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Needs Tips on Deer Food Plot Design & Planting

BarnacleBob

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Location: West Tenn., Approximate size: 1 acre located on ridge top, pond & bedding areas located min. 125 yrds from anticipated food plot. A 70 acre cow\hay pasture borders west side. Many intersecting trails, natural drainage swails & very small spring. Forest: Hardwoods, mainly red & white oak interspersed with hickory, cherry, walnut, dogwood & poplar. Soil Quality: poor & highly acidic. Design Considerations: 1 acre appears to be to small for a 180 deg. wagon wheel, so I'm considering a kidney design broken up into 1\8 acre segments to provide possibly Sorgum Cane ingress\egree points as cover.... I recently built an overlooking enclosed solar powered & heated tree stand (22') on the north side of the proposed food plot.... thus whatever design is attempted, I want a 180 degree view from the stand... Planting Preps: 1 ton lime or whatever soil samples suggest. Food Plot Crops: I'm wanting low maintenance perrenial crops planted & rotated in 10' X 80' strips (1\8 acre is 79' X 79'), for instance a 10' wide strip of falcata alfalfa next to a 10' wide strip of white ladino clover, next to a strip of sugar beets, next to a strip of kara clover, next to a strip of chicory, then trefoil, rapeseed, globe turnips, chufa... etc., by this means something is always growing throughout the yr. during wet & dry, cold & hot periods... I'm seeking a design that creates minimal but adequate cover between the 1\8 acre strips (reportedly big bucks dont like watching each other eat). but still provide a view from the stand. I'm thinking Sorgum cane or switchgrass may provide the needed cover along the edges with some the trees that will be cleared.... I've never created a wildlife food plot, so any suggestions from experienced plotters is appreciated. BB
 

GOLDZILLA

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#2
I would consider which way the wind is blowing normally so as to make sure to draw the most deer.
 

Rusty Shackelford

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Food Plots were inventEd by guys marketing tv shows and commercials. Food plots work well when you have 1000s of acres to control. Small time stuff like your speaking ain't worth the time. You got well used trails indicating deer are there and using the property. Go where the deer are don't try to influ ce them to you stand.

In other words, don't waste time or mOney on it.
 

ttazzman

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#4
I do food plots....with success...(here are some overview thoughts)

first thing about food plots is what is your ultimate goal?

possible goals

#1 to grow healthy large deer in your area

#2 to hunt over

#2a if your wanting to hunt over them what kind of hunting are you doing,gun,bow,etc

#2b what are you hunting ...any deer...or big bucks

the above questions are important for many reasons

#1 i have never seen big bucks utilizing a food plot during daylight hrs during RUT (normally gun hunting season)

#2 does and fawns will utilize the food plots anytime

#3 Big bucks will utilize food plots with items like turnips during winter or very late bow season where i am at dec/jan ...and clovers etc may-september

#4 you will see a general rise in deer population if you provide good food....you will see more fawns and more sucess rates and other game (rabbits etc).....you will also see a corrosponding rise in predators in your area

in my specfic food plot areas i normally do 2 plantings (non-perinial)
Spring ....any grain crop and a legume will do...clover mix/lesbadiza/alfalfa
Fall (mid-august plant) ....i plant a mix of turnips/crimson clover/bob oats/Rye/winter pea/chicory/

if the area is going to be very shady that needs to be considered

around the perimeter of my fields i maintain a band of multi-type clover

this year due to corn/soybean crop failures in our area we had a huge influx of deer into my areas since we were able to provide good forage but most years here i am working around ..corn/soybeans/acorn crops (as Rusty said deer range a long ways so its hard to control them on small plots)

the high dollar seed you see in the stores is totally overpriced most good farm seed suppliers will have a spring and fall food plot seed mix reasonably priced in my area clover based mixes do well perennially

kinda a primer hope it helps

here is a link to the actual place i buy food plot seed ...has some descriptions that might be helpful http://www.nixahardware.com/deer-plot-seed.html
 
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ttazzman

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followup

we do see does and fawns bedding in forest close to food plots.......bucks during rut season spend more time chasing than eating

bucks during season are like a horney 20 year old man on a bus full of hooters girls ....he aint got time to eat
 
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BarnacleBob

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Thanks all, I planted a 1\4 acre temp plot using ladino & crimson clover, radish & rape brassicas... and some rye, the does & yrlings been hitting it... there was 8 ptr in it the other morn... I want gun hunting plot .... lots of heavily used trails converge in the proposed area... as the deer & also turkey use the trails to move from bedding to forage areas... the area is the perfect stopover for moving deer...lots of hardwoods.. my deer stand is constructed of wood & fully enclosed, windows, toilet & heat... scent is not a problem. the upper level thats not enclosed is 26' tall... I get my seed locally.. its a lot cheaper than the specialized marketed seed... so far it works just as good... also hoping a food plot will keep em out of my garden, they sure like bush beans, sweet potato & beets! the 1\4 acre plot has thus far kept them away from the late garden... but for how long is the ? We have 14 acres to play with, I could make the plot bigger, but I view the trees as a investment saving account, acre to start with maybe 2 if very successfull, but no more.... City people paying stupid $ to hunt over private plots too....
 

ttazzman

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I was thinking about food plots etc ....

for people that dont have big areas and want a stop off point for deer a easy way is to put out a mineral block a $6-7 dollar 50# salt/mineral block is a cheap way to go and is a good place to put your game cam to check whats coming though

for a perminant plot its hard to beat a clover mix and what ever hay grass works in your area
 

BarnacleBob

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@ttazzman.... thanx for ur inputs. I have mineral licks already in different places, they draw deer in the hot months, not so much in cooler or cold months.... I took 3 x #50 salt blocks last fall and placed them is a 5' round very shallow pit.... the salt melted into the pit over the winter, the deer this summer have dug the pit into a hole... they really liked that method a lot better than just throwing salt blocks arbitrarily on the forest floor.... gonna add 2 more salt pits in a couple weeks triangulated around the food plot & stand...
 

