Whitetail Hunting and Habitat Strategy for Drought Conditions

Show Notes

Right now, much of the whitetail's range is experiencing pretty significant drought conditions. Whitetail destination states such as Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri are among the worst hit. This will certainly affect ag production, food plots, mast production, and even browse. If the drought continues into the fall, these conditions will create a difficult hunting season for many. But if you know how to adjust for drought conditions, you could be on your way to one of your best whitetail seasons yet. 

In this episode of the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, Josh talks with Sam Bilhorn of Whitetail Partners about adjusting your habitat and hunting strategy for drought conditions. Sam shares how he adapts to drought conditions on his property, and how his scouting and hunting strategy will differ if the drought continues into hunting season. Enjoy!

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Show Transcript

Joshua Raley: Welcome to the How to Hunt Deer podcast, which is brought to you by Tactic Camp. This podcast aim to educate those who are interested in becoming deer hunters, brushing up on essential skills, or maybe just adding a few new tactics to the toolkit. We cover a variety of topics that will help you be more confident and successful in the field while you're hunting deer.

Thank you so much for tuning in with us this week. We've got a good and timely episode I think for you. Uh, I had Sam Bullhorn of Whitetail Partners on. Sam is a [00:01:00] whitetail habitat consultant in Wisconsin. And the topic we covered is how habitat management and hunting strategy shifts when there is a drought in your area.

Now, if you look at the map of the United States right now, A ton of what I would consider destination. White-tailed states are in the middle of a, of a pretty intense drought. Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, uh, even parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, of course, Texas, uh, parts of Kentucky, even east of their Indiana.

Uh, Ohio. Part of Ohio's experiencing a drought. So, It basically outside of, uh, of the, the southeastern portion of the United States, you know, Alabama and over, uh, a lot of the country is experiencing a drought in the whitetails range. Now, for those of you with water on your property, you've got a river, you've got a creek, something like that, that never dries up.

Well, this could be okay, like it's pretty obvious what you should do, [00:02:00] but for those who maybe don't have water on your property, for those of you who are relying on water holes that are manmade, For those of you hunting public land who are wondering, what am I gonna do with this strategy? You know, the only public land around me does not have a ton of water on it.

What should I do now? Well, that's what we get into in today's episode. So it's an awesome, awesome episode. Now, this is actually part two of the conversation that I had with Sam. Part one is going to air on the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast airing on this coming Tuesday. That would be July 25th. So this is the second half of the conversation.

But the content was so good, I wanted to split it off from the original. It's a really, really good conversation. I highly encourage you to head over to the Wisconsin Sportsman show this coming Tuesday to hear the rest of the talk and how Sam is addressing drought conditions, uh, on his personal property and how that's gonna impact his hunting on private land.

This. Fall. Couple things before we get started here. Number one, if you have not already, go follow me [00:03:00] on Instagram at how to hunt deer, or you can also find me at the Wisconsin Sportsman, and if you would go like, follow, subscribe, whatever it is, the place where you download your podcasts, we'll let you do so that you are notified and can keep up with the shows.

That would really, really help me out. Leave me a review if you can. If you can leave me a written review, that is even better. Also, it's that time of year when we are thinking about getting geared up for fall. Uh, if you're gonna be making some purchases, if you're looking at your gear thinking, man, I need some camo, man, I need some, uh, some cameras to get me set for the year, man, I need a, a, a mapping software that I really, really like.

Let me encourage you to go check out our sponsors. One of the best ways that you can support. Me and this show is to support the brands that are behind us. First of all, TAC Cam. They're the title sponsor of the show and uh, yeah, it is that time of year for sure. If you haven't already and you want to sell film, go check out tac cam.com and look at what they have to offer.

They've got the Solo Extreme camera, which is kind of a budget option. It's gonna give you HD footage, but [00:04:00] still one touch Operation Weatherproof housing, so you don't have to worry about it getting rained on or anything like that. It's really tough. It's really durable. And of course it has a whole slew of mounts and adapters that are gonna help you get that camera exactly where it needs to be.

