From Brush To Lush – Plotting Against Whitetails

From Great Plains Living Fall 2012

By Reed BoettcherImage

     The practice of planting food plots has become an increasingly popular method to attract Whitetail deer for hunting purposes.  With television shows and even equipment dedicated to the food-plot market, one would think that the only way to harvest a deer would be to plant food plots.
    The topic of planting food plots has been covered by most major hunting magazines all of which seem to have the same important message.  Planning and using food plots should only be done as a supplemental food source.  This article will discuss three major topics to consider from an equipment stand point.  Clearing a site, preparing the soil, and planting the seed are all done with the added elements of some sort of equipment.  Everyone has their preferences as to how they execute these tasks.  What needs to be taken into consideration is which tools will provide the best outcome in the quickest amount of time.
    Planting of food plots can sometimes have a very short window.   Oklahoma weather can turn from drought to monsoon overnight and Autumn’s hunting season seems to sneak up every year.  Since most of us have busy family and work schedules, finding the time to prepare a food plot can be challenging.  Choosing the right equipment and using it properly can maximize our small windows of opportunity.
    The decision to devote time and money to food plots begins with the basics.  Food for all living things is essential, but so is water, cover, and ample amount of territory.  The arrangement of all these should be a key factor in creating a supplemental site.  Again this should only be done if there are satisfactory levels of Whitetail necessities.
    The elements are in place and the decision to supplement the deer herd has been made.  Starting with site selection is key.  Locating an area that is close to cover is a key component to a successful food plot.  Deer prefer to eat in areas close to cover so this in itself can become an equipment issue.
    So what is the best way to create a lush patch of an attractive supplemental food in the middle of a think patch of brush?  In a perfect world one might start by spraying the growth with Glyphosate allowing it to die and rot over a long period of time.  In addition, clearing a path to the site and the site itself may require the use of a chainsaw for bigger trees or a brush mower mounted on a skid steer for smaller growth.  Preparing a level site and creating access to it could possibly be the biggest task.  Again, if time is not a factor, a constant mowing schedule with a brush cutter will make the final steps much easier.  In reality creating a food plot may limited to August and September.  In this case a Kubota SVL skid steer would come in handy.  One could doze and cut large amounts of brush quickly to prepare for the next step.
    Soil preparation begins with understanding what your soil needs to be productive.  Performing soil tests is a must to determine what and how much fertilizer should be applied.  Physically preparing the ground for seed has various avenues.   Tractor horsepower should be a starting point if one is pulling various implements to prepare soil.  Planting food plots can be done with smaller machines such as ATV’s or utility vehicles, but to create a quality food plot of sustaining size, a tractor paired with appropriate implements will be the most effective solution.  Food plot size is a factor when considering the probability of overgrazing and time seems to be an issue for those creating the site.  It never pays to try to get a job done with the wrong tools.  If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
    The Kubota L3800 series tractor is great for handling food plot projects.  Breaking ground can be approached in various ways.  One might choose a five foot disc or a five foot tiller.  Both work well at disturbing the soil and allowing moisture, if there is any, to breach the surface.  A disc is a good implement to do this if the ground is rough.  A disc will handle harder ground but will probably take several passes to get the ground ready for seeding.  If the soil and ground condition are in good shape, one might use a tiller.  Using say, a five foot tiller to plow the ground may only take one run, but this may only work if the ground allows.
    The soil is prepared and ready for seed.  The perfect site has been chosen and a minimum size food plot has been arranged.  If possible shape the plot to be narrow which will allow cover to be closer on all sides.  After deciding what to plant and how much to plant based on herd population, it is type to set the seed.  There are different tools to broadcast seed.  After seed has been broadcasted, it is best to use a drag to make sure necessary soil contact has been made.
    Like most products on the market there are usually ones that save time by encompassing all functions needed to perform a certain task.  Implements are no exception as in the case of the Land Pride No-Till Drill.  By using a no till drill to create a food plot one could leave out most of step two which is preparing the soil. The ground would still need to be leveled and cleared, but there would be no need to till or disc along with skipping the broadcasting of seed and dragging it for contact.  Personally, there does not seem to enough time to get away to go hunting let alone to create a succulent green patch in the middle of the woods.  
    Land Pride’s compact no till drills create a system designed for long-term productivity for a broad range of seeding applications.   With the optional native grass and small seeds box, it is capable of handling a variety of seeds for food plotting.  In typical cases where one is trying to plant two types of seeds simultaneously that vary in size and weight it becomes a waste of time.  The result is the doubling of work to create the same outcome one could get using a compact drill with multiple seed boxes.  Great Plains Kubota salesman Levi Garrett uses a Land Pride 606NT compact drill to form his plots and has nothing but good things to say about it.
    “The best thing I like about it is that it saves me time and money.  By using it I don’t have to disc the ground.  The cutter discs located on the drill do the job perfectly.  I didn’t get started on my food plots until September and yet they are as green as can be.  With the weather that we have had and as busy as my schedule is, I probably wouldn’t have a food plot if it weren’t for this drill,”  said Garrett.
    Planting food plots can be a successful way to harvest deer.  They provide an opportunity for the hunter to see large amounts of deer while offering the deer themselves added nutritional supplements.  In many ways they are just pleasing to the eye.  The vibrant green is an extreme contrast to the burnt orange of October’s rust.  When thinking of plotting against the hardy Whitetail, think of the tools needed to create a time-efficient food plot so more time can be spent scouting and understanding the local deer herd rather than changing out implements.   


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