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BarnacleBob

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Hi ya Hoarder... thanx 4 link.... Spring b4 last we planted several rows of beets & canned most of them, but the beets were the last canning we did, so we had some surplus beets that were not harvested.... the deer ate the tops all winter.... this past spring they jumped in producing bulk size & big tops, they became much to large to harvest so I experimented with them... the deer loved the tops but never touched the beet itself.... some of the beets grew to half the size of a football... the deer mowed the tops down & the tops quickly regrew.... this has me thinking that maybe I can strip plant some beets as a perrenial crop since the root winters so well in our mild winters. I am concerned with spring moisture producing rot then producing disease, but then again we live atop a ridge that perks abundantly,... any thoughts appreciated?
 

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I don't know much about food plots in areas that get 40+ inches of rain a year other than milo. Milo (sorghum) is easy, drought tolerant and produces a high number of bushels per acre. Deer eat the tops and turkeys love it, too. You're supposed to plant the seeds but they do pretty well if you just broadcast them.
 

BarnacleBob

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@hoarder.... Indeed "milo" & "chupa" are definetly on my radar screen.... was thinking about growing "cane sorgum" around the edges for cover as it grows 4-7' tall dependent upon soil & fertilization... however its not a perrenial. There is a native cane that grows here, but it doesnt grow well on hill tops & ridges.... so I'm seeking to plant a perrenial thick cover around the edges.... got any suggestions?
 

hoarder

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I've done many hours of research and trial and error plantings here in Western Montana. Milo is not a viable crop in my area, but I've scattered feed milo for the turkeys and grouse and what they missed sprouted and looked robust, yet did not quite mature completely. That gives you an idea how easy milo is. Remember there is "Feed milo" and "Seed milo", the latter costs much more. Food plots are too location specific for me to be able to give you much advice. Your options will be much broader than I have here. I did grow milo food plots in SE Missouri which is somewhat similar to your area, but that's the extent of my experience in high rainfall areas. The guys at the QDMA forum are way more knowledgable than I am. Also much depends on what equipment you have. Buying equipment depends on terrain. Hill tops and ridges do not justify buying lots of expensive farm equipment. A 2 wheel drive tractor on steep terrain is dangerous.

When narrowing down your strategies, I suggest you look for crops that don't need to be planted more than 1/4" deep, as they usually do OK just broadcasting, even if it isn't recommended. Most likely you don't have a planter at your disposal.
 

ttazzman

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you might consider something like persimmon trees......deer here this time of year prefer acorns and persimmons .......not a food plot persay but definitely a annual attractant and food source
 

BarnacleBob

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I've been collecting "hedge apples" (osage orange) to plant as cover and also provide a food source, but thats gonna take a few yrs to get established... any thoughts on what fast growing low maintenance cover can be temporarily planted around the edges? TIA
 

ttazzman

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I've been collecting "hedge apples" (osage orange) to plant as cover and also provide a food source, but thats gonna take a few yrs to get established... any thoughts on what fast growing low maintenance cover can be temporarily planted around the edges? TIA

do deer eat hedge apples?

grain crops (rye) make good fast growing temp cover/food......i plant a lot of clover round edges but its pretty perminant......if you use cheap grasses they can be hard to get rid of

Bob, i dont know if your state does it but our conservation dept sells native seedling trees and bushes on a annual basis at a very good price...i just ordered 300seedling trees at i think .36cents each to be delivered in april its a fantastic way to do some of the things your wanting to do cheaply
 

Jimfrancisco

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Deer love turnips, and turnips are cheap - they can smell them from miles away. So despite it being illegal to bait deer where I live, I put out some turnips chopped into quarters, and wait till dusk. My BO place/cabin is rife with deer, so culling a couple is a good thing.
After I lay out the turnips, I lie in my hide fo an hour - guaranteed a few appear and I can pick my shot. I take heads and feet off, and pay the local butcher to do the rest - I can do it myself, but he does it so cheaply and well it's a waste of my time breaking down a deer. £60 of his time for what would cost me £400 or more in the shops? and I just tell him what I want in terms of mince, sausages, burgers, steaks or roasts. And obviously he takes a couple of nice bits.
All has to go in the back door - apparently customers don't like seeing a dead deer with no head being carried into the shop by two guys smelling of whisky and covered in blood!
 

ttazzman

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i plant turnip food plots.....my deer wont go for them till after the first hard freeze then they are all over them digging them up etc.

in my area they are all over the persimmons

i have hedge apples all over the ground right now.....seems deer here dont care for them much....

currently the deer are grazing the rye ...clover.....areas the best..

this is a different year......usually the deer have corn and beans around to work on.....drought killed all of that off....