T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Responsible Deer Management; May

Posted by: T.R. Michels under Recreation Updated: June 14, 2012 - 11:26 AM

Well - I've been kind of busy lately, with Dr.'s appointments, getting ready for some reconstructive surgery on my face, and addressing issues about my lack of balance. Thirtyfive years ago I tried to commit suidcide with a shotgun, by putting the barrel of a 12 guage to my lower jaw and pulling the trigger. I almost died, and the story was on all the local news channles and in the newspapers.  I did loose my sight and hearing, along with most of my lower jaw, upper jaw, left cheek, nose and hard palate - which were all partially repaired during the next 10 years and 21 surgeries, I never finished those surgeries- because  was tired of it. Now, after 25 years of no surgery, and some  complications, I've decided to resume reconstruction of my face. 

After 25 there have been some advances in surgery techniques. So, the doctor's plan is to start out by removng my lower jaw and replace it with steel and bone from my lower leg bone. If that all goes well he will attempt to put some bone into my upper jaw and palate, so I can get some functioning dentures, and for support for  the next surgery, which will be to replace my left cheek and straighten out my nose, because I can no longer breathe out of the left side.

The Dr. tells me it wil be a long painful recovery, and it may all take about a year to complete, and that I will need some good family support  to  help get me through it all. I know I've got that.  I told he Dr. I want to look like Brad Pitt when I get done ... Probablynot going to happen.  

My wife Diane is recovering very fast from her lung cancer surgery, although the loss of one lung leaves her with less stamina than she had, So - she cannot  work as hard, walk as far and needs more rest than she did. But, we are all glad she is doing so well - and that we still have our beloved wife mother, sister and grandmother with us. Thank you God - I know without you we could not have gone through this. 

Many hunters and animal lovers want to know what the deer are doing now, , and how to prepare for deer hunting - year round. Here are my ideas on the subject. 

May Deer Management

During May both bucks and does may begin to move to summer home ranges. Does will begin looking for fawning locations.

Herd Health and Social Structure

More and more hunters are interested in hunting for trophy animals. But, because State game managers are often interested in providing a large, healthy, balanced herd, and not necessarily trophy animals, these hunters are taking it upon themselves to try to increase their chances of seeing a trophy by some type of deer management (sometimes with the emphasis on growing trophies) and improving the habitat. Hunters who are only interested in helping the animals grow bigger racks by providing food plots, minerals and limiting their hunting to larger racked animals often unwittingly improve the quality of the entire herd. Not only will the bucks use the food and minerals, but so will the does and fawns. If the hunter then passes up smaller animals he gives them a chance to mature, develop fully and contribute to the gene pool.


Management Practices

There is no question that deer herds must be managed. Increasing human populations, urban sprawl and changing land practices have led to less available deer habitat while deer herds have continued to increase, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in many areas. This has compelled wildlife managers to issue abundant doe permits each year in order to keep the deer herds within the carrying capacity of the available habitat.

The deer management practices of many wildlife agencies revolve around the need to balance the deer herds in relation to the habitat while still trying to keep deer populations high enough for hunting, with hunting as the primary method of deer reduction. The current practice of keeping deer populations high enough that they can be hunted, and the past management practice of bucks only hunting, combined with the belief by many hunters that they should only shoot bucks if they want to keep deer numbers high, is precisely the reason why there are too many deer, particularly does.

It is usually too many does (as in Minnesota and Wisconsin), not too many bucks in a deer herd, that prompts game managers to issue numerous doe permits in the hopes that enough deer will be removed to keep their numbers at acceptable levels. Eventually this becomes a vicious cycle and both the deer and the habitat suffer. The effects of this cycle generally result in low buck:doe ratios and fewer numbers of dominant breeding bucks, which leads to breeding periods that are later, and longer, than they should be, resulting in poor spring survival rates of fawns.

To add to the problem of too many deer, but not enough bucks, the interest in trophy hunting for white-tailed deer has skyrocketed in the past few years. This interest in high scoring whitetail racks by numerous hunters puts added pressure on the already depleted number of large antlered animals, and further reduces the number of available older dominant breeding bucks. Fewer numbers of bucks, particularly older dominants, result in fewer contacts between the does and the priming pheromones deposited by bucks at rubs and scrapes. These priming pheromones are thought to cause the does to come into estrus and help synchronize the rut activity between the does and the bucks. When these pheromones are absent the does may come into estrus from as early as mid-October to as late as January.

