Editor’s note: This is the ninth installment to a 12-part, comprehensive series about building a hunting club with buddies from nearly the ground up. Author Thomas Allen will share what he learns as he learns it. His hope is that anyone who reads this series can learn from his successes and failures, and apply them to a one-day fruitful hunting club. Click here for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth installments.

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” ~John Maxwell

In the previous installment of this series, I talked about how we overcame multiple obstacles, remained persistent and eventually enjoyed some fantastic success during our first fall as a club. Our eventual success wasn’t very likely based on the short amount of time we had to prepare.

Preparation is the sacrifice you must make to earn all levels of success. I’m not a big proponent of luck; I think our successes were a result of our collective hard work and passion.

Unfortunately, there are those who can, and will, bring down your success. I hope in your case it’s not other club members. In our case, we’ve had two serious, reoccurring issues that have hindered our success.

Trespassers and dogs.

Unwelcome Guests

Not all of our human traffic has been unwelcome, or at least unwarranted. Since our property has both a gas line and a power line running through it, naturally we’ll have some of those folks in to check things out and likely perform maintenance.

It’s just a fact of life for our club.

I shared a couple pictures of this in the previous installment. But it’s continued and there’s more. Much more.

Turkey Trespassers
When you lease land, especially land that has industry on it, you’ll be dealing with workings coming and going. Although it’s not something that occurs very often, it will happen. It’s best to just get used to it and accept it.

There has been a few kids riding dirt bikes and 4-wheelers through the gas line and on our roads. And they’ve been doing it often. I have extensive photos as proof, thanks to the Wildgame Innovations cameras.

Keep your cameras up all year. They are critical to observe the deer, isolate movement patterns, obtain herd information like health and population, but they also keep an eye on your property.

Turkey Trespassers
Trespassers come in all forms. Here is one of the many photos I’ve captured of a couple of youths running our property with dirt bikes. This kind of pressure could hurt your hunting efforts.

I contacted the county Sheriff and the local game warden, and I was told I have enough proof to prosecute. They could even issue a warrant of arrest for the offenders, as well.

However, I’m a fair guy. And I was kid once who made plenty of foolish mistakes. So I decided to try and be civil about the problem first. And if that doesn’t take care of things, then we’ll go the way of the law.

I printed off color, sharp copies of the trail camera photos, wrote a respectful and polite letter detailing the situation, included an aerial photo of our property and the boundaries and created a packet of warning. I know exactly where this kid lives, but the property is behind a gated access that requires a code to get in.

I placed the “packet” inside a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, and then placed that bag into another Ziploc bag to keep the components dry in case of rain. I then zip-tied one of the packets to the gate, and one to the mailbox stand, where I knew they would be seen.

Turkey Trespassers
When confronting trespassers, it’s best to take the cordial approach at first. Make them aware that you know they are there, and warn them that further action might be taken if the activity isn’t immediately stopped.
Turkey Trespassers
Make sure you’ve contacted law enforcement and are well aware of what steps need to be taken to prosecute trespassers. I think for the most part, a respectful face-to-face meeting will take care of it. If not, make an example out of them.

The packets were removed later that afternoon, and since I’ve not seen the dirt bikers, nor have any more photos showed up on the cameras.

Truthfully, that doesn’t mean anything yet. But it’s a start.

My advice? Be courteous, make sure you’ve spoken to local law enforcement, don’t threaten the offenders the first time you make contact and be prepared to take the next step of the problem persists.

We’ve spent a great deal of time, effort and money to get this hunting property to get things to where they are. Inconsiderate neighbors can — but shouldn’t — have an impact on your success.

Make sure you address it. Ignore it and it’ll fester into a much bigger problem.

Dogs

Hunting deer with dogs is legal in Alabama. I hate it, and I think it should be completely outlawed — tradition be damned. Dogs don’t recognize property boundaries, and most dog hunters don’t care where their dogs run.

This is a problem.

Turkey Trespassers
Hunting dogs that are not appropriately cared for can also be a huge annoyance on your property. If you can manage it, figure out where they live, contact the game warden and let him resolve the issue for you. It is illegal for dog owners to let their animals roam free, especially on an adjacent hunting property.

