To me, there are few things in this world more rewarding than seeing someone or something benefit from your hard work. During the winter of 2014, I knew deer would desperately need my successful 2013 plots to produce once again. One of the worst winters in Wisconsin’s history was going to take a toll on many herds across the state, including mine. I knew I would have a leg up on neighboring properties if my plots would begin producing at spring green up. After frost-seeding my clover and chicory plot in April, I had high hopes of seeing groups of deer flocking to the plot in need of fresh, nutrient dense growth. Knowing that springtime deer are very active during daylight hours in search of these rich greens, I placed a trail camera high in a tree over the food plot to ensure picture coverage of the entire field. As I expected when I pulled the camera three weeks later, many pictures of fresh velvet and pot-bellied does were popping up.
This field may not look like much, but to this mother and daughter, as well as a bothersome buck, the deep-rooted clover and chicory are providing them with some much needed energy. During the winter months, we all heard hunters, news sources and DNR officials say this winter’s impact will be felt in the coming years. No doubt it will and already has been in many places such as northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. In fact, many laws are now being implemented in these areas to ensure protection of herds by reducing doe harvests. For me, all this hoopla surrounding deer herd management has made me especially grateful to see this trail camera photo capturing the trifecta of growing antlers, a pregnant doe and a yearling fawn that survived the harsh winter. If you too are pulling cameras and seeing pictures similar to mine, be thankful because some areas have been hit extremely hard.
In order to provide some encouragement for hunters who aren’t as lucky to see feeding deer come springtime, I’d like to introduce a different kind of management, Quality Memory Management. This isn’t a way of saying, ‘remember those good ol’ days of hunting because they’re long gone.’ Rather, a reminder that hunters need to savor every second we get in the woods. We should be practicing QMM whether we see deer every sit, or go a full season seeing only a handful. Memories we’ve made in previous hunts should teach us to appreciate all the hunting opportunities we’ve had, however, because we all crave bigger antlers and more hunting hours, it’s easier said than done. I come from an area sprawling with deer and quality bucks because of great soil and little predation, yet I haven’t shot a buck during gun season since 2009 and have only passed on one since then. We don’t till up the soil or get up at 4A.M. when it’s below freezing just to do it; we expect some results.
My point is, hold onto the memories you’ve made during previous deer seasons. Even though I haven’t shot a buck with a gun in over four years, I remember that November afternoon like it was yesterday because of whom I shared the story with. One of the best memories from that hunt is comical. I told my brother whatever buck we see would be his, but he chose to do something else that afternoon and I’ve given him flack for it ever since. Sure, hunting is a lifestyle and an important part of our lives but whether you see deer, harvest deer or let mature bucks walk, making memories with those closest to us should be a top priority for all.