Let's Redo the Bull Pen

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by lakngulf, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    I got such good info on the restoration of Mandy Hollow on dogghr's Random Cluster thread I thought, "Hey, let's redo the Bull Pen". I decided to start a new thread instead of further HiJack his useful thread.

    So here's what we have. The Boomerang Foot Plot with a shooting house at the apex has worked well for years but deer sightings (except on Youth weekend) have been nil. Good pictures of bucks and does at night (with some corn enticement), but few daytime sightings. Here is current setup
    BPy1.jpg

    Property line blue, Yellow = current stand locations, Green = bow stands, lime lines = DEEP gulley
    (1) Ten acres on west (left) was clear cut 2015, and has grown into some good thick vine, stickers and pines. Those two stands on left have not been productive, nor has the food plot there grown very well.
    (2) The shooting house in black circle got me a nice 8 pt 20 years ago but mainly unproductive in many sits since then
    (3) The triangle one is great Youth weekend, and has deer all around it at night.
    (4) Black line west and north is an access across neighbors that I could use. Only other access is from road on south end.
    (5) I am not sure how much crossing of the gulley takes place but I know deer come in from the East.

    I am ready for a Renovation. What would you suggest?

    Here is a wider angle of the area. You can see the access thru my neighbor's woods is quite a long way but in the past he has told me he would allow. Somehow I think we need to stay out of the middle of this property! And accessing across those gulleys is not something my knees can handle.

    BPwy.JPG
     
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  2. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Nee to know when the breeding part of the rut there?hen do you start hunting there?
     
  3. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    We have started hunting about second weekend in November (Youth weekend)
    Rut is early to mid January. Alabama rut is pretty confusing (I guess from imported whitetail) but I am right at the blue circle in center of state
    Capture.JPG
     
  4. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    My first thought is creating new trails on the western and eastern sides to give yourself more low impact access. Without knowing the topography it's hard to really say where to place stands but based on the edges in this aerial, I would probably place stands in these locations....
    [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
     
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  5. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    The terrain is one of my major handicaps with the area. The deep gulley limits reasonable access to the North West woods. My initial idea for new stand locations is VERY similar, accessing from the outside and trying to stay away from the center of the property.
    BnPd.jpg

    In this setup stands 1 and 4 would get most of the attention, simply because of access. Stand 3 really has no easy access at this point but I have always like that little set of woods. The blue lines show either year round springs or rain water paths. The soil is sandy, SANDY loam and thus the gulleys along those blue line. The stream near 3 is good flowing year round and not the total gulley wash out as the others. It is a beautiful spot and really that stand could be closer to the stream.

    Yellow lines show some paths I want to create thru the gulley from the 10 acre clear cut on the west side.
     
  6. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    Now seeing where those creeks run, stand 3 looks like a killer spot! I would probably move it slightly closer to the creek but that is a lot of edge all congregated in fairly close proximity. Good luck to you with whatever you decide!
     
  7. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    lak...Any possibility you can post up a pic showing top lines?
     
  8. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    This is about it. Got some hills and valleys
    bptopo1.jpg
     
  9. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    lak...Here's the only advice I'll offer and I'm by far, not even close to an expert on setting up a property, so take my advice for what it's worth. If I remember correctly, you have around 100 acres. I have just under 300 acres. I'm a believer in the Paul Knox (rest in peace), school of thought...Have at least one destination plot for every 80 to 100 acres with something growing in it year round that will draw deer in to it 365 days a year. Destination plot should be large enough to accommodate multiple doe groups using the plot at the same time without causing stress among the doe groups, i.e., a dominant doe trying to run other doe groups out of the field. I've slowly been working toward this goal since 2014 with very good results. I have 3 destination plots and several micro plots but the destination plots is where I put most of my effort.

