It is time for a November food plot gut check. November is a turning point for the majority of deer parcels across the North 1/2 of the country. While some properties are expanding daily with deer usage, others are quickly fading. Which parcel do you have?
There are 3 primary reasons your land may be making the November grade right now, or flunking out:
1. November Hunting Pressure
It doesn't matter how great your November food plot or habitat is, because it can all be quickly destroyed with an invasion of hunters. The interesting point is while many hunters blame their neighbors for a disappearing deer herd and nocturnal buck pics; most losses are self inflicted. Even on lands of 40 acres or less, whitetails quickly learn to recognize a distinct line between high and low pressure. Remember, deer will always enjoy dining in your food plots 1-2 hours before dark every night, all season long; if you let them.
2. Food Plots and Holding Cover
When it comes to quality holding cover, it isn't just the quality of the cover that gets the job done. Instead, even just marginal cover can hold daytime bedding activity if the deer are hidden. Higher stem counts, conifer, grasses and hardwood regeneration all work to increase the carrying capacity of the land, but that cover has to include 2 very important factors: Proximity to quality food and a lack of hunting pressure.
Want to establish a a high volume food plot that has some power to last well into December or later? Check out my current favorite recipe by reading, "2015 Best November Food Plot Mix".
3. November Food Plots
As a general guide, your plots should be no less than 1/2 the volume during the beginning of November, that they were in the beginning of October. Great cover and a lack of hunting pressure is important, but without food the deer herd will need to move elsewhere. Even quality daytime browse or mast is not enough to support a deer herd the entire hunting season, on most private lands.
By placing trail cams in open, high quality evening food source locations, you can effectively monitor the use of your land the entire year, let alone the season. I personally like to add a Mock Scrape to the view, to keep tabs on the entire buck herd as well. Over the years I have found it very enlightening as to when the deer herd is there or not, often times based on the volume of food in the plot, combined with the level of recent hunting pressure.
The month of November is when deer herds are either built or broken. Maintaining a quality November food plot is not only great for the priority of your habitat, herd and hunting efforts, but it is also an outstanding location to keep tabs on how your efforts are actually doing. This really is gut check time on most northern whitetail habitats, and it pays to be brutally honest with how your efforts have been.