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Wildlife Habitat
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Plant Natural material Branch Twig Wood

This was an early season buck I arrowed in Central Ohio Oct. 2021. I was hunting a buck bedding area that was a let go foodplot in the timber. The .25 acre opening started out as a pocket of dead ash in a pin/swamp white oak wet piece of timber with 1- .5 acre swamp and a couple other vernal pools. I cut the ash out mostly for firewood creating a nice opening. I quickly abandoned the foodplot after one year as the void actually caused the deer to avoid the area and the plot it’s self was only used by does or bucks checking the area at night. The same year I made the woodland opening I let about 6 acres of ag. surrounding the timber revert back to native vegetation through a GLY application on the pasture grass followed by a soybean planting. The soybeans were eaten by deer which trampled the seed bed resulting in a fantastic flush of natives. I planted a small foodplot in the field that I also abandoned as it was attracting only does which we’re taking up the limited available habitat.
Sky Plant Snow Natural landscape Branch

In fall of 2021 I had abandoned all the food plots and was focusing on an all cover and native forage strategy. It worked better than I could have hoped and pulled bucks all summer going into the season that never ended up leaving or dispersing until peak rut and even then most stayed very close or never left. The let go timber foodplot had flushed with a carpet of native asters the first year it was allowed to grow and filled in with spicebush intermixed with asters and a few other woodland wildflower species.

By year 4 the bucks could bed and hide in the spicebush and feed on the asters around their beds. On a walk early Oct I noted a fresh rub going into the spot and looked in there and found a few big beds with fresh rubs around them. A couple trails were leading out to the other reverted foodplot area in the field and I knew this was the X for an evening hunt early season when I could catch a cross wind. There were 2 main scrapes on the edge of the woods and a tree line that met the timber. I slid down a creek in the treeline and hung a set right off the corner 25 yards from a scrape. I saw a chilly Oct evening with a cross wind and made a move assuming at least 1 buck was using the bedding area. I ended up picking the right evening and 3 mature bucks came from the beds together about 30 mins before dark and all hit the scrape before the lead buck closed to a mere 12 yards. I made a clean shot and the bucks ran back to the bedding area and the one I shot quickly expired almost in the beds with the rubs around them. The bucks were bedding in one let go foodplot and feeding at last light in another let go food plot. This wasn’t by chance. Both areas offered vegetation that wasn’t available anywhere in the near by area and both spots also have tall vegetation serving as cover the bucks felt safe using in daylight.

The deadhead under the mount was the second buck in the bachelor group the day I shot the lead one. He put on some size last year and died in the HD kill we had early fall. He was on nearly the same pattern and I planned to hunt him opening morning coming back to his bed. Cant wait to see what the 2023 season brings and how more deer use the restored native landscape.
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