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Evaluating your food plots


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The words “food plot” can mean many things to different hunters, but whenever deciding to plant one, many factors come into play.  Things we need to look at are size and location of plot, soils, do we have equipment or will this be hand work, what other food sources are available and when, do the deer (or turkey) have ample winter food, will you need to control invasive weeds and how best to do that, and is this a kill plot or a true food plot?  Answering those questions will get you a whole lot closer to success. 

I’m starting this thread for others to share their successes and their failures, because we often learn more from failure than success.  I am fortunate to be working with my best friend of the last 53 (of my 57) years who bought a 247 acre farm near Cooperstown last year and developing food plots on 6-8 acres not currently planted in corn or soybeans by our farmer.  Our primary focus will be on early and late food (winter into spring) when the crops are long since gone and deer are focused on woody browse and grasses.  In those cases, clover and brassicas make a lot of sense.  But it won’t just be plots like that.  We will also establish orchards of pears and persimmons to complement existing wild apple trees.  The idea being to increase food diversity as not all food will produce well each year, especially fruit trees.  We do not have any oak trees, but will experiment with planting both reds and whites to further diversify feed for deer, turkey and ruffed grouse.  I am also fortunate in that I have been doing forestry work for the last 14 years and work with my river restoration and wetlands clients on plans to increase whitetail deer habitat.  While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I’ve been around the block a time or two and have learned from those efforts.  

 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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We upped our food plot game a bit this year and have had some definite success.  The best success we had was frost seeding trails. 

We did 4 areas of small plots.  2 of them were very successful and drew deer in. I had a nice buck in one but just couldn't get a shot.  The other one we need to change the stand to a ground blind next year as we had lots of deer but difficulty with a good stand location since we don't have many trees. 

The other two we need to look at some changes next year in how we do those and possibly making them larger.  

One plot we put in by tilling got over taken by weeds mostly. Need to approach that area different next year.  If that doesn't work we will just frost seed it there too. 

Also learned that after 2 years our area is just too wet for radish. They take off but then turn yellow without any big root veges establishing. But clover and rye etc take right off there. 

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Edited by Robhuntandfish

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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Nice @Robhuntandfish

Looks like you used a solar electric fence to keep deer out of your plot until it was mature enough to let them at it(?). If so, that’s another great tool in the arsenal for creating successful food plots. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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7 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Nice @Robhuntandfish

Looks like you used a solar electric fence to keep deer out of your plot until it was mature enough to let them at it(?). If so, that’s another great tool in the arsenal for creating successful food plots. 

Actually it was a ribbon to keep the farmer out. Lol.  We planted right after the second hay cut and were worried he might do a third as it was so warm this fall.  We were worried he would cut down our plot area so put up ribbon til 10/1.  

I got pinned in that plot one night with 6-7 deer out there and had to do a deer blow to spook them out so I could leave.  We have a little 9ft stand there as there is no trees and need to put in a ground blind next season.

Had an old buck we've been chasing out in there this season but only at night.  "Big Sixy"

 

Edited by Robhuntandfish

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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Here are some of the dirty secrets of the deer foodplot world. I bet 90% of the posters here will know companies like Whitetail Institute and their brands like Imperial Whitetail Clover. Do not believe for a moment that they have anything special. You are buying expensive seed that is widely available and for much lower costs simply because it is packaged as Whitetail food plot seed. It is nothing more than red clover, and Ladino clover mixes. The same goes for brassicas. If you truly understand seeding, you won’t spend huge dollars on over marketed products. If all you’re doing is a quarter acre food plot, then go ahead and spend $75 on a bag. But for $75, I can do several acres. Work with your local farmer to find out who he is using, and that will be your best bet most of the time.  Most clover plots will be a mix of reds and whites. Just like the Billy Joel song….

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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8 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Here are some of the dirty secrets of the deer foodplot world. I bet 90% of the posters here will know companies like Whitetail Institute and their brands like Imperial Whitetail Clover. Do not believe for a moment that they have anything special. You are buying expensive seed that is widely available and for much lower costs simply because it is packaged as Whitetail food plot seed. It is nothing more than red clover, and Ladino clover mixes. The same goes for brassicas. If you truly understand seeding, you won’t spend huge dollars on over marketed products. If all you’re doing is a quarter acre food plot, then go ahead and spend $75 on a bag. But for $75, I can do several acres. Work with your local farmer to find out who he is using, and that will be your best bet most of the time.  Most clover plots will be a mix of reds and whites. Just like the Billy Joel song….

