Realistic Food Plot Goals
This time of the year can be tough for us hunters. We are currently in a lull between the end of deer season and the beginning of turkey season. To top it off, many deer have yet to drop their antlers, depending on where you are located, so searching for shed antlers is still a couple of weeks away. Of course, deer management has no closed season, and nor does any other type of wildlife management. There are many things we can do now to yield success for us in the upcoming turkey and deer seasons this year. Before you till the first plot, choose the first seed blend, or design the first plot, there are a few things that you should first figure out.
The first thing I always ask a landowner is what is their goal of establishing a food plot? There are many things that can contribute to a food plot’ success or demise.
Many landowners want a plot they can hunt over during the actual deer hunting season. While this is the most common goal, I also tell the landowner it is equally important to have a food source available to the deer during the rough winter months.
The late summer months can also be a stressful period for whitetails. So in other words, do you want to create a hunting plot or do you want to provide a year around food source? Furthermore, I rarely deal with a landowner that hunts only one wild game species. That being the case, why not plant something that benefits multiple species at once? I have yet to see a food plot that didn’t benefit from a feathered edge. A feathered edge is when another forage is planted between the forest edge and the perimeter of the primary food plot. This provides multiple benefits. The “soft” edge encourages deer activity and provides fawning cover. Also, turkeys will use these areas to feed on insects. Doves and bobwhite quail are commonly found in these areas also. Egyptian wheat and Mossy Oak BioLogic’s Whistleback are both great forages to accomplish this. There are many seed blends designed to benefit more than one wildlife species.
The second question is, what will your land allow you to do? I have designed plans for landowners who want food plots in areas that machinery just can’t get to. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve have clients who have more than enough area to establish a few plots. While both of the aforementioned landowners have and will have successful food plots, how they went about implementing them was quite different. Understanding these limitations is key to having a successful food plot program. This is when consulting with a professional can save you time and money. Rocky soils, well drained soils, and shade provided by nearby trees and vegetation all have an extreme influence on a food plot’s production. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to a successful food plot.
While this time of the year can be quite dull for an outdoorsman, there is still plenty of things that can be done to give you a head start on your land management. Establishing food plots on a whim, without planning out the basics, will not only produce a poor food plot, it will also waste your time and money. This year, take the time to go over what is listed above. Later in the year you will be glad you did.
Andrew Walters is an Edgecombe County native and spends much of his time pursuing wild game and fishing across eastern North Carolina with his family and his fiancé, Noelle. His passion for the outdoors was the driving force that led him to North Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Science in 2014. He was the President of the NCSU Quality Deer Management Association club and continues to be an avid member of QDMA. After graduating, he earned his real estate license and joined the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms team in Greenville, NC. He is a freelance outdoor writer and has had a number of featured articles in the Wildlife in NC magazine, as well as, Mossy Oak Gamekeepers. Andrew is also a major contributor to the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms weekly blog, the Management Minute. His extensive knowledge of wildlife management coupled with his ability to identify plant and tree species provides him the unique ability to help clients not only identify, but manage their property to maximum potential. Andrew’s enthusiasm and knowledge enables him to properly navigate the channels necessary in “finding your favorite place” outdoors, as well as, developing a wildlife management plan specifically tailored for your piece of ground. Contact Andrew today to find out how he can help you find and manage your next dream property.
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