Whether that's on your bow, whether that's over your shoulder, whether that's on your head. They have all kinds of stuff to get that camera exactly where you want it. Also, the 6.0 camera that is their flagship for the year gives you 4K footage. It's got a mini touchscreen on it. It is a huge upgrade. From previous years in my personal opinion, and of course it's got all the mounts and adapters that you could possibly need to make sure that it is ultra ultra user-friendly.

You can head over to their website tactic cam.com to learn more. Next up the Onyx Hunt app, no matter what kind of hunting you do, whether on private land, public land, whether you're a running gun guy on public or you're a habitat manager on private, Whether you've got a bunch of different farms that you hunt or just a single place that you like to hunt, no matter if you like to travel to hunt [00:05:00] or if you just like to stay right there at home, the Onyx Hunt app has you covered.

It's gonna give you public and private land boundaries so that you can have confidence of where you're standing at all times. Right now, I'm actually starting to look toward, uh, hunting North Dakota in the fall of 2024. And, uh, one of the things that I've learned about North Dakota is the land isn't posted.

Well, guess what? You can hunt it. And so looking at the OnX Hunt app, they've got a layer on there that shows you what is electronically posted and what is not. So at a real quick glance, I can tell Hey. These are some properties that I might want to pay attention to. Yes, they're private, but there's a chance that I get there and they're not physically posted in person.

And if they're not electronically posted or physically posted, then I can hunt them. And the Onyx Hunt app is going to fill you in on that info. You can find them on the app store of your choice simply by searching OnX Hunt app, or you can learn more@onxmaps.com. And lastly, this episode is brought to you by Hunt Worth.

Now I went a [00:06:00] long time in my life with. Bottom of the barrel cheapo thrift store camo. In fact, if you go back and look at the pictures of the first buck that I shot in Wisconsin that year, I was entirely in camouflage that I had purchased from St. Vinny's. I had, uh, gotten a little rounder in my older age and needed to head to the local thrift store to grab some camouflage.

Did that camo get the job done? Of course it did. Was I comfortable? No, I was not. Was I staying dry when it rained? No, I was not. Was I staying warm when it was cold? N no, not really. In fact, uh, what I had to do to try to keep warm was bundle up in tons and tons of layers because these just weren't high quality pieces.

Everything changed for me though the following year when I grabbed a suit of hunt worth. I know right now early season's on your mind and they make durable and lightweight and breathable gear for the early season. The Durham lightweight pants are one of my favorites. As you begin to [00:07:00] transition into the mid-season, the Elkin suit gets the nod from me.

And then as you begin to transition into the later season, a little bit during like the rut timeframe, I'm beginning to switch over to the Saskatoon pants. The Saskatoon jacket and then a personal favorite of mine, the Saskatoon vest, and now that that sort of later season gear has got their new heat boost technology in it.

All of those clothes are graphene infused. What that allows them to do is to create clothing that is way warmer, but much, much less bulky. So head over to their website, hunt worth gear.com. If you're looking for some new camo, check it out. I've been more than pleased and it's not gonna break the bank.

Now, please do go support the partners that support this show. Now here's my conversation with Sam Bullhorn. Let's pivot in the conversation just a little bit then and start talking Hunting strategy. When, uh, there is a drought, I mean, We don't know, we could, three weeks from now, things could return to normal as far as, you know, getting regular rain.

And, you know, by this fall we could really be sitting [00:08:00] good when it comes to, uh, when it comes to rain and moisture on the landscape. But assuming it doesn't big picture, how is a, how is, how are drought conditions, uh, going to change the way that you're going to hunt? How are they gonna change your, your strategy?

And actually, I. I'd like to back up and ask this question, what have you seen on your property? I mean, I'm sure you've got your cameras out. Mm-hmm. And you're watching what's going on. Are you noticing anything different in the deer activity levels or? One question that I've been getting on social media a couple times I've had folks reach out and say, Hey, what are the antlers looking like in your area?

Because, you know, this year I think the drought has really made our, our antler production or our antler quality really poor.

Sam Bilhorn: Yeah, and I've been wondering that myself. I don't think I've seen an, I've only had my cameras out a few weeks and haven't seen enough of, I'd say, enough data to tell me about the antler growth.

