, but now you, with this gentleman, you're aware that he is an avid bow hunter.

He's probably not going to smash all the two year olds that step onto his property, right? Like he's[00:27:00] , he probably has a little bit higher standards, you can count on him at least in that regard. He may not tell you about the 180 that's crossing the corner of your property. , but he's gonna help you when it comes to managing your herd.

And I think that's a hugely important part of, that's right. And he's absolutely that way. This guy you described and we talk about trying to get the age class higher and higher. And I feel he's working on the people around him. I'm working on the people around me and we're helping each other in that regard.

And that's a mutually beneficial exchange there for sure. Yeah. So another thing you mentioned on your list is equipment maintenance. And I, man I gotta tell you, I grew up. , and this was not like this was the problem every time. , we would get all of our gear together, we would drive the two hours up to the camp, us and 15, 20 other guys sometimes.

We were managing thousands of acres, like 4,000 acres. So we had a lot of guys helping out on this property. And we'd get there and a tractor's broken down and an ATV won't work and a sprayer's clogged and a, [00:28:00] chainsaws won't start. And we spend the whole half of the first half of a Saturday just trying to get all the gear working.

So talk to me about what you're doing this time of year to make sure that you're ready to go. I hate. And I've had all those things. , I hate them. It's the worst. Tremendously. I it is the worst. You, there's only so many hours in the day and we pack, try to pack so much into 'em.

To not have a piece of equipment work properly is, in my mind, unacceptable. I'd rather pay the, I'd rather pay more to than I need to in repairs, for example, than have run into a problem. So all my chainsaws, as soon as I'm done cutting wood in the, and I burn firewood in the fall done doing that, and it's wintertime.

They all go in. I'm not a mechanic. Don't claim to have any inclination that way, understand enough to be dangerous, but I drop 'em off and just say, go through 'em, if you see something that's suspect, tear it out, put it back in because it, I'm not trying to get another three months out of [00:29:00] that.

Pole cord or whatever it is. Yeah. So that's the size. And then a sprayer, for example, like just I replaced the pump every three years on it. Just tear it off. Put a new one on there because it might last five, but I don't wanna find out. Yep. So when it comes to some of the more mechanical things, you've gotta have a guy that you trust.

If you can't do it yourself you're not comfortable doing it yourself. Maybe you just don't have the time. That would be my shoes, right? I don't have the time to spend a weekend or a weeknight even working on my gear. I need to show up at the place on Saturday and have everything working.

So how are you finding the right person to help you keep all your stuff maintained? Yeah, so with that it's time, money, right? So there's some guys that have more time and maybe they can watch some videos and do some maintenance themselves, and they're willing to do that kind of work and that's great if that's you.

That it just prioritize it and know what's gotta get done. And then there's other guys where they have more money than time and it's okay to take it down to the [00:30:00] tractor dealer that much too much for their labor or whatever the case might be. And, but know that it's been perfectly maintained and it, you, you paid well, but you also know it's done well.

And you have everybody in between, the small shop guy, the, neighbor who's good with engines, whatever that looks like. There's a varying scale on that. I would say. Do what you're comfortable with and, if you have more money than time, then perhaps you're looking more to those dealer situations and going to a trusted source that's gonna have it done professionally.

But you're gonna pay for it as well. Yeah. The la for me and myself, I do a little, I do a little bit of both, like the sprayer pump. I can. I can take that off and put a new one on, and that's easy enough. And in some simple parts, I can do the same, but to go through and do oil and all this other stuff or chainsaw or whatnot, I might just have all the filters replaced and all that.

I'll just take it in. Drop it off. Yep. Yep. So the last thing I wanna cover from the checklist is something that I'm personally really excited about. It's the learning [00:31:00] center on the website. You've got Learn on there. And one great new resource is@whitetailpartners.com, right where you have got a ton of videos and podcasts like this one that will all be going live where we are recording as a team, everything that we're putting out there, all the content that we're putting out there to help you learn how to manage your property.

Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that. . Yeah, that's right. Anybody who's followed us for any amount of time on social media knows that, we want to put quality information out there. It will help people. We wanna help as many people as we can. I think that's our goal with what we're doing and putting a lot of free, re free resources out there.

The website was just a simple hub for all this information. And we made a page on there called, as you say, called The Learning Center and yeah, podcasts, video. Through you, a couple of YouTube channels that we have. And then articles, which a lot of our blog posts we're gonna be turning into articles because, I'm that guy who constantly runs up against the [00:32:00] character limit on the on the posts and , I can have a little bit more long form content on those articles and try to do more and more of that.

I've recently been doing some more series type posts on social media and trying to tell a story through a aspect of habitat design. And that's that's gonna follow suit on the website. And, we're just starting out there. I think there's probably, maybe, I don't know, 25 pieces of content out there, but those are gonna quickly develop and all of.

Monthly checklists that we have all that stuff is gonna be housed at that location and should be a pretty good spot for people to go check out. Yeah. So tell me then so when it comes to your recent posts, guys if you're not already following Whitetail Partners on Instagram, you need to go do that it good content all the time.

One of my favorite things that you've done, I think is your most recent series that I think you just wrapped it up, but all about timber, all about manage managing your timber, which, food plots are great. Still at the end of the [00:33:00] day, 70% of a deer's diet, if not more, is going to be woody, browse and browse from Right.

Your timber. So tell me a little bit about the series of posts, what you were hoping to teach people, and maybe some of the key takeaways that if folks haven't checked it out already, they can walk away with it today. . Yeah. Awesome setup. Thanks for that, Josh. And in the series, I think we're, I don't know, we've done six or seven posts.

We'll probably wrap it up around nine or 10. So we're still telling that story a little bit out there. Again, learning center on the website's, place to go. But we, I wanted to approach, especially this time of year, this is, from when hunting ends until spring green up, that is the time to be working in your timber.

And when I say timber, I'm talking all forest types, so hardwood, softwoods, cover brush habitat, all this stuff that you may have on your property. That's what we're talking about. And. What I wanted to bring up is the concept. There's a lot of terms, for example, that are thrown around in the, in forestry or in the habitat world.[00:34:00]

It put our take on some of that as well as just the approach that you have. So looking at your forest and when the series is called Forest Built for Deer. Looking at that we've said, how do you even start. Comprehend what's going on there. There's so many facets of different tree types different species, different components to your timber.

You get, canopy understory, all these different aspects that are all important to deer and how to really pick that apart and unravel it. One of the things that can be confusing is the conventional wisdom of forestry and wildlife management doesn't take into account the consideration for hunting from a, an organized, systematic standpoint, which is really what we with whitetail partners and with habitat design are trying to accomplish.

So we're taking the concepts that are important for developing good habitat, but also accomplishing them in the context of good hunting. And I think [00:35:00] combining those two things is really what this is all about. We don't wanna just forego. , a lot of these, absolutely great principles of forestry and habitat and wildlife and all these things, but we want to combine them into a way that helps people set up their property to hunt deer.

Yeah. I really like that. From your most recent post I'm gonna butcher the wording. I read it this morning. I don't remember it exactly, but it was basically the concept was making sure that we are approaching forestry or improving our timber in such a way that benefits our hunting as well.

There's a couple of different mindsets and approaches when it comes to managing timber ground. I talked to a landowner recently. He's got 350 beautiful acres in south Georgia. Lots of deer, lots of turkeys. His hunting is phenomenal already. He wants to take it to the next level. He talked with a forester before, before calling me.

and immediately the forester is let's clear the whole thing. Let's wipe it all. He just wants to get [00:36:00] after the timber value that is on the property. There's tremendous timber value on the property. , the landowner was a little bit uncomfortable. Hey, that's going to have a huge impact on my hunting.

I don't even know how I want to have it set up just yet for deer hunting. And I think the forester became a bit frustrated with him immediately and was just like, you can't worry about that. You need to be worried about your timber value. And that was the primary concern from his perspective.

