October 22, 2010
Bestul: Corn on the Ground!
By Scott Bestul
It’s the peak of harvest here in the Upper Midwest, and farmers are combining fields at a pace I haven’t seen in many years. The annual grain harvest is always exciting in farm country, and it usually means good news for deer hunters. Here’s why:
As the harvest progresses, more and more cover is removed. A certain percentage of deer will basically live in standing corn for months, and once those stalks come down, whitetails will be forced into other bedding habit; usually woods, brush and CRP fields. This typically concentrates deer and puts them into environments where it’s easier to hunt them. Also, picked cornfields can become a whitetail feeding mecca, as deer focus on waste grain missed by the combine. Hunting a cornfield in the first week after combining can be truly exciting.
But there’s a downside to the fall harvest, too. Farmers in my area quickly follow combining with chisel plowing, essentially eliminating the attractiveness of a cornfield to deer. Stubble and waste grain now lie under dirt, and whitetails have to be truly hungry to waste time searching for odd kernels in a plowed field. Once the plows come out, I know I better have nearby backup food sources nailed down or I’m going to be scrambling to find deer.
So how’s the harvest coming in your area? And do farming practices there hurt or help your hunting? Anxious to hear your thoughts!