In a deer management study by Larry Marchinton between 1981 and 1986, an increase in the buck to doe ratio from 25:100 in 1981-82, to 54:100 in 1983-84 resulted in the average breeding date changing from November 11 in 1981 to October 15 in 1982, almost a month earlier than normal, and the length of the breeding period was shortened from 96 to 43 days. In another study using quality management techniques, the average breeding date occurred almost two months earlier.

This article is adapted from T.R. Michels' Deer Managers Manual ($9.95), and from the Deer Addict's Manual, Volume 1 ($9.95).

If you are interested in more whitetail hunting tips, or more whitetail biology and behavior, click on Trinity Mountain Outdoor News and T.R.'s Hunting Tips at

www.TRMichels.com. If you have questions about whitetails log on to the T.R.'s Tips message board. To find out when the rut starts, peaks and ends in your area click on Whitetail Rut Dates Chart. www.TRMichels.com  TRMichels@yahoo.com .  

T.R. Michels is the author of the Whitetail, Elk, Duck & Goose, Bear and Turkey Addict's Manuals. His latest products are Hunting the Whitetail Rut Phases, the Complete Whitetail Addict's Manual, the 2005 Revised Edition of the Elk Addict's Manual; and the 2005 Revised Edition of the Duck & Goose Addict's Manual. For a catalog of books and other hunting products long o n to the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website 

Day Late & a Dollar Short

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 28, 2012 - 8:40 AM

Seems like I am often a day late (but not often a dollar short) , when it comes to birding. Every onec in a while I see a bird sighitng on the Minnesot BIrding List on the internet that I'd like to see, like the Whoopng Cranes at Randolph last year. I did not learn about them until Monday, and by then they were gon, This would hve been a lifer bird for all of my family. So, when I saw that a "Lifer" Ibis had been seen at the 180th St. pond south of Inver Grove Heights, I jumped in the car. It was clouding up pretty good that evenng,  with thunderstorms predicted, but I took a chance, and got lucky on my sceond pass through the area I found it, Even got pictures. Then when I saw that there were a number of shorebirds there last week I headed out the next morning, and sure enough - they were gone.

I just noticd that Dickcisels and Bobolinks, along with Savannah and Grasshoper Sparrows , and Northern Harrier and Gray Partridge were seen at the Randolph Industial Park south of Inver Grove on Highwy 56. I know of several spots to see Indigo Bunitngs, Red-headed Woodedpeckers, Bobolinks andother birds I have not seen yeat this year - not too far fron there -. so we are juming in the car and heading out this Sunday morning at 9:00 , Wish us luck. 

God bless,

T.R. .

Animal Home Ranges & territores: What to Expect and What to do

Posted by: T.R. Michels under Recreation Updated: May 22, 2012 - 7:25 AM

Animal Home Ranges; Par t 2

Animal "home ranges" are often referred to as "territories". While this it is true in some cases , it is not necessarily true in others. A home range can also be a territory, but it does not have to be one; it may only be a home range. Generally speaking, territories are defended by and animal or group of animals, against other animals of the same species, (and sometimes against animals of different species). If we examine those home ranges that we refer to as territories, we will find that most of them are defended against other animals so that there is little or no competition for feeding rights, breeding rights, and possibly resting/ secure areas. Most territories therefore are established by predators (canids, felids) or omnivores (bears); .because they are protected by intruders against feeding and breeding rights. Although they may not be specifically protected for resting rights, because of the need for resting / secure areas either within or near their home ranges, because the animals need resting areas and generally will not tolerate other animals of the same species within their resting areas (such as white-tailed deer, wolves and bears.

The reason I mention this is because the home ranges or use areas of white-tailed deer are often referred to as territories, and buck whitetails do not protect their home range against other bucks except generally during the breeding season; when one mature male exhibits threat behavior to another male no matter where it comes in contact with another male. Outside of the breeding season bucks frequently associate with each other. In areas where there is no need for a regularly used trail, but because the area is still used as a means of travel, they are often referred to as travel corridors.

Back to Home Ranges.