Um, I still think they're getting, you know, plenty of good, uh, [00:09:00] browse and all that still. Um, I do think that'll become stress later, as we talked about earlier. But, um, yeah, the first thing he said, what am I gonna do differently? Well, I'm definitely gonna be more, uh, Uh, carefully monitoring my cameras, um, than I have in years past.

I kind of just gotten in a pattern of, I, I only do cameras more or less for fun because I know where the deer are gonna be and when they're gonna be there, just from a historical standpoint. But I'm not necessarily going to rely on that history this year. I'm gonna say, what's going on? You know, what I have seen this year is, and certainly just as a factor of the.

Uh, drought conditions. The water holes have been hot. I mean, they've been all over the water holes, which we've spent plenty of time talking about that already. But it's true. I mean, they, there are very, very few sources of open water and, uh, in hill country that is. And, uh, having that there, they've been all, they've been all about it.

Um, I'm still seeing. You know, regular, [00:10:00] uh, activity. Otherwise, the fawns look good. You know, the, the, the one thing worth mentioning there, still seeing quite a few twins and, uh, healthy looking, um, uh, dose too. And so I think we're doing okay that way just on the overall herd health. But, um, You know, as I, as we enter the season, I'm, I'm gonna be more focused on that.

I think that between the water holes and the timber travel routes, um, I'm actually pretty hopeful, pretty optimistic that that's gonna be a good thing. And we talked earlier about the Acorns being likely down, and, uh, we'll see what that does for me. But I, I'm optimistic to think that they may be a little bit easier to pattern, uh, particularly if we get some quality food sources.

Uh, on hand here, uh, this fall.

Joshua Raley: Yeah. So thinking strategy wise, if you were to land yourself in a situation where, you know, opening day is coming around and your property is just really hurting when it comes to, comes to the [00:11:00] drought, you're not seeing any deer activity, um, you know, maybe a couple dos and fawns coming to the water hole.

So not anything that's gonna make you want to. Uh, dive right in there and get after it. Now, I know you, Sam, you're a very patient hunter, right? When it comes to too patient,

Sam Bilhorn: it's cost me at times.

Joshua Raley: Well, I wasn't gonna say that, but you're very, yeah, okay, thanks on, but, but you are patient, right? But, but let's say you've got the itch and you're like, you know what, I'm gonna try this spot down the road.

That is a, a public piece. Mm-hmm. Where I don't have to worry about, you know, the pressure that I'm putting on my own. Ground. Let's say I'm gonna head down the road to the public peace, just to get out, knock the rust off from the year before, enjoy a couple of days in the field. Where are you gonna start?

Let's just call it September. Mm-hmm. Let's say the opener opening week. Uh, where are you going to start when it comes to trying to build a hunting strategy? One, it's on unfamiliar ground, but two in a year where, uh, patterns may just not be what they, what they have been [00:12:00] in the past.

Sam Bilhorn: I'm gonna go to where I haven't been able to go to in the past, and that's low, low, low ground.

So talking, you know, I'm, I'm in the Wisconsin River Valley and you know, there are places where you need chest waders, if not a boat to get to most years, and it's very difficult. So, um, actually have it on my to-do list quietly, I guess not so quietly here now is to go, um, walk some of these areas and get into places I can get into.

I've. I've picked up on, um, some of the, uh, D N R projects that are going on around, you know, they take advantage of dry years to go out and do wetland mitigation projects where they can get in with dozers and excavators and do things, uh, for future habitat in these, uh, in the Wisconsin riverway areas that they are, um, able to get at this ground that they can't for sometimes decades.

And it's, uh, I look at that, I pick up on that and say, I'd wanna see just how far back into this I could get and, and I might be able [00:13:00] to see some sign and some activity that I wouldn't have otherwise seen. Plus, a lot of times, as thick as that is, is in early season. Um, and sometimes, you know, these areas would be just, I'd say un huntable from the standpoint of I'm kind of soft and, uh, you know, a thousand mosquitoes would carry me away.

So, I don't, wouldn't be in. But you know, we saw mosquitoes early from the, there was a lot of snow melt and, and flooding early that led to high mosquito populations. You can't find one right now. Wow. And, and I think that, you know, I look at that and say there will be areas that are more heavily traveled or frequented by bucks that haven't been in the past, and it'd be an interesting year to go try that.