100%. I had a hard time convincing a friend of mine this. "But its engineered specifically for the whitetail". Mostly or all bs. It's the same seed the  farmers are planting 1000s of acres in. He now gets his seed at the local farm supply

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33 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Here are some of the dirty secrets of the deer foodplot world. I bet 90% of the posters here will know companies like Whitetail Institute and their brands like Imperial Whitetail Clover. Do not believe for a moment that they have anything special. You are buying expensive seed that is widely available and for much lower costs simply because it is packaged as Whitetail food plot seed. It is nothing more than red clover, and Ladino clover mixes. The same goes for brassicas. If you truly understand seeding, you won’t spend huge dollars on over marketed products. If all you’re doing is a quarter acre food plot, then go ahead and spend $75 on a bag. But for $75, I can do several acres. Work with your local farmer to find out who he is using, and that will be your best bet most of the time.  Most clover plots will be a mix of reds and whites. Just like the Billy Joel song….

I agree with some of this.  WI does a TON of research and development.  I spent alot of time talking with one of their seed testers from northern VT and I am convinced that do have high quality seed.  I don't believe what they have is exactly the same as any other seed.  I'm not convinced that it's worth they extra $$, but I have seen better results with their seed, planted side by side with bulk seed, both with brassicas and clovers.

With that said, I don't use much of their stuff because of price.  I will use it on small plots because I think that it's worth it on that scale.  High quality seed, specifically selected, with coatings will perform better in many instances.  I'm not saying that there seed is loads better.  I don't think that their marketing is all BS either.  

This is just based on my experience as someone who has been involved in farming for decades, personal experience using their products, and talking to various reps.  I'm not saying go out and buy WI seed.  I am saying that the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle and their products will work for many people who don't have plotting experience.

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19 minutes ago, Stubborn1vt said:

I agree with some of this.  WI does a TON of research and development.  I spent alot of time talking with one of their seed testers from northern VT and I am convinced that do have high quality seed.  I don't believe what they have is exactly the same as any other seed.  I'm not convinced that it's worth they extra $$, but I have seen better results with their seed, planted side by side with bulk seed, both with brassicas and clovers.

With that said, I don't use much of their stuff because of price.  I will use it on small plots because I think that it's worth it on that scale.  High quality seed, specifically selected, with coatings will perform better in many instances.  I'm not saying that there seed is loads better.  I don't think that their marketing is all BS either.  

This is just based on my experience as someone who has been involved in farming for decades, personal experience using their products, and talking to various reps.  I'm not saying go out and buy WI seed.  I am saying that the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle and their products will work for many people who don't have plotting experience.

For the record, the first food plots I ever did in the early 80s were with WI Imperial Whitetail Clover. Our PA farmer sewed it in with oats for a 3 acre plot we did every four years. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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5 hours ago, Bucksnbows said:

Here are some of the dirty secrets of the deer foodplot world. I bet 90% of the posters here will know companies like Whitetail Institute and their brands like Imperial Whitetail Clover. Do not believe for a moment that they have anything special. You are buying expensive seed that is widely available and for much lower costs simply because it is packaged as Whitetail food plot seed. It is nothing more than red clover, and Ladino clover mixes. The same goes for brassicas. If you truly understand seeding, you won’t spend huge dollars on over marketed products. If all you’re doing is a quarter acre food plot, then go ahead and spend $75 on a bag. But for $75, I can do several acres. Work with your local farmer to find out who he is using, and that will be your best bet most of the time.  Most clover plots will be a mix of reds and whites. Just like the Billy Joel song….

I also somewhat agree with this. I've foodplotted in many different areas and sometimes the cheap seed is all you need. Where I am currently hunting and plotting the deer have corn soybeans hay and apples available to them. The only thing I can get them to eat here is whitetail institute oats. And believe me I've tried everything! I can plant an acre of corn in a plot and still have some left in spring if the apples don't get picked up in the orchard next to my woods. Any sort of brassica they won't even think of touching where in some of my old spots the brassica would be gone by the end of August. 

