A decades-old study about hunting revealed five common stages ranging from new and learning to the final one in which hunters become mentors helping others.
Nowhere in the five stages does it say anything about land management. The stages are Shooting, Limiting Out, Trophy, Method and Sportsman. It could be argued that diving into land management and helping wildlife fits into the final stage, but that’s not where Ryan Beran is in his journey with whitetail deer, management and hunting.
Beran is a 37-year-old diehard hunter who loves land and whitetail management. Loves it, as in dives headfirst into learning about what people want to achieve and helping them be successful. It could be seeing giant bucks, or more deer, or something else. Whatever it is, Beran and his team with Managing Deer TV are all in on it.
“We’ve been doing this for six or seven years now, I guess, and it’s just a lot of fun,” Beran said. “Basically, the management aspects of hunting and land uses are more fun to us than the hunting aspect. I know that may sound strange to some people, but once you’ve hunted for a while and have accomplished a lot of your hunting goals, your priorities shift a little. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy hunting anymore, or trying to figure out and kill a big buck. I still do.
“But a lot of us have had our own whitetail properties. We set those up for hunting and management for what we enjoyed, and for a quality standpoint of letting bucks grow to maturity. We all had ideas about management and hunting that were in sync. And a big part of management is trying to hold deer on your property with the proper habitat, food plots and whatever else you need to do to it.”
Beran has been deer hunting since he was a youngster. He started young, he said, at 5- or 6-years old with his father. His first buck? It came when he was 9 years old, “and when that happened I was hooked,” he said. “Dad always took me into the woods with him and I just grew up loving the outdoors.”
Managing Deer TV isn’t Beran’s full-time job. He along with eight or 10 others contribute to the show and consulting business. They film their hunts, discuss management ideas and other topics, and contribute in different ways. Beran said when he’s not working, spending time with family or doing the show, he’s working on his own property because “that’s my hobby. My downtime, other than being with family and friends, is focused on hunting and all the work that goes into food plots.”
Hunters today are more knowledgeable about management strategies, food plots and things like planting, minerals, different techniques and other ideas. Beran said that’s a plus because learning new things, exchanging ideas and finding out through trial-and-error is exciting, like putting together a puzzle. Game cameras have helped with that, too, giving landowners and hunters the chance to watch deer and other wildlife in or near plots, controlled burns, newly tilled soil, on travel routes or in sanctuaries. Cellular cameras help greatly with the latter, allowing for minimal intrusion but with good results.
“The thing I enjoy the most is seeing other people achieve success using techniques and food plot strategy, and working with other like-minded people,” he said. “I like learning new things, too. This year I bought a no-till drill and did a lot of my plots with the no-till process. That’s one thing we’ve improved on. It cuts down on tilling soil, is better for overall soil health and is less work for the person trying to plant it. A lot of people will say it’s more expensive, but I don’t think most hunters mind … if you wanted cheaper food you’d just go to Walmart and buy chicken.”
Beran has had success and a few hiccups along the way with his no-till learning. He’s tried stands of switchgrass, soybeans, clover, chicory, and has learned more about soil, moisture and planting than he knew before. This autumn he’s seeing things pay off.
“I just enjoy learning and seeing things work, or figuring out what happened if it didn’t work just right,” he said. “That’s all part of the fun, and I think a lot of hunters are the same way.”
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