So I'd, I'd say anybody, if you got, uh, public land that's near what has. Is historically low wet ground, go check it out. You might be really surprised what you're able to find, and I don't be surprised if you could set up on a bucket in an area that you would think is not, uh, a huntable area [00:14:00] and, and that it's just brushy and, um, you know, there's not many mature trees.

It's just more of low ground. Um, you might surprise yourself even sitting on the ground, you know, and I thought about that too with my kids to go out there and sit in some of these areas where it's, if I find a travel corridor that we can just kind of bump up against a tree, it might be an interesting hunt to go see what we can see.

Yeah. One of the, one of the other things that I always do, and I can do this on my own property or another farms that I have permission to hunt, is just go kill some doughs. You know, and, and those, those early summer hunts, I think they go. Or excuse me, those early fall hunts, you know, late summer hunts, they go so quickly we think about doing that and all of a sudden it's October and you're like, uhoh, now I gotta switch to buck hunting.

And you missed that opportunity. Um, I'm gonna be hot after it in September to go kill some dough. Yeah,

Joshua Raley: that's a good move. Do you. Do you feel like you guys have done a good job in the last couple of years of removing the right amount of D from your property? Y

Sam Bilhorn: Yeah, so we're actually, and I'm looking at cameras now, just saying I don't [00:15:00] need to kill do, because we've been overrun with them before and, and we've been, uh, I think doing a good job of that.

I don't wanna say with the acreage we hunt that we can certainly control the overall population or do a big dent in it, but I think we've got our share and, um, Numbers are less than we've seen in the past, but you know, a lot of that too is gonna be some of these late summer, um, uh, Scouting, uh, sessions too.

Going out there and just seeing how well the fields fill up. I have family that lives on the farm too, that, you know, they can kind of tell me what they're seeing out in the fields and have an idea of crop damage and some of these other things. Um, so we'll, we'll know what, where we're at and if not, I'll still kill a few of them.

Joshua Raley: I like that. I like that. I, I like what you breakfast? What's that? Target practice. Yeah. There you go. There you go. There. You know what, for, for young hunters or, or people who, that's have not shot a lot of deer or people, maybe you have shot a lot of deer, but maybe you are, you know, like [00:16:00] me and what I've struggled with in the past, you're one of those guys that you draw back the boat and then from the moment you've drawn back to the moment that you're tracking the deer, you really don't know what happened.

You just kind of blacked out in the moment. The best thing that you can do for that kind of just freak out moment at the shot. Is to shoot living animals over and over and over again. Um, yeah. Use your tags. That's right. That's right. Use your tags. So, um, I like what you mentioned about going to that, that low, low ground and checking that out because, Number one, you can get to areas that you simply haven't been able to in the past.

Mm-hmm. Uh, number two, I think there are lots of opportunities opened up for access. I saw, uh, a buddy of mine and, and recent, uh, podcast guest actually Brian Dombrowski, uh, he was, um, he was doing some um, some scouting the other day and he was walking way back into this marsh and he showed it and it was totally dry.

You know, they're these creek mm-hmm. Or slew kind of areas. That were all dried up, but he could get in there number one, and walk [00:17:00] these dried up creek beds. But number two, it was just soft enough where it really, really showed deer tracks and deer travel through that. Mm-hmm. Through that swamp and how they're using the cover.

So lots of scouting opportunities I feel like, um, you know, feel like at this time of the year. Yeah, that's,

Sam Bilhorn: that's absolutely true. Um, You know, you'll, you'll maybe discover long historical patterns that you, that were there all along that you just couldn't see because there was so much muck and water and other things going on now are a lot more apparent.


Joshua Raley: absolutely. Uh, when it comes to. Early season food. I mean, you know, one of the things that if you're hunting on public land or unfamiliar ground, you really need to key in on some kind of food source. Unless you just want to be an all out bed hunter Dan Infa style and climb up 40 yards from a buck and look at it down in his bed.

