Final Thoughts and Learnings 2014


5 year old buck +
Hey team,

Now that I have hung up my hunting gear for 2014, I thought I'd share what my thoughts and learnings for 2014.

1. Need to continue to work on neighbor outreach and campaign locally for voluntary harvest restraint.
2. Need to plant a cover corridor from the edge of our property to the thick bedding cover.
3. Food plot was a huge success. We greatly altered the deer movement in our area by having green in the late fall. Plans are already drawn to increase plot space for next year.
4. Need to campaign for voluntary buck protection with neighbors. We saw zero bucks on our property until mid-fall. When the plot attraction kicked in, we counted 8-10 unique bucks frequenting our property. It was a healthy mix of fawn, 1.5, and 2.5 deer. If for two years we can restrain ourselves from shooting the baskets, we could have multiple 120+ deer in the area.
5. Need to get a trail down the east side of our property. Predominantly NW winds prohibited us from getting to the back of our property because we didn't have a trail.
6. Moved my trail camera to capture the entire plot. Took the laptop out there to take and view pics to test the angle. We got it dialed in now.
7. No more using bear friendly bait to do cam surveys in the spring and summer. We had too many bears around for my liking.
8. Need to get into the bear lottery and not rely on the surplus tag sale later in august.

Any takeaways you guys had from the year?
1. I work way to hard and spend too much money on land management in MN, and I can't stop
2. Thank god I got to know my neighbors up north and we are all on the same page for small bucks and now does. Guessing if we would have said pass small bucks and mature does 4 years ago, the coop would have never started
3. I think my electric fence set at 15,500 whatever volts it is may have stopped the deer from using the bedding they have used religiously for the last 3 years. The neighbors are seeing way too many deer this year and my 240 went to crap. May have a land tour day and see who can grab it longest for prizes?
4. It takes about 3 years for any habitat improvements to really make a difference
5. Getting to know the locals has made a bigger difference in my hunting than most improvements
6. MN deer management suck ass about 100% of the time
7. Beau Liddel is a huge problem in Central MN
8. The big bucks refuse to enter my plots during the rut. Early season and late rut/muzzleloader but not early November
9. Old bear are smart
10. Turkey are dumb and fun
11. Turnips do not like all the rain we got this summer.
Great idea for a post...
Number 1 - For my area, more late season food. The more the better. I ran 10 different experiments this year (with respects to deer management/hunting and all were failures or had inconclusive results with the exception of 1. And HOLY COW the one exception is more than worth all the other nine failures.

Number 2 - After all the education and experiences over the last few years, I need to curtail my overall expectations and start having fun with what I got
Or potentially getting better than what you've currently got...;)
A big point that I learned last year and had reinforced again this year was...stay the hell out of the property ;) I still have pretty normal movement patterns here and I'm convinced that's due to leaving 90+% of my property untouched. It gets really tempting to go wandering around in the snow, but I know that will just push the deer off my place.

Most underestimated aspect of habitat improvement in my eyes. And the cumulative effect (years) is even more powerful.
Since I've instituted a "doe shooting ban" here, going back to shooting a young(er) buck may be what I do from now on.


The Dougerty's top 10% rule seems a good one. Target your top 10% bucks. Give you a reason to hunt.
Don't be Stu, I have come to the same conclusion as well, at least until we see if the new extremely limited antlerless tag quotas take hold in the Forest Zone of Juneau Co. In the past several years I would not have even thought of pulling on a 6pt, because I could always fill a doe tag. Now with no doe tags, and no venison for the last 3 years, my high horse has been lowered from Clydesdale to Shetland pony, at least for the foreseeable future.
I think becoming a WI bow hunter will be much easier than your previous tribulations, albeit no less rewarding, and I am betting that on both accounts you will be glad you did.
I learned that despite a lot of habitat improvements, food plots, and smarter hunting, nothing I do can counter the effects of 375" of snow and 30 days below 0. To my knowledge there has only been one buck taken off the 3000 acres that surround me and this is where any buck is shot. As we approach 12" of snow today I am heart broken at the thought of how bad the hunting could be for years to come. Perhaps it is why my passion has shifted from deer to apples. If my apples are dead in the spring whiskey is next on the list.
I learned that I have a lot of work to do to make my place hold the deer I want it to. I also learned I enjoy the habitat end of things more than pulling the trigger. Next year I need to get the ground work done before August (and return to minimal use after July), as I'm sure my extended working on the orchard this year was partly to blame for my lack of deer in the fall.
I love this post! I do a "lessons learned" recap after every season...when I have a few more mins I'll post them up here!
My brother and I did a quick walk through the project areas of our property before we left. From the looks of it, I may be upping my tree order to 1000 norway spruce. I've got some campaigning to do with him on hinge cutting for sunlight and cover, but for the time being, does anyone see a risk in planting only Norways for my cover path from road to the rest of the thick cover? The concerns I have are two fold: Am I risking total wipeout by planting only one species (spruce worms, random blight or disease)? Also, is there a better spruce option for a partial shade environment until I can sneak in some hinge cutting?
Could the whites handle partial shade as well as norway?
SD, was this your first plot? What did you plant?

