small food plot ideas

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small food plot ideas

Postby bowhunting31 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:28 pm

I have a small piece of property, 27 acres to be exact, that I hunt on a regular basis. This property is the closest property to my home so it has always been my "go to" deer property when tight on time or gas money. So here's where I need some help....

I have hunted this property for 4 seasons now. The first 2 seasons, I kept 3 feeders going throughout the year. During these 2 seasons, I sucessfully harvested many quality deer and had the priviledge of watching numerous others. During season 3 and 4, my time and funds were extremely tight and while I still got in plenty of time in my stands, I did not provide the food that I had in the past. Unfortunately, I didn't see the quality deer or the large numbers of deer either. Now, this could be a coincidence, however, I believe it is a direct result of not supplementing my property's food supply. The deer were traveling through there as evidenced by the rubs, scrapes and droppings. Why did I not see them as years past? My obvious answer- FOOD!

Now that my finances have gotten a little better, I am looking to make my property even more productive than the first 2 seasons were. My proposed solution, in addition to the feeders that are in the hardwood areas around stand sites, is to put in 2 small food plots. One is about an acre in size and sits at the end of a powerline. The powerline is mostly brush except at this end where it is a small grass field. The deer travel through this field on a regular basis, this I know for a fact. The other site is a small 1/4 acre clearing in the woods along a river bank that the deer tend to travel.

I am looking at 2 different products and would really like to hear from others if you have any experience with either of these no till solutions. The seed products are the Imperial No-Plow blend and the Imperial Secret Spot blend.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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RE: small food plot ideas

Postby hookset6969 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:37 pm

I have a 40 acre piece and it is all wooded and also looked into the same product's that you have listed, However my dad has a 60 acre piece with some tillable land so I started doing some investigating into seed. With the help of all the great people on this site like MSBADGER, SHKYBONNIE and many more they enlightened me to the local co-ops in my area and the money I could possibly save by using them, And were they ever right [:)] Heck I can afford to screw a few plots up for no more than I paid for the seed [:D] I hope this doesn't happen but if it does I won't be discouraged or flat broke. With all that said you have many questions that need to be answered. Do you have any way of getting equipment to do any tilling, I assume not by what you have listed for products? Have you gotten a soil test done? This will tell you what you need to add to your soil to make certain plant's grow, What your looking for is the PH balance. I don't want to say to much as I'm kind of new to the whole food plot thing myself but having an area of 1 acre and another of a 1/4 acre these seem to be pretty good size plots to me. I would think having something this size you might want to look into some kind of equipment to use or rent for a day if you don't already have something lined up. But I would be patient here and wait for a little more feed back from some others on this site before doing anything because they might know of some plants that will make for good cover and food without all the equipment and save you some green. Good luck and I hope to hear from you again on how your plots went [:)]

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RE: small food plot ideas

Postby msbadger » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:59 am

Gosh ...thanks for the kind words Hookset...

So...ahhh money...don't I know ...basics to not waste and even save money and time involved

1...if the site of plot is where it benefits you and not the ppl that surround you...thus more interior

2...soil test..and not just for PH...that done or as far as PH before that's done...research the needs of plot plants ...sun/soil/ph/npk/H2O

3...spend the time and money to get rid of may think it's manageable now ...but once the soil is disturbed...BAM...all those weed seeds will be the ones to grow the best

4...try an inexpensive..non fussy attractant first...because depending on the soil test amendment are costly! and lime takes time ...when liming mix it...pelleted is more $ acts faster but doesn't last long....granular harder to spread ...less $...takes longer to work ...but lasts mix them

5.... OK...I swear by buckwheat...for deer and birds and it adds amendments to the soil annual and easy to walk braccs into in the fall....doesn't like alot of fertalizer and you can save that cost for the braccs....Disclaimer some haven't seen the results we do here so there ya go's cheap ...easy helps soil and if it doesn't work as you like... haven't lost anything because it's a great soil builder... and drag or rake in winter wheat in the late fall...or top dress the braccs ...BUT that some times takes a year for deer before the deer hit them as well(braccs)

6...Sun and water...what you see in the spring isn't the same throughout the season....sun angle changes and next thing you know the area is much more shaded than you thought....perhaps good time to decide on what trees to drop...drag tops to an area for bedding..opposite of your entry point ...think on what you remember the sites looking like in summer/fall...for that work is best done now..
Water...your area could be wet in spring but a Sahara in the summer and fall...if so deep rooted plants.....ahh back to buckwheat[;)]..or chicory some clovers..ect...also where you don't have it ...put in a water hole...could be just a blk rubber live stock tub...I use sunken tubs...Koa ponds...tubs...near all my waterless plots...Blk won't build up algae as well...