So I think that just highlights, Hey, you've gotta find somebody whose perspective and goals match yours. That's right. If you That's right. Find someone who's, whose ultimate goal is timber value. And you as a landowner, your ultimate goal is good hunting. And if you pay for your work on your property with your timber, wonderful.

That's fantastic. But. It doesn't help you to create a 350 acre bedding area on your property, that's not gonna help your hunting. Yeah. It has to be more strategic than that. And when you say I wanna throw an asterisk on Forrester too, to say, what are they trying [00:37:00] to accomplish exactly.

If they're trying to fill up truckloads of with logs, they don't have the interest of whitetail habitat in mind, like that, that the two don't. Don't correlate. They don't they cannot be done together. Yep. And I think it's important to, to take that caution and that's what it, one of the couple of the posts were about defining your goals, defining what you want and all these things that lead you up to being able to make these decisions.

Cuz if you don't have those things in, in the right context for yourself and what your goals are you're, and you invite someone in, you're gonna be influenced in the direction of their goals, not yours. Yep. And I think one important thing to remember is and I don't wanna speak negatively at all.

So if you're listening don't hear me as saying that this is a negative thing. This is all about perspective and the direction at which we're coming at this . But someone told me recently, Hey, a Forster said he'll come out and give me a consultation for free. [00:38:00] And it's yeah he probably will.

and he's paid on commission. So he's gonna get you to sign a contract that day or very soon to cut a huge chunk of your property cuz he gets paid when the truckloads of timber leave your property. And yeah, he might come out there initially for free, but his goals are not the same. So that piece of goals is just it's hugely important. So anyway. And enough about that. Yeah, that's good stuff. All good stuff. Good things. Yeah. Yeah. People should check out your your other posts on it though. They've been phenomenal. I've learned a lot. I know that when it comes to thinking about the habitat season ahead and the work that I want to accomplish on my property a friend of mine recently told me, yeah, this is all great, I've got a good plan moving forward now I'm land poor, basically.

I've got this big chunk of land. I just paid a bunch of money for it. I need to do what I can do as affordably as possible. , so when it comes to tools that you're using, when it comes to tactics that you're going to use and implement, what are some of the [00:39:00] biggest hacks that you've found that are gonna get you in the field, get you working, get you improving your property without another huge payout to get started?

Sure. It is important to say one of the you can do is not waste money, right? It's important to define that and say, if you don't know what you're doing, it is best. And I'm not just trying to plug what we do, but it is best to get a plan and understand it because you can do a lot of work, put a lot of effort and money into doing something to, through your experience over time, learn it was wrong.

And so don't go backwards. So number one, just don't go in the wrong direction and don't just start doing stuff. But next, once you know what you're doing, Many of these things can be done. And in terms of, we talked a lot about for forest improvements timber improvements and all this, A lot of times a harvest may be in line that generates money.

Yep. That will, take it in the [00:40:00] plus category, so then you have some more money to work with and you're not just land poor anymore. You've taken some of that resources. One of the guys I work with re i, I work with recently, he said, I don't have too much money to do these things.

And we looked at his timber and I said, there's 20 acres here that you need to, do a pretty significant harvest on because it's so mature and there's good quality oak trees red Oaks, they said just, get 75% of these outta here and he will benefit from that and be then have some of that money.

And, but getting to your question the work itself and the things to do we talked about it before is, keeping things running. So don't lose time doing that. But it, you do not need expensive tools. The last thing you have to have is that 30, 5,000 whatever, thousand dollars tractor and ipl, spread of implements.

Me on my property, I, all of my tools, if you added 'em all together and put 'em all in one spot, I'm pretty sure it'd be less than $10,000. It's not a lot in the grand [00:41:00] scheme of things. In fact, you can do it on far less than that, I think with a used atv, some sprayers called a packer. Some of these things which you can make, by the way, my first one I ever had, I made you can, you could do all that for less than $5,000 if you had some ingenuity and bought some things used and all that.

So anyway, those are all the things you can do as far as The hacks and things like that. I simple things that I would bring up are making sure that you have the tools that you smaller tools, for example, you know, a very basic chainsaw. That is the number one tool that you need to go out there and work on things you can get by with a medium size saw to do everything.

Rather than having multiple saws I have a larger saw for cutting wood, a small saw for doing detail work. And pretty soon I'll have a couple others just for convenience sake. But, you could buy a medium size chainsaw and get it all. [00:42:00] So I think buy smart don't think you need to really stretch your budget too far on that.

And generally in the spring, I'll always have a bunch of posts. You can look at my post history and find it as a lot of information on the right tools to buy and how to go about doing that because I, I do wanna promote guys getting the work done themselves, being economical about it being wise with their money.

That's a passion I have to address people like that cuz that's where I was a few years ago. This episode is brought to you by the OnX Hunt app. OnX gives you up-to-date landowner information, color coded public and private land boundaries, and gives you a ton of tools to help you hunt smarter.

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Let's now shift gears just a little bit. I think hunting season is still pretty fresh in our minds at this [00:43:00] point. Get a few more months down the road. We might start to forget just a little bit, especially when Greenup starts and we're already looking forward to the next season. Have all that hope and optimism swirling around in our minds, but I wanna run through a couple of diagnostic kinds of situations where a landowner comes to you and he says, Hey here's my pain point. And I'd like you to walk me through what are a couple of possible issues that are leading to these pain points and a couple of possible solutions? The first one, is a pain point that I grew up with a good bit until we started to understand a little bit better about how food plots work, how deer use food plots and which ones they're going to use in the daylight. Now, we adjusted our hunting strategy significantly. But it's this, we've got great food plots that came in.

We did our soil tests. They're attractive, the plants are healthy. But I don't have any daytime movement in my plot. Maybe it's a good day to see a couple of doughs in my food plot in the daylight. What are some potential things that are going on there?[00:44:00] The first question I'd ask, and it's really of a lot of things hunting related, is what's your access?

Can you come and go from, if you're hunting on or near that plot, can you come and go from those sets with deer in the plot and not spook them? A vast majority of people, the answer is no. They can't. They have set up in the stereotypical 15 foot tall, redneck blind in the middle of the food plot.

You know that there, it is impossible to come and go from that. And dear you know that's the way a lot of people set up their properties. And so having good access that you have screened your entry and exit is really important. That's always an initial one. A second one too is, , the edge habitat around a food plot may not be that inviting.

It's also very common to have a food plot that is what was a prior existing ag field. And [00:45:00] it it has a hard edge, the timber is vertical where it meets the field, and that's not very inviting to the deer, softening that edge. Had a lot of posts on this recently of planting warm season grasses on the edge, cutting some trees, making more of a staggered, staged canopy from the field to the inner cover.

That's another really important thing. The size and breakup of the food plot. That's probably, that's another one that I would bring up. It. People have these large, huge, rectangular fields and they are. They only see deer in the daylight or doze in the daylight and very few bucks.

If a buck comes to that plot he's probably not getting more of the three feet into it. Eating on the edge and then getting back into the cover. It's too open. Breaking up that plot, you could put plot screening, you could put switch grass, you could put corn in strips to this plot and bust it up into smaller compartments.

Make it more intimate, for lack of a better word. I like to leave tr if we're clearing a plot. I like to leave trees [00:46:00] staggered throughout a plot. You gotta be careful on shade that you don't over shade that what you're trying to grow. But I, if you maintain the character of the cover around it, you're gonna see a lot more daytime activity.

Compare your small kill plot to your large food plot on buck numbers. Pictures of bucks. , you're gonna have a lot more in that small kill plot than you are in that big plot. And, area care. Comparing the area, the big one might be 10 times bigger. Yeah. Let me play devil's advocate just a little bit here.

