Winter Herd Management as a Family

My favorite time of the year besides deer season is in the long winter months getting to know the herd of deer still sustained here on our property. We have a thousand acres to manage, and hundreds of deer to keep healthy and protected. By the end of February, we are heavy into our feeding program here in Minnesota. As a family we like to go out and feed the deer, check cameras, and check the tracks!

Chanda's son Gavin- out helping the family... and the deer. Chanda's son Gavin- out helping the family... and the deer.

 

Unfortunately here in Northern Minnesota we have a high wolf population that like to attack our deer herd. So we have to take in consideration where, and how we place our feed. Last year alone we feed almost 5000 pounds of a corn/grain mix. We placed our stations near open fields, by main trail systems, and close to any possible moving water. This will give the deer at least the chance of seeing their predators and have an escape route. We also make sure that we are running main trails and side trails with snowmobiles or track machines keeping those pathways packed down.

Maintaining trails is a big part of winter deer feeding. Maintaining trails is a big part of winter deer feeding.

 

As we monitor the right spots we set up our trail cameras. We make sure that moving grass or sunlight won’t trigger pictures. In the cold Minnesota winters it so important to save on your battery life as much as you can! Placing them in north facing views, works great! Now the fun part…

We go out to check feeding stations about once every week or so. With us we bring all the necessities that we will need, including something for the kids to do and eat! My kids love this part! We make an afternoon of going out into the big woods and looking for all sorts of tracks. Even though it’s a necessary part for us to know what is out there, it is very fascinating to kids! With the world of smart phones it’s always great to Google the animal so the kids relate that animal with that track. It’s amazing that my four year old can actually tell the difference between different animal tracks! The kids love to be involved and help out feeding the deer. But what’s most important is that we can do our work, and educate our kids all in one afternoon!

Some Northern Minnesota deer who appreciate the extra food. Some Northern Minnesota deer who appreciate the extra food.

 

Once back from the afternoon, we all gather around the laptop with anticipation of what we all will see! This is the exciting part because you will never know exactly what will come in! Through this process you actually get to know the deer and their offspring. They all start the have defining characteristics. We have had does with burs stuck in their coats, one doe had one bad leg, antlers that are broke off, and bucks that have shed one side. Really... the list could go on! We have had mountain lions, bobcats, fox, rabbits, owls, handfuls of birds, and squirrels. But some of the most fun is to see those bucks that haven’t been on camera all year, who finally decide to stick their heads out! Big and small bucks are always so exciting to see! It’s always a thrill to get a glimpse of a buck that you haven’t seen before. It can be so interesting for the kids to see that one you know is the same guy, year after year. It always reminds me how allusive they can be!

I hope this inspires most of you to get out and get the kids involved! There are so many more ways to enjoy the sport of hunting besides taking the game. #raisingthemright

Chanda Gebhardt

www.mnnorthcountry.com

facebook/mnfieldtofork

3 Comments

  • Aaron Zimmerman
    Aaron Zimmerman - March 12, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Really enjoyed this article. Awesome to see children receiving an education in the outdoors so early in life.

  • Logan Ryan

    Nothing can replace exposure to nature at an early to develop a lifelong appreciation. Trail cams and laptops certainly can make it easier!

  • Linda

    Thanks for sharing Chanda! You are a great inspiration to working moms and have done an awesome job of showing families how to find enjoyment in the work that is necessary to maintain those herds and property. Love seeing pics of your boys and watch them grow up and become great sportsmen - following in the footsteps of their mom and dad.

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