By Brandon Wikman
To whitetail enthusiasts, the Midwest is a sacred part of the country best known for two key items: incredible agriculture and big-racked bucks.
The fertile grounds from Ohio to Iowa are covered with golden fields of rich standing corn. Acres upon acres of this carbohydrate packed crop is still clinging on to the stalks that are being harvested as we speak. This is remarkably pleasant news from both the hunter and farmer standpoint. Hunters can expect deer to be back in the forest instead of hiding in the endless rows of corn, while famers are getting an early jump on the harvest season, especially after the last few years of wet and miserable weather that left them picking in late November!
The majority of last fall’s corn crop was extremely damp due to an unseasonable wet weather spell throughout the duration of the fall. A combination of too much humidity and rain dampened the equity in the fields across the Midwest. Cobs and kernels are basically worthless when the moisture count is far too high. When this happens, farmers are forced to make a difficult decision – whether to dry the corn or not. Local co-ops across the Midwest have specialized drying bins that soak up moisture in the corn, but a steep price comes along with it.
As many of us know, corn is energy-enriched food with carbohydrates, which allow deer to skyrocket energy and increase their strength to survive during the ruthless winter months. Food sources across the northern plains become severely slim when snow plasters the ground and ice blankets atop. It truly becomes a brutal battle for survival of the fittest in the deer world, but also with turkey, rabbits, and other ground bearing critters. There’s nothing more palatable to a whitetail than a mouthful of kernels. Custom food plots that hunters prepare during the fall season are usually torn up and devoured by this time, but not when it comes to hundreds of acres of corn.
Whitetail often bed, feed, and live in large fields of corn throughout the fall and winter months. Mature whitetails feel extremely comfortable and secure in the confinement of cornrows. They feel even more safeguarded if the field is weedy. An overgrowth of vegetation inside the field makes for a whitetail haven. Densely choked fields strangled in weeds and tall grasses attract much more deer than clean and tidy ones. Deer always feel much more safe in dense and heavier cover. Hunters must make no mistake in finding high spots, wet areas, or places where the planter has plugged up to find the best bedding sites.
Alterations and contours in landscape such as slopes provide deer a vantage point to spot oncoming predators. It’s critical to focus on any slight alterations in the terrain when finding the hottest bedding sites. During the fall, when winter hasn’t frozen any open watered mud holes, find them! These places found in lower areas of the field works wonders when high temperatures scorch into the upper 80’s and 90’s. Deer will often stretch their legs during the midday to sip a cool refreshing gulp of water. Lastly, farmers often plug up their planter when lying seed on the ground. This makes a cluster of tall corn that masks deer while bedding. Animals use the same instincts in the corn as they would in the forest.
Thanks to Mother Nature, whitetails won’t have the luxury of finding refuge in safe havens of cornfields. This will get them back into the woods where they belong, making them a much easier prey for both archers and gun hunters alike.