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The Roving Sportsman

By Jon Pries
Fall Food Plots
 
 

While we are in the third week of July, some may think that it is too early to focus on fall food plots, but the time could not be better to begin the process. To do it well, there is planning, research and field work to do, and with the frequent rains that we seem to be having, it would be a good idea to get started now.
While the general intent of most food plots is to provide a food source for deer, using the same plot for fall and spring turkeys should be a consideration. It is a generally accepted practice, therefore, to plant clover as a preferred feed for deer and turkeys will use it as well.
First determine size and location of the food plot or several food plots, depending on the layout of your property and the terrain you are working with. Usually it is preferable to have several smaller size plots rather than one large one. Deer will tend to work the outside or edges of a plot and if it is too large they may never really use much of the center area. With smaller planting areas, the deer will tend to use all of the area and with a smaller plot there will more places to set up blinds or tree stands around the food source, particularly near trails leading into the plot.
As always, once you locate your proposed plot, the next – and most critical – step is to do a soil sample analysis. Check with your County Ag Agent or the folks where you normally purchase lime, fertilizer and seed for their guidance in doing this sampling properly. Based on the results of the analysis it is important to adhere to the recommendations of lime and fertilizer applications for the maximum health and production of the crop or crops you plan to plant.
This time of year, clover along with a cover crop is a good choice. The cover crop is added to the clover seed and the plants that grow as a cover crop or nurse crop will tend to grow faster and provide some shade for the new clover below. If you are in an area with an abundant deer density, you might consider buckwheat as the cover crop. It is a good nutritional food source and deer love it. If it does grow large enough to flower and go to seed, the turkeys will use the food plot to provide the needed shade for the young clover and will tend to remain bitter to the taste for deer – until the first good frost, and then they become sweet and palatable and a favored food for deer.
You may have to dodge some thunder storms or rain showers, which seems to be the normal weather pattern of late, but by starting the food plots now you will have plenty of time to locate just where it will be most advantageous to place your ground blinds or tree stands. By using trail cameras strategically placed around the food plot you can zero in on just which trails are being used for entry and exit of the feed sources and note the time of activity as well, and you should be able to get the stands in place well before the hunting season begins.
Fall food plots are a great source of high protein and mineral feed for deer that will help them put on needed fat to make it through the coming winter months and will aid in maintaining a healthier herd, from fawns and yearlings to mature does and bucks. The work you do now will pay off in the upcoming archery and rifle seasons and for many months and even years to follow.


 
 
 
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