More Effective Than Food Plots!

Your place to discuss ways the habitats for deer can be improved!
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JPH
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby JPH » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:25 pm

Excellent points, Steve! I don't disagree with a word of it. If I gave the impression that TSI trumps other methods of management in all situations, than I need to phrase things more carefully. The selective thinning has been the most effective method I have used in a short ten years of trial and error, on one micro property. I do tend to think food plots are oversold because seed is easier to sell than saw blades, but that's another topic. I also agree that this sort of work should not be taken lightly. That is exactly why I hired a pro.

Thanks for your input.

SteveBartylla
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby SteveBartylla » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:11 pm

I don't really disagree about food plots being over sold, and my comment about "all of the above" having their place wasn't meant as a critique of anyone. I'm extremely lucky/blessed that I consult on a bunch of properties in the Upper Midwest. The thing that strikes me over and over again is that no two properties are the same. I've tried as hard as anyone to design a cookie cutter formula, but I just don't believe it's possible. Just last week, I walked a property with a landowner north of Monticello, MN. For his property, about 70% of my suggestions revolved around food plot and pond creations. He had ample cover and browse, but was losing his deer to neighbors' fields.

All that said, food plots are easier, in most cases and are partially pushed because of that. Then there are all the people out there that built businesses just putting in food plots for land owners. They are also pushed extremely hard by wildlife seed companies and often by those "experts" that pro staff for them. The TV shows push them because those companies sponsor the shows and the magazines take probably 20 food plot articles for every 1 native browse enhancement or TSI type piece, because they are sexier topics. Add it all up and they are pushed harder than they deserve. I'd agree in a second that native browse enhancement and chainsaw work can both produce great results in the right situations (as your pics reveal) and are about the most ignored aspect of improving habitat.

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rthomas4
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby rthomas4 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:43 am

Steve, you made a good point about the national brand seed companies. When I purchase seed to plant, I buy locally produced seed and seed blends. Whenever people ask about which seeds and crops to plant in food plots, I always tell them to check with their local feed and seed stores and the local county extension, or ag offices for info on which plants work best in their specific area. Down here, soybeans, clay peas, sunflowers, sorghum, millet, and any of the cereal grains work, especially if you mix in some turnips or other brassicas. I will usually plant strips of different species in my plots, along with some strips of a mixture, but will always toss some turnips onto the entire plot. That way as different species get cropped out, the deer will shift focus to the next and then after the first frost those turnips are like candy. All of my plots are on our family pine plantation, which is bordered along the backside by a swampy creek bottom with some hardwoods in between, but it's a natural browse situation due to the honeysuckle, blackberries and briars. So I always advise people to evaluate location and type of plot based on what is surrounding their property.
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SteveBartylla
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby SteveBartylla » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:59 am

There have been a bunch of great points brought up in this thread, and this is another example. I have no doubt that deer both crave and need diversity in their diets. At the same time, each plant type goes through desirability changes and nutritional needs change through the seasons. Offering multiple plantings is an important, helpful and often overlooked option.

I would add one thing, though. During my last couple years of school, I worked as a paid intern for a seed company. It was mostly as an overpaid migrant worker, but about 20% was actually helping to develop new strains of seed. It was forever ago, but it opened my eyes to how different strains of seeds can be. Your better wildlife seed companies do offer a very valuable service for many wanting to plant food plots, as they either develop or select specific strains that offer desirable traits for deer.

For example, you can develop something as simple as ladino clover for countless traits and a majority will have differing desirability levels and health benefits to deer. One can be drought tolerant, at the cost of digestibility. Since cattle are super ruminants, with the ability to digest more difficult to break down plant matter, that's not an issue for them, but it can be for simple ruminants, such as deer. Another can be bred to produce a high and sturdy stem, to be better suited for making hay. Again, not an issue for cattle, but not great for deer. One could fill up several pages with legit examples.

Your better wildlife seed companies actually put in considerable research and resources into finding what they believe are seed types, strains and blends that strike the best balances between these traits. There is tangible value to that. Then there are others that just toss some seeds in a bag, mark them up 20-50% and bill them as a magical bean. If the blends you are coming up with are producing the desired results, as in the post before, congrats and keep using them. If not, your better wildlife seed companies can often make a very positive difference.

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JPH
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby JPH » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:59 pm

There has been some conversation about year round food plots so I thought I'd share how my anti-plots are doing in late winter. North Missouri got hit with a lot of snow this week. I'd say I found about 14-16" on the ground when I walked the property this morning so I was excited to see where the tracks were. Both of our TSI areas hold tracks and droppings that indicate they are being used as yarding areas. My only surprise was that the older area appeared to be more popular. I thought that the fresh tops on the ground would have made the newer TSI more attractive, but the deer know more than I do.
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msbadger
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby msbadger » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:41 am

Having done this for a # of years, I find a balanced combination of both wood lot work and plot planting to be the most effective....especially being in the high snow fall northern region. From February through spring I go out weekly and hing trees I marked to be cut earlier in the year...either due to light requirements lack of timber quality ...diseased or damaged....I start with the ones closest to the trail and field plots...and work my way out....
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Romans 14:10
Romans 14:13
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msbadger
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby msbadger » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:01 am

We have zones on our place...and log accordingly...even a seemingly mature wood lot can be maintained to produce great cover and food...
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Romans 14:10
Romans 14:13
James 4:11
Luke 6:37

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Thayer
 
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Re: More Effective Than Food Plots!

Postby Thayer » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:42 pm

TSI, hinge cutting, basal bark spraying, girdling are all good practices that need careful attention to placement on your hunting property. Ingress and egress to your hunting stands should be important considerations for each of these practices. You are essentially creating bedding areas and if you put them too close to your travel corridors, you will be disappointed with your hunting after all your hard work or money spent.

Make a plan to put these areas to your benefit..and not just the deer.

The use of prescribed fire is a great tool to create ground cover, create browse, and to create bedding areas. Most of your neighbors will likely steer clear of using fire to enhance your deer habitat. If you use it...the deer will come and call your place home due to the vast diversity that a fire will create. Please get certified on how to run a prescribed fire and use the utmost care when using prescribed fire.

All good stuff here. Go out and spend some time in the wild.

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