Buying Land : You own it, now what?
First thing is first, if you are the proud new owner of a piece of whitetail dirt let me offer up my congratulations! You’ve probably worked long and hard to get to this point, so soak it all in. Your land is now your oyster and the only restraints from here on out will be determined by you and your resourcefulness. Speaking of restraint, that’s exactly where I want to start.
It’s so easy to go into a new piece of ground and want to move mountains – but if you take one thing away from this entire article let it be this – DO NOT TRY TO BOIL THE OCEAN. Managing a piece of land for hunting is a long-term play and believe me when I say this, small bites can make big differences. Your anticipation of finally owning your own piece of land has finally come to an end and you’re in charge, but knowing what you can change is very different from knowing what you should change…especially on Day 1.
So rather than charging onto the property and leaving a you-sized hole through the wall let’s practice some restraint. Here’s a few things I have learned that may help:
1. Formulate a plan.
Start from where you want to be down the road – call it 5, 7 or even 10 years from now. If you know exactly where you want to be 5 years from now, you’ll be able to back your way into what you need to do and when you need to do it. Planning becomes much easier – both financially and mentally. Plan your work and work your plan…the results will be well worth it…I promise.
2. Look at the low hanging fruit.
What can you do currently to improve your conditions without upsetting the applecart? If you go in like a whirling dervish and just shred the place of timber, relocate food sources and muck up the bedding areas you can kiss your property goodbye for a certain period of time – just how long is hard to say. But there are things you can do beginning day one that will help – a little tweak to the entry and exit points here, a new stand or food plot there, some timber work over the hill, introduce some new seasonal forages etc. I would say these are all things you can look at that can and will improve the quality of your land and the quality of your hunt without blowing the place up. Think no-impact to low-impact until you have a firm grasp on what’s happening naturally – which leads me to my next point.
3. Be an observer, not an intruder – and keep impeccable records.
If we’re truly after an incredible experience every time we sit in a tree the best thing we can do is stay out – isn’t that great to know? The next best thing we can do is go in, but only when the animals don’t have a clue that we’re there. The only way to achieve this is to get a firm understanding of what the deer are doing, when they’re doing it, where they’re doing it and why they’re doing it – all while realizing that they’re deer and who knows why the hell they do what they do sometimes. A proper observer approaches every sit as if looking into what’s going on. Sounds easy and simple, but if you’re not keeping record of what’s happening you will quickly become overwhelmed…then you’ll slip up and make a mistake that could cost you. After each sit you should log what you see, where you see it, when you see it and what it is – good data will begin to form patterns and patterns become actionable intelligence for a smart hunter. Think of it this way – the first time it happens it’s a fluke, the second time it’s a coincidence and the third time it happens it’s a pattern. If you keep records you’ll be able to see that pattern.
You’re not doubt loaded with excitement and you’re going to want to do everything at once, but trust me when I say this – DON’T. I know way more than one landowner that has seriously screwed up a quality piece of ground by making too many changes at once. It’s their world, not yours – so recognize that and use it to your advantage. No-impact is best, low-impact is acceptable. Best of luck.