Food Plots

Random Thoughts

Jeff Smith
October 2003

Nice Shooting House

Multiple Tractors is the Ticket

Spreader Buggy

Covering Seed


One of the benefits to having this website is the amount of "hunting communication" I get to be a part of with fellow hunters.  I get lots of email about different subjects.  It comes in all shapes and forms- questions, suggestions, pictures, etc...  One topic that comes up a lot is food plots.  Below I've listed some thoughts on food plots - take if for what you will - this is my take on food plots ... it could be right or wrong.  I've made mistakes before i.e. see bow section about missing turkey :)


Planting:

I've been a member of a variety of clubs over the years - some with a few small plots and some with mega-plots.  One club had 12 members and over 100 acres of winter food plots in addition to 30 acres of corn.  One club we planted everything (not much) with a 4-wheeler and small disk. 

It's all pretty simple - plow the field, spread the seed and cover the seed. 


Below I've listed some of the more common questions I've received:

When should I plant winter food plots? 

It depends on the location and weather conditions but as a general rule "the later the better"!  Deer prefer small tender vegetation as compared to tall tough stuff.  Plant as late as possible to insure the forage don't get knee high by the time the deer needs the feed.  Due to continuous rain, one year we couldn't plant until late October - it was some of the best plots ever!

What should I plant? 

I feel you need a variety of seed types.  Planting only one type is putting all your eggs in one basket.  A mixture of wheat and oats is good - rye grass can be added.  Drought, poor seed quality, pests and many other factors can kill one seed type.  Some folks will top sow clover after covering the seed bed.  A field of wheat, oats, rye and clover is hard to beat!

Are the Big Buck blends worth the money? 

No.  Look at the mixture of seeds in the blends.  You can make the same blend for a third the price.  One year we planted a couple of fields with a high dollar blend and the deer ate the standard wheat/oats/rye fields much better.  If you want to spend more money, put it on fertilizer, lime, higher seed rate or just send it to me.

Is clover worth the money?

Depends.  It can get really expensive if you have a lot of acreage to plant.  Clover is very good for deer as it has a high protein content.  Many clubs don't plant clover in the base planting and allow members to top sow clover on their favorite fields.  This cuts down on the overall expenses of planting significantly.

How big should my plots be? 

The bigger the better!  I'd rather have one 5 acre plot than ten 1/2 acre plots.  I've been on both sides of the fence and speak from personal experience.  Sure, I'd rather have ten 1/2 acre plots than no plots.  One club I was in - we planted over 100 acres for 12 members and this didn't count 30 acres of corn.  Two to three acres is a good minimum size for plots but twice that size is better.  For summer plots of corn or soybeans, at least double the size of the plots.

What shape should my plots be? 

Personal preference.  I like more rectangular plots but some hunters like strips.  Biologists recommend planting long narrow plots.  It creates more edge for browse and more security for the deer.   I hunted one plot last year that was 30 yards wide and almost a mile long.  That's equivalent to almost 11 acres! At one point, I could see at least 400 yards in both directions.  200 yards x 100 yards is a good size - that's roughly 4 acres and by hunting in the middle section of the 200 yard side - you're looking at shots under 150 yards.

Should I pull soil samples? 

Yes.  Every two to three years is recommended.  The sample can be analyzed for the planned seed type and determine fertilizer and lime needed for the plot.  For fields larger than an acre, pull several soil samples from different locations and mix together.


Thoughts/Suggestions:

Place a basket in the middle of the field to see how the plot grows.  See picture below.

Bigger is better - the bigger the plots the more deer it will feed and attract.

Seed - go heavy on the seeding rate.

Soil Samples - Pull soil samples every two to three years

Shooting Houses/Stands - Try to place them for easy/quiet access without walking in the plot

Fertilize and Lime as needed.


2002 Opening Weekend - Bullock County
The deer have put a hurting on the plot and it's just mid-November!


Check out this plush plot - January 2001

Plush Wheat Plot - January 2002

Nice Plot


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