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How Crop Conditions Affect Whitetail Activity

Crop rotation, plant growth cycles and other factors affect how deer relate to agriculture in an area. And those factors are constantly changing. (Joe Ogden photo)
Crop rotation, plant growth cycles and other factors affect how deer relate to agriculture in an area. And those factors are constantly changing. (Joe Ogden photo)

I stepped out of the truck as the sun crept over the horizon, lighting up the stillness of the countryside. Frost had settled hard through the starry overnight. It was Thanksgiving morning, and as I headed into the timber to pull several trail cameras, I was simply enjoying the morning while being mindful of life’s blessings.

I gazed at the bean field, which sparkled as if encrusted in diamonds. As I rounded the corner of a woods line, I noticed a farmer’s hulking red Case combine parked parallel to a stand of half-harvested double-crop beans. My mind wandered to the life of this farmer who was having trouble finishing the harvest. Rain, freezing temperatures, wind damage and death in his family had made field work trying.

If you’ve hunted whitetails long, you’ve likely seen the importance of being able to read the agricultural “tea leaves.” Here in Illinois, the type of crop planted in a given location in a given year greatly influences when and where deer feed. That, in turn, affects numerous strategic choices I make throughout the season.

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STARTING SEP 16, 2019
STARTING SEP 16, 2019