The deer are all decked out in their summer reds (coats, that is). The fawns are driving mom crazy trying out their newfound ability to run, jump and do all the things deer do, they can outrun most predators and chomp down the occasional mouthful of green stuff. The antlers are up and out and the bucks are with their bachelor buddies. It’s time to begin counting points and waiting for fall, (aren’t we always waiting for fall) deer food is everywhere and it’s there for the taking, it’s good to be a deer in July.
Deer in July
- Not only are summer coats a different color, they are much thinner and allow deer to move more about in the heat.
- Doe family groups and bucks typically occupy different habitats in summer.
- Does with fawns are beginning to tolerate the young they drove away during fawning.
- The bucks typically stay together in bachelor groups of 2-3 to as many as 5-6.
- Antler development is well under way, the main beams are formed and individual tines are identifiable, if not fully developed.
- Both bucks and does work mineral stations heavily in summer months, minerals are thought to contribute to antler growth.
- Summer fawn’s legs are generally fast and strong enough to escape predators.
- Crossing roads and the occasional predator is the biggest threat this time of year.
- Emerging vegetation is highly attractive to deer in early summer.
- Even though July fawns will feed on foliage, most does continue to nurse them.
- Antlers in velvet are easily damaged, bucks are very careful not to damage them.
- Summer feeding patterns of most whitetails will generally shift by fall.
- Food plotters would do well to wage war on weeds in July, it keeps spring plantings growing and prepares for fall planting.
- Weeds can be handled manually by mowing or cultivating or, if you want better results with less effort, spray with herbicides.
- Mid-summer is a good time to establish trails and set fall stands, and clear shooting lanes, and do your final woods work for fall.
- Weeds feed deer and provide cover abandoned fields and overgrown spaces should be allowed to come up in weeds.
- Electric fences will keep deer out of food sources until the food is ready to be eaten.
- It’s about time to begin getting plots ready for fall planting, do the heavy work now to save time later
- It’s not too early to locate trees and shrubs that will be producing mast this fall, this is where you will hunt this fall.
- It’s not too early to put some arrows into the ten ring or sight in that new rifle, don’t wait until hunting season to practice.
- Beginning a fitness program in July will pay off this fall when it’s time to go and go some more.
- A regular routine of shooting will make a clean shot something you expect not something you hope for.
- Setting cameras now will give you an idea of who is in the neighborhood but travel patterns will most likely shift.
- Setting out too many cameras can push deer to use other areas, some deer shy away from camera activity.
- Antlers are sufficiently developed to do some early “looking” for Mr. Big stay far away and keep the pressure off.
- Don’t expect Mr. Big to be feeding in the same places in October he is in July.
- Any time is a good time to hunt predators, you can go golfing or kill a coyote.
- Are you helping your farmer friends pick up those bales of hay, a little courtesy can lead to an invitation to come back and hunt.
Early Summer is the most critical time for protein and mineral supplementation for both bucks and does as far as antler growth and fawn production. Bucks are at the time of year where they have the greatest protein requirement because antler growth is in full swing and does are at peak requirement due to milking fawns and peak lactation which is the single largest nutrient draw on the females in the herd. In addition, during the early parts of the summer while grass is still green and growing, mineral supplementation is a must because of the relatively low mineral composition of grass and the dilution effect of stage of growth. However; as vegetation begins to go dormant and plants prepare for fall and winter the concentration of mineral in plant material increases and activity at mineral sites will begin to slow or even stop. Why? Deer are getting most or all of the mineral they need from what their habitat provides. This date is region specific as to when mineral consumption will slow or stop but should be expected to occur somewhere between August and September on average. In later summer as vegetation quality continues to decrease it is important to shift the focus of supplementation to energy as bucks and does are preparing for the rut.