Some thought on food plots
I live in Western PA and own 34 acres. I've been wanting to put a food plot in(or a few) for quite some time. My budget is limited and I already own the tractor. I have three fields to work with that have been laying fallow for about 30 years.
What I'm looking for is some advice on starting a successful food plot. I found a 2 bottom plow and discs that I'm able to borrow and that's all the equipment I have so far. What I'm thinking of doing is planting buckwheat this spring and then mowing it down and planting a clover mix in the early fall. That's about all the planning I have so far.
There are a lot of variables to this and I'm no farmer. If you've put a food plot in, I'd like to pick your brain or collective brains.
Well you been sitting here along time all alone. So, I will give this a shot This is going to be real long, and I'll do my best for ya, you'll have to follow what and the way, I'm approaching this as best you can, "because" what we have here is "east meet west." Haha.
I have never been to PA. But I have lived on ranches out west here in Oklahoma panhandle, and now in West Texas, all my life, and guided hunts, and can help with the food plots. Now Our ideas on hunting may vary, and what your wanting to accomplish may be different than what we do here. So, Latent in all I am saying, (and i'll try and cover every avenue), you'll just have to pick through this and see what you think will work for you...
First off and NO offence what so ever. 34 acres is not a lot for us to deal with, and your statement that you may want "several plots," may not be a good idea. (we'll see as we go along here). I'll explain as we go, and remember. I do not know how you old boys hunt up there, or your terrain, so just stay with me, cause I do believe I can help ya, but you'll have to bring the west to the east, and use your common sense in this, and I am not a farmer either. I am a Rancher. But, a tractor is a tractor, and plowing is plowing. You don't have to be a farmer to do this. You just have to out think your surronding and owners, and think like a deer. ;)
OK, first of all and very important. You need to know what others are growing/planting (just for crops or perhaps food plots don't matter) within 1 mile to 3 miles on all 4 sides of your property. Here is why. You want to plant something far different than what every one else has to attract the deer to you. When you go in a serve yourself resturant you walk by the trays of food, suppose they were all filled with the same food. But when you come to a tray that has something different in it, wow ! What a change of pace.
So, I do not know what grows and what don't grow up there, but this is info you need to know;
Example: Everyone and his dog here (which are few and very far between), usually all plant winter wheat, or oats. This is for the sake of crops alone. But the deer love this and have been eating it forever. The ranch that borders the far back side of ours has an enormous wheat field 1/2 mile from our fence border, and in between our fence border and that field of theirs is 1/2 mile of mesquite and cactus. (tons of good cover).
So, we decided a while back to go to (1) 25 acre pasture at this far back end of the place and below the canyons and plow up this particular meadow, and plant maze (milo) not corn. Also the same on the upper canyon area a long long way at the front end of the place. This we did. Now, we made sure that at this particular meadow (below) now planted to milo, we left a very decent amount of cover on all four sides and a good wide creek running parallel to one side of the field, and at least 3-400 yards from the edge of the field. This does several things. First it gives plenty of bedding down cover when they come off that field in the morning, or just before light. It gives us plenty of cover to hunt in.
I need to mention at this point, we do not hunt over feeders, but we do use several feeders all year round to not only keep the deer/turkey population in good shape with making sure they get some healthy suppliments, and insure good nutrition, but it also keeps their interest in being around. I am a ground hunter and it is sit on my butt up against a tree, or ease my way through the mesquite, or sit on a canyon rim and glass the area and take my shot with the 7mm Rem Mag at sometimes long distance.
Anyway, dealing with 34 acres unless the surrounding property all offer real thick cover for the deer to come in and out of, and you find a place with your back to the sun in the morning and another spot over looking the field in the evening with back to sun, I would not personally use up the whole 34 acres. I would find a place that has some real good cover, come outside that cover and perhaps put in 10 acres of (whatever no one else is planting), and save as much cover as i could. 10 acres is still a good deal of feed for the deer. Also I would look toward cabela's and buy two or three "Fence post feeders." They are 5/8//10 gallon metal buckets that have an attachment on them to slip over a fence post, and a timer/spreader on the bottom. Easier to handle and load in and out of the truck. Fill them with a good Nutritious feed for the deer, and put them out before deer season.
During deer season, drive a post in the ground 25yds or so back from each end of the field and hang a coulpe (feeders) in the crop field. Also throw a couple salt licks out as well. Again, I hope you can do this with a water supply not to far away. Again, we're dealing with a small area, so we got to find the perfect spot. Again, without seeing a pic of the whole place, say from the air, it is very difficult to do this on a computer, but i still think I can get you really in business here with looking at this from many different angles and you take it to the field and apply it as you can from what we're talking about and the way the terrain of your place, and the sourrounding places look like.
If you have used up most of your 34 acres with two/three plots, then you do not have much cover I would'nt think. (there again i have not seen the place). If all the land surrounding yours is timber, or thick cover, then you may consider perhaps two plots, leaving yourself a "very strategic " place to hunt from as they come from any given direction into your field in the evening especially. Remember, morning time, and I'm talkin Out west here, sometimes you'll catch some on the field, but mostly and empty field and they have went into cover to browse on tasty things before bedding down. Making evening a good time to sit on your butt and watch the field. This would be much less difficut if you had even 100 acres (no offence) so we are trying to deal with what ya got amigo ! ;)
Remember the field we planted the milo in (that no one around has but us?). Well opening morning (i was not there my brother was), he told me that just before sunup he heard pick up truck doors opening and closing, and ding ding ding, from doors opening up, and heard ATV's, and some people talking, et etc. What does all this mean? It means that whoever hunted the ranch on that very far back side of ours that borders us, had been scouting, and saw that milo field. World got around and they were waiting for sun up to shoot what ever was on our place, and drag it under or over the fence ! BTW, I have a way to deal with that. It's called wild west shooting over heads, when keep out signs don't work, nor the game warden. (disclamer, don't try this at home)..
My point being, these old boys mostly red neck idiots that hunt off of atv's and shoot out of truck windows, knew the deer would come to the food no one else offered. That problem is now solved for us, (long story).
Again,I am throwing around different senerio's to you, and believing one of them will hit home, while I'm driving blind here as to your terrain.
Let's look at this: You do need cover or your peeing in the wind. You do not have enough land IMO, to plant a good size plot and still have enough cover for the deer to "stay on your side when they bed down." Use food no one else plants within 1 to 3 miles of you. use fence post feeders pre season. use them in the crop field as explained above during the season and salt blocks as well (a couple will do). If you lack much cover around you, plant a small cedar tree or such towards the middle of the crop field, and squirt doe in heat sent all over it the day before you hunt that field. Why you ask? well since those deer are not going to hang in the field way up in the 10am-2pm hours. You CAN, and with that sent around that little 3-4 foot bush/ brush/cedar out there, you will have "home field advantage" of mr in rut buck coming to check this out. Maybe 2/3/4 of them during the day. Yes during the day. I kill a good many bucks between 10am and 3pm. I have suggested to you about the little brush so you won't loose track of where the heck you put the sent. You can tie a black rag on something, but remember this, after a while the crops /stalks are going to get trammed down, the little bush/ tree won't. I have a little cedar in a certain spot in that back field. One year there was NO crop Nothing at all but weeds. Drought got it. I went down there and put doe in heat scent all over that sucker, and next morning sat on the ground and got comfortable against a tree, and about 10'ish something, here came mr buck running right to it. Bang. meat in the freezer.
If you do not have cover for YOU, then I still suggest finding a place that borders you with great cover, and plant near there, so when they come in and out and jump the fence to get your goodies, you can have a closer shot, than you would if you spread out 2-3 different plots, and don't which way who is coming from where ! It may take a couple years to see really big results, maybe not. Depends on deer population around your 34 acres, and what you plant, and if you plant it near good thick cover for them to "feel safe" coming in and out of that field.
I have seen over 200 deer in a herd on our winter wheat in Oklahome behind the house. All this was from careful planting, and really great cover to give them a tremendous feeling of security, and a good water source a few hundred yards from the edge of the field.
Here in West Texas. We have a lot of mountains for them to roam up into and bed down in and canyon bottoms as well.
I am going to stop at this point and give you a chance to respond, and tell me what ya think, and or tell me all the detail you can to the n'th degree about your place, and the places around you, and if ya got questions I will do all I can to help ya from there.
I am at a dead end without a map here. haha ;)
Look forward to hearing from ya amigo.
Here is a view from high up on a canyon rim over looking that milo field I told you about at the far back of the ranch. Notice the long brown strip goind left to right. That is the milo. Notice all the cover on 3 different sides of that milo crop. coming back toward the camera is a creek right below my feet.
I usually NEVER use camo. This day it was colder than a well diggers hip pocket, so I did. Notice milo, and part of the cover on west side. Milo was not very tall that year cause of drought, but we did pull through with some at least.
Here is a plot i built in Oklahoma some years back. Again, notice plenty of cover, and using what no one else planted. Also, you can barely see at the far back a deer towards the tree line.
Just some thoughts for you. Again, let me here from ya, and perhaps we can better get ya going.
