EASY DEER SEASON FOOD PLOTS
Do you ever get a little discouraged about putting in a food plot when you see the hunting show hosts driving tractors and other farm implements around their properties. The good news is you don’t need a barn’s worth of equipment to grow a plot that will both nourish your herd and draw them in.
You can measure an effective food plot in acres or square feet. Either can be deadly. The most important factor in your prep is determining what the qualities of the soil are. Is it acidic? Does it sit in shade most of the day? What’s the drainage like? You can conduct a soil sample if you have the time, or consult a trusted expert in the field. I recently visited with Bobbi Wilson of OSAGE TROPHY BLEND and described for her the location of my anticipated plots. They’re mostly on hillsides, shaded by oaks with very little understory. Based on what she knew about soil composition, she was able to recommend a seed blend to fit the location. That was easy.
Most of my whitetail hunting is done in the foothills of the Ozark mountains, tucked back into the trees. I only have human power to get them in, so the planting process needs to be low tech and portable. My primary tool in this work?
A stiff rake.
Admittedly not as cool as a big John Deere or a tricked out four wheeler, it’s what works for my scenario. Here’s how I’ll do it.
The plan is to measure off a few 40’x40′ areas along established travel corridors where I can hang stands face first into the prevailing wind. Once I’ve done that, I’ll use the rake (or a gas powered leaf blower if I don’t mind carrying it) to remove any leaf litter, exposing the soil. Once the soil is clear, I can go through with the rake and score the earth, creating trenches for the seed to nestle down into and out of sight from birds. Since I don’t want to haul a bunch of water in, I’ll try to time the planting with a forecasted rain. Before I leave, I’ll hang a trailcam to capture the action as my sprouts spring up.
To really make the place attractive and nourishing to your herd, set out a mineral block near the plot. While in block form the minerals will be consumed by deer, but it’s really when it dissolves into the soil that it becomes magic. Check your state’s game regulations to ensure it’s legal to create a mineral lick.
It never fails, after a long day in the woods the last thing I want to do is hang a stand, but doing so now, instead of waiting until it’s time to hunt will make life so much easier in the future. I’ll go ahead, take the extra time to get it set up exactly how I want it now so I can slip in and start hunting without disturbing the area hanging a stand.
Then the waiting game begins. If possible, avoid hunting your plot until the crop has reached maturity. You’ll likely have deer visiting it early on, but I prefer to habituate them to the area to learn their entry and exit routes. They’ll be more comfortable when they come to feed. Use the camera as an aid to determine their path of travel. This will help me determine any last minute shooting lanes that might need to be cleared.
There you have it. A rake and a seed blend that matches the soil you hunt is all you need to create a simple yet effective everyman’s food plot. Now grab your rake and let’s start clearing some soil!
I treat the outdoors like a best friend who I think you need to meet. So gear up and get outside! You’ll be a better person for it. I operate TheThinkingWoodsman.com and am a member of the Missouri Outdoor Communicators.