I don't know many people that can pull that off. So I think those food sources are, are really, [00:18:00] really important. Uh, what are maybe some of the food sources you're gonna be keying in on? You know, if you're, if you're heading down the road and you don't have, you know, plots or ag to really think about. Well, I mean,

Sam Bilhorn: with, with any, uh, you know, take a typical piece of public land, um, the food sources other, you know, there's obviously brows and there's, uh, things that you wanna pick up on within, uh, within that land itself.

But with any public land, you gotta look beyond the. Boundaries of that land. You know, you'll, you'll, you'll look at that property and say, what is around this? What's going on around it? And not just, historically, it's good to look at satellite images and have an idea of things, but to physically go out there and say, wow, there's a, there's a bean field and in it, better yet, it's on the, you know, late end of maturity.

So it's, it could be green into that early. Part of the season and taking advantage of that, or a quality alfalfa field. I mean, the alfalfa fields last year were just dynamite. I remember, I remember posting a picture on [00:19:00] that. I mean, they were just lush, what, you know, late into the year and. They're not right now in parts of the state and a lot of the state, but you know, they have the potential to bounce back very quickly.

Uh, if we get some quality rains, even to the, even to the point of saying, you know, Hey, we get a good stretch of rain. Well, two weeks later there's gonna be. Good growth on that alfalfa, that's something to key in on. Um, and certainly, uh, considering that, um, you know, looking locally at what's there, and this is taking it next level, but really scouting the perimeter and saying, you know, maybe there isn't adjacent food plot.

Maybe you have somebody who's got a. Um, piece of private land adjacent, and they think they have the secluded plot, but if you can be hunting adjacent to that on public land and taking advantage of their work, well great. That's just doing your homework and knowing what's there. So it's all about seeing what's there oftentimes beyond the borders of that.

Uh, Uh, public [00:20:00] land and hunting appropriately. You know, trying to get in there early enough where there might be betting further into the public land and you're trying to catch 'em as they're coming out towards that private land in the early evening. And you get in there with enough time that, uh, you can kind of cut 'em off.


Joshua Raley: Assuming this was to continue, man, let's say even into pre rut and rut timeframe, um, how is that gonna impact your, your hunting strategy if we're just. You know, still not getting rain.

Sam Bilhorn: Sure. Well, my mind does go to that October timeframe too, even before pre rutt and rut, where I, that's where I think could be some of the best, because again, that's usually where we have 'em on acorns and they're drifting all over the woods and it's less predictable.

But I think that those summer patterns could continue longer because they're gonna utilize the agricultural sources, hopefully getting some moisture. We just talked about that with alfalfa and otherwise, you know, other crops. Travel patterns through the timber, still water [00:21:00] holes, all the stuff we were talking about earlier, those patterns could continue longer.

If you don't have that, Call it three weeks of lost time, where they're wandering around gobbling up acorns, but then getting into the pre rut. Um, which is, and I've talked about this before on the podcast, uh, my favorite time to be in the timber because it is the most predictable with deer laying down sign in that, uh, that last week of October, last 10 days of October.

And being on those mock scrapes, they're really starting to use them from a standpoint of communication and, and scouting out their range of where, uh, they're gonna be looking for those. Um, I think that is, uh, always a good time and that's gonna happen regardless of drought conditions that will happen.

Um, and we should anticipate it to happen if they've been. Regularly using these travel routes because they haven't had this wandering effect through the timber with Acorns and other brows and and so on. [00:22:00] Those routes could be that much better this year than than they've been in the past.

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To learn more and check out their full line of products, head over to their website, tactic cam.com. Share your hunt with tcam. Yeah. So it could really serve to keep those deer concentrated in mm-hmm. A time of year that really has a lot of folks scratching their heads. You know, we, we think of that October lull, you know, those, those two dirty words, October lull, uh, when really the deer just doing things we just don't understand, or, you know, they're in areas of the timber where we're just not getting to.

Sam Bilhorn: Yeah. Time of transition too, you know? Yeah. Crops are changing, habitats are changing. Um, you know, their body chemistry is changing, you know, like there, there's all these things that are happening, which does, I'll say, reset them. It scrambles them, and it doesn't happen in a day. It happens over time. We talked about that in prior podcasts, where there's not just this shift of activity that happens like a light switch.

