By Mark Kenyon
As you might have seen from some of our posts over on the Wired To Hunt Facebook page, I’ve been hard at work over the past few weeks finalizing my 2012 food plots. Today, I wanted to share with you some details regarding one of these plots, the thought process and strategy I used for creating it, and the experience I had putting it in. Lets dive right in.
This first food plot profile will cover a plot I’m calling “The Imperial Whitetail Clover Boomerang”. I’ve planted this plot for two reasons. Number one, given that the agriculture fields around this property are planted in beans this year, I wanted to ensure that I would have some attractive food sources that would be palatable to deer from September through December. This food plot specifically was planted to fill the September – November gap, but more on that later. The second reason I planted this plot was that I wanted a draw for deer to move down to this side of the property. A second food plot of mine is on the opposite side of the farm, and I wanted to achieve some balance to the section so that I could have kill opportunities no matter the wind direction.
What I Planted
The Boomerang plot is planted primarily in Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover. Imperial Whitetail Clover is a tremendously attractive clover and it is perennial, which means it will come back year after year. In this case, given it’s year #1 I’m not counting on an incredibly lush thick plot, but it should be a great start and in years to come it will only improve. Imperial Clover should typically stay attractive and palatable to deer in my area of the Midwest clear into November. So I’m planning on this being a top food source on this farm from the opener of bow season right through the rut. The clover will eventually go dormant, but as soon as things start to green up in the spring, this clover should pop back up and it will be one of the first great food sources available for my herd early in 2013. Now given that I knew this clover plot would lose some of it’s attractiveness later in the year, I wanted to add a kicker for this season. So right in the middle of the plot I planted a thick strip of Whitetail Institute’s Winter Greens. This brassica blend is super attractive through the late season, and this should help keep this area as a whitetail destination all the way through the end of 2012. But I’ll touch more on the Winter Greens in my next food plot profile.
Where I Planted
Next lets talk about location. As you can see in the picture above, this plot is located in a power line clearing in between a finger of timber that stretches up towards the front of the property, and a large block of bedding cover to the NE (bedding areas in red). As mentioned already, my goal is for the food plot to draw deer out of the bedding area to the northeast and move them down into this finger where I’ll have a Redneck Hunting Blind set up waiting for them. This location is ideal for several reasons. First, it’s very near the large bedding area to the NE, but also a smaller mini bedding area to the northwest. With this food source and the two bedding areas, this area will hold plenty of does and therfore will be a draw for bucks during the rut. Secondly, it’s easy to access. I can easily enter the property from the road and walk up the finger of timber (south of both bedding areas), right up a cleared trail that will lead right to my set up. I should be able to enter and exit this stand very stealthily.
Food Plot Design
Not only was this location strategic, but also the actual design of the plot itself. As you can see in the picture above and as the name indicates, the plot is in a slight boomerang shape. The key to this design is the middle of the boomerang where it narrows. The plan here is for deer to enter into either end of the food plot, and then as they transition across the plot and naturally move to the other leg of the boomerang, they will need to pass through this narrow “neck”. That bottle neck is right where our box blind will be. With a food plot of about 1.5 acres, this is a great way to help bring most deer into bow range while still having a somewhat large plot.
How We Go It In
Last, I wanted to discuss how I put this plot in. I don’t have really any equipment to speak of, so things are naturally a bit more challenging. But with a little bit of creativity and with some help from friends I was able to make this plot work. Things got started in the spring, as we actually wanted to get this plot planted early. I got a couple friends to come in and clear out this area with a brush hog, and then spray the remaining grass with round up. From here the plan was to roto-till it up with their tractor – but because of the heavy grass mat remaining, their tiller couldn’t handle it. By this point we were already part way into June and the drought was in full swing, so we decided to hold off til Fall , when hopefully we would have better luck tilling the field and rain might be more likely.
Fast forward to late August. I’d been keeping up on new weeds with my backpack sprayer and Round Up, and now we were ready to try clearing the plot again. Because of some concerns about being near power lines, we decided not to try burning the debris off, so other options such as raking and drags were tried to clear the field. Nothing quite did the trick, but luckily after several months the debris had deteriorated enough that our second try with the roto-tiller worked.
Once the ground was cleared, I hand spread fertilizer and our seed onto the plot location just before a rain was supposed to hit. Then to achieve good seed to soil contact, I dragged a large leafy tree limb across the food plot. It’s the hillbilly equivalent to a cultipacker! Finally now my plot is in the ground, and it’s just up to mother nature to deliver the rain I need to make this thing pop out of the ground. As you can see, even without big equipment I was able to get this planted. The job wasn’t maybe as easy or as quick as someone with equipment could have done it, but we got it done none-the-less.
With some smart planning and hard work we were able to get this clover plot planted in a location that should help hold deer on my property and provide hunting opportunities during the season. As you may have noticed, nothing about this plot was random. We specifically chose the seed, location and design all to achieve a goal. The next time you’re working on a food plot, I’d encourage you to take the same strategic lens to all aspects of your project. When thought through and correctly executed, a plot like this can make a huge difference in providing for your local deer herd, and can be the key to hunting success.