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I have done side by side comparisons with various clovers and there is a difference is it enough to warrent using the wi product  ? If you have no  competition around prolly not they will feed  on what you plant as its better than what is available naturally. If you have competition then yes it will make a difference.

Orchards and tree plantings are awesome if you take to protect then from antler rubbing and bear snapping / climbing.   The easiest is to enhance the habitat with a chainsaw.  

Imo none of this will matter if you dont have cover to hold deer . Ask any farmer thye lose the 1st 10 rows of corn next to the woods but the rest of the field goes largely untouched..  security cover should be most peoples focus before adding plots.. and then you need to ask if you need a feed field (destination plot) or a kill plot 

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The large problem with novice food plotters is they get caught up in all of the major marketing while watching the outdoor channel or YouTube. Run to the store and buy that bag of Monster Magnet or Throw and Go and put it down with minimal prep. Soil tests, prepping the field/soil correctly have been the best pluses for me over the years.  I’m still learning myself. 

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7 minutes ago, Jsin said:

The large problem with novice food plotters is they get caught up in all of the major marketing while watching the outdoor channel or YouTube. Run to the store and buy that bag of Monster Magnet or Throw and Go and put it down with minimal prep. Soil tests, prepping the field/soil correctly have been the best pluses for me over the years.  I’m still learning myself. 

i learned over the last two years now that radish doesnt really go well where im at.  I think there is too much water.  It will take off then mostly turn yellow and any that does go doesnt really produce rooted radish.  But clover, rye grasses, etc do very well. Def always learning and trying things.  Frost seeding has been a great boost for us.  We still will try a few plots as two of the 4 did very well this year.  But we will do a ton more frost seeding in the spring.  

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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This is my first year doing a fall plot. I've done micro clover plots before. I also did an acre clover/chicory plot this spring and had great success with it. My fall plot seems to attract the deer, but they're not really touching some of the crops. This is something I've heard is common when you introduce a new food. Also I'm surrounded by corn and apples, so I didn't expect it to be hammered early. Now that the corn and apples are gone I'm expecting it to be hit and it's still pretty much standing. This has me wondering what to do next year.

I did a 1/2 acre each of the these 2. Basically split an acre field in half.

https://whitetailinstitute.com/beets-greens/

https://whitetailinstitute.com/imperial-winter-greens-annual/ 

Do I try them again next year or switch to oats, peas etc?

Edited by Belo

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12

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2 minutes ago, Belo said:

This is my first year doing a fall plot. I've done micro clover plots before. I also did an acre clover/chicory plot this spring and had great success with it. My fall plot seems to attract the deer, but they're not really touching some of the crops. This is something I've heard is common when you introduce a new food. Also I'm surrounded by corn and apples, so I didn't expect it to be hammered early. Now that the corn and apples are gone I'm expecting it to be hit and it's still pretty much standing. This has me wondering what to do next year.

I did a 1/2 acre each of the these 2. Basically split an acre field in half.

https://whitetailinstitute.com/beets-greens/

https://whitetailinstitute.com/imperial-winter-greens-annual/ 

Do I try them again next year or switch to oats, peas etc?

Interested in learning what you see in late season. In my experience deer didnt touch the turnips or radish until january.

Peas got destroyed before gun season, so be prepared to plant alot :) 

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1 minute ago, Belo said:

This is my first year doing a fall plot. I've done micro clover plots before. I also did an acre clover/chicory plot this spring and had great success with it. My fall plot seems to attract the deer, but they're not really touching some of the crops. This is something I've heard is common when you introduce a new food. Also I'm surrounded by corn and apples, so I didn't expect it to be hammered early. Now that the corn and apples are gone I'm expecting it to be hit and it's still pretty much standing. This has me wondering what to do next year.

I did a 1/2 acre each of the these 2. Basically split an acre field in half.

https://whitetailinstitute.com/beets-greens/

https://whitetailinstitute.com/imperial-winter-greens-annual/ 

Do I try them again next year or switch to oats, peas etc?

Those can be more winter food for deer than fall. Wait to see how they interact with the plots once we have very cold and snowy conditions. Then adjust from there. 
 

One thing successful plot makers know is to plant crops that fill in times of year when that property is lacking food for the deer or turkeys or whatever you are building them for. In the end, when in doubt, I suggest clover because it provides year round food. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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