NW WI, new property

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
Hey guys,

Love the content on here. I’m at the start of the habitat improvement journey and a first time poster, but I’ve been lurking in the background trying to learn as much as possible for a couple of years. Several years ago, my family purchased 187 acre property in Sawyer County, WI near a cabin we’ve had for years. The property was financed from the seller for the first 2 years, so we were not allowed to “make significant changes” until now that the financing is through a bank. Not all bad as it’s given us ample time to observe how the land is used before taking any action. Before we get started this coming year, I was hoping to get some thoughts from the much more knowledgeable people that frequent this site.

A little about the property:

The previous owners did some significant work cutting the lanes that cover the land as well as building 5 permanent box blinds that we have used as is up to this point. We were allowed to continue planting the two fields that were cleared, so the south field (1.5 acre) has been planted with soybeans each year and the north field (4 acres) has been planted with corn. Unfortunately, the soybean field is demolished each year by late summer and offers no real attraction during hunting season.

The access to the property is from the northeast border on a trail that runs mostly north to south to the southern border. The north east open area is mostly old field with some decent summer habitat, but doesn’t seem to get much use during the hunting season when the grasses get knocked down. Northwest area is a mixed aspen forest. Northern hardwood forest runs through the middle of the property, which was select cut about 15 years ago. There is a mixed conifer forest that runs between the two fields from mostly west to east just north of the area that was select cut. The large southeast swamp is about 15 acres of spotted alder and about 20 acres of a mature cedar swamp. Surrounding the property are some private lands to the west that don’t seem to have much for hunting pressure, except on the southern half. To the south and east is over a 1000 acres of consolidated forest owned by the paper company which allows public use.

The pictures included show the borders of our property in red, tower stands in blue, and then a picture with less zoom showing the surrounding property. I’ve also included a few pictures do give an idea of the habitat, but I plan on taking more when I am up there for gun opener in a couple of weeks.

So far the observing hasn’t really been all that productive. The bean field is usually gone by hunting so hasn’t been much of a draw. The corn field seems to have most of its activity just before and after dark. Most of the activity has been brief crossings of the lanes that our towers look over, but it has been difficult to pattern over most of the land. We have noticed the northern and northwestern portion seems to be a prominent doe bedding area. The swamp on the east end has been the most productive hunting with mature bucks enjoying the cover and lack of hunting pressure.

Any observations or comments are welcome but my main questions are:

What are your thoughts on the set up of the tower stand and shooting lanes? It would be a lot to work to change so I don’t foresee that happening, but I’m not sure its show I would have set the property up if starting from scratch.

I’m thinking of trying to establish some switch grass in the old field to the north, but it’s a pretty wet area during the spring. Does switch grass handle moisture and the northern climate (zone 3b) well enough to give this a shot?

The shooting lanes are mostly grasses and forbs that provide little draw during the season. Would it make sense to convert as much of those as possible to a perennial clover or LC mix, or would you pick select lanes and leave the rest as is?

Thanks for all the insights.

Shane


EF59C495-DB39-4EC5-B2BB-3D5691B6901A.jpeg92F3D593-D588-4249-8806-F9F5B6A6AACE.jpegDBED0C55-6372-4470-929F-9D149F4B5531.jpegNorth field where corn is usually planted. 56D2A014-66B9-47BA-BC19-D8E924F9FE03.jpegAspen forest with porcupine above and lanes with grass and forbs near one of the tower stands C2D2C3D3-8433-404D-BFB8-859AA46AF675.jpegCB6E5043-28AF-4139-9B02-99EE9163D8FF.jpeg
Cousin with one of those mature bucks hiding in the cedar swamp.
 

Bill

Administrator
Welcome Easterhouse,

Maybe some clover but I couldn’t begin to speak for hunting or habitat in WI. I’d end up sounding stupid.
Hopefully all the guys are out hunting and have some ideas to share. It’s a plus you’ve had two years of observing.
 

cavey

5 year old buck +
Good looking soil for right off HWY 70 there! Your crop/plot land is going to be a pretty big pull for deer, there is nothing to the south of you for miles and I think the fields to the northwest across the highway have pretty much stayed hay ground. You could seed in winter rye and winter wheat into the standing soybeans late maybe even turnips that would carry over into hunting season and be a good early green up in the spring - ... the soybeans are keeping your deer/does there during the summer so I would not say its a bad crop to keep and you have really nice wide trail systems to keep clover on. The tower site/field they keep that in hay/grass most years right? You have kind of a magnet for deer there... I will try not to smoke one on the Tuscobia going by there this winter. Do you ever stop in at Buckwheats ?

I think in the end everything your going to do there is going to get pounded just because you are the only food plot draw in the area.
 

bjseiler

5 year old buck +
Wish I had that lane work through my place. Love those for hunting but also and maybe more so, just enjoying the property.
 

4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
I am a county west of you, and my brother is in the same county, one thing to keep in mind is soil health. It is mostly sandy-sandy loom. It won’t take much to destroy the soil. With that said, I would swap the soy beans and corn fields, put the soybeans in the bigger field, and fence it in until it is in its later stages. I would also add clover and winter rye as a cover crop in the fields in August.

I love your shooting lanes, and if they are just grasses, I would add clover, radish and turnips to them within shooting distances to your stands. Just an extra draw, and food supply.

