As a whitetail hunter, most of the time we spend in the stand is by ourselves. But, almost all of us share our passion and experiences with a close group of friends or surrounding land owners. With the increasing interest in managing your property for whitetails, the idea of a hunting cooperative is even more common. A hunting cooperative is when you work with surrounding landowners to manage your properties using QDM. To help you understand how to make the most of a hunting cooperative, here is our approach to using a hunting cooperative to make your hunting better.
Building A Plan
The first thing that you need to do is work with everyone in your cooperative and building an overall plan. There are three things that you want to be a part of that plan. They are limiting yearling buck harvest, limiting pressure, and keep doe populations within carrying capacity. These are things anyone can do on a property by themselves, but if you do it together in a cooperative you can impact a larger area.
One benefit of creating an overall plan is that it helps you create a like minded philosophy about the hunting that will take place on the property. This is important because you will be “sharing” deer. You are all working together so that you can have better hunting, not just so you can have better hunting. Also, use trail camera photos to establish the “target” bucks and identify what kids or first time hunters can harvest. Having these conversations now, will help eliminate any problems during the season. Once the plan is set make sure to follow the terms that you have set.
As far as habitat management is concerned, not everyone can plant the food plots. Someone needs to focus on bedding and if it is me, I would volunteer to create the bedding. If you have the bedding areas, that means that the deer are bedding on your property. With food sources, deer can use any number of them at different times. But if you can create quality bedding, especially buck bedding, you can have deer on your property pretty consistently. To create that bedding you can do things like planting native grasses or timber management.
Even though you may want to focus on bedding, you still need food to provide quality nutrition for the deer. The important thing to do with food sources is to offer a variety of different things. Having different food sources and will help create movement across the property and provides a year round food plot program for your property.
Hunting cooperatives are a great way to manage more land and create better hunting opportunites, but it needs to be done right. You can create a hunting cooperative, but if you don’t create a proper management and hunting plan, the cooperative may not work. You need to focus on the goals you create as a group, create a habitat management plan that has a proper balance of food to bedding, and also create a year round food plot program.
For more information listen to episode 017 of the Whitetail Instinct Podcast.
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