. Okay. I hear what you're saying. When it comes to edge habitat, breaking up the plot, maybe leaving some trees, maybe filling some trees, planting warm season grasses. Sam, I've got limited room in this food plot. , I don't want to take up spot and area that could be planted in my food plot blend.

I don't want to take up that room and leave other stuff. I want it all to be food. I would say, it's an attraction. [00:47:00] This area is an attraction. I think maybe you said it before, I'll say it again. What three quarters of a deer's diet is in. In the cover, they're eating brows hard masks, all this stuff.

And we want to have very high quality food out in that plot for them to come to. And also, if we have goals of sustaining deer throughout the winter and all this and that, you want to have enough of this food source and maybe you accomplish that goal somewhere else, you'd have you, you have these hunting plots, which you aren't going to maximize acreage on.

And you have another area that's wide open in the middle of a big valley that, the deer only going there at night, but they're gonna get their winter nutritional need there. I see this all the time where people have beans planted in a place where the deer aren't gonna go there during the day and season, but come February they're out on that field eating.

It might be at night, but you're accomplishing that goal. Back to your original question, I would [00:48:00] rather have a plot be smaller and built right. Then have it be over, maximizing the amount of planet Acres. The only thing that you would have to maybe take a second thought on that is if you're seeing that you, that food is not making it through the entire hunting season.

And then you just need to reevaluate things. And maybe that could be evaluating your herd and what you have coming into it. Yeah. Then we start thinking about we really need to limit the number of mouths, , that are coming into that property. That's great. And that's a whole other thing.

And it can be a good problem to have, especially if you've got buddies or kids around that want to take a lot of dough, then man, that can be that can provide some really good fun for the whole family and for your friends and that kind of thing. Oh, yeah. So let's talk a little bit about then, that nutrition piece.

Maybe. I have a property that is one of those really tough properties where I don't have a lot of opportunities for food. It's steep. There's just not a lot of open ground. Where it is open ground. , I can't get it. Maybe it's [00:49:00] too wet. I can't get food in there. What are some of the ways that I can tackle that problem or, a address that issue on my property?

Sure. So some of these very, topography rich areas, we'll say that have a lot of slope and very little opportunity for food plots, perhaps you aren't going to get them. A couple of things that come to mind for me and tools in the toolbox that we use is for starters, making a browse plot.

So maybe you are opening up that canopy, putting trees down, or you're not trying to make a bedding area per se. You're just, you're trying to. Create a bunch of woody brows low to the ground opportunity for that food. Again the tonnage per acre, we can go into all these stats of what you're accomplishing there and having that Deere are gonna use it.

And, some people do rotational cuttings. They'll have a acre area that they clear cut to encourage that to happen. I encounter this a fair amount with low land parcels where they're, they may be wet. You're not going to get [00:50:00] the I talk a lot about Upland Park, a lot of hill countries, what I designed, but like in central part of Wisconsin, we have a lot of these properties that are low.

And if they have rotational cuttings in their low ground of these trees and get this regrowth going. They're going to have good brows that way. And that, that really helps. Another one too, where you talk about if very small area sunlight's a problem, the soil's not great, is to simply do rye, to do a winter rye plot and have that be a staging plot.

So think of it, if you these really small areas, sometimes you have these properties that are very l they're five times longer than they are wide. Let's say you wanna stagger these tiny plots in a lineal way, kinda like breadcrumbs through the property where you have the ability to develop a line of movement from A to B and rye will grow just about anywhere.

And that's a good way to do it. Yeah. So you don't have to. the acre, three quarters of an acre, even half acre size food [00:51:00] plots. You can go small Yeah. And fit food in where you can fit food in. Yeah. One of my best plots is I should measure it. It's, I think it's about 0.15 acres. It's very small. Wow. Wow.

And it is what's great about it is the setup is perfect. Clean access. I can come hunt it every day of the week. It has just the, it, it's main, we've maintained the character of the cover. There's trees within the plot. There's trees around the plot, good edge habitat, on a line of movement. We have a pinch point we've created with a bedding area adjacent to it that kicks, steer right into it.

