Monday, July 9, 2012

Where to put food plots

A food plot can be a great addition to most any hunting property. As we know a deer needs 3 things in order to live: food, water, and cover. Increasing the volume of these things on or near your property will increase the number of deer the property can hold.

So, where do you put your food plots?

To start with I will assume that you are not going to try to grow corn next to a corn farm. Having a patch of corn up after the fields have been harvested is not a bad idea, but it will not be the best use of your time and money. Paying the farmer to keep an area of corn up can be a good idea, however.

The first thing to know is that the professionals will tell us that we need a big destination plot for the main food source, and a few smaller "hunting plots." This is the arrangement I have: a "big plot," with about 2 acres (it is too small), and several smaller plots around the rest of the property.

The theory is that the big plot is the destination, which the deer won't visit until after dark. But this is where we grow corn, soybeans, peas and the deer get a lot of food volume. And the deer visit the smaller hunting plots on their way to and from the big one, hopefully during shooting light. They may also visit when the certain foods in the small plots become ripe.

So, find a big spot for the big destination plot. This can be a current clearing or soon to be a clearing. (Hire a guy with a bulldozer to remove the stumps a year or so after you've cut down the trees.) Keep in mind where potential trees are which you can use for stands; don't cut them down, and put the plot within range.

Food plots that you will be hunting should not be round or rectangular. Your big plot should be, however. After dark a deer's superior night vision helps keep them aware of predators. All hunting plots should be irregularly shaped, so that the deer can be a step away from cover, and so you can control where they enter and where your shooting will be.

Possibly the best shape for a hunting plot looks like a bird's foot. Lines of food meeting in a V-shapes with multiple "toes." You put your stand at the connection; deer feel safe in the narrow lanes surrounded by cover, and you have lanes to shoot down when the deer pass through.

Small plots may be wherever you can find an accessible clearing. Preferably they will be between the big plot and the bedding areas. Ideally, they will also be surrounded by thick cover.

Some points to keep in mind

1. Find trees for potential stands, and put the plots in range.

2. The potential stand sites should be down wind of the plots. Find the dominant wind direction during hunting season. In Wisconsin, and neighboring states, the dominant wind direction is from the northwest in the fall. So the stands should usually be on the south or east sides.

3. Don't be afraid to cut down trees to clear space.

4. Deer like being in cover or near cover during daylight hours.

5. You don't need to put the plots where you think that the deer will find them. If they are there they will be found.

6. Keep in mind what you will be using to make the plots and how you will get them in. If you are going to use a tractor, do you have the roads to get in?

7. A variety of plant types in a food plot is best. Some plants need to be mowed, and you should not mix them with the plants that should not be mowed. Put them next to each other. Plan locations accordingly.

8. A food plot can be a road too. The more food on your property the better. Clover can be driven over, and is great for planting on roads.

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