Since most animals are very familiar with their home range during each season of the year, and because they are concerned about security against either predators or humans they often establish or use preferred trails and travel corridors as they move between forage sites and resting / secure areas. White-tailed deer bucks, also use those on a semi-regular basis during the week to locate females the are ready to breed. Because bucks are more security conscious than does (due to their antlers) they often establish their own trails (close to and sometimes paralleling doe trails) where they leave evidence of their use by creating rubs and scrapes) that are signs of breeding rights and dominance to other deer.

If a hunter is willing to take time to understand when, why and where whitetail bucks use these trails and travel corridors. A hunter can determine where these trails and travel corridors are by looking for them during daylight hours, between the hours of 10 Am and 3 PM, when the deer are generally not using the trails, but are resting within their resting / secure areas. And by locating them - they may be able to determine where the males frequently used bedding areas are, and sometimes even the exact bedding sites.

Once the travel routes, trails and bedding areas are located a hunter can watch those areas, or use timing devices or game cameras to determine what time the animals are using those areas. And in the case of cameras, exactly which animals are using those areas. This will cut down on the amount of time it formerly or otherwise would take to scout a property. As far as I am concerned, that takes a lot of the fun out of preparing for a deer hunt. I consider scouting to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the hunt, when I can set aside all my problems, and consider only the environment I’m in and the deer sign and the deer I might see.

If you want to learn more about when where and why deer are active during the hunting season, and the best times places and techniques for hunting them, or to find out when the rut occurs in your area, log on to the Trinity Mountain Outdoors Magazine at www.TRMichels.com or purchase a copy my book; The Complete Whitetal Addict's Manual.

God bless and enjoy the great outdoors,

T.R. . .



What's Happening & New Nature Hike

Posted by: T.R. Michels under Recreation Updated: May 22, 2012 - 7:04 AM

I had planned to go to the MN Zoo on Monday, to photograph several animals, because they may be interested in purchasing some of my wildlife photos. But, just before I left Iwe got a call from my son Dallas, asking if I could watch Gabriel, Adel and Nellie. Of course I did what all good grand fathers do - I watched the kids, The girls played outside, and Gabriel took a nap fo the first two hours, so I only got to babysit him for an hour - but as usual - it was fun.

On Tuesday I decided to go to a new wildlie are near us here in Inver grovve Heights. I had been on the property only three times before, so I Iwas looking forward to it. Whle walking the cliff top near the Missisippi River I heard several birds; Amercian Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, WarblingVireo, Northern /Baltimore Oriole, Great crested Flycatcher, Hairy, Downy, Red-belled and Pileated Woodpeckers, Canada Geese, Wild Turkey,  Blue-gray Natcatcher, and others, plus I spooked at least two deer. I coud tell because I heard their Alarm Snorts I walked by; sh-uh shu shu shu. I do wish I had gotten a good look at them, but it was enjoyable. I look forward to doing some more nature hikes, looking and listening for birds, and looking fo wildflowers and deer.

So today I planto go to the zoo and get photos of any young animals, and hope for some interesting behavior for photos of any and all of the othert animals. I'll take along a camerw tih 600mm magnification, and my Canon Pwershot with video capability, in case I seesome adtion sequnces. I've ben luckin in the pst- to catch some interesting dominanc ebehavior among the wolves, nd other animals, If you are interested in checking out my wildlife photography, log on  to the T.R. Michel or Trinity Mountain Outdoor Photography pages at www.TRMichels,com,

Enjoy God's Great Outdoors and take along a child, family member or friend. Introduce them to nature and conservation issues,


God bless,

T.R. Michels




Animal Home Ranges and Territories

Posted by: T.R. Michels under Environment, Recreation, Birding Updated: May 18, 2012 - 10:53 PM

Before I forget, I need to add some bird sightings to my "Backyard Bird Sightings" list. Today I saw my first hen Wood Duck on one of the ponds, and I heard House Wren, Gray Catbird and saw a gull, probably Ring-billed Gull.

And last month, my wife Diane saw a group of jake (one-year-old) turkeys, evident by their shorter outer tail feathers and a beard that sticks almost straight out from their chest. So add five birds to my last count.


Animal Home Ranges: An explanation of what they are and what to expect to find in them.  

After studying game animal home ranges since 1989 and songbird territories for the last few years. I've realized that most predatory and prey species, be they terrestrial or aquatic, have what scientists refer to as "home ranges".