So they just have to run right through it. And they're comfortable, they're as comfortable there as they are in the cover. And that's the goal. Yeah. Very good. All right, Sam. Next, next issue with my property. I'm a landowner and this year I was seeing doze everywhere. Got doze all over the place. I've got doze for days, and I saw only the occasional immature buck.

I saw a couple of spikes, couple of small basket [00:52:00] racks, sixes and eights. That's obviously not what I'm going for. What's the problem? What, what's going on here and how do I. . If you're constantly just all dozed, it sounds like you need to do a little bit of herd control and get behind the trigger a little bit.

And like you said, they have all those fun hunts. When we first started with our property, our own property, it was that way. We had doze everywhere and we just kept shooting and eventually to the point where we had as many or more bucks on cameras as we did. As we did doze, and I think that let the cameras tell you what's going on.

You have these common travel routes, pinch points. Let that be your counter. We're to the point now that it's pretty even bucks and doze on camera. Which then leads to having some bigger bucks because you don't, the bigger bucks aren't gonna tolerate that kind of stress if it is just overridden with do now they'll be there, especially in and around the times of the year with the rut.

It can be good that way. So there's upsides to having a lot of dough, but for season long, consistent [00:53:00] success, having a lot of dough in general is something of a concern. Also gets back to some of your comments of food plots and having season long support, especially if you're limited on the amount of acres and all that you're doing.

Start shooting, enjoy it. Have fun. It's all part of it. You hear these success stories, these people that have some pretty big bucks. A lot of 'em started by shooting a lot of those. Yeah. And. I think that what you just said there though, start shooting and have fun like that is part of the process and we can enjoy that part of the process.

As much as we can enjoy putting in these nice food plots or putting in, we can, it's all part of it. Embrace that for the fun that it can be. And along the way to getting to where you want to be. Man, you've had a really good time and you've fed a lot of people with a lot of innocent yeah.

We had over the years here with our property many kids and friends and, kids of friends and all this come and shoot dos and it's just been. Fantastic.[00:54:00] To hear them and see them have this enjoyment on it. If you're missing out on that there's a lot more to hunting than maybe you're focusing on.

And I think that's a good reminder for everyone, Josh. Yep. And I had a an acquaintance of mine we've talked several times actually had him on one of my, on, on my other podcast. And his goal for this year was to shoot 70 doughs off of his property. He needed to take out 70.

And he was calling around to, everybody even called me and was like, can you please come shoot some doughs? We need more tags on this property. We need more people to come film more tags because they're just so overrun with deer. And in this specific area, I think it's South Carolina and I think the average number of deer is like between 160 and 200 deer per square mile, which is just Wow.

Outrageous. Just absolutely outrageous. Yeah. So they've gotta do a lot to keep it in check. They have no winter kill. There are no other predators hardly besides humans. So they've gotta do a lot of work. Last scenario, Sam, every time I go into the woods, I get busted. [00:55:00] I'm hunting a travel route here, what I think is a travel route, and I get busted by deer behind me.

I go into my food plots here, deer come in from any and every direction. I'm getting busted. I can't seem to pin down how the deer use my property. It's so random. I don't even know where to start. What's the problem? How do I fix it? It's all starts with understanding where the deer are on your property.

So a great time to do that is, is now, getting out there and seeing seeing all these travel routes. One of the common things I'll tell people to do is flip the tracker on your Onyx or gps or whatever you use and go walk every single deer trail that you can make sense of that's, not just a single path.

And see. See what it looks like when you're done specific to hunting setups, you should know where the deer are coming from on that set and that through design and planning and all these things and improvement, you're forcing that to happen with corridors. [00:56:00] There is no question that how a deer is traveling parallel in front of you where they should be blocking your downwind side or having down, intentionally down trees behind you and things like that to make deer go around you per perhaps setting your set where you're on a pretty steep drop off behind you and you just know if a deer's down there they're lost.