Batman, my big bucks also don't use plots during the rut. I also hope the habitat improvements take effect after 3 Years. Our hinging hasn't helped as much yet.

The biggest thing I took away this season, 'DON'T FEED THE NEIGHBORS DEER!'
My dad finally agreed in regards to what and where we plant different crops. Why spend the time and money on plots only our neighbors get to use? More isn't better, less food in the right place is the key to harvesting bucks.
This was my first plot up north. I plotted around my dads quite a bit years ago. But I had access to machinery and good soil. Now I'm dealing with no machinery and soil that needs some amending. I did a 50/50 mix of rye and diakon radish. I put up my plot cam pics over in the trail cam forum. There is a picture there of a buck with a radish in his mouth. That was rewarding to see.
I don't mean to "rub it in" chummer...but your posts always make me feel better about deer hunting in MN
I am a long ways from MN but the struggles we share is what brought me here. Now, when I see some of the pictures from MN I wonder how bad you guys really have it! I don't think I will make back up to hunt this year. They are already talking feet of snow for next week. We will go up after Thanksgiving to shut every thing down so I might be able to get out again for a couple hours then. I will be hunting suburban deer the rest of the year, hopefully I can get one for the freezer.
Hey to all of us bitching and whining MN'ers. Lets take a moment and be thankful for what we do have....Chummer you are the man!!!! I think I would have choose the whisky before the apples:D. Seriously, that is some damn awesome determination that we could all learn from
I have 20 more apples (likely more by spring) for next year. Once those are in I will have 40 caged fruit trees. It will be my third year planting and I still have no proof they will live. After those are in I will be switching to whiskey and tree care. I sold my landscaping business effective some time after this winter is over. I will not have a lot of my toys anymore. With that being the case next spring will be a big planting year. Then I will watch for a couple years and see which trees and shrubs can survive and thrive. You call it determination, I call it border line psychotic. Until I get my first piece of fruit;)
The morons set up about 50' from the fence, looking right down at our house.

They can not shoot within 500 feet of your house. How close were they?
Good point. I have about 500' of fence with some inbred, toothless, brown is down guys. They shot a little buck on his way to eat my rye/clover/brassicas on Sunday night. The morons set up about 50' from the fence, looking right down at our house. I think I'll be ordering some large bareroot spruce to attempt to block the idiot hunters' view and deer movement. I'm half way tempted to get a bunch of 10' tposts and run a few extra strands of barbwire too...force deer movement to the N or S in order to avoid the Deliverance wannabes
For a number of reasons while one of our neighbor's property was up in the air as to who was going to own it, my Grandpa installed a mile long 8 foot fence. It does a great job at controlling deer movement, but the neighbors can sit on the fence post and just wait as easily as you can.

My problem isn't with 'brown its down' guys. Our neighbor to the south is a good hunter and he owns the entrance/exit to the state park and the main travel corridor for deer to come up to all of the ag fields and food plots. We have most of our food plots on the south side of our property so deer coming from the park typically travel right through his place to get to ours. He catches them heading back at first light or coming up at dusk and we end up with a ton of great trail cam pics but only a few daytime sightings.

I intend on moving all of our fall food plots and corn 1/2 mile 'up' to the north side of our property. The idea for this is that if we can sneak out and sit on our southern boarder, we can catch deer leaving in the morning. And, hopefully, the extra distance they travel from the park will get them to be more likely to bed in our place.
My friend hung sheets of plywood on his side of the fenceline a couple years ago when the neighbor built a castle on the fenceline.
It at least stopped the guy from being tempted to shoot a deer across the fence.
Pictures are coming. LOLLLL

I just got called this morning from the same guy.... the same neighbors had ladder stands that appeared on the fenceline this year and they shot not 1, not 2, but 3 deer across the fenceline Saturday morning on his side. Apparently 3 deer in a group were there and the 2 people on stand managed to shoot all 3 of them. Wow.
CO was called and there is trouble in paradise.... The CO also warned them that the neighbors are really pissed off, so just be aware you might want to not leave any valuables around the deer shack.
How sad is that..... Deer hunting brings out the worst in a lot of people.
Oh god, not my conflicts.... :)

There has been a long history with these guys.

Thankfully we have no conflicts where we hunt. We just have neighbors with very different goals.