Hunters care for food plots, land during summer months

Published 12:35 am Sunday, May 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call the summer months the “offseason” for local hunters.

And like sports teams around the country, hunters use their offseason to re-tool and get ready for the coming deer and turkey seasons next fall and spring. With longer days comes more work hours, and even if there’s nothing to hunt in the summer, there’s no shortage of work to be done.

Dustin Carroll, whose family owns 400 acres of private hunting land on Liberty Road, spends his summer months planting crops on his three food plots.

“I put a mixture of soybeans and corn down last Monday, and that will last until about October, right about when we begin to bow hunt over it,” Carroll said.

“This keeps them coming in the summer months and gives them what will get them big for hunting season. After October, we usually clear it all out and plant rye grass and wheat for the winter.”

In addition, Carroll’s property also contains four deer feeders, which he fills with deer pellets and minerals during the summer. The feeders are another way to keep deer activity on his property while it’s warm out, he said.

“It’s getting about time to put them in the feeder. The best thing to do is set it for twice a day, one hour before daylight and one hour before dark. It puts out enough for deer, turkey and whatever else wants to eat it,” Carroll said.

For Vidalia resident Mike Greene, the summer months are a mix of relaxation and preparation, he said.

“Right now I’m fishing a lot,” Green said.

“When I go to our hunting grounds, I take a tractor and get the roads to our deer stands smoothed out. You can build new stands or repair existing ones. I also take care of the food plots, and people should have already planted their summer product by now.”

Between keeping the hunting grounds usable and the deer fed, Greene said hunting truly is a year-round activity.

“There’s still a lot of work to do. Coming back from the camp, it’s usually 90 degrees outside, and that will take a lot out of you,” Greene said.

For the managers of St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, preparation for hunting season is also something that’s thought through months in advance. Bob Strader, manager of the refuge, said they begin evaluating their hunts from the previous seasons in February and March.

“We look at what went right, what went wrong and look the data over to see if we’re under- or over-harvesting,” Strader said.

“We also have to have our regulations for the coming season in to the printer by the end of May. After May, we really begin working on other projects.”

In addition, they also employ a farmer to grow crops for wildlife to feed on, Strader said.

“He harvests 80 percent for himself, and 20 percent are left for the wildlife. We like to start doing that in early June, and really don’t want to wait beyond late June to do that,” he said.

Greene said hunting is only for the most dedicated of people.

“You have to love hunting to put this much work in,” Green said.