It's, there's these things that happen. They, we need to look and control that. And that's what habitat work and doing these things for the strategy of hunting is what it, what everything that we, we try and do as far as getting busted, coming and going. If you don't have good access to your.

location, maybe see how you can improve it. Maybe there's some screening you can do, maybe you shouldn't have that set. I think that's a sober thing too, is to realize that I can't get here without screwing up my property. And one of the tests that I'll do on a plan is to say, just how much of this property am I screwing up by accessing [00:57:00] the stand?

And in doing that enough, you get to the point in laying out a property where you just aren't doing that. You're not putting a stand in the central part of the property. Let's say if you have an outside in approach, you're trying to stay more on the perimeter and be careful and not impact that. I also think it's important to look beyond your property boundaries and say, obviously Deere, if I got a 40 acre property, they aren't confined to this exact.

Acreage. We don't have a high fence here, so accept where deer are coming and going from your property and embrace that and use that in your plan and your strategy. You might have a stand that's 15 yards onto your property and you know that the, there's a 50% chance that they're coming from the neighbor onto your land on that, that down wire of that fence, that's a spot they're gonna cross.

So all these things of looking at it and understanding how the deer are using it, if you're going in there and getting busted, a lot of times too I'll take a note and say if a deer was vetted in a spot that I didn't expect them to be, I'm gonna go in there and eliminate.[00:58:00]

that betting opportunity for them for next season. If there's a spot they like to bet, right by my entry point, I'm gonna go in there and just mess it up for 'em, put logs in there, down a tree there. Try and not make it even better for bedding, but you get the point you're trying to block them from having that use of that spot.

A bench, for example. A little small bench. If you need to pass by that on the way to your stand, you might make sure that there's no opportunity for them to wanna find a spot to lay down in there. Yeah, that's good. When it comes to accessing a property and how much I'm screwing up the outside in approach is gonna be preferred, but a lot of properties just because of the way they've been treated in the past. Everybody likes a nice big road going right down the middle. And , how, what do you consider screwing up the property? Is it too much to drive a vehicle through to a certain point? Or like, how do you gauge, the amount or the level to which you're messing things up?

Part of that has to do with frequency and what they're used to. And everybody say I can drive my [00:59:00] tractor right through the middle of the property, either. There might be some local truth to things like that, but, how often are you hunting the property? If it's a, if it's a property that's untouched for, All but three days of the season you're there.

You might be able to get away with more because the deer are more, it has more time to be for the deer to reacclimate to your being gone and all that. But I would say in general I want to be coming from the outside, but some properties don't set up that way. You have more of a centrally located cabin on the property and you aren't moving the cabin and you just split the property in half and you go from inside.

Sometimes those type of properties, you might have a tree stand on a travel corridor that's 20 yards off the back porch because that's where deer are going around. And they might associate that area with humans and they're gonna skirt it just far enough. And you utilize that to your advantage that you're not going then and marching out to the property boundary, you're gonna stay close to that human area and the deer skirting around it.

[01:00:00] That's when you're gonna catch 'em. Very good. Very good. Sam, I've taken enough of your time. Where can folks find more from you when it comes to your posts or more from you when it comes to, all the educational stuff we're putting up on Whitetail partners.com? Yeah, you hit it. Anything Whitetail partners, just go Google that.

You'll find us the website, Whitetail Partners dot. Check out the Learning Center on there. Get that going here now. And be adding to that all the time. Social media, the same. It's at Whitetail Partners Instagram, Facebook, come find us. Awesome. Thanks Sam. Appreciate your time. Awesome. Thank you, Josh.

That's all for this week's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcast. While you're at it, if you could lead me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin Sportsman, or at how to hunt deer.

That's also the best way to get ahold of me. Suggest topics, guests, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show. Big thanks to our partners, TCAM Hunt Worth and [01:01:00] OnX, please go support the brands that support this show. And if you're looking for more great outdoor content, check out the sportsmans empire.com where you'll find my other podcast, the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.

And until next time, make sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours as Wisconsin Sportsman.