It’s not too lateto seed wildlife openings that will attract and hold big bucks on your land
Did you plant anyfood plots back in spring? Are you thinking that you missed your chance? Don’tsweat it; there’s still time. The best thing about early-fall food plots isthat they don’t have to be very big, which makes them easy and cheap to plant.And you won’t need a bulldozer or one of those monster tractors you see at thepull on Saturday night, either. An ATV or even a leaf blower or rake willdo.
Here are some keypoints to consider when setting up late-summer food plots:
SIZE: A quarterto a half acre is perfect.
NUMBER: Scatterfive or six little plots around your woods to create a variety of tree-standoptions.
WHERE: Plant nearthick cover where deer hang out, and in high-use spots such as oak ridges, nearmain doe trails, etc.
CONSIDER THELIGHT: Plant in flat areas that receive several hours of mottled sunlight eachday.
KEEP IT CLEAR:Try to plant where little or no tree cutting is required. Great spots include a300-yard stretch or the bend of a logging road; a quarter-acre log landing; thelong edge of an overgrown power line; or moist soil at the foot of a beaverswamp.
LAY IT OUT: Workthe wind into your plan. If a southwesterly breeze predominates on your land inOctober, when most bow seasons open up, plant a few plots on the northeastsides of thickets where deer loaf or bed. A lot of animals will approach yourplots with the wind in their noses. Sneak in and hunt from stands on the eastand southeast sides of the feed, where they won’t see or smell you.
Missouribiologist Dr. Grant Woods says to plant two or three micro plots 14 days beforebow season (usually around late September). Don’t plant any earlier than thator deer will mow your plots clean before you start hunting. Wait a week to 10days, then sow a few more patches. “You’ll have greens coming up atintervals, and good hunting options for the first month,” he says.
CLEAR AN AREA forplanting by cutting brush or grass (in a logging road, power line, etc.) lowwith an ATV mower. In the woods, simply clear leaves and duff with a leafblower or rake.
KILL GRASS withRoundup a few weeks before planting if necessary.
TREAT SOIL withfine-grade lime or a lime/fertilizer mix. Don’t sweat a perfect pH; just coverthe dirt.
PLANT SEED beforeor just after a rain. Moist soil is crucial for seeds to start growing.
WORK SOIL lightlywith a rake, or broadcast seed onto bare ground (as long as it’s not bakedhard). Let rain drive the seeds into the ground.
For morewhitetail tips and insight, check Michael Hanback’s Big Buck Zone atmikehanback.blogs.com.
SEEDS TO SOW
Fast-growing, tender greens like wheat, brassica andclover come up thick in just two weeks and attract deer like crazy. Choose seedblends that are designed specifically for fall planting and require minimalsoil prep to grow fast and thick. Some good choices: Cabela’s Ultimate Forage($50 for 10 lb., 1 acre; cabelas.com), Imperial No-Plow ($69 for 25 lb., 1.5acre; whitetailinstitute.com), Biologic Green Patch Plus ($32 for 40 lb.,1acre; mossyoakbiologic.com), HS Vita-Rack Fall Mix ($55 for 6 lb., 1 acre;hunterspec.com).
The World’s Smallest Plot
One of Grant Woods’ favorite tricks is to rake out atiny spot–20 by 30 yards or so–and broadcast it with a clover/wheat blend thatshoots up fast, lush and tender during the first three days of bow season.”I call it a hidey-hole, and I put it back in the woods and tight to athicket where I know deer hang out,” he says. The feed patches are good foronly a few hunts before deer eat them up and move on–but those are great hunts.”I almost always see fat does and sometimes I spot a buck.”