Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Growing Deer": Before you plant, think about this!

As mentioned in Arik’s post last week, we recently started a food plot here on the farm. Our goal in this project is to attract deer and provide an early, middle and hopefully late season food source for them. This food plot will also become a central hunting location, as recently we moved Fort Buck to this area (more on that in the future!).

Arik covered the basics of preparing the soil for planting, but he didn’t get into the why’s and how’s this particular site was chosen.

No, it wasn’t chosen just because it’s one of the few places where trees (or some other type of crop) aren’t growing! Many things were considered before choosing that particular place, and if you are thinking about putting in your own food plot, you’ll want to consider these things too:

Proximity to Habitat - for a food plot to be successful in attracting wildlife, it should be near other types of habitat: year-round cover, water sources, and/or accessible via existing travel lanes. Wildlife will go hungry before they put themselves in a dangerous situation (ie, a food plot with no nearby cover!) Additionally, consider the placement - food plots to the south and east of permanent shelter tend to be the best food sources during the winter.

Understand the Soil - shallow, sandy, or poorly drained soils should be avoided. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to contact your local ag co-op to have the soil tested to ensure it has the proper nutrients to support the plot.

Size - your food plot should be at least 1,000 square feet. In almost all situations, a food plot that’s between ½ acre to 1 acre in size is adequate.

What to Plant - Figuring out what to plant relates to your overall goal for the food plot and which types of wildlife you hope to attract. A couple things to remember: offer something different (if your food plot is surrounded by corn fields, another plot of corn isn’t likely to attract much wildlife) and beware of free “mixes” (to be assured of a good plot, be sure you’re planting good seed).

Finally, keep in mind that if you plant it, they will come… eventually. It may take a season or two for the food plot to begin being frequented by the all the wildlife you wish to be attracting. Be patient.

Want to learn more about food plots? Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a good place to start with a variety of resources on thetopic. And stay tuned for more updates as our ‘plot’ develops!

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