John’s Note: Longtime deer hunter Michael Ahlfeldt of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, took his bow buck of a lifetime in 2010. To accomplish this goal, he first learned how to locate a piece of property with the potential to produce a trophy bow buck, how to manipulate the habitat on that property to hold a trophy buck, how to find that trophy buck and hunt him, and how to successfully take that trophy buck. This week, Ahlfeldt will show us the steps he took that you can follow to take the buck of a lifetime with your bow.
After spending time scouting for land to hunt in Ohio (see Day 1), Michael Ahlfeldt and his friends found a 235-acre lease they felt had the potential to produce a trophy bow buck.
Ahlfeldt says, “First, we set-up a food plot and Wildgame Innovations trail cameras www.wildgameinnovations.com to learn what types of bucks lived on the property. Although these cameras produce videos, as well as still shots, I’ve never used them in the video mode. I prefer to have still photos instead of video. We planted our food plots in early July and began putting-out trail cameras as soon as we’d established our food plots. We saw the bucks coming to those food plots and the types of antlers those bucks were growing during the summer months. From the trail-camera photos, I saw the buck of my dreams and named him Big Louie.”
Ahlfeldt was able to get daytime and nighttime photos of Big Louie while the buck was in the velvet and growing his antlers. Ahlfeldt and his friends chose this 235-acre piece of land to lease, because on the center of the property, there were 35 acres of woods in-between several overgrown crop lands that had been taken out of production. They got permission from the landowner to plow and plant green fields in some of those overgrown fields. They knew the deer living there had cover and soft-mast crops and grasses to feed-on in the overgrown fields and hard-mast food in the hardwoods. So, if they added green fields, they not only would provide additional food for the deer, but they’d have opened up areas where they could hunt.
“We decided to make those 35 acres of hardwoods a sanctuary for the bucks that we never would violate except to trail a wounded deer,” Ahlfeldt explains. “Rather, we’d hunt the outer edges of the hardwoods and the trails leading to our green fields. There also were some woods on the outer edge of the property we decided to hunt. That year, we only had enough money to build three food plots on the property we’d leased. One of the food plots had 1-1/2-acres, and the other two were only 1-acre each. But we invested in trail cameras and set them up on the food plots and the trails leading to the food plots and coming out of the wood lots, including our sanctuary food lots and the wood lots on the outer perimeter of our property. We planted Mossy Oak BioLogic (www.plantbiologic.com) in our food plot. We saw how well the food plots that Mark and Terry Drury planted with BioLogic had produced deer, so we decided to use the same green-field plantings they used.” But when the green fields were only 2- to 3-inches high, the area of Ohio where Ahlfeldt and his friends had leased land experienced a severe drought. However, in spite of the drought, their food plots still produced a pretty-good crop.
* find a piece of property to lease that you can control that has hard mast, soft mast and cover;
* check with the landowner to make sure you can manipulate the habitat by planting green fields before you lease the property;
* select a green-field planting that can withstand droughts or floods;
* establish a portion of your property as a sanctuary where deer will feel no hunting pressure, which will give the deer a place to escape from hunting pressure where they know they won’t be harassed;
* use trail cameras to census the deer herd on the property you lease by putting out the trail cameras during the summer months, so you can see the bucks’ antlers as they grow; and
* decide which bucks you want to take during the upcoming bow season, and from the trail cameras, learn the trails those bucks travel on when they’re moving.
To learn more about deer hunting, you can get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here to get these books.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.