7... equipement...again bias because I have the time and like the work...but even though I have heavy equipement I still use push spreader...tiller...and a hand rake and yes..have done areas that size by hand....but always use either a lawn mower... ATV to do the dragging and either a weighted chain link fence section or the harrow drag

8... there is an amendment that is sold..I'll have to look up the is dried sewer waste and seem to help keep critters out of the fields when plants are first sprouting ...Miloganite is it's name...light top dressing after planting...

9..If you still want to spend the money ...both products I've used with mixed results...Not as shade tolerant as company suggests even on a well prepared site and then again secret spot worked well under my oak trees...with a good liming

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RE: small food plot ideas

Postby ghosthunter31193 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:14 am

Find an area that you want to put your plot that has grasses in it now. Buy you a bag of regular old seed wheat (also works well with rye and oats) from the farmers supply. A 50 lbs. bag of wheat seed is pretty cheap and I usually seed at about 85 lbs. per acre, so 50 lbs. will do quite a bit. Get about 100 lbs. of 15-15-15 fertilizer and a weed eater. Take a hand spreader and broadcast your seed right over the top of the grasses, then broadcast your fertilizer over that same area. Then take the weed eater and cut the grass down as low as you can over the top of the seed/fertilizer. Do this in about late August or early September and you will have a nice stand of young wheat to hunt over in just a few weeks. The grass you cut down over the seed will help hold moisture and heat which will make the seeds germinate as well as if they were in the ground. It also helps protect the seeds from birds. The wheat will normally out grow the grass and the grass usually goes dormant when the weather turns cooler. It's not as good as breaking ground, getting soil test and all the other things that make a great food plot, but it will attract deer at the right time for hunting. This is a great plot for the young hunters that don't have the $$$ or the equipment. Hope this helps!
this advice was given to me by skyboonie because i've been wantin to do the same thing so hope it can help ya out.

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RE: small food plot ideas

Postby SHKYBoonie » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:38 pm

WOW, makes me feel good that my advise has been mentioned a few times.[:)]
bowhunting31, all of what hookset and msbadger has said is very sound advise if you are able and willing to put in the hard work. Any equipment you have at your disposal can help out tremendously. The soil test are cheap and easy. Lime is cheap for the most part and probably the most important part of the whole growing process. The Ph of the soil is what makes the plants you grow palatable to deer. If the deer don't like the way it taste or can't digest it right, you might as well have planted briars. Second is fertilizer. If the soil is dormant and has no nutrients, back to the briars thing. But, fertilizers are a little more forgiving as most times you can get by with a generic blend such as 15-15-15 or 10-10-10 as long as you use enough and don't use too much. Third is the competition from weeds and grasses. A bottle of round-up can help this problem as long as you take the time to do it right. As msbadger stated, once you kill off what is already there, there are years worth of seeds just waiting to get the sunlight they need to germinate. Normally I like to spray the area down to kill what has grown already. Then disturb the soil and wait for it to green up again and spray it down another time. If you have the means of breaking ground, you follow the advise of hookset and msbadger, you should turn up some very fine plots regardless of what you plant.
As far as what to plant, well that depends on if you just want a harvest plot, a low maintenance plot or a plot to supply the deer with the highest nutrients possible. For harvest plots, buckwheat, winter wheat, rye grass, oats, cow peas, and Australian Winter peas are great choices. As well as some of the brassicas, although I do think that depends on what area of the country you hunt in. I have had marginal results from the brassicas in KY. They grow well, the deer just don't use them as much as I have heard others state from further North. A low maintenance plot, go with a clover blend, red, white, aldino, arrow leaf, etc., with some alfalfa or chicory in the mix. Once these get started, they are a breeze to keep going year after year. Mow them about 4 times a year and add 0-20-20 fertilizer at about 200 lbs. per acre once a year and your in business. As far as high nutrient food plots, well that is usually more work than the average hunter wants to think about. These are plots that you constantly rotate from Summer to Fall/Winter plantings. It takes $$$ and good equipment. I have tried the 2 seed choices you have listed with very poor results. If you don't have means or time to break ground, take the advise I gave ghosthunter. As a "throw and grow" food plot, you can't beat it. Although, like I mentioned in that post, don't expect a food plot like you see in books to come out of this method. I have had very good results doing this when I was young and had no access to equipment of any kind. Also, if you have any honeysuckle thickets close by, fertilize them too. You will be amazed at the way deer will eat them down once they are fertile. The honeysuckle also will greatly improve its protein content once you do this to between 19 - 23%, which is great compared to the cost and time it took to do it.
There are alot of great hunters/land stewards on this forum that can and will give you great advise, but I think you will find it is pretty unanimous across the board that you will get out of your plantings what you put in them. Meaning, don't expect great things out of a "throw and grow" food plot. The more effort, the better the outcome.[;)]
Hope this helps and keep us posted as to the outcome!
Hunt as though your life depended on it, because one day it just might!

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