The Poor Man's Food Plot - a Guide to Attracting Deer to Food Plots
- 28 Sep, 2020
Food Plots are incredibly powerful and not only attracting, but also for keeping deer in a particular area, especially if there aren't abundant food sources from farm fields. Lets take a look at the benefits of having food plots to hunt over, from small to large scale operations.
Don't Over Complicate It
If you have large tracts of land and access to machinery or equipment like plows, seeders, and tractors, that's great, but if you don't have access to these things and only have a small tract of land you can still make some pretty great food plots and they can be incredibly effective.
In the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I hunt I didn't have much for open fields or areas to plant so I improvised. I hunted on logging trails deep in the woods with no large scale food sources like farm fields full of alfalfa, and I would simply make my plots directly on the old logging trails.
they weren't very wide, maybe 20 feet in width maximum and I would stretch them about 50 yards down the trail. Simply using rakes and a weed eater I would expose all the rich dirt made of decomposing plant matter, simply spread it by hand or use a hand held seeder, then add some fertilizer, and it grew, and due to there not being major food sources, the deer would pile in from all around.
Don't be intimidated or think that food plots are out of your reach, reading online articles or magazines gives the impression that you need thousands of dollars in equipment, and this flat out isn't the case.
What to Plant
There are two types of plants that we are going to look at when it comes to food plots and if your not familiar with plant types, this section will be important. there are annuals and perennials. Which of these plants you should grow depends on what you want and when you want to plant them, lets take a closer look.
Annuals need to be replanted yearly and are greater for hunters who want a plot for later in the season when temperatures get to cold for perennials to grow well. great choices for annual plants for food plots are oats or winter wheat. These choices are good when its to late in the season for most perennials but to early for other types of food plot annuals like brassicas or soybeans. Brassicas are incredibly popular among hunters who want good food plots later in the season.
Perennials make up the backbone of many food plot setups. They regrow yearly and provide forage for deer almost year round. The most popular perennials are plants like alfalfa and clover which are rich in protein. The protein provided to deer from these plants is crucial in there spring to early fall months and will help keep deer in the area and returning to your food plot and stand setups regularly.
Testing the Soil
Testing the soil for pH levels is always a great idea. Collect dirt samples from each of your plots unless they are close together, and ship them out to get tested from a farm cooperative, country extension agents, or agriculture colleges in your state. Some food plot seed companies like Whitetail Institute also have kits to send in your plot soil samples too. In most cases you should receive your test results back relatively quickly.
The tests received will also usually tell you what they recommend to bring the soil to optimum growing conditions for the plants you chose to grow.
Now in my personal case, I didn't to soil tests, and this would be considered a bad idea if you told most food plot aficionado's. I would add the recommended fertilizers and some lime just to help out my cause. But the soil in my case was always rich black understory soils and were essentially mother natures compost. I never really had any issues getting my plots to grow well in these soil conditions.
Don't "Burn Out" your plots
This is a hunting 101 rule for every setup and it definitely applies to food plots. Be sure to not hunt your plots consistently for long periods of time. This could cause your presence via scent, etc. to be known by the deer and they may shy away from your area for a considerable amount of time, especially mature bucks. Be sure to give your stand setups on food plots a break regularly to help prevent hunting spot "burn out".
Food plots don't always have to be complicated and should be intimidating to hunters who don't have the vast tracts of land and equipment that is always touted in the hunting world. Just keep things simple, add a little elbow grease and have at it. The rewards can be very much worth the effort.
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