By Cody Altizer:
Throughout the summer, I’ve penned a couple of blogs about the benefits of food plot screens and why you should consider implementing them as part of your management strategy (Click here for Part 1 & Part 2). At its most basic, food plot screens are simple in theory and implementation. Want to keep deer from seeing you walk past your stand? Plant a food plot screen. Want to make deer feel safe and more secure, and thus increase daytime feeding in the plot? Plant a food plot screen. These are topics I touched on in both of my posts; however, I’ve been looking forward to writing this particular blog for quite some time. In this post, I am going to explain how I have creatively used food plot screens to create the ultimate kill plot.
The idea for this kill plot came to me last winter while I was hunting a particular section of my family’s hunting property. This specific area on our property is right behind my house, and I had completely overlooked it’s potential prior to the 2011 season. It’s a small field dotted with mature walnut trees that sits between two doe bedding areas. I had decided to leave a trail camera at a mock scrape during the entire month of October, and the results spoke for themselves. Turns out, deer, both bucks and does, like to travel through the west end of the field quite a lot. By early November that year I had a stand hung and was ready to kill a mature deer thanks to my genius scouting abilities.
Unfortunately, since that time, I’ve had stands hung in 5 different trees surrounding that little field trying to get close to the whitetails that frequently filtered through the area. I haven’t come close. Thanks to a host of terrain features that make getting within bow range of the deer extremely difficult, trespassers, an access road, and no defined path of travel, these deer have accessed the bedding area north of the field in nearly every way imaginable. So, last December, while sitting in stand #5 during the late season, cold after having deer sneak past me just out of range yet again, it hit me: build a kill plot.
But this wasn’t just going to be your average kill plot. This plot needed to do three things: it had be to easily accessible coming from downwind, have deer feeding in it during daylight hours, and be a lot of fun to hunt out of. And food plot screens have allowed to me accomplish all of those goals.
Let me explain:
Since this plot is on the on the eastern side of our 260 acre rectangular property that runs west to east, I can enjoy quality hunts without disturbing the rest of our property. As someone who takes pressuring deer as serious as a heart attack, this is obviously very appealing to me. I can sneak in to my ground blind set up down wind with South, Southwest and West winds.
However, as mentioned, a heavily used access road runs parallel to this plot, and that spells disaster for daytime feeding in the plot. Enter food plot screens. The actual location of the plot is in the southwest corner of the field, so to block the plot from the road and whoever may be on it, I decided to plant sorghum in an L shape to completely hide the existence of the plot. It worked flawlessly. My sorghum is now incredibly thick and up to 8 feet tall in places, and looks likes a big beautiful mess from the access road. Once you take a peak through the sorghum into the plot, it looks like a completely different world. I can say with full certainty that the deer are going to feel incredibly safe feeding in this plot during daytime hours.
When the idea first came to create a kill plot in this location I was initially faced with another problem, there were no good trees to hang a stand in downwind of the plot, and I surely wasn’t going to hunt upwind. But the spot was too good to NOT hunt there, so I decided to hunt from the ground – something I’m not a big fan of. Don’t get me wrong, ground blinds can be incredibly effective, but on our property with its terrain and wind currents, it’s better to get up a tree and hunt out of the air.
However, once I realized that a ground blind was our best option, I got really excited because I knew exactly where to put it, right smack dab in the middle of the sorghum. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see very far, but I also knew it was very unlikely the deer would see me. With the right wind, I’ll be invisible to the deer (hopefully). After months of watching the sorghum grow, my dad and I finally put the ground blind a couple weeks ago.
It took us a little over an hour to put up and brush in the Ameristep Doghouse blind. We pulled up the sorghum up out of the ground by hand where the blind would go, and used that sorghum to help brush it in. I also cut some Autumn Olive bushes to use as extra cover and brush it in that much more. In the front, I had initially thought of just cutting shooting lane. Instead my dad suggested leaving a little strip of sorghum right in the middle for extra cover. As a bowhunter, that was a brilliant idea, because with deer going to be in close proximity of the blind, it will help me come to full draw undetected. Props to my old man!
As you can probably tell, I’m really excited about this set up. Back in August I broadcasted some oats and clover in the 1/8th acre food plot, and both have germinated and are growing beautifully thanks to the generous rainfall we’ve received since planting. I broadcast some winter rye onto the plot in early September as well.
I wish I could show each and every one of you this plot in person, because it’s just a really cool set up. In theory, deer will come out of the bedding area to the northwest for a snack in the afternoon. If nothing else, this will be a really fun place to hunt whether I kill a deer or not. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy the pictures and hopefully you can implement a similar strategy on your property in the future!
Before heading out, take a look at the aerial view of this property and my kill plot!
Shaded Green – Bedding Area
Blue – Access Road
Red – Sorghum Food Plot Screen
Black – Ground Blind
Green – Food plot
Yellow – House
– Cody Altizer, CodyAltizerPhotography.com