Home Hunting Before the Gates of Hell Open

Before the Gates of Hell Open


by Todd Davis

Meteorologist Pete Delkus likes to tell his Dallas and Ft Worth audience that the gates of hell open in Texas during the months of July and August. Of course, he is originally from up north, so I am sure it seems like it to him. No matter where you’re from, you want to limit your time driving T-posts during the summer in Texas. That’s why I start prepping new hunting grounds in the early spring, well before the gates of hell open.   

The New Hunting Property

I gained permission in January to hunt new ground near Bowie, Texas, and knew I needed to get started early. I first wanted to scout the property for sign and look for a good place to bow hunt. I primarily bow hunt, but I have family who primarily gun hunt. With that in mind, I wanted a suitable location for a corn feeder that was also a good spot to hunt with a bow or gun.

The property is a beautiful valley between two oak-topped hills. The valley has a creek and a pond. The pasture is a little grown up, but I have seen worse. The landowner told me the south slope always has deer, hogs, and turkeys. The large amount of sign I found there indicated he was right. By putting the feeder on the south slope, I could put a bow stand in one of the big oaks overlooking the property. It also gave me easy access and a good place to hide the truck. The stand is better suited for a north wind, but the only location to put the feeder south of the stand will put the feeder too close to the property line.

Exclusion Fencing

One thing the landowner asked, and I find more and more landowners are requiring it, is a pen around the corn feeder. The hog panel pen prevents the corn feeder from attracting hogs. I like to hunt hogs, but I understand the damage they can do to a pasture. I have a homemade 55-gallon drum corn feeder and set it up on the south slope about 20 yards from the oak trees.

Texas A&M has done their homework around proper pen design, so I used their recommendations to build a pen around the feeder. They call it exclusion fencing and recommend six hog panels and twelve T-posts. That design gives you about 30 feet in diameter from side to side. I have to admit, I did wait until after a couple of rainy days to drive the T-posts. The ground was not the concrete it becomes in August, and the posts drove easily. I did bring my grandson Madok to help, I wanted to introduce him to the fun you can have with a T-post driver.  

Madok the Human Forklift

One thing I didn’t do but knew better was to fill the feeder and test it before I put the hog panels up. It did not matter; I had a 15-year-old grandson/forklift to help. We put a bag in and tested the feeder. The feeder threw corn inside and just beyond the panels, so I was happy with that. We filled the feeder, and I set the timer to throw 15 minutes after sun up and an hour before sundown. That is a little early for the evening throw, but I am a glutton for punishment. Besides, my stand will be in the shade.

I did use a string trimmer to knock down the weeds. It helps the deer see and find the corn. It also allows my cellular game camera to pick up the corn on the ground, so when it sends a picture, I know the feeder still has corn. I also put a couple of bags of Sugar Beet Crushed out. I like it because the smell alerts deer to a new food source. I have just as good, if not better luck with Cotton Candy, but I caught the Sugar Beet Crushed on clearance. You can get the Sugar Beet Crushed almost anywhere, but I have only found the Cotton Candy at Tractor Supply. I also take a bag of corn and spread it around the pen. I want to create a honey hole that the deer are comfortable coming and staying in.

One note about the pen. With more panels and T-posts, you can build a bigger pen and add a protein feeder. Raccoons in my area are such a pain that I opted out of feeding protein. You can bend the panels to make a rounder pen. The outward bend makes the panels stronger, which helps if you have troublesome cows who like to lean on it. You can also shape the pen more like a football. The football shape allows more corn to escape than from a round pen, so hogs can buzz by for a snack. Landowners may complain about the football-shaped pen, so that is between you and your conscience. If my landowner is reading this, mine is round!

Two-Man Ladder Stand

With the feeder filled and pen completed, it was time to put up the stand. I caught a two-man ladder stand on sale and planned on putting it about 20 yards away from the first panel. That makes it about 30 yards to the opposite panel, perfect distances for archery. I put the stand together in the garage and carried it to the tree. I didn’t want to risk losing a bolt in the tall grass, as I have done that before. I did need to clear some brush away from the tree. It turns out there was poison oak mixed into the scrub brush, and Madok’s mom wasn’t too thrilled about that. As it turns out, getting the stand where we wanted it in the tree was not as fun as I told Madok it would be. We conquered it, though, and it was soon steady enough for me to go up and secure the straps. The straps were cheesy, so I added a good ratchet strap to secure the stand.

Spypoint LMC Cellular Game Camera

Next, I wanted to monitor the operation from the house and decided to go with the cellular game camera. I ensured I had good service with my cell phone before I bought anything, then took a buddy’s advice and went with the Spypoint LM2. I got the game camera set-up done at home, so I didn’t have to worry about that once I got out there. I bought a screw-in-game camera mount and placed it in an oak tree about 15-20 yards away. I wish it was a bit closer, but it works fine, and the cows don’t bother it.

The cell camera sends me pictures every day at noon, and all I have to do is open the Spypoint app on my phone and look at the pictures. I did splurge and went with lithium batteries. I recommend you use a solar panel, but the lithium batteries have lasted a long time. I enjoy driving around and checking cameras, but I have to say having them sent to me every day is a game changer. Especially since this is a new property and the wildlife is not used to someone driving around every week.

Plan For The Unexpected

I would like to say I did all this over the course of a weekend, but it actually took several weekends. I did buy the T-posts and hog panels at Tractor Supply. I ordered the Spypoint LM2 online and configured it from the kitchen table. I am glad I took care of the game camera at home, as I had to sign up on their website before I could do anything. That is much easier to do over your home internet. I bought the ladder stand and sugar beet crush on clearance from Walmart. I built the feeder several years ago, and it’s a great feeder, but I prefer the feeders that are on skids. They are easier to fill and don’t require a ladder. You should plan on a Saturday for the pen and feeder and another for the stand and camera.

I was fortunate enough to gain access to new hunting property early in the year. I was very happy to get the new hunting lease set up well before the gates of hell opened. It also gave me time to attract wildlife, make any adjustments, take inventory, pattern bucks, and develop a hit list. I know for some, this all seems like a lot of work, but it is something I enjoy almost as much as hunting. With that said, the summers in Texas are a bad time to set up a new hunting property. If you can, get it set up well before summer, or enlist a grandson/forklift to drive T-posts after the gates of hell open!

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