Sweat Equity: Fertilizer Foundation for GIANT DEER

Turkeys, deer and other wildlife will appreciate the hard work you put into it and you will, hopefully, enjoy a successful hunt.

By Jason Houser

As much as we autumn-time deer hunters would like to throw some fertilizer under an oak tree and a few weeks later, have it rain to see results, acorns will cause many hunters to be disappointed. The first or even the second fall after you begin fertilizing will not produce exceptional amounts of acorns. It is usually the third fall before hunters start seeing results from their hard work. But even on the third fall, things can go wrong and you can have very low, if any acorns.

When deciding what trees to fertilize, my first choice is white oaks, followed by red oaks. White oaks are preferred by most wildlife because they not as bitter tasting as reds. However, if white oak trees are not available, deer, turkeys and other wildlife will have no qualms eating acorns from red oaks.

Finding the best oaks could be as simple as taking a look at the area you hunt from a distance. It will not be hard to pick out the tallest oaks on the property. These big, tall oaks that stand higher than everything else in the forest will receive the most sunlight, therefore, allowing them to produce a lot of mast (as much as 20,000 acorns). Oak trees do not have to be in the woods to work as a feeding station for deer. For example, many cattle pastures have oaks growing by their lonesome selves. Because of their solitude from other trees, they have the potential to produce an abundance of acorns.

Fertilizing trees is actually a simple task once you have decided what trees to fertilize. I recommend using a granular fertilizer of 13-13-13 in the spring though fertilizer spikes made especially for fruit or shade trees from any nursery work well too. Follow the directions on the packaging.

A good fertilizer program can result in a bountiful crop of acorns.

If using granular fertilizer, use two pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of crown (leaf shadow looking straight down). Say, the tree you are fertilizing has a crown of 90 x 90 feet, which is 8,100 square feet; the tree will need about 16 pounds of fertilizer. For best results, apply the fertilizer at the tree’s drip line to within five feet of the tree’s trunk. The drip line is the outer edge of the tree’s limbs. If the area has a lot of leaves and other types of debris on the ground, rake it away before applying the fertilizer. For even spreading, use a hand spreader to apply the fertilizer.

Typically, it takes until the third crop before you see an increase in acorn production. And, depending on a number of things, things such as freezing temperatures and winds during the early spring flowering stage, such factors can prevent a good acorn crop for that year. Or, maybe, the trees did not produce mast for that year. Hopefully, you have fertilized enough trees so if a couple of trees do not produce, you have standbys.

Also, all I have talked about is the effects of what fertilizer has on oak trees. The same techniques I have described for fertilizing the white oak will also work for other mast trees, both hard and soft. These trees are the red oak, sawtooth oak, Chinese chestnut, persimmon, apple, and crabapple and pear trees. You don’t have to have a green thumb to make a difference in what is available for wildlife to eat. All that is required is patience and the desire to attract deer to where you desire.

There are several ways a landowner can learn more about habitat management. One of those ways is through Donnie Buckland, NWTF private lands manager: dbuckland@nwtf.net. Secondly, QDMA has some great information on habitat management and even offers hands-on courses that are jam-packed full of information.

 

New Deer Tracker Mobile App is Effective and Free

deertracker

In the interest of helping every hunter learn more about their hunting area, QDMA and Powderhook a new free App called “Deer Tracker that allows hunters to monitor deer activity and harvests in their neck of the woods and across the country.  QDMA and Powderhook hope to use the data generated as part of a long-term research project aiming to improve the deer hunting experience for new hunters and experts alike.

Highlighted features of the app include a heat map optimized for daytime deer movement. Brian Murphy, CEO of QDMA says, “It’s set up that way for an important reason. “While hunting the rut gets the most attention, research confirms that the peak of the rut often is not the best time to harvest a deer,” said Murphy.  “There are plenty of windows before and after the rut that can be good times to see deer moving.  Thus, we set up our heat map to indicate the likelihood of a hunter seeing a mature deer during shooting light.”

Other features include observation and harvest reports, though the app makes it impossible to pinpoint the exact location of a single report, allowing the hunter to keep his secret spot secret.  Powderhook CEO Eric Dinger said, “Deer hunters will appreciate the ability to contribute to the overall improvement of deer hunting while not having to give up any of their personal information.”

“As a deer hunter, the last thing I want to do is give someone the specific location of where I’m hunting. So, we don’t use pins, and our heat map blurs the user’s location by anywhere from 10 to 30 miles,” said Dinger.

Deer Tracker is a free app, thanks to partnership support from Cabela’s, Hunting Lease Network, SITKA Gear, and Bushnell.  According to Dinger, “Each partner played an important role by contributing to the design of the app.  Deer Tracker contains several hundred reporters we call Insiders and these individuals are field employees and pro staff members of our partner brands.”

Dinger adds, “Their feedback and on-going participation in the app helped us get to where we are today, and Insiders will continue to add insightful reports people can rely on.  Users of the app will notice the logo of the Insider’s affiliated company on the reports that these individuals generate.”

While the app is free, users are able to upgrade the app for $2.99 to include Powderhook’s database for over 500,000 public hunting grounds.

“Hunters play the biggest role in conservation efforts across this country through purchasing licenses, firearms and ammunition,” said Lindsay Thomas Jr., QDMA Director of Communications. “These days, a hunter may only have limited time to prepare for and plan a hunt. We want to ensure they have the greatest opportunity for an enjoyable time in the woods, so they continue to carry on our hunting heritage.”

Deer Tracker is available for download through the Google Play and Apple App stores and can be accessed without the app via www.deertrackerapp.com on desktop devices.

About the author: Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com, an app built to help people hunt and fish more often.  He can be reached at eric@powderhook.com.  Powderhook’s mission is Access for All. That means access for new hunters, anglers and shooters; for parents and their children; for neighbors who haven’t been out in the field for years; and for you. Powderhook works with the nation’s leading conservation organizations, retailers and manufacturers. The Powderhook platform is bringing our industry together to solve some of its most important problems.  Powderhook is about outdoor recruitment, retention, reactivation and access, from the creators of Powderhook.com