    My largest of the 3 destination plots is now 6 acres. When I thin again, I will increase the acreage to closer to 10 acres. I use Paul's year-round mix in it - perimeter planted in perennial clover and the interior in grains n brassicas each fall. I have doe groups in it every day and one of my primary interior roads runs right along the NW edge of this plot which means that most rides or walks to other stand locations carries us right by this plot and many, many times, deer will bust out of it but be back within short order.

    Here's a pic of what this plot looked like after I had it enlarged by removing a couple of rows of pines on each side and clear cutting an acre in the southwest section of the plot at last thinning. You can see the burn piles in this pic after I had heavy equipment come in and remove the stumps and debris from thinning.
    Bean Field.JPG

    Here's my strategy for this destination plot that should work for you in either the bull pen area or the clear cut in the SW of your property:
    • Soft mast bearing trees in the corners. I have 4 kieffers and 8 apple trees (Arkansas Black n Yates), along with several native persimmon. My fav are the persimmons. They bear every year and deer devour them. Pears not so much - they seem to almost always catch a late frost that kills many of the blooms. Still waiting on my apples to produce. I'll prolly add more native persimmons.
    • Perennial clover all around the perimeter of the plot. I use Regal Graze ladino and Durana. With decent rain in the late summer it puts out growth this far south year round. It is my favorite low maintenance, year-round food source for deer. And they are in it throughout the year.
    • Interior of plot is planted in grains n brassicas in the fall. The grains last thru spring then I just mow a couple of times before the following fall. Wheat has become my favorite grain over the past 2 years. It doesn't grow as tall as rye when it seeds out.
    • 2 water holes - one in NW corner and one about 2/3 down in SW area.
    • Mineral sites off the edge on each end.
    • Plenty of bedding and cover surrounding the plot. Thinned pines produce more cover than deer can use. It's so heavy, I actually bush hog trails from the S of the plot back toward the hardwood draws. I watched so many deer enter and exit from these cleared trails this past season. Just inside the tree line all around this plot is a plethora of forbs - honeysuckle, black berry, dog fennel and all manner of other stuff I don't even know the name of.
    • Supplemental feeding if you're inclined to do so. I have a Double D 300 lb trough that we keep filled with protein pellets and/or corn depending on time of year. Nothing during turkey season.
    Once you have your destination plot in then work out from there with hinge cutting, (RC's per dogghr's strategy), blocking trails with cleared paths to hunt back inside the woods coming and going into the field and some fallow areas that are just thick n nasty for bedding and cover.

    That's my .02 worth. Get you one huge plot that has enough room and food for deer to use every day of the year and then build your plan around that plot.
     
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  10. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Lak, take everything stated here with a grain of salt as I am only familiar with this property and I did hire Steve B to design it for me so I knew that I am not an expert. Still though there are some areas where deviating from the intended plan worked out well for me. So with that disclaimer in mind here is my take. I really like the shape of the right hand plot, and the screening along the town road access. Your stands were likely in the most active places on the property when they were put there. My experience with stands is that if thirty deer are seen on day 1, then maybe 15 deer will be seen on day two and eight on day three and maybe a button buck after that. This happens over and over here when hunting the most active stand sites even if zero deer showed any hint that they were onto me. A three week rest will rejuvenate the activity but not to the height it was in the beginning. This has been especially so with the most active locations on the property; they tend to alert deer to your hunting activity not only on the way in and out but also any deer downwind of you pegs that the stand is again in use and somehow even some of deer crossing upwind of you seem to figure out they are being hunted. So assuming that you have trespassers and loose dogs completely under control and there is not a lot of neighbor line hunting pressure then the pressure that brings the deer from daytime active to mostly night time active would be from the hunting activities on your property.