It is, you know, it's, it happens throughout the [00:24:00] month of October. And, you know, a little bit, little bit, uh, earlier in the north, a little bit later in the south. And it, uh, it happens throughout the course of time. And, but I think defining, defining travel on your property, again, back to the private property, you have this ability to manipulate it and, um, put, tell Deere where you want 'em to go.

I mean, we, we doubled down on corridors on our property this year. Spent a lot of time cutting timber and just really focusing and saying, this is the only way you're getting through. And I'm hopeful to

Joshua Raley: see that happen. Yeah. Yeah. One of the things, and, and this is, you know, if you, if if you're listening to this and you haven't caught this other conversation, then you should go back and listen to the episode.

I'll probably try to link it in the show notes. Cause I don't remember what, uh, what episode it was. But one of the things we talked about on your personal property that you did want to double down on this year was thinking through your buck bedding. Uh, did you guys make any improvements in that area or did you kind of pivot a little bit?

Sam Bilhorn: No, we, we did. So, um, two [00:25:00] years ago, well, it'd be like a year and a half ago now, we had a big timber harvest and, uh, cut a, a large swath of mature red oaks. And, uh, we have tremendous amount of, uh, regrowth a regeneration happening in those areas now, um, which really made this. Strong bedding area in the middle of our property that wasn't there previously.

Um, and we put a new corridor right through this, uh, as there was some existing travel there, there was some weak routes, but we, we cut a strong corridor through the middle of this thing and then off of it on either side, up uphill and downhill. We have, uh, dozens and dozens of beds that we put in there, and we didn't try focusing on doing.

Like bedding pockets. This whole thing is pretty thick, but we did isolated beds, so, okay, this is, this is digging into the hill. You know, maybe there's an existing flat spot, or you could see a deer head beded there. But just to improve it that much more, made it a little [00:26:00] bigger, a little flatter, uh, cleared it down to the soil.

And, uh, raked it out and walked away. We did dozens and dozens of those. So whether be a deer bed's in one spot or you know, one area, they have options. Um, and I think we're gonna see increased bedding in there. Also added a new stand location on that corridor, just out from that whole area where we can get in and out cleanly.

Very easily and, uh, hopefully then see good activity coming out of that bedding area, um, and take advantage of that.

Joshua Raley: Yeah. So let's, let's shift one more time, uh, in, in our conversation here. One thing that we haven't discussed in a while is like, uh, like a checklist or a, you know, basically what you're doing this time of year.

Gimme the, the real time nitty gritty of what's going on. You know, we're kind of in late-ish July. We're getting into late July. Uh, heading into August, what are you [00:27:00] focusing on this time of year when it comes to, maybe it's, you know, prepping your gear, maybe it's shooting your bow, maybe it's scouting some new properties.

Maybe it's, you know, direct habitat improvements on your place. Uh, What are you focusing on this time of year? Well, uh,

Sam Bilhorn: as we look in late July, uh, my number one focus is plots and planting, uh, for, uh, what'll probably be a little bit later this year. I think just given the drought, given conditions, I'm gonna edge on being a little later and hoping for more moisture.

So I'm gonna wait to see that forecasted rain. Uh, you know, it's, it is the 19th year as we record, but you know, as we look toward. That I always have it, is it a marker in my head around, uh, July 20th to really be focused on that 10 day forecast and that next one inch or more of rain, uh, that's gonna be when I plant, likely this year, though again pushing into August.

So I, I want that strong storm coming in that's really gonna help anchor and start that growth before I'm doing that. So plots are, plots are pivotal. I mean, that's gonna be a major [00:28:00] focus, uh, of the property. Um, but on a habitat standpoint, um, one last walk of the corridors, making sure everything's clear.

Sometimes the tree falls and you wanna, uh, you know, get that slot cut out so you can move through there. Um, one last check of stands. Basically a what I would call a, a quick run through. You're gonna look in every stand, check shooting lanes, make sure the m scrapes are in good condition. So all these things that we talk about throughout the spring and summer, it's.

Maybe just one final check. I don't wanna be in the timber any more than I have to be from this time. The year on, I want that timber to start to settle and not get any more pressure that needs to finalize those camera setups, all those things. This is, you know, I, depending on your property a day or two's work that you walk through and just make sure everything is exactly how you want it so that when you come to hunt, uh, there are.

