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A Day with Dr. Deer

When I first got the opportunity to own my own piece of hunting property I was as excited and hopeful as you would expect. Almost 10 years later my emotions have been like a roller coaster from the highest of high to the lowest of low. Managing those emotions and expectations versus managing hunting property have been like a vicious boxing match or a back and forth football game in which the outcome is never what you expected. Over the years I have met people who can share similar stories with me and some who seem so lucky and find success by accident. My personal stories are just that, personal,and although you may be able to relate to some of them it’s not the purpose of this story . This article is my perspective of having a professional give me advice and in the end what will I do with that advice.

On September 9, 2015 I was able to have Dr. James Kroll visit my NY property, walk the woods, review the work we have done and talk about what we missed and what we can do going forward. We were able to enjoy 3 meals together that day in between our walk and Dr. Kroll’s presentation to our invited guests. By the way, our guests included other property owners, dealers and distributors of wildlife products and management tools, as well as some friends and family. Some of Dr. Kroll’s colleagues and associates were on hand so this was like the World Series of deer people. There was so many years and “seasons” of experience there I could hardly keep my head from exploding. I had so many questions and I knew the silver bullet answer was on the tip of someone’s tongue. I knew by the end of the day I would have all the secrets exposed and be well on my way to being the best property manager I could be. In addition, The lovely and always joyful Mrs Susie Kroll was there and she was equally insightful when she commented on the beautiful landscape of the Southern Tier of NY and how relaxing it was to spend the day at “the cabin” .

After a filling breakfast the group headed out to the woods where again I could feel the secrets were all going to be revealed. We checked on the status of 2 of our Buck Forage Oat plots that hadn’t seen a drop of rain since they were planted 20 days prior. Somehow the heavy dews provided enough moisture to induce germination and they were alive. Rob Hughes from Sendero seed promised me that with a little rain they would take off and be fine. I was skeptical. Almost instantly it seemed the animals knew Dr. Kroll was there. We round a corner and there is a dozen or so turkeys feeding in a food plot. I hadn’t seen a turkey in 2 months. That Dr. Kroll must be magic! Bob Wallace from Chestnuthill Outdoors pointed out the best areas to plant an orchard of fruit and nut producing trees based on soil type and location. We continued on and Dr. Kroll was talking about the number and types of trees per acre we have and what he recommended it should be. He showed us techniques for deciding which trees were too close to others and how to optimize growth to provide better food sources for deer. Further along Dr. Kroll pointed out an area which I had overlooked as a travel corridor. He showed us where some heavy browsing was taking place. Sure enough he no sooner points that out, along with a convenient water source and a deer stands up and lopes away. If I didn’t know better I would have thought someone let it out of a cage. This guy is really in tune with these deer. After about 2 hours of walking, plant identification and ideas tossed around we headed back for lunch and prepared for the summary and the presentation.

The seminar included everyone from our small group who did the walking tour and about 30 other people who came to hear Dr. Kroll’s words of wisdom. He went right down the checklist of all the pluses and minuses of what we have, what we need to do and what we can and can’t control. He used all of his years of research and experience and applied it to our specific situation. Some of the recommendations could be applied anywhere and some of them were suited to our property in particular. All in all my brain was full and for the next few days my mind was racing with ideas and plans.

So where was the secret? The silver bullet that was going to make everything in the world make sense? Did I miss it? Was I caught up in conversation when Dr. Kroll gave the magical blessing to my property? Well the answer is never that simple. Here is what I learned.

1) You can only control what you can control. Deer are free to roam as they wish and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Provide as much natural food and deer friendly habitat as possible.

2) The government cannot be the best wildlife management tool for your property. We must educate ourselves as much as possible, share our knowledge with fellow sportsmen and landowners. Respect the land and animals as the wild things they are.

3) Have a plan. 1,3,5,10,30 year plan. Whatever you do, set short term and long term goals and measure them the best way you can. If it’s on a spreadsheet and 100 pages that’s great. If its 5 points and in your head that’s great too.

4) Bring in professionals. I am as independent as they come but its not necessary to reinvent the wheel. People like Dr. Kroll have spent their lives doing this research. It means something. Bring them in, listen and apply what you learn. It can shrink the learning curve.

5) Have realistic expectations. Be the best at what you do with what you have to work with. I think for me this is the hardest one to learn.

Having the great Dr. Deer tour my property and be able to pick his brain for a day is an experience I will treasure. Being able to hunt with my friends and family on a piece of land I can help nature to manage Is my dream come true. Dr. Kroll has a sign on the entrance to his dream in Nacogdoches TX and it reads “Welcome to our garden. God has given us this place to nurture and protect. Please give the land and animals the respect they deserve” I couldn’t agree more.

-Jamey Bohonyi, CEO of Bohonyi Corp/New Egypt Agway-

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