    Most years we do shoot does and the best way for us has been to have a doe shooting plot as close to the town road access as is legal. We do not attempt to hunt bucks from that plot. We take the first right doe that comes out and the plot is small so they are mostly easily shot to drop in their tracks. Minimal ground is disturbed when we doe hunt that way. Note; even a properly placed arrow shot at the correct angle will drop them fairly close. Conversely if we wait to see if a buck is coming out and then at the last minute take a doe out of the dozen or more that may have accumulated in the plot at that time then that is just educating too many deer at once and possibly including the buck who may be watching from just inside the woods line. If we do think a target buck may be coming out then we wait and do not shoot a doe that evening but rather sneak out without educating them all. Still we would expect to see no more than half of the deer the next day.

    So we break up the property to a very small doe hunting area and a buck hunting area and of course the buck hunting areas have the most food plots though those plots are seldom hunted, the best cover around, are not right against the road and comprise the majority of the property acreage. The doe shooting stands would be just inside the screening that borders your road if legal,overlooking tiny clover/grain plots even as small as roadways. And that would be the only hunting that we would do on the property until the rut. Kid weekend could even possibly be done on public land because the public land may be just as good as private land on that opening weekend since neither will have been hunted yet.

    If not there already I'd build a perimeter access road around the property following the perimeter property lines. Wide enough for the ATV or a small tractor will do just fine and from there a whole lot of cameras would be placed on trails before the 2019 season and not checked until after the rut. Buck Hunting in 2019 would concentrate mostly around the edges from the ground mostly and no one stand/sit location would be hunted twice. Hunting the upper 3/4 of the property on just the best peak rut days should limit the pressure so as not to end up with night time only activity on the property. How the deer travel to avoid your current stands and also to keep themselves hidden is fairly predictable but seeing it on trail cams is more of a certain way to see what is really happening there. Armed with that intel, I would then make a plan to reshape the property as needed and mount new stands by spring 2020. Again the best most active locations would be hunted only during peak rut.

    That is what works here and we all know all of our properties are very different. The difference in rut dates between our locations is amazing and could make everything we do here irrelevant to your property. So as I said Take what is stated in this post with a grain of salt.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  11. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    When my wife is cooking a meal, especially a dessert, I can always know I will hear "Now I'm just not sure about this ......cake or pie or new casserole, etc" When I hear that my tongue starts slapping my cheek cause I know it will be good.

    Well, I feel the same way when Chainsaw or Triple C (and so many more) say "now take this ..." Thanks, guys. I really appreciate your input. This property needs a makeover and your suggestions will be taken seriously. I need to reread them a few times and will have some comments, and I am sure lots of questions.
     
  12. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Triple C, for reminding me about LC, and his approach. I need to read up on that. I think your idea of the large Destination plot is worthy and the Bull Pen is in pretty good shape to get there. You will remember that I had the big boomerang and now it can become this:
    BnP4.jpg

    I want the Clear Cut to remain nasty, but will continue to plant a small plot nearby. Thinking thru this gave me another stand location (5) to view some of big plot, but with some trimming see thru to the clear cut across the big gulley.

    I am still having trouble figuring access to Stand 3, if I put one there. It would be a beautiful sit with big woods and a small stream, but how to get there. I hear Chainsaw's idea of a 4-wheeler path all around the property but I really want to avoid messing with those east side woods at all. I think that is the most consistent entry, with deer coming from neighbor woods, and feeding right into the woods at the upper pond area. We do have a bow stand on that side that has been great early season. Stand 3 may have to be accessed via path along the big plot, but used seldom, and primarily during rut.

    As to mast, most of the woods around the Big Plot are Sawtooth oaks, as well as those near Stand 5. I have pear and chestnut coming along just north of the pond and near Stand 4. So maybe we are onto a plan.
     
  13. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    I like your idea of it being closer to the stream. That will help with my "Deer Stand Nap". Figuring an access and maintaining a goal of keeping everyone out of the middle of the property will be a challenge for this stand.
     
