This post was originally published mid-May in 2017. But the wisdom is timeless, and if you are paying attention can be used today. ‘Deer Hunter’s Almanac’ was created by outdoor writers & experts Craig Dougherty and Jason Ashe for the Hunting Page.
Deer Hunter’s Almanac for MAY
As May arrives so does the beginning of the fawning season. Does bred in early November will be fawning sometime in late May to early June. Count back 200 days from the peak of the rut and you can pretty much pinpoint when the majority of the fawns will be dropped. Mature does in good shape will mostly have twins, occasionally triplets, young does will often have a single. Roughly 30% of the fawns dropped will not make it to the hunting season. Fawns die from multiple causes including predators, malnutrition, disease and doe rejection.
Deer In May
Coyotes, Bears, and Bobcats do the majority of predation, fawns are most vulnerable to predation during the first two weeks of their lives
- fawns average 6-8 lbs. at birth
- does bred as 1.5 year old or older typically have twins and occasionally triplets
- newborn fawns typically can stand and nurse within 30 minutes
- fawns are capable of walking within a few hours
- does generally move their fawns away from the birthing site within 3 hours
- does with twins typically “stash” them in thick cover in separate locations
- does usually remain with 100 yards of their fawns
- fawns spend 90% of their time bedded for the first weeks of their lives
- newborn fawns typically nurse 2-3 times daily; increasing to 6-8 times over time
- nursing times average 20-30 minutes
- a 3 week year old fawn can outrun most danger
- twins are usually reunited and bed close to each other by 3-4 weeks of age
- fawns begin eating vegetation at 2-3 weeks of age
- and the best for last—the average number of spots on a fawn —300
Spring food plots are typically planted sometime around the month of May. A good time to plant is when the local farmers are working their fields and planting. They know the rhythms of nature and how to read ground.Food plots can be planted in perennials or annuals, perennials like clover cycle every year, annuals like brassicas cycle once before disappearing.
- Clover is one of the most popular food plot forages, it is easy to grow, high in nutrition, and deer love it.
- Low pH soil is unable to use all of the fertilizer applied to the plot.
- A pH reading of 7 uses almost all of the fertilizer applied is ideal for growing.
- A pH lower than 6-7 will require the addition of lime.
- Last year’s seed can be checked by placing the seed in moist paper towels for a week or so.
- Planting chestnut trees has become very popular with deer property managers.
- Mineral is used heavily by lactating does and bucks growing antlers, it should be in place by May.
Turkey hunting is a great way of getting in touch with your deer hunting property. A summer of hunting varmints will make you a better deer hunter come fall. Getting those cameras out in by May will help you keep an eye on fawn production, predation, and emerging antlers.
When setting cameras, placing a good attractant in front of the camera will pay off with increases in deer photos. If you see a noticeable increase in predators this spring, you may be in for a low recruitment year as far as fawns go. You will need to do a recruitment study come fall. This is a good time to start contacting landowners about hunting deer next fall. There is always work to be done around a farm, show up now, and volunteer to help out. Dropping off a nice mess of spring caught trout (already cleaned) can get you invited back next deer season. Wish you had a nice shooting house or two to hunt out of next November, May is a great time to build them and set them in place, the temps are mild and the days are long.
Leave those golf clubs in the closet, it’s time to start getting ready for deer season, something always needs doing.
The Deer Hunter’s Almanac was created and written by the late great Craig Dougherty. We miss his contribution and guidance here at The Hunting Page, and of course his great writing. Craig was a staple of the hunting industry for over 35 years. He and his son Neil have published books on deer management and hunting, and have written hundreds of articles and appeared on hunting TV and at countless sportsman’s events. The pair founded NorthCountry Whitetails a deer hunting and property management company, where they manage over 300,000 acres of deer hunting property for clients across the nation. visit: