Originally Posted by ctaggart
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;
: 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.