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Absentee Landowners and Successful Land Management

It seems that with us mired in a buyer’s market, those that can are investing in recreational properties in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Many of the investors live from a few hours away from their recreational properties to even in different states. This poses several potential problems for these absentee landowners. But with a little planning and effort, absentee landowners can still maximize their land for deer, turkey and waterfowl.

While there are a lot of variables, including type of land, location, etc. Absentee landowners in the Carolinas and Georgia can still enjoy outstanding deer hunting, turkey hunting and waterfowl hunting. If you add to the equation feral hogs, predators and doves, its possible to use your land for many more seasons than just deer and turkey.

Perhaps the biggest issue absentee landowners’ face is that of trespassers. Keeping others off of your hard worked land is difficult when you live a distance away. In South Carolina, we have through cooperation with the Department of natural Resources a “Property Watch” program. If your property is registered in this program, signs are posted and game wardens will patrol your land with the caveat that any trespassers found must be prosecuted by the land owner. While this is not a sure fire method of keeping out trespassers it sure helps. Another method and probable a better one is getting to know your neighbors and establishing good report with your adjoining landowners. Nothing beats someone there to keep out those that are not invited.

Second is the ability to properly work your land to maximize its efficiency. Its difficult to prepare, plant and maintain food plots when you live hours away. This is where low maintenance plots, and alternate food sources are essential to success. Planting perennials like clover and native warm season grasses will help the wildlife, and the landowner. Couple this with plantings of soft mast crops such as apples, persimmon, pears, honeysuckle, muscadines and the maintenance is minimal but the benefits are enormous.  Where hard mast is present, specifically white oaks, red oaks and others, reducing the competition with these essential trees will increase production.

Game Camera surveys will help absentee landowners know exactly what is on their land and the time of day they are being used. By taking some time run camera surveys (Where legal) landowners can not only get a fairly accurate account of the amount of deer and other game, but also identify certain ones for harvest.

Lastly, absentee landowners tend to hunt their ground in spurts, a weekend here, and a long weekend there. Stand placement is crucial in this scenario. The opportunity to relocate is minimized so post season scouting and preseason scouting is essential to placing stands in the best possible locations. By using aerial photographs, topographical maps and some boot leather. Setting stands for every possible wind direction will help hunters know for sure where to hunt and when.

A method used by Chad Simpson to maximize his opportunities is taking detailed wind directions when setting up a stand. Simpson will set a stand and while sitting in it use a compass to determine which winds are best for this stand. Writing it down and cataloging it for future hunts. Then while hunting and noting the direction deer approach the stand can be adjusted for future years. “We have stands for every possible wind direction.” Simpson says adding that “When I get here, I don’t want to be surprised by an abnormal wind and have no place to hunt. While some stands hunt the same area, just different winds, others are located in totally different areas.” This allows him to hunt regardless of the conditions.

If there is a benefit to being an absentee landowner its two fold. First it you have property is different areas you can hunt. Often in areas that have a long history of producing trophy bucks. Secondly is the amount of pressure placed on the land. When the land is hunted weekly, or in some cases several times a week, the deer become more difficult to hunt. With Absentee landowners, the pressure is minimized and controlled in blocks of time. Simpson sets aside a few weekend and one week to hunt his land that is located three hours from his home. “I know through records I’ve kept over the years when is the peak time to harvest the bigger deer. I always set aside that week (Over a long weekend) to go and hunt hard during that time.”

Absentee landowners is for many a necessity. Jobs and family commitments keep them in certain locals, but their hunting land is a great distance away. This shouldn’t prevent them from getting the most from their land. By employing these and other tactics, you can get the most from your land.