GameKeepers Emag

Gamekeepers Winter 2015

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Page 127 of 155

126 Brassicas are possibly the best winter food for several rea- sons. It's a good idea to dedicate multiple plots to this high- ly-palatable, nutrient-rich plant family. Winter Bulbs & Sugar Beets, Maximum and Deer Radish are highly-effective brassica offerings that will sustain deer through the deep freeze of late winter. Different brassicas become palatable at various times throughout the season, but you can expect consumption to happen from late summer through spring, and is an especially important food during the colder peri- ods of winter. When the green tops are cleaned away, deer will dig up the nutritious root-bulbs and will rely on this valuable, nutrient-rich food source through the trying months of Janu- ary through April (depending upon your location), often when there is insufficient nutrition. Premium Perennial, Full Draw and Green Patch Plus all contain brassicas as well as various other plants and will be utilized during late summer, through the hunting season and into winter, providing food sources for an extended period. When frost eliminates other food sources you'll want plenty of brassicas available to sustain late-season does that are bred in addition to all those rut-weary bucks. Cover Plants Does utilize cover in the winter for protection against the elements, but adequate cover is critical in the spring when fawns are most vulnerable to attack by predators. In fact, mit- igating cover and plantings that provide a physical barrier and preclude predators from finding or catching fawns, may actu- ally be more effective for fawn recruitment than predator elimination. Deer have adapted over millennia to using dense cover to avoid predators, and in areas which are devoid of appropriate cover predators have a serious advantage. Along fence rows and on the perimeter of food plots, planting a dense cover blend like Mossy Oak's Blind Spot serves multiple purposes. For starters, it provides a visual barrier that protects deer from predators (both the two and four-legged varieties) and, in the late winter and early spring the remaining grass provides ample cover for fawns. This is especially critical in areas where food plots have reduced other natural cover. Native warm season grasses (NWSG) are one of the best cover types for fawning cover. Many varieties like big bluestem and Indian grass grow in clumps rather than a big conjoined clump of sod, so it gives fawns a route for escape and cover for concealment. Reducing fawn mortality is a critical step toward proper deer management, and it requires very little output. The results, however, can be dramatic, and five years from now the record-book buck you are chasing might never have been around were it not for the efforts you made to secure his health and safety today.X © Brad Fitzpatrick Predator control is important. Besides killing coyotes outright, which has minimal impact unless you significantly reduce populations over the long-term, you can plant cover that makes it difficult for these predators to find and catch fawns in the first place. © Batonchik Producing a mature buck like this "bruiser" takes years. If you hope to understand the true potential of your property you need to reduce fawn mortality. Reducing Fawn Mortality continued

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