Small food plot

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mauser06
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Small food plot

Unread postby mauser06 » Sat Jan 07, 2023 5:46 pm

I did something I'd never do.....I signed a lease. Never thought I'd pay to deer hunt...but I'm paying for land that I hopefully don't have to deal with stupid people on lol.


6 of us leased 240 acres....of the 6 of us, I'm the only guy that is more than a very occasional hunter. I really don't expect the other guys to be there much at all. I think they wanted a place to take their kids once in a blue moon. Like opening morning of gun season type of stuff.


I've been the only member to hunt it. The guy that started it walked it for an hour prior to us signing it.


It's 100% timbered. There's a few trails and a gas well road...off the gas well road is a small clearing...it's about exactly a half an acre.

I HATE that there are no good habitat edges or cover....but, for only being 240 acres, we have a lot of terrain features.

And for being 240 acres, we definitely hold 20-30 deer...probably on the higher side...and on years we have acorns, I bet even more.

This is a very odd year where there were nearly no acorns produced anywhere. I've never seen a year this bad. I still hunted the ridge top in rifle season and personally seen 15-20 different deer.

2 weeks ago I still hunted into a herd of about 30. 7 buck for sure. 3 mature buck and 4 1.5yos. I didn't get to glass them all. That was on the neighbors edge...but we had snow and I walked a couple loops and only saw 5 other deer...and not much for fresh tracks. I didn't get to check it all...but seemed like they were herded up that day...


Anyways, the clearing is in a pretty good location.

There are a ton of oak trees and generally speaking, we have good Acorn crops aside from this year. It's timber property...it hasn't been cut in a long while...the trees will produce but I haven't seen any giant oak...so mast will be abundant and spread out most years.

They REALLY wanna plant something. I could honestly care less....but since I get a say in it, I want something that is a good later season source. No reason to feed big woods deer until about November....I'd REALLY like a true late season food source but not sure they'd fall for it being I'm the only late season hunter lol.



Any thoughts on what you'd plant? There is no destination food source...this is a pretty sizable block of just timber. Some timber cuts in the area...but even now with zero acorns, it's holding late season deer...i think if we had something that's good post frost and beyond, it'd be our best option.

Something basically no maintenance would be ideal. Prep the dirt, plant it and that's that.

We're sending soil samples out to do it as "right" as we can.

Our gun season is right after Thanksgiving...our late season is right after Christmas.

We are in NW PA...first frost is generally mid October-ish.

Unfortunately, we can't cut anything or I'd make me some thick cover pockets and bedding areas....


I don't know how long I'll be a member...I honestly didn't think it'd hold the bucks I'm after but I saw 3 with my own eyes already so the potential is there and I think the rut may be pretty good. The one area in particular does have a thick edge on a point where the next property down was cut. That small ridge is littered with rut sign leading to that.

I'm going to camera bomb it as soon as the late season ends and set up 2 or 3 bait stations to try to take a decent inventory and I'll map out every inch of it before green up. I might drop a couple presets but mostly probably going mobile and probably only rut hunt it....I despise big woods hills prior to pre-rut traffic lol. I rather keep all the deer on the property and unsuspecting and strike when the opportunity is the best


dan
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby dan » Sun Jan 08, 2023 12:09 am

I personally would be more inclined to do an all season type plot if your only putting one in. Wether your into plots or not they help the animals and help your property hold more and hold better travel patterns. I would consider either an all season mix or doing 1/2 in brassicas and half in a good clover blend.
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby oldrank » Sun Jan 08, 2023 12:38 am

Brassica, clover and winter rye is a deadly combo.
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Primetime » Sun Jan 08, 2023 3:52 am

How big is the plot you are wanting to make? Clover is a great option if its hard to get equipment where you are. Get a good stand of clover, mow it a few times and then you can simply frost seed it every year. I have 2 clover plots that looks fantastic for 4ish years now. they are both an acre in size. This last year we made half of the plot brassicas and it turned out great as well. Your doing the right thing getting the soil sample first to see what you have to work with. If it is all big woods with limited food I would think having something year round would be great to hold deer on your lease and attract more deer maybe. Try to make a plot big enough to withstand the deer browse.
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Swamp Stache » Sun Jan 08, 2023 5:49 am

Turnips or raddish maybe. Both are more desirable after a couple frosts.
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mauser06
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby mauser06 » Sun Jan 08, 2023 12:09 pm

Thanx guys!


The plot is right around a half acre....pretty round in shape....it's on top of the ridge but with mature hardwoods surrounding it, it might struggle for sunlight...not sure there yet.


I like the idea of a year round something....but it'll have to be something that'll keep growing.. anything that stays green and will keep up with constant browse...


It's not hard to get equipment to the plot....the issue is getting it to the property...just a pain in the but to have to drag a tractor or whatever up there a bunch. Most of us live 45min or so away.


Clover probably is a very good option. Frost seed it...mow it a couple times in the spring and summer...try to keep weeds under control...can probably go a few years before we'd have to rework the dirt if we kept up on a little maintenance.



I personally don't even care if it's something they use in the daylight. Getting deer to stay on the property is why I'd want one. I'll cut the bucks off down wind or cruising doe trails during the rut. Unless the bucks are prancing around in the plot in daylight...lol.


It's already been nice to have the place.


We did make a rule where only 6 bucks can be killed off the property a year. If my buddies kid kills one, that counts toward his buck.

They wanna start with 1 doe per member but I'd already like to see that eliminated. Make sure it's a female deer and take her out if you want. I've hunted bigger chunks of private that does aren't managed and the rut is a kiddy parade. The mature bucks know where the does are and don't have to seek them out.
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Hawthorne
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Hawthorne » Sun Jan 08, 2023 12:33 pm

I once frost seeded white clover right into some high grass. I came back in May and sprayed the new growth grass with a grass specific herbicide. The clover came in really well. For fall planting when I worked the ground in summer and planted , buck forage oats, winter rye, and radishes planted together pulled in a ton of deer into December
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Chuck B » Sun Jan 08, 2023 2:14 pm

Yea it really depends on when YOU want to hunt it. If you want to hunt it early season , then do an early season plot, for example.

If you want easiest and most “universal” the clover is always a good option.
If you aren't green and growing, you are ripe and rotting
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Elite » Sun Jan 08, 2023 3:46 pm

There is no “best” food plot blend, especially your first year. Variables (droughts, soil nutrients, plot size) browse pressure and time of year determine and impact results. Your brassicas (great late season and mid season blend) will be gone early on if the plot isn’t big enough. Beans will be gone if it’s not fenced off. Deer may not like clover in your area. Point is, it’ll take a couple seasons to figure out these variables. It took me 3 seasons to find out that deer in my area love chicory, will destroy my brassicas before they mature (regardless of a frost) because my plot sizes are too small; and love cereal grain early season.
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Primetime » Mon Jan 09, 2023 3:05 am

Sounds like you can supplemental feed as well. Half an acre isnt all that big especially if there is no food close around so if you can add a couple feeders and supp feed all year long that would be a good idea I would think.
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby Sailfish_WC » Mon Jan 09, 2023 4:43 am

We have a small parcel and started w a small plot this year in March - now

Our place is probably diff than yours but, March planting was hammered. Absolutely hammered. Replanted end of June I believe it was, and did ok. The fall plot they didn’t touch really

Our deer this year were pretty darn good. Multiple diff bucs regularly showed up through mid- archery then things changed.

Anyways, I’d unequivocally say go for it. Cost really isn’t that much overall if you own the equipment and or ready to put in some sweat equity.
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mauser06
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Re: Small food plot

Unread postby mauser06 » Mon Jan 09, 2023 2:54 pm

Over browse is definitely a concern. I don't know what will continue to fill itself in....assuming clover and such will. Our deer will go out of their way for anything with a hint of green once fall locks in and the weather turns cold.

I'd have no problem running a spreaders through in Sept or early October to give it 1 last fertilizer boost to get 1 last good burst before winter.



Good point on moisture. Thats a big unknown. My guess is fairly dry. It doesn't rain, it doesn't get moisture. But being innthe middle of timber, it may not dry out as bad as say a larger field.


It's funny how different deer can be. I tried sweet feed at my buddies camp and the deer wouldn't touch it. I used it here at the house and the deer waited for me to dump more.


We can feed....but not during hunting season. I'll run a couple bait stations to take an inventory after next Monday when the season ends....but nothing crazy. Maybe a good idea to try to find a few bales of alfalfa or something. Especially if we do get a hard freeze and/or snow pack. Normally I wouldn't really think about it....but with no acorns this season, a little help won't hurt em.


I don't know how long I'll stick to this particular property. I'm willing to give it a full season next year and see. I'm after mature bucks. I'm concerned the lack of cover hurts the piece. We'll see. I already saw 3 mature buck....but, stumbling into a late season herd and what lives there all fall may be different. I see rubs....but nothing crazy and nothing that makes me think there's a couple toads in there. But, each point might hold a mature buck a 5-10 doe and the big buck don't lay a ton of sign. I've seen that a lot in big timber. Pockets of deer and not a ton of competition so the sign isn't the greatest.


We'll see. I'm excited about it. By spring, I plan to have it pretty thoroughly scouted...I'll run cameras pretty much through the year and see what I can learn and what I have to work with. Once the weather breaks I'll get minerals out....nursing does and bucks growing racks can use minerals. And give me a good idea of buck inventory.


Hoping the place holds gobblers this spring too.


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