With just a few days left in August, I’m hard at it trying to finish up my last minute work on a few fall hunting plots. I sprayed my plots last week, I’ll be discing them in the next couple days and then planting them soon after. Now while we are getting pretty close to most hunting seasons, it’s still not too late for you to create a fall hunting food plot of your own. Creating a small hunting plot can be a great way to increase your odds of meeting a mature buck during daylight hours. So if you’re interested in trying one out, follow these four easy steps and you’ll be sitting over a lush green plot filled with deer before you know it!
1. Determine Where To Plant: When determining a location for planting a fall hunting plot, you must keep in mind several factors. First, you must find a location that has the soil quality and sunlight needed to plant your forage of choice. Second, you want to typically position your plot in between a bedding area and a main feeding area. This is in an effort to make your plot a daylight destination for bucks traveling to feed or back to bed. Great locations can be small open areas in timber, small openings or inlets on the edges of larger feeding areas, or even old two tracks. Lastly, you want to consider entry and exit routes. Make sure you plant your plot in an area that will allow you to stealthily enter and exit the stand without bumping deer. Prevailing wind direction will come into play here as well. Position your plot so that, more times than not, you’ll have the wind in your favor.
2. What To Plant: A huge question for food plotters, whether planting in spring or fall, is what type of crop to plant. When it comes to fall hunting plots you typically are looking for high attraction food. I typically will look at a highly attractive forage that fills a void in my surrounding area. So for example, on my property this year we have 50 acres of corn. I know that come late season a lot of that corn will be gone and the deer will be looking for another attractive food source. I plan on having a plot to provide that. Keep in mind the temperatures you’re expecting during hunting season, as well as the palatability of your forage type at key times of year. For example, if you plan to do most of your hunting in October or early November, standing soybeans might not be a good plot. I say this because at that time of year, beans are typically not favored by deer. It’s not until late in the year, Dec-Jan, that deer will typically begin hitting the beans.
Popular fall hunting plot forages in my area are standing soybeans, standing corn, brassicas, turnips, or cereal grains. This year I’ll be planting three different forages. A brassica mix called Winter Greens, a new turnip blend called Tall Tine Turnips and Imperial Whitetail No-Plow. All from Whitetail Institute. My fall food plot last year was that No-Plow and it came in great. I can’t wait to see how these new plots perform this fall.
3. Prep the Plot: The first step in any food plot, especially a fall hunting plot, is to get a soil test. Once you have this done, you’ll be able to tell what kind of fertilizer and lime will be necessary to provide your crop optimal growing conditions. Next you’ll need to remove any vegetation from your plot site. For most small hunting plots a backpack sprayer with roundup will sufficiently knockout any unwanted plants. Give your plot a few days for the chemicals to work and then you can come in to work the ground. What kind of work you do to the ground totally depends on what kind of equipment you have and how easily accessible the plot is. If you till up the ground with a tractor or ATV disc you’re in great shape, but with some forages like No-Plow you can get away with as little as a plot surface scratched up with a rake. Break up the surface as much as possible, and then add the necessary lime and fertilizer as called for in your soil test results. Now you’re ready to plant.
4. Plant the Plot: The final piece to your puzzle is planting the plot. In most cases this can be done with a simple hand spreader, but the size of your plot and the equipment available will obviously determine how you do this. Be sure to pay attention to the seeding rates for your particular forage, most people tend to over seed their plots, but this is actually not a good thing to do. If you can time it right, plant your seed just before a rain.
With the proper planning, preparation and a little luck your fall hunting plot should be poking out of the ground before you know it. Follow these four easy steps and you should be well on your way to having one heck of a honey hole this fall.