Stone Branch

Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
After hunting deer and working habitat in midwestern farm country for 30 or so years, 20 in Michigan, then 10 in Iowa I decided to try my hand out west on public land. Colorado was a fun break but it only took a couple of years to realize that I needed to get back to hunting deer and habitat on my own ground. I missed the woods and the whip-poor-wills. After over coming then embracing the fact that Kentucky is a one buck state I started looking for my next challenge of hunting in the hills and found Stone Branch.

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I completed the purchase of Stone Branch, which is 164 acres, in February

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and began thinking about what it is going to take to make Stone Branch more attractive to deer.

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So I took my saw up the hill to a centrally located 2 acre triangular area designated in blue below.

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The area contained few oaks, a lot of red maple, and larger tulip poplar.

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I'm not a huge fan of hinge cutting but to bring down some sun to increase cover and natural browse it just seemed to be right for this spot. Here the poplars are my crop trees and were left standing.

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Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
The green area was a clearing area as recently as the 90's now covered with mostly small dead or dying ash


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so I ran fire thru it

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and sprinkled lime, fertilizer, and seeds.

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Well my first attempt at creating a food plot up on the hill was mostly a bust. It is a sunny green spot but the weed seeds already there took over.

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I have got to look under in the shade to find any of the wheat, rape, clover, or brassica seeds that I tossed out.

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ojibwa62

12 pointer
Jul 1, 2018
10,528
NOTW
Looks like many propertis in the southeast that have been select cut over the years leaving only the junk trees.

I would focus most of my food plots on the tops of ridges and flat tops if you have any. Those areas are typically easier to hunt in hilly or mountain country, our natural inclination is to put plots in the bottoms which is ok but these areas are very hard to hunt due to constantly changing winds..
I would also clear any south facing slopes and let the natural grasses and plants come back , you may have to do some controlled burns in those areas over the years to keep sapllings at bay, but over time you will create an awesome bedding area.

Good luck and you know this is a long term project you can't do it over night.
 

Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
Looks like many propertis in the southeast that have been select cut over the years leaving only the junk trees.

I would focus most of my food plots on the tops of ridges and flat tops if you have any. Those areas are typically easier to hunt in hilly or mountain country, our natural inclination is to put plots in the bottoms which is ok but these areas are very hard to hunt due to constantly changing winds..
I would also clear any south facing slopes and let the natural grasses and plants come back , you may have to do some controlled burns in those areas over the years to keep sapllings at bay, but over time you will create an awesome bedding area.

Good luck and you know this is a long term project you can't do it over night.

Thanks oj when I revisited this site yesterday and got the notion to join and post up, I did so thinking that you would be the person that I would get to talk habitat with here in Kentucky. I appreciate the input.

As I was working my blue 2 acre hinge cut I came to the little brown area with in the blue area. This spot was mostly void of any of my crop poplar trees

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so I got the notion to make a little clear cut.

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I started off burning the debris

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but on day two of the burn I decided to use the debris to make a dozen bunny houses surrounding the clear cut.

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I picked up sticks then burned any leaf litter that I could get to burn and sprinkled lime, fertilizer, rape, and wheat.

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A much better end result at creating a food plot this time. The plot is .2 acres, not a kill plot, I'm just feeding and steering deer into my kill zone.

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ojibwa62

12 pointer
Jul 1, 2018
10,528
NOTW
I don't claim to know it all , but I know a good bit. lol
Several guys on here that are knowledgeable.

What I don't know I will look up in the various books I have most written by whitetail biologists..

The basics of property management are pretty much the same from most professional land managers , deer need Food, water and cover to hang around and they need age to grow big antlers.
 
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ojibwa62

12 pointer
Jul 1, 2018
10,528
NOTW
One thing you will run into especially on the ridge tops is poor soil, never clear the table try and have something growing all the time.. initially you may need some lime and fertilizer but over time you won't, plant things that will amend the soil when they breakdown try and plow, harrow or till as little as possible you want those microbes and Earth worms working for you.
 

Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
That plot came out REALLY nice !!!

Thanks bowhunter.

One thing you will run into especially on the ridge tops is poor soil, never clear the table try and have something growing all the time.. initially you may need some lime and fertilizer but over time you won't, plant things that will amend the soil when they breakdown try and plow, harrow or till as little as possible you want those microbes and Earth worms working for you.