Well, thank you for the excellent response. Allow me to give some further details regarding my property. First off, the majority of the property was selective cut approximately 15 years ago. This means that I have great cover over the majority of the property with some areas too dense for man to walk through. The deer love it.
The area is 34 acres but it's mostly wooded. I have three fields to play with. The first and largest is roughly three acres. I know, tiny by your standards. The two remaining fields are right around two acres. So that's giving me seven acres of workable land to play with. Which really doesn't sound like much.
The purpose of these plots is just to centrally locate the local deer herd on my property. The immediate surrounding property is all wooded. There are a few fields past the woods and it's planted in either corn or soybeans. Usually corn though. The property across the road is a state park which does not allow hunting. There's a lot of deer that hold up there.
There is a small stream running through the property for a water source, so I'm covered there. The terrain is filled with small ridges and valleys and most of it is pretty easy walking.
As far as supplemental feeding and minerals go, that's a huge no no during the hunting season. If you do place minerals out and they leech into the soil then you either have to dig the soil up or don't hunt over it.
Here's a photo of the property. The center of the map shows the three fields with the largest running north to south. The two fields above it are the smaller ones. Look just above the flag for the first field.
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Your most welcome !
To be honest with you, trying to picture all this in my minds eye. It sounds to me amigo like you know more than you think you do/did. ;)
I did not get the picture. You must have forgot it. ha.
I would like to see it though. You mentioned you have a ridge, a "higher ground spot" on the place, it would be nice (depending on the height and location of the ridge) if it was over looking one of the food plot areas.
BTW. No need to ever compare,
'small to big'. If I man has land he's rich no matter the size. A few acres or 29 sections, it don't matter. It all beats sittin in the center of town. ;)
What you have described thus far sounds good. It almost sounds like you will be a very good attraction for the deer. Although as you said the other property is planted to corn or soybeans, which I do know the deer "love", you can still plant (as we said before) something different to bring them to you.
Of course in Texas everone and his dog has feeders out slinging corn every where, and salt licks are abounding (mostly for the cattle) but the deer love them as well. Like I said, we do not hunt over feeders. I see no sport in this at all. Ours are there to keep a healthy herd as possible on our part, and to help spark interest to like being on our place. But it is a big battle, because every place does the same. That is why we planted the milo you saw in the above pic. This is one "major deer getter." I don't not know if your area is conducive to growing milo or not, I would say yes. If so, next year, 'suggestion," to please try this, because we have seen and heard them at night I mean beating a path to get to the milo. They will truly strip it bare. It worked very well in Oklahoma, and it works great on the place hear in TX. no matter what everyone else plants.
Well, look forward to your pics, and hearing from ya again as you can...
My thoughts would be (if your environment would allow) plant alfalfa in one field (if properly taken care of should last for a number of years). Plant soybeans in another field and hard winter wheat in the third. I don't know for sure if those would work in pa but if they would it would give something green for year round grazing. If you have more detailed questions I'd be glad to answer or explain any of it. Hard to put everything down without taking many pages. Pm me for a phone # and I'd be glad to discuss any of it. I am a farmer not a plot planter but over many years observations I know where the deer are on my farm.
I'll be honest with you, with about 30 odd years behind me of doing this, I think you are doing very well, and want to encourage you to go full ahead as you are. I do see what does look like on the map several feed fields and one is in the lower left, or s.w. corner of your place not to far. BUT, you have a very strategic 36 acres there, and I do believe like I said, if you plant/ have planted, what the neighbors have not, you'll fair very well, and you do have cover there to hunt from /in.
Bud, just my experienced suggestion to you. I want to again encourage you on what I think is a job well done for your first try here. I do believe you will see good results this coming season from what I can tell and see. Do be very observant and see if any changes need to be made for next season, and I do "highly suggest to you" the milo for at least one pasture next year. I think when you see the results from that, you will go all milo. It will drive those deer crazy...
Again. I am serious here. Very good job, very well done, and i think you'll be fine. Now, I request one thing of you. At least PM me and let me know how it went by January ! Seriously. And do consider the milo next year, no matter how well I think you will do this year. !
Congrats farmer! You did great amigo !
Good hunting, and good job ! :thumbsup:
If I did not think so, I really would tell ya. I am "not the leading authority", but I have done this a long long time, and learned a thing or two, shoot, I'm still trying to figure it out ! ;)
Ya know, I kept reading your initial response and was racking my head over what milo was. Then I googled it. We call it sorghum here. That was in the running for what to plant and now I think you've locked it in for me. This being the first year of planting, I think I'm just going to plow, disc and then plant two cycles of buckwheat. Buckwheat, because it's easy to grow and is extremely fast to germinate. This will allow it to out compete the weeds and choke them down. I'll then plant ryegrass in the fall and allow the field to rest over winter. Buckwheat will be planted again in early spring once the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees and then will be mowed once seed heads start to develop. By this time the soil should be at 65 degrees and ready to plant the milo. The milo will be allowed to stand through the winter.
