"We plant food plots, but still don't have big bucks on our property," is a statement wildlife biologists hear often. Far too many property owners, and hunting clubs who lease land, think that just planting food plots is all there is to having big bucks. This is far from the truth! There are many steps that must be taken to have big bucks and one of the first is to start a record keeping system on the deer harvested.
The wildlife professional who guides you down the road to having big bucks needs an annual record of the deer taken, the more years the better, before making long-term management recommendations for your property.
Many of the better hunting properties available today were once farms. Often the area around the old farmstead is grown up, almost a jungle, and the fields and old pastures are in planted pine or CRP grass. Unless the old farm house is good enough for a camp, the farmstead is ignored, sometimes for years, until the landowner wants to spend the money to have the area cleaned up and planted in something that produces cash.
Food plots planted near public roads or near property lines invite poaching and I am hearing from a number of readers who have trespass problems. I have an e-mail from one Global Outfitters reader who has planted turnips in a food plot within sight of a county road. It is not poachers who are coming in on his food plot, it is turnip lovers.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is in regards to using an ATV for planting a food plot is, "Can I use my ATV to plant food plots or should I invest in a tractor?" The condition of the ground to be broken up, the power your ATV has and the equipment you have to break the soil all has to be taken into consideration to answer that question.
My introduction to Egyptian wheat, a tall growing grain sorghum, had nothing to do with squirrels. It was simply a supplemental plant for Quail Haven soybeans to run up. The main crop was the running soybeans as a warm season wildlife food plot. However, by early fall I was watching wild turkey and quail going to great lengths to get to the Egyptian wheat seed heads, and more impressive were the number of squirrels coming out of the nearby woods to feed on the wheat seed.
Want a deer magnet? Find a fruit bearing Common persimmon tree and take a stand.
Most years the female Common persimmon tree bears fruit. Deer love this fruit when it ripens and falls to the ground in the autumn. It is usually available under the tree for a month or more as only a few persimmons fall at a time.
Usually, when you read about a food plot crop you read all the about all the wonderful values of the plant or plant mix. Catch words such as nutritious, high protein, drought hardy, etc. are often used to describe the plant. However, when you mention Japanese honeysuckle the first thing you hear is pest, weed, invasive, snake cover, etc. In the right place, with the correct management, this honeysuckle can be all the good things better known crops planted for wildlife are, and more.
Research done for establishing a long term perennial food plots recommend that Durana clover be considered as the crop to plant due to its shade tolerance, wide adaptability to weather extremes, low maintenance, high protein content (up to 28%) and long life, 7 years or more with proper management.