We may call them Lifetime Home Range, Annual Home Range or Seasonal Home Range, but the fact is that many animals, (especially those we hunt and many birds) have home ranges, where they spend the majority of their time during their life, and during particular seasons of the year (those seasons being winter, spring, summer, fall). What determines if and when they use different seasonal home ranges is appropriate thermal cover and escape cover for the temperatures/windchills and predatory pressure of each season, available forage sources during those seasons and available water sources.

During cold winter months, the windchill factor makes animals seek cover that will give them protection form rain, wind and low windchill factors, usually wooded areas of large enough a. to reduce the windchill (or areas within timber on the downwind side of hill, where the animals can get out of the wind) b. to provide security cover for the animals, (which usually means ground cover dense enough that the animals cannot see into the open areas around the wooded areas), Obviously the thermal and security needs of larger animals means they utilize larger areas of woods or cover than smaller animals.

During warmer summer months, the animals may prefer more open areas, where they can get out of the heat using the shade of wooded areas (but without a lot of ground cover, thereby allowing the wind to create a lower Heat Index through its cooling effect), or areas open to the wind (so they can take advantage of its cooling effect), or damp/ wet areas, where they can take advantage o f the cooling properties of water. If animals use one areas during warm spells, they often prefer large one area, where they can see, hear or smell possible danger before it gets too close to them.

No matter what time of year it is, most terrestrial animals have to have access to water and forage.

Once the animals have found areas suitable to use for each season, they prefer to stay within boundaries of that area - meaning they sty within the area hat they are unfamiliar. If an animal leaves its known range for that time of the year, it may be entering areas where it does not know where the trails, thermal and escape cover, forge and water sources are - which leaves it vulnerable to predation.

What this boils down to is the by the time an animal is about 1 year old, due to its being shown around by its mother, and being curios enough to check unknown things out, most animals are intimately familiar with their home range, to the point that they may notice when even a small sapling or a few branches have been cut off of a larger tree. To give you an example: While I was hunting a property in Eagen a few years ago, a group of runners inadvertently ran down the lightly used nighttime trail that ran across a hayfield (grass) and right underneath my stand. After the deer smelled and saw this change, it took them 7 days to begin using that trail again.

So, when we alter the habitat for our purposes (such as the hunting season, or even ease of access) it may take the animals a few days to become accustomed to these changes. If you brush out shooting lanes, or put up a stand or a blind – let it sit several days before using it. Generally speaking, the animals will spook the first time they see or smell it. They may, turn around and go back the way they cam, or they may give it a wide birth. Or they may use that area earlier or later than normal, in an effort to avoid it. But, they probably won’t act normal for a few days. As I said, in order to be intimately familiar with their habitat, security measures demand that they get curious, and sooner or later check out this new thing in their area, or any vegetation that has been altered. And – if it offers no threat, they will begin using that area again.

One other thing we can expect to find in home ranges are preferred trails or travel routes to and from their bedding/rest areas to their forging area, and possibly other trails from the forage areas back to the bedding / rest areas.

If you are hunting one of these animals, two of the best things you can do are to 1. learn during what meteorological conditions the animals will move, and at what hours, and 2. Learn where the trails and travel routes are. Once you have done this you will be better prepared to setup in an area where you are likely to see it on a semi-regular basis, to simply observe, photograph or hunt the animals.

If you do not know the meteorological conditions when waterfowl, turkeys, white-tailed deer and elk will be active, you can p0urchse a copy of one of my books, or "Game Animal Activity Indexes", from the Trinity Mountain Outdoor Products catalog on our website at

www.TRMichels. If you have questions feel free to logon to the T.R.’ Tips Outdoor and Hunting Talk Forum, where I try to answer every question post there personally. And where you can get ideas and advice from the other people too. We have a great group of men women and youngsters on our Talk Forum.

Note: My wife always asks me to carry the milk, because she says it is too heavy for her, I think it is j ust because she can't hold on to it. I mean - have you ever tried to carry milk - it slips right throughg your fingers!!!

I’ll talk about the difference between home ranges and territories in Part 2 of this series

Enjoy God’s Great Outdoors, take a child, family member or friend along on an outdoor adventure, and may God bless you and your family and friends,



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