  14. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    lak...At the risk of thinking I'm fudging from seeing your pic, I'm posting a pic of what I was playing around with last night and early this morning before I replied. I thought...What would I do that would be the least expensive, utilize what you've already done, and accomplish as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. Eerily similar to what you drew in the pic above and posted. I added corners for soft mast trees in the darker green with clover underneath them and expanded the bull pen to include more plantable acreage for clover and grains. My thinking in looking at the area surrounding you is there appears to be no ag within miles other than what appears to be cattle pasture so no need for summer beans on your place. And the clear cut could serve as fallow bedding. Here's what I drew before seeing what you posted.
    Bull Pen.jpg
    Since you have a nice screen down by the road, I extended the area all the way to the screen to provide additional planting acreage. I'd think about clover from the screen up to parallel with the darker green lines, take out a few trees around the boomerang and have one heck of a destination plot that could be hunted from multiple locations depending on wind with trails to the west and northwest coming out of the clear cut and heavy timber to the northwest.
     
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  15. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    I like it. That area close to road, near screening, is solid fescue ( hey the bulls loved it) and I thought recently that should be something else. My neighbor has huge breaking plow and the fescue is going under!!
    And, the top dark green circle has chestnut and pear trees planted in that end of the food plot. I planted clover along with the wheat and oats. Hopefully it will get going again.

    Thanks for your suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  16. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    Just keep in mind...me giving advice is kinda like a 1st year med student telling an accomplished brain surgeon how he should be performing surgery. Hopefully there will be other, more experienced guys weigh in just as Chainsaw did and we can all learn as you finalize a plan for the Bull Pen and your property.
     
  17. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Good read Lakn. Looks like a good plan. Liked the comment of the grandpup picking out diff in the pics of the foodplot area. You prob already have done so, but you might also feather edge around that plot and form channels of entry to force your hand on their movement into and out of the plot. Might also add some small water holes within you timber. Those don't do much for me but in your hot climate, may be a good attractant.
    In addition, instead of plowing your fescue and disturbing what is prob some good OM soil, just spray heavy with Gly early greenup and then if you want run a disc lightly thru it. Bet you get some good germ from the seed bank. My have to spray a few times over several years. I've done such and get good results for devolping deer browse plants. Keep this thread posted, always enjoy your stuff. Need a pic of you jumping into that pond like the one of you into the lake. Good luck.
     
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  18. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    I enjoy these type threads. It's interesting and informative to read views from others across the country based on the unique characteristics of their properties and their own personal experiences. Kinda like dogghr's random cluster thread. I think about the varied topography on dogghr's place with huge elevation changes that dictate how one would set up their property and where they would or could place food plots and surrounding structure to influence use n travel. Seeing Geo's google earth views of his new place in KY and Whipoorwill's aerial he posted in his thread that looks similar in topography to Geo's aerials reminds me that habitat management is never a one size fits all endeavor. It’s unique to each property.
     
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  19. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    Really appreciate your input to this thread as I try to redo the Bull Pen approach. You are so right about the differences of terrain and environment across the country, but amazing at everyone's willingness to contribute (always with those disclaimers "now this may not work in your area").
    The Bull Pen area has water, normally has some great sawtooth acorns early October, and then some pretty good food plots. What's missing? Very likely it is the feeling of security to walk out into those plots. As I think thru this I am more convinced that I will have two shooting houses positioned at easy access from the road, and keep folks out of the center of the property. The Bull Pen is surrounded by beautiful hardwood hills and bottoms. The deer have plenty to check out during the daylight hours and venture into bull pen only at dark. We've got to give them some safety feeling, and that may take awhile, as even in the summertime most pictures are at night.

    I looked again at your picture, of the large active plot that you drive by to other stands. Are most of the surrounding woods pine? I know you have some hardwood areas and beaver bottoms, but looks like pine closest to that plot.
     
  20. lakngulf

    lakngulf Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your suggestions. One question: Why will turning the fescue under and then hitting it with a tiller not preserve the OM? I had rather do that than spray, and maybe put some corn and soybean in it this year, along with some Egyptian Wheat near the road for extra screening.
     

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