I'm with ya, I originally thought about bringing the bulldozer up and wreaking havoc and then I thought not deciding to work with what is already there and not disturb the soil to such a degree. I like to use plants like ground hog radish to work and amend soil. the area in black is just such an area.

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A lot of smaller sugar maples here I started by running fire thru to see what I could top kill.

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After waiting a while to see I went in and selected the best smaller sugars to keep and hit the rest with my hack hammer and a %20 solution of glysophate. I also hacked a bunch of big ugly red maples like these.

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So as much of the canopy dies off more and more sun light makes it to the ground.

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Still not enough light to grow my little brassica plants very well but better. There should be a least some food on the ground by the end of the growing season.

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ojibwa62

12 pointer
Jul 1, 2018
10,528
NOTW
I like the back a squirt, the tree dies and let's light to the forest floor new growth comes up. As the tree dies the branches fall of first the whole tree normally doesn't come down all at once..

If you do bring a dozer in to clear make sure always push the piles up hill, you will lose less topsoil this way..

Looks like you have a decent road system..
 

Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
Some one said to me when I first bought my property "I hope that you like snakes". I told him "I do". Well it seems that my snake habitat doesn't need much improvement. I was concerned about my little 18 month old puppy getting bit so on 4/29 I introduced him to the first rat snake of the year that we found and it taught Tank about the business end of snakes by tagging him on the nose.

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Tank has had several subsequent encounters and he now understands.

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A couple of hours later on 4/29 up on the ridge I found this Boone and Crocket specimen. I measured it on the hoof to be over 60".

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I found this one on 6/5 about 10 yards up the hill from the outhouse.

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My first guest to my new building let it self in through the open door on move in day. I rehomed him.

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I found one more a couple of weeks ago in one of my lower food plots while I was spraying it.

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ojibwa62

12 pointer
Jul 1, 2018
10,528
NOTW
Not a fan of poison snakes , I know snakes have a place but why did God have to make poison ones they give me the Willies.

Thankfully there are less poisonous snakes in KY then there were in GA.
 

rlb165

12 pointer
Dec 10, 2001
2,126
.
Stone Branch, Welcome to our site!
I’m really looking forward to seeing the improvements you make on your place here in our great state.
I was really impressed with the amount of detail you included in your forum posts and YouTube videos about your Iowa property.

I’m curious to hear if you’ve noticed any major deer-related differences between your KY land, and your previous properties.

Again, Welcome!
 
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Stone Branch

10 pointer
Jun 27, 2019
1,424
Lewis county, KY
Those are some healthy copperheads! If it were my farm, it would have 4 less... But to each their own.

If one takes out puppy I may come to change my mind. When I found the first big one up on the ridge the thought of taking his hide did come to mind.

Not a fan of poison snakes , I know snakes have a place but why did God have to make poison ones they give me the Willies.

Thankfully there are less poisonous snakes in KY then there were in GA.

Sounds like you best wear shoes in Ga.

Stone Branch, Welcome to our site!
I’m really looking forward to seeing the improvements you make on your place here in our great state.
I was really impressed with the amount of detail you included in your forum posts and YouTube videos about your Iowa property.

I’m curious to hear if you’ve noticed any major deer-related differences between your KY land, and your previous properties.

Again, Welcome!

Thank you for the welcome rlb. Me and the deer are still getting acquainted but deer are pretty much deer where ever you look.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Hope to see more

U bet carnivore.

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So far I've shown a bunch of cut over junk woods but there are a lot of good trees too. My second visit on October 1st I walked thru the junk out on to the ridge in the purple area to find some oaks uncut during the last cut back in the mid 90's, mostly chestnut oak with some red and whites. I figured that this was the ridge top hunting spot that I always wanted and made an offer a day or two later which was countered and accepted.

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The area in red, about 60 acres, is my designated sanctuary and here is a picture of a southern exposure within the sanctuary and a scattering of nice white oaks.

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The knob central within the sanctuary has some nice larger oaks and is thick with a lot of little oak and hickories.

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The southern exposures within the sanctuary mostly also have lots of oak with more brush such as laurel. I'm not saying that it can't be improved but it is pretty awesome cover as it is now.

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The orange area in the sanctuary is a flatter saddle

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that will get a hinge cutting. Maybe not this year but next.

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