The planting of the buckwheat should help the milo because it brings a lot of the phosphorus up from out of the soil and nearer to the surface. I imagine that the field will need to be limed, so have to find an outfit to rent a lime spreader from, but I think I have somebody in mind for that. I'll be taking soil samples soon to have my brother analyze so he'll let me know what I need in that department.
This is starting to become an exciting project and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Thanks so much for the help.
Man you are more than welcome. I don't know that I did much to contribute, but if I did then praise God ! I think you are using sound wisdom, and I truly believe your report will be a very good one. I really do. I am going to hold you to a report now at least in January. A pm or whatever. I am really interested in what your doing there, and am very excited for you. It really does look and sound right to me. Now milo here, out west, has about 6 to 12" heads of grain on top. we use it to not only get the deer burning a path to the field ( and they will), but also we cutivate a good deal of it a put in our own elevators, (storage) for feed mostly to hogs (domestic). It will look like the photo's in my above post, and have tall heads of small round grain/seeds. that is "Milo" or Maze out here. Some folks call milo or maze, corn. Not out here. Corn is corn, and milo or maze is as I dscribed it. haha
If you need some seed examples let me know and I will send you some.
Sounds like you are doing very well and I want to encourage you to keep on and enjoy the fruits of your labor ! ;)
Do let me hear from ya. I would really appreciate it. If I can be of any assistance at all let me know. No problem
Btw... If this is what you came up with as "MILO" this is it. Plus the field in my pic (below) we planted here...
Again, Good luck to ya amigo.
Again, Our field. It should be a couple feet taller than this pic. But as I said this was the effect of drought that year.
Good planting/hunting ;)
Update for CanyonMan
I have finally gotten to where I had the time and funds to establish a food plot in the fall of 2012. I ran into some problems getting this plot established though. Mainly breaking equipment, the plow for the most part. The roots I was plowing through were just absurd. Some were as long as 15 feet.
So, I got it all mowed down, limed, sprayed with Roundup and eventually plowed with a 2 bottom behind a Massey Ferguson MF50. Then I disced the heck out of it. I planted some purple top turnips for a fall crop because I had heard the deer love them. Turns out, purple top turnips are like crack cocaine to deer. They really worked that field over and I had a lot of deer traffic through there. Here are some long overdue pictures.
Video of a decent buck
Hey amigo, Got your PM you sent me with the link coming over here.
I am imppressed ! Very good Job man. I sure understand about breaking equipment and plow parts. With us here in the bottom of the back canyon it's big rocks that tear stuff up.
Well I have never planted or eaten or know if ever I have seen a "purple top turnip," but if they are deer cocaine, then you got it made pard !
Looks nice down through there on the pics you posted, and the photo's were great. The one Black and white photo, and the the little video clip had a promising buck in there. Alright !
Now over a few years time and careful hunting by you and family, and good " maintenance," of your fields you will have a good grop of deer in there for sure, and some look to be very nice on down the road too, and produce good offspring in the blood line as well.
Happy and proud for ya my friend. You stuck with it, and now are reaping a harvest. Way to go !
Milo and winter wheat, and oates is it for out here, and that is with much prayer, because there just is no rain. These fields usually burn up on us real quick.
Feeders with good suppliments, and things that help provide a good nutrition, and wise maintenance of the location of the feeders, as in moving them around often so as notto allow them to be in one place to long where the grass is removed and there is just dirt under the feeder is a must to prevent worms.
We had a real plague of wormy turkeys and deer once upon a time out here because the feeders weren't moved enough, and when they turn to sand or just plain dirt under them the worm epidimic strikes them all. Mostly with as much land that is here, even in desert drought like conditions they still manage to well enough for themselves just on what browse they obtain on their own.
well, i gotta run right quick and deal with somethin here, but wanted to reply to your PM. I reall appreciate you thinkin of me and sending the PM and the pics and post. Man, Again, very good job man, looks great, sounds great, and the deer are looking good, and now it's just maintenance, and shooting the right deer !
Have a great time and good hunting.
Hey, BTW, Keep me updated from time to time on PM how the plot and deer and hunting or going for ya, I really am interested to see amigo !
Bless you !
Hey, I've got a recommendation for the supplemental feeders: Nutra Deer. http://www.nutradeer.com/. Very effective for keeping a healthy herd.
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