Um, no surprises, you know, that that's really what I wanna see on, on my land From a prepping standpoint, it's, um, [00:29:00] obviously shooting the bow, that's something that's easy to just let that sit in the garage and, uh, not, uh, use as much as you should. So, uh, that's absolutely, I know it gets talked about some, but doing it and forcing yourself to do it.

Um, side note on that, a few years ago I built a four by four blind in the backyard. It's been the best thing that's ever happened cuz I, I have within two minutes I can be out slinging arrows in the backyard and that's always been, Uh, something I enjoy. Mm. Uh, and that's, that's, uh, um, a nice to have that, that set up in the backyard.

Super simple to do. If you ever wanna, uh, go about doing it, uh, gimme a call. I'll help you tell you all the details on that, but it's, uh, I'm glad I did it. It's a really

Joshua Raley: nice project. Now, is that an elevated position you're shooting from?

Sam Bilhorn: No. So I have the opportunity to do that. I have some adjacent trees, which I'll do, I'll do that from time to time.

Um, and, and that's good to do that. What I've liked to do, I talk about going through the timber and, um, you know, doing that lab. One last check, just as a fun [00:30:00] recreational thing, I think it's great for kids too, is to take that, uh, Foam, uh, decoy out or just even a target and throw it down on the ground and climb up on the stand and throw an arrow.

I think that's, that is a great practice, especially to get kids used to tree stands, um, that I, I think and would recommend to anybody. Yeah. Um,

Joshua Raley: so man, that sounds like a really good exercise too. I mean, one of the things that, that I like to do is, Leave as much cover around me as possible when I'm trimming out a spot for a stand.

Oh yeah. Yeah. And what a great check to see, you know? Cause I, I always, one of the first things I do every time I get up into the, into the tree is take a couple of practice draws. Just making sure that I'm not going to be bumping anything. Cause that's a good time of year to really get in there and, you know, take a couple of practice draws, make sure your, you know, your shooting lanes are, are what you thought they were.

Um, I mean, there's nothing worse than feeling like the shooting lane was good and then turns out, uh, [00:31:00] almost good enough, but not good enough. That is a worst, that is a crushing blow. That's the worst.

Sam Bilhorn: But I'll, I will say this as I'm always in the mindset, like when I initially set up something, I undercut.

Yes. Uh, you know what needs to be done, know knowingly, like Yeah, I, I probably would take that one, but I'm gonna come back another day and look at it. Or I'll even wait through that season. You know, you talk about being patient on something, you only get to cut a tree once. Yeah. And Im gonna wait to say, I'm gonna let that one go and then, you know, eventually, no, I can come back and take it.


Joshua Raley: Yeah. That's a good move. That's a good move. All right, man. Anything else, you know, this time of year that you would encourage somebody who is, is getting ready for the season to be thinking through, working on prepping, any of that kind of stuff?

Sam Bilhorn: One of the things that I would say is always looking for that next best stand.

You know, if you're focused on what you've had, what you've done, um, and you haven't hung a stand in a while. [00:32:00] Get a stand and find a place for it that's new. And think about travel patterns. Think about all these things we've talked about through. Uh, this podcast and the, and the types of setups, uh, and maybe, and maybe it's that new water hole.

Maybe you go pop in a water hole in a spot and put a standup and that's gonna be the new project you have this year. I think that we always wanna be pushing to find the next best spot if we're only, if we're always relying on the same old locations, were. Probably not thinking hard enough about where the deer might be and or simply how they've worked around that spot.

You know, sometimes we have these long established locations and maybe we've educated 'em a little bit too much and we need to even simply move over 30 yards and make a change. Um, I think that that's always a mindset that I want to have, even in the, you know, highly detailed setups that I'm creating. I wanna.

Always challenge myself to look for something else. I, on my property where I have dozens of stands, I hung two more this year [00:33:00] and I plan to hunt them and learn something.

Joshua Raley: Yeah, yeah. That's really, really good. So, Sam, last thing. Um, lots of exciting stuff going on with Whitetail partners. This is also that time of year.