We’ve had many dogs run through our property, and I’ve got 100s of photos to prove it. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult issue to curtail. I’ve alerted the game warden and he said if I am able to factually determine where the dogs’ owners live, we can take legal action.

Unfortunately, when the dogs run through, they usually don’t stop and they seem to be almost scared of humans. Most of them have collars, so I know they belong to someone.

If I meet that person, we’ll have words about what’s ethical pet management.

Taking action into your own hands is not recommended. However … (S.S.S.)

Start a List

Enough with the negative. Moving on.

Now is a fantastic time to walk your property boundary to verify the posted signs are still hung up, and also to create a to-do list for the shooting houses.

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Don’t put off making repairs or upgrades to your shooting houses. The sooner you can get a To-Do list created and executed, the sooner you can focus on finding the next big shooter buck to focus on.

This is also a great time to include the kids in the process. There’s a lot they can do to create a little bit of ownership in next season’s hunting objectives.

Turkey Trespassers
This is really a great time to include the kids. Mine love to visit the property with me, and especially swapping card out of the cameras, but it gives them ownership into what they’ll likely kill next fall.

Last fall we were very short on time because we signed the lease on September 15, which meant we had to scramble to get ready for the incoming deer season.

This year we have plenty of time, and it is my goal to work the fields throughout the summer rather than trying to jam all the work into a short period of time. My objective is to spray and mow the fields by May or June, disk multiple times by July, lime by early August and plant and fertilize by late August.

It’s a lofty goal, but attainable if the Club can pull together and execute.

Deer Update

I’d bet all the bucks have shed out, and the deer are already indicating signs of their 2018 headgear.

It’s early, but below are a couple of photos that show the early development.

Turkey Trespassers
At the time of this writing, our bucks are already showing a few inches of growth. It will happen fast, and by mid May to early June you should be able to determine who’s who.
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They’ll be adding inches by the week at this point, eventually it’ll seem like inches by the day once June arrives.
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The winter weather we had in Alabama really helped our food plots to boom. Here a BioLogic Winter Grass Plus field is as lush as it’s been. The deer have been taking advantage, and there’s plenty to eat for the turkeys as well. We’re very satisfied with our decision to go with Mossy Oak BioLogic seed.

Turkey Hunting

At the time of this writing, Alabama’s turkey season is over halfway complete. I didn’t write much about it before because I honestly didn’t think there were enough birds here to hunt.

I was wrong, and I’ve not been happier to admit a miscalculation. Having said that, there aren’t a ton of birds here. But thanks to time afield and the many pictures my Wildgame Innovations cameras have provided, I was able to formulate a game plan that ended in quite a bit of unforeseen turkey success.

Turkey Trespassers
Trail cameras are critical scouting tools for deer hunters and turkey hunters alike. By keeping tabs on certain cameras in certain areas, you can isolate a tom’s pattern. Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, but there’s no such thing as too much information for the turkey fanatic.

While these turkeys are primarily timber birds, they love to visit many of our lush-green BioLogic food plots. In fact, we’ve killed three turkeys thus far — all on video. Thanks to a quality turkey decoy set up, these turkeys worked perfectly into our food plots.

My wife and daughter sat together and managed to kill the first one. This hunt will be one of my all-time favorites, because this is the first critter killed without me by their sides. I’m so proud of Kathryn and Taylor for sticking it out and taking a fine turkey as Taylor’s third gobbler.

Watch now:

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On an “all girls hunt,” my wife and daughter killed the first turkey of the year together. Words can’t express how proud I am of these two.

My son Tommy killed a fine bird:

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My son Tommy was able to take a very nice gobbler as well. The hunt was full of drama and he almost didn’t get to take the shot. You’ll have to watch the video to see how it all went down.

And I was even able to get in on the action:

TurkeyTrespassers
Thankfully, I was able to get one as well. This superjake came in strutting and gobbling, which was enough for me. I dished out a dirt nap, and captured another exciting hunt on film.

The turkey season is drawing to a close, but it’s been a very pleasant surprise to have opportunities to turkey hunt on our new lease. I chalk our spring success up to substantial preparation and time on the property looking, learning and hunting.

This spring has been outstanding. As turkey season draws to a close, I can’t wait to get started on next fall’s whitetail opportunities.

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