Buying a farm will make you a conservationist. Ownership is everything. I was blessed to buy a 100-acre tract of prime whitetail land 6 years ago. It is in the shape of a big “L”. and has some of the most varied terrain you’ll find in whitetail country. I’m surrounded by 900 acres of prime Black Angus pasture and the section I own is the doghair, wrinkled up aftermath of a strip mine operation nearly 100 years ago. With 4 lakes and large cattail and beaver swamps it was just what I was hoping for.
In order to access it we had to invest in a management plan that called for nearly one-mile of woods roads plus 7 food plots. That cost’s thousands of dollars but wow did it yield results. Our deer inventory has tripled and so has our buck numbers. We have had bucks walk in front of trail cameras that score B&C.
When we hunt this property, we are careful to spread out the pressure. Usually two hunters, bow only. Our goal is to take meat for the table while setting up a situation where we get to see quality bucks. My son, Cory is my prime land manager on the farm. He does the heavy lifting. We have a small Kubota bulldog 4-wd tractor that does most of the maintenance. Our food plots are graced with clover from heaven. The soil stands at 7.0 Ph and clover grows like weeds. Deer love it so we plant 80% clover and mix up the rest.
Cory set up a food plot on manmade clearing about 100 yards above our beaver dam. A perennial stream runs through the valley and the plot is a half-acre hidden on a bench we bulldozed a road to. We just planted it last May but the clover grew like an emerald in the woods. Trail cams picked up a number of bucks we hadn’t seen before including this 10-pointer. For some reason Cory decided he’s target this buck.
He sat there 3 times before the buck came in and gave him a shot. It was a pass-through and the buck, fatally wounded, charged down the mountain and headed for the cattail swamp. We estimated that the buck went down within 60 seconds. The challenge was that over half of that time he was bounding through a swamp and beaver dam.
Cory looked for that buck for a total of 6 hours that week. Finally, on the last day after dark he forged into the waist high water during a snow storm and found the buck. It had circled back to the west and hooked into deep water when he died. Cory tagged the buck, and drug it out to the side and hooked it to the quad. The meat was lost and a tag burnt but he did the right thing.
Often, we forget about our responsibility to the land we manage. That buck was the cherry on the cake. Cory’s persistence was a reflection of the responsibility he holds for the deer we are caretakers of. There will be other and bigger bucks taken from our farm but each one is a piece of the conservation dynamic we are part of.