When Hope is at its highest, hope is at its peak, people are looking forward to the season and we are not far from, yeah. Uh, when many people will find, uh, lots of blank trail camera photos and lots of, uh, food plots that aren't. Attracting deer in the daylight and lots of hunting strategy that they just realized is not working for their property.

So where can folks go to, to learn more, to see what's going on with whitetail partners, to, uh, maybe even get in contact with you or, or one of the, the other members of the team to, you know, begin to work on some of that fine tuning?

Sam Bilhorn: Yeah. So, uh, as always, look up whitetail partners. Uh, come check out our website ever developing on that.

Um, we'd love to just [00:34:00] talk to you if you, you got questions you wanna talk about your situation coming into this year. A lot of people have reached out to us in the spring and summer and we're already done designing properties for the year with Greenup and everything else. But, um, there are many things you can do throughout the course of the fall to.

Start to learn and strategize for your property, you know, looking and, and you know, go give you some things to clue in on and, you know, to, to really focus on. And that would make then, if you have us out to your property, uh, come the end of hunting season, December, January, you know, make you that much, you know, more prepared, uh, for that design, for that visit.

You know, as I've talked about before, with Whitetail Partners, our core. Uh, service that we provide is whitetail habitat design on properties, and helping make a property that's customized to the hunter and their situation. Um, it's not just, here's a cookie cutter, we're bow hunters. This is what we do. Um, no, it's, it's much more than that.

We wanna learn [00:35:00] who the hunter is, uh, how they want to define success and what their goals are, and make a design that's gonna be, uh, perfect for them. Along with that too. Uh, one of, you know, some of the things we've been expanding into have been successful with, have been the, uh, implementation, uh, land management.

So we still, we, we now, uh, offer that into doing and helping out. And that can be hanging a couple tree stands that could be a full property implementation, uh, that we do now, and wanna help people if they want that, uh, help them with those services. Uh, and before long we're gonna be helping people buy real estate.

We have our, uh, Our team is getting, uh, licensed and ready to go with that, and that's gonna be a fun, new, exciting thing we'll be talking about here this fall. Yeah, and

Joshua Raley: I, I want to emphasize that point of it's really never too early to give you a call. Like we, we really are done with designs and, and you know, especially onsite consultations not going on this time of year.

[00:36:00] But, uh, it's never too early to give us a call because there are things that, that we can prepare you for. Like, I, I was, I was actually talking with a landowner the other day and I'm gonna be out in his, on his property in January. He's gonna be the first client that I have for 2024, and I was like, Hey, here are the things that I would really like you to pay close attention to this fall.

Uh, it's a newer property to him. He's unfamiliar with it. He hasn't even hunted it yet, so I'm like, Hey, these are the things I really want you to pay attention to, so that when we come out for the consultation, we've got the best data that we can have from the previous fall to make the best decisions moving forward.

Because really the more data we have, the better plan. That, uh, or the better setup we can design. Mm-hmm.

Sam Bilhorn: Yeah. Right on. You know, even just something as simple as camera locations. Talk about where to put those on your farm and the information we're gonna gain from that and really can be eyeopening. Um, and, and then even just strategy for hunting this year.

Talk very [00:37:00] quickly about how they've been accessing the stands they have and maybe come up with some new, uh, uh, strategies to how they might get to those stands and. Help 'em be more successful, so, yep. Yeah, it's, it's, uh, never too early to call and, uh, also we're, you know, booking up, but we're, I got a month or two of, uh, visits all set up here now and.

Um, the rest of that'll fill in pretty quickly once the hunting season

Joshua Raley: hits. Absolutely. Well, Sam, thank you so much for taking the time to come on here. Again, guys, head over to whitetail partners.com to learn more. 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.

If you could leave us a five star review, I would. Very much appreciate that. While you're at it, you can follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at how to hunt deer. That's also the best way to get ahold of me. Suggest topics that you want to hear, guests you want to hear from, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show.

Big thanks to our partners, TCAM Hunt Worthman on X. [00:38:00] Please go support the brands that support this show and help me bring you great content each and every week. If you're looking for more outdoor content, check out the sportsman's empire.com where you're gonna find my other podcast, the Wisconsin Sportsman, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.