July 30, 2015
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Talk with a group of veteran deer hunting experts and you’ll often hear a very important message being preached around this time of the year.
As in being as low impact as one can be, making little, if any, intrusions while generally staying out of deer hunting properties as much as possible.
Don’t count Outdoor Channel deer hunting authority Lee Lakosky among that mix of deer hunting experts preaching that message, however.
Because Lakosky, along with his wife Tiffany, the other half of the Crush with Lee and Tiffany television crew, believe that strategic intrusion is not only acceptable, it’s actually among the best things that a hunter can do over the course of mid to late summer.
"It might seem counterproductive to what you'd normally think (to do)," said Lee. "But it really isn't."
What’s more, the Outdoor Channel deer hunting power couple residing in Crushville has the skins – and antlers – on the wall to prove their theory.
The kind of Iowa and other Midwestern big-rack bucks that prompt an excited "BBD!" (Big Buck Down!) text to each other from a well-placed treestand come each and every fall.
Now keep in mind that none of this is to say that the Lakosky's go running amuck across their properties in Iowa and other states.
“We don’t go into the deep timber, it’s the safe spot and the sanctuary area that we keep for our deer,” said Lee.
“Occasionally, there will be a time that we’ll go into the timber in the summer to check the straps on a stand, to move a stand just prior to hunting season or to put a new one up. But in general, we try to get all of that work done in March and stay out of the timber (the rest of the spring and summer).”
But beyond that, Lakosky is a big-time believer in making a little bit of racket around his deer populations as the year rolls along.
“We’re in and out of our field areas all of the time,” said Lee. “Some people say you should be as low impact as you can be around deer, but in some ways, I think totally different to that idea.”
As proof, Lakosky indicated that he, Tiffany and their crew are in and out of the couple’s deer hunting fields anywhere from two to three times per week.
“Our deer know us and see us every few days as we’re checking feeders (legal in the off-season), taking a look at cameras, etc.,” said Lee. “We’re in there for a few minutes and then we’re gone. And within five minutes after we’re gone, the deer come back in to those areas because they are used to us being there.”
As further proof, Lakosky points to many areas across the nation where deer that live in suburban areas are constantly moving into and out of homeowners' backyards as they feed, loaf and even sleep.
“At Tiffany’s mom’s place, we actually have a feeder that is set up a portion of the year (outside of hunting season) not much more than 50 yards from the door,” said Lee.
“When we first set that up at her house, there would be two or three (whitetails) that would come in,” he added. “As time went on, a few more would come in. And now, you can see as many as 100 deer there within an hour of sunset.
“There’s even been a big 170-class buck that has been feeding in the yard and they’re bedding all over the place in nearby areas. They’re so used to her coming and going that they will hardly run from the feeder now when she drives her car in and out. They just get used to (all of) that.”
In a similar fashion, Lee and Tiffany want the deer on the properties that they deer hunt on to also get used to the presence of human beings.
"Whether it's July or December, nothing ever really changes on our farms pressure wise," said Lee. "We keep consistent pressure on our properties so that the deer experience nine months of pressure coming onto the farms without any harm to them (the deer).
"That way, when we get to the three months of hunting season, nothing changes."
As another example, Lee points to one state that the couple has hunting property in, the big-buck rich-state of Wisconsin.
"On a lot of farms up there, the deer don't see anything all year long and then the pumpkin patch (hunters wearing hunter safety orange) comes out when the hunting season starts," said Lee.
"On day one (of the season), you see plenty of deer. But by day two, it's a completely different story as deer almost (completely) disappear (overnight)."
This is why Lee and Tiffany both work hard at keeping their deer used to human intrusion, at least around the perimeter of fields lying on their hunting properties.
"I don't like them busting me in the timber," said Lee. "In the open fields, (however), I don't mind it so much. They are all used to us being there in the fields."
So much so that Lee says now, the deer on their farms might edge into the timber when they see someone coming into a field, only to edge back out into the fields when the person is gone.
Especially since that person – be it Lee, Tiffany, or one of their camera guys – often take a bucket of feed or attractant in with them to check cameras, hang a new stand, cut a shooting lane for an existing stand, etc. during the off-season (when feeding is legal).
"Our deer are used to seeing people," said Lee. "They might leave briefly, but they will almost always come right back."
"They see us all summer long and begin to associate us with food and with being a non-threat," he added. "If you walk in, they might run a little ways, but they will not spook and disappear because they know you aren't a threat.
"They begin to treat you like a car passing by – they might walk into the woods (briefly), but then they'll walk back out into the fields when you get 100 yards away. They look at you, sure, but they aren't panicked."
The key according to Lakosky is keeping the pressure light – and non-threatening – all year long.
The results of such consistent pressure are a deer herd that isn't spooked by human intrusion, and whitetails that rarely bump off of the Lakosky farms and onto another farm.
"It's all about consistent pressure all year long," said Lee. "If the deer get used to you being there for nine months, they won't panic (and leave) during hunting season if they get bumped. They are more comfortable with human intrusion."
One final thing that such methodology produces for the Lakosky clan is plenty of good television footage for their top-shelf Outdoor Channel hunting program.
"Since (we started doing this), we never have a problem with deer coming out too late for camera light," said Lee.
Something that often leads to great footage, a superb moment of fall bowhunting action and an excited text soon whizzing its way across the airways of the Lakosky farm, spreading the news of another "Big Buck Down!" far and wide for Lee, Tiffany and all of their hunting family and friends to read.