If you are leaving the wooded areas for bedding, and only hunting the field, and shooting lanes, I would take a chain saw to the middles of the wooded areas come spring and thicken that stuff up. Make them a mess. Other then that it looks great! Oh, and that is a nice buck your cousin got!
 

bwoods11

5 year old buck +
Looks nice, might want to look at more turnip plots rather than soybeans if the deer wipe the beans out. Good luck, and enjoy.
 

strawhead

5 year old buck +
Welcome Easterhouse...we are also in Sawyer Co. We have learned alot here. Our experience is that if you want November draw, green is the ticket. We use LC mixes. Radishes are eaten starting Sept. and are still a hot item. We keep adding them to every mix. We broadcast radishes into our beans in July. Good luck if you try to e-fence. For us it wouldn't work i don't think. Haven't tried. Between wolves and bears pushing the deer around I think an e-fence would get knocked down here? As stated by others, I think clover would be good in the roads. You can broadcast radishes in the roads also. They probably won't get huge, but will be a draw I think. They are here for us on our roads. If you have wolves by you, good luck trying to pattern the deer. 10220132.JPG
 

Telemark

5 year old buck +
That place is awesome! Seems like you have everything you need.

I'm one of the less experienced posters here, but here's my two cents:
In addition to what others habe mentioned, variety can be a nice draw. I would plant trees and bushes like apples, oaks, and red osier dogwood. Coppicing browse trees on road and field edges has been a good attractor for me in Ontario.
 

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
Thanks Cavey, we haven’t made it to Buckwheats, but it looks like a great hole in wall so we’ll have to check it out.

Yes, the field that borders us to the NE has been hay every year we‘ve had the land. The fields north of 70 are usually hay as well but the past 2 years they’ve planted some corn. I don’t think they’ll keep doing so as I know the bears in the area did a number on their crop. So yeah, without planting a lot more food or protecting it some way, we might run into the same issue with anything we plant. Good problems to have though!
 

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
Thanks for the local advice 4wanderingeye! My dad and uncle who I own the property with were both born and raised as farmers, while I’ve spent most of my life in school. So most of my suggestions about how to improve our food plots and get away from conventional farming practices have been met with a little resistance. I think I’m making progress though! My plan is to pick a few spots in the lanes to be our experimental throw n’ mow areas so I can show them this stuff works and hopefully converting them in the process.
 

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
Welcome Easterhouse...we are also in Sawyer Co. We have learned alot here. Our experience is that if you want November draw, green is the ticket. We use LC mixes. Radishes are eaten starting Sept. and are still a hot item. We keep adding them to every mix. We broadcast radishes into our beans in July. Good luck if you try to e-fence. For us it wouldn't work i don't think. Haven't tried. Between wolves and bears pushing the deer around I think an e-fence would get knocked down here? As stated by others, I think clover would be good in the roads. You can broadcast radishes in the roads also. They probably won't get huge, but will be a draw I think. They are here for us on our roads. If you have wolves by you, good luck trying to pattern the deer. View attachment 27060


Thanks Strawhead,

We haven’t seen a lot of wolf activity so far, but we did catch one that looks very similar to the one you posted earlier this year (collar and all). So that might be changing. Quite a few bears and coyotes. Haven‘t tried any fencing yet, but it‘s been something we’ve talked about. Thanks for the tips on the radishes!
 

cavey

5 year old buck +
Thanks Cavey, we haven’t made it to Buckwheats, but it looks like a great hole in wall so we’ll have to check it out.

"Hole" kind of hits it on the head, 9 ash trays 7 bar stools a dart board and a washing machine, Jo ( the owner - who you need to see to believe) just opens the window and sets the bag of empty cans outside... everything is 2 dollars booze and or beer. 10 people and the place is packed ... It should be on your bucket list up there.

Speaking of bucket lists some cold hardy apple/crab trees would be a nice addition up there... that would be one way of controlling a food source - late dropping fruit. Just another thought. The wolves are there they come and go - same with the bear and yotes - between the three you have enough predators. Occasionally you will see some turkeys too.

I come up to a buddies cabin by buckwheats and hunt the old paper mill lands north of the polish road to the flowage - just alittle bit to the west of your land but we sled right by there so I know the area. Anything you do is going to get eaten there is just limited food for them - you will draw deer (when they are there - numbers are coming back up)
 

Barndog56

5 year old buck +
I think the area to the north of your 4 acre field would be perfect for some apple and pear trees, with shrubs as well. Although you'll probably need a way to protect them from bears.
 

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
I think the area to the north of your 4 acre field would be perfect for some apple and pear trees, with shrubs as well. Although you'll probably need a way to protect them from bears.

Any particular varieties you know of that would do well this far north?
 

Barndog56

5 year old buck +
Honeycrisp, Macoun, Spartan, Sweet Sixteen, and Wolf River are all trees that I have listed to zone 3. I'm sure the apple guys up your way will have more suggestions. I'm not sure which rootstock you'll need that far north.
 

cavey

5 year old buck +
Antonovka root stock maybe B118 rootstock ...

https://ruraldreams.ca/16-hardy-apple-trees-for-zone-2-3

dont forget about crab apples.... they tend to be super hardy

another option ... look for crabs and apples growing up there and see if you can get scion wood and graft

I believe there are a few cold hardy pears too
 

Easterhouse

Yearling... With promise
Thanks for all the tips guys, looks like I’ll have plenty to keep me busy this coming year!
 

H20fwler

5 year old buck +
Welcome to the forum Easterhouse! Nice looking place and some great lanes through it...your cousins buck is a dandy too.
 

Bowsnbucks

5 year old buck +
Yes, welcome to the forum Easterhouse!! I'm far from Wisc. but your place looks great. You have a gold mine as far as being the only GOOD food draw around. I won't suggest any plot ideas - the other Wisc. guys are better at that advice. Trophy buck your cousin shot!! WOW!! Having a cedar swamp - or any swamp - is a good deer hide-out.
 
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