If you’re a deer hunter and you own land, your probably thinking about food plots right now. There is so much out there about food plots that it will make your head spin. When we first started 5 years ago, I had no clue where to start. I sucked up every bit of information that I could get. I still am not anywhere near an expert but I have learned a lot the last couple of year. With it being the plotting season, I thought I would blog about plotting for small parcel properties.
When do deer visit your land the most? If you have hunted your property for a season, you probably have an idea of when your property gets used the most. If you don’t, it will take a season to figure out when the deer are hitting your property the most. If you want to practice and get something out, you can’t go wrong with a clover seed. It is very hard to screw up clover and you get to view the deer all summer long and a few weeks into bow season. It is good up to 5 years. The only problem with clover is the deer don’t hit it that much after the first frost.
What to buy? We live in farm country so there is plenty of food to eat all summer long and into season. Since we have such little property we see very little usage by bucks during the farming season. After everyone cuts their fields down its game on. Since the deer don’t come around until after that, I wanted a source of food that would stick around through most of the season into winter. If I don’t do this, the few deer we have had visit during the summer will disappear. We have had success with Rape and Kale. The only problem with this was once the deer pounded it, it was gone and so were the deer. However, last year we discovered Buck Forage oats. We put them out a whole lot later than we should have but still manage to get a crop out of it. The beginning of the season was slow according to my trail cameras. Once the farmers cut their fields our field started to see a lot more traffic.
Some other things to consider when deciding what to buy is where you live. You will want to follow the directions to the T. Don’t cut corner. If you don’t have access to equipment, you won’t get as nice of plots but you still can plant and have success. If you don’t have access to equipment, look for the seed that you can plant on the top of the soil. If you have a big budget, you can do a lot more.
Also, don’t forget to take a soil sample to get an idea of what your soil contains.
We usually start around May and disc it several times whenever weeds start growing. Then we throw out the seed before a rainstorm hits if possible in August. Since we have started disking our plots comes out much nicer.
A problem we have that many don’t have is we live right off the main road. I continually have problems with people stopping to look inside my plot for bucks. I solved this problem by planting Egyptian wheat from seed world USA.com. The stuff is very easy to use and works great. I use it to stop people from gawking and a block to get into my tower stand. I highly suggest anyone that uses it who might be near a road.
Our Results: The deer go nuts and we have deer in the plot pounding the food plot from the rut till the first snow fell. I passed on a beauty of a 7-point and harvested a doe late in the season with my muzzleloader. My only complaint was when we received more than 3 inches of snow; the deer stopped hitting the plot while the snow was around. I wish we included something that would grow above the oats for when the snow hit.
Wait til Primetime to hunt: Something that I have been working on the past several years is trying to only hunt an area when it will be prime for older bucks like the rut. I also wait til cold snaps and weather below 10 degrees is December. With that being said, we live on the land and have a pretty good idea when we see the most activity. I won’t hunt at all on the property until the end of October no matter what because the majority of the deer are still in the farmer fields. Throughout the rut, I have deer coming through. Over time, the older deer caught onto me and started to avoid the plot during daylight hours.
When you are looking at what seeds to plant, make sure you pay attention to the bags and what you are getting. A lot of the shiny bags you buy from big box stores and other stores sell you bags of seed with weeds. You will see it marked as “inertia,” weeds and filler. Always look at ingredient to know what you are putting in your plot. I try to buy seeds from a granary or tractor supply. If I buy it from a store I will buy a bag with as little filler as possible.
Do not look at your food plot every single day. Doing this will drive you nuts and you will make poor choices of how to manage your food plot. Be patient! My first year I planted “No Til” brassicas and some other stuff. I was struggling with weeds so I decided to cut everything. It was a horrible decision. I ended up killing the plot and lost everything. If I had waited I would have had a decent crop.
Also, like I mentioned earlier, don’t spend too much time in your plot before the season. Get all your work done at least a month before the season. If you do go into you plot, you will spread your scent training the deer to go nocturnal. You will then wonder where all the deer went and wonder why they are only showing up on your trail cams after you have ended your hunt. All your hard work would be wasted. Deer are not as dumb as people make them out to be. If you need to go into your plot for whatever reason other than to hunt, do it in the middle of the day, scent free or during a rain storm. In some cases, you can sneak in and out of your plot if the deer are not using the same trail as you.
Conclusion: It has been a big learning process learning how to plant efficient food plots and I still have a lot to learn. I suggest you continue to research other plotters because there is a lot better plotters then myself. However, if you never start you won’t ever have the plot you want. So get out there and get at it. You will make mistakes but hopefully, you will learn from the mistakes and your plots will get better every year.
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