Not So Easy

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Aldo Leopold defined game management as the act of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use.

Sounds simple enough right?

As with everything that pertains to our daily lives, we tend to be happy, upbeat, and even a little boastful when things go our way. But, when things go the complete opposite as planned, we get upset, distant or frustrated, blame things on others, and even sometimes panic.

Now, what does this have anything to do with the opening statement?

Well, in my world of deer management, there is a new term that a colleague made up after one of our conversations that made me laugh.

That term is, “Wet weather food plot hero”.

Now this term was meant to be funny, not degrading in any way to anyone so let me explain why he said what he said.

This is a person, when the weather cooperates, their a tad bit arrogant about how their food plots may look.  You may know the type.  They may even brag on social media and post a picture of a beautiful clover field that you just want to swim in.  All of this because of the right timing and the right weather conditions.  I have to admit, I’ve done this to fellow colleagues trying to get a rise out of them all in due fun, but then reality sets in!

Much of this fall planting season across the Midwest at least, is going through a drought and with that happening, time is not on our side when it comes to producing quality forages. So what should you do now?

It’s closing in on September and you may have already planted or plan on getting that magic bean in the ground, but there is no rain in sight.  A sense of panic comes over you because mentally you planned on hunting over a gorgeous field of brassicas this fall.  But, with no rain in the forecast, that expectation will be quickly just a thought.

Times like these are what separate the men from the boys.  For those going through these times of panic, let me shed some insight that may get you through.

First off, expectations to a deer manager are the very thing that drives us to be successful.  It also is the very thing that can kill your hunting season mentally.  As a deer manager, you need to learn to manage those expectations and adapt to any weather condition Mother Nature throws at you. It’s as simple as that!

We all want to create the environment that Aldo Leopold talked about when defining game management.  Some years though, that goal is not reality.  Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!  I have to say those are great words to live by when it comes to holding or possibly growing deer.

Watch the weather and adapt to those conditions.  If it’s not in the cards to grow brassicas, then don’t plant them this year.  I ask you, why would you when you’re only going to mentally disappointed in the results?

A tool that should always be in a deer manager’s tool box, are forages such as wheat, rye, and oats.  These are your plan B, your fall back plan or whatever you want to call it.  Are these Brassicas, no, but what they are, are proven attractants and incredible forages that will serve your goals quite well and can be planted a little later when the rain does arrive.  Don’t get wrapped up with what others are doing and don’t treat these grain varieties as failures.

You have to remember, it’s just a deer.  I know that is taboo to say out loud, but it’s true to the fullest degree.  As I mentioned before, do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  There is always next year to fulfill your expectations, weather permitting of course.

Erich Long
DLWM

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