Managing Deer Pressure, Duck Holes and Clover for Turkeys
Bob and Suzie Smith of Lexington, Tennessee, joined the Mossy Oak GameKeepers ProStaff in May 2017, when they were recommended by another ProStaffer, Jason Patterson.
One of the limiting factors of attracting deer and holding them on your property is hunting pressure.
“We really struggle with that element of game management,” Susie said. “Last season I spent a lot of time in the Buzzard Box trying to take the Swamp Monster. However, when I was in the Buzzard Box, my Dad, who loves to duck hunt, couldn’t go duck hunting. The duck hole is at the very back of our farm. So, if someone goes in to the duck hole and comes out of the duck hole, they’re putting pressure on the deer. To solve that problem, we deer hunt early. Then we turn the duck hole over to the duck hunters, and we try to stay out of the woods until turkey season.”
“The way we hunt our land is somewhat bittersweet,” Bob said. “I love to deer hunt, and I also duck hunt. When I’m sitting on a deer stand, and I see the number of ducks falling into our duck hole, I get somewhat antsy. We’ve learned that the deer have pretty well patterned the duck hunters and the deer hunters. We’re starting to see more deer between 1-3 p.m. than we do from daylight until noon at the key travel areas and food plots. We’ve really been able to see that the deer pattern us and know where and when we’ll show up, just like we try to pattern them.”
“Besides the corn we plant for the deer and turkeys, we also plant Japanese millet in the areas that get wet the quickest during hunting season,” Suzie explained. “We’ve also started planting soybeans in with the corn. Our duck hole is about a 16-acre field that has a levee, allowing us to control the water on it. In the early season, we harvest numbers of wood ducks. As the weather becomes colder, we take a lot of mallards.”
Two years ago the Smiths planted some Mossy Oak BioLogic Perfect Plot in the fall to have some green food for the deer to eat. The clover came up in the spring for the turkeys and just exploded, so they didn’t have to replant that green field. They usually plant clover all the way around their other food plots.
During the winter months, the Smiths leave the beavers alone, since they do a really good job of building dams and flooding a large proportion of the farm. But when duck season is over, they start tearing out the beaver dams, and some of the areas that have been holding water will dry out. That’s where the turkeys usually move in and stay during the spring.
“Last year we took four toms and one jake during spring turkey season and three gobblers during archery season,” Bob shared. “Before we started managing our land, the most turkeys we had taken all season long were three gobblers.”
By Bob and Suzie Smith