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Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:23 pm
by Alan Chavers
I have been a member at numerous hunting clubs and have always just went along with whatever the lead dog of the club wanted done when it came to when, where, and what to plant. I recently joined a new club which is about an hour from my house. It is just inside the Marion County line on Hwy 43. The club has about 800 acres and extends from Hwy 43 to the Pearl River. I am pretty pumped as this is prime deer country. Anyway, this club has private plots and I am responsible for my own for the first time. As I am one of the last members in, I have to take whatever block was left. My area is in a stand of mature pines mostly 12 to 18" diameters. The owner cleared a row so my plot is approx. 15' wide and about 600 feet long. It had briars housetop high that I bushhogged several weeks ago. Last weekend I disked(sp?) it and spread about 400lbs of lime on it as I was told it needed it. The ground is rich and dark brown but will be in shade most of the day as the row runs almost due north and south. Be patient, I'm almost to my question. One thing I have learned from decades of deer hunting is that all the club's "alpha dogs" THINK they know even if they don't. I have gotten all kinds of advice as to what to plant and done a lot of reading. What the reading doesn't tell me is what grows well under shade. The trees are mature and there is sunlight but it is not in the wide open. I want something different from what the club is planting (rye grass, wheat, white top clover) but it needs to grow well even if it is not in the bright sunlight. How well do rape or peas grow in the shade? I would love to have something really different. Anyone want to suggest a mix that grows in rich soil in a shady environment? Thanks

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:40 pm
by RoadRanger
First let me say welcome to the site!! Always great to get new members. Be sure you keep us up to date with whatever you choose to do. OK for your question I will say that I have planted BFO.. Buck Forage Oats for the last 10 years or so and have never had it not do well. I have had it in wide open plots down to areas like you have described that are shaded most all day long. Last year was my first in a new club and the deer HAMMERED my plot. Couldn't even walk into the stand without pushing a deer or two out. Others may have other ideas as to what you could plant but I would research the BFO if I were you. Its not expensive which is also a plus... I usually fertilize with 13-13-13 and plant a week later or sometimes the same day. Have never been able to tell a difference

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:53 pm
by huntall
I used to have a plot exactly like you are describing.
I planted a mix of 1/3 oats, 1/3 wheat, and 1/3 rye(cereal grain rye not rye grass)
and this worked out real good! It was enough sun for this to grow good.

If you was going to plant rape and peas...I think they would need something else added rather than just a stand alone plot of rape and peas.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:49 pm
by e_smith06
I planted a plot similar to this in wheat last year. Except mine ran east and west with pines to the south. Started off good but into winter the sun never touched the plot so growth slowed. Also being so close to the pines, you'll need to fertilize the crap out of it as the pines are soaking up those nutrients. Good luck and welcome to the site!

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:55 am
by gtk
I like that idea, of each member is responsible for his foodplot, & the owner clears for you..

You may have to "try & see" what works best for that area. Wheat is usually a sure bet.. Fertilize it and they will come to it.. I stay away from rye grass.. I have never had deer eat rye that I have planted.

Good luck & take pictures !

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:24 am
Welcome! I am not food plot expert either but I do think that if you plant peas, you will be wasting your time. In a plot the size you have they would be eaten down before they ever got going, leaving you without a food plot for most of the season.
This may seem like a lot of trouble but I would try planting "patches" this year so that I could figure out what is going to do the best in your particular spot. I would pick 4 different products and plant 50 yards of each. If nothing else, you will know for next year and it won't break the bank. Good luck!

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:31 pm
by RoadRanger
Bigern that's is a pretty good idea!! Hey it will be like a buffet for the deer. Come next season Bam you know EXACTLY what does best AND what deer fed on the most

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:28 pm
by Alan Chavers
Ok I like the 4 plot suggestion. If I planted triticale, oats, winters peas, and clover which of those would survive a hard frost? For a little more info, I am also a member of a club in Dekalb, MS. I have persuaded the alpha dog to let me plant something different. The separate plots with some wire barricades will let us know what they like up here too. I am in my camper cooling off after a hot day of FP bush hogging and disc-ing. Is buck forage a brand name or a type of oats. Also anyone familiar with triticale? Thks

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:03 pm
by huntall
Think oats would get cold weather damage before the rest.
In Mississippi I don't to much worry about cold temp damage.

I have been thinking of planting Triticale. I don't know that much about it , but sounds like it would be great! I say try it! I think I am gonna plant a bag and see how it does.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:50 pm
by RoadRanger .... Here is what I use. Hope it helps

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:07 pm
by jv
Welcome again to the site.....whatever you do decide to plant fertilize it well and the deer will come to it, this i do know.

Re: Two more questions

PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:47 am
by Alan Chavers
Road, do you order BFO and have it delivered or do you get it from a feed/seed store. Any and all, when do you plant? I think I am going to plant Triticale and BFO in separate areas in my private plot and in small areas wherever the Alpha Dog in my other club will let me. Hopefully, I can prove to him that deer aren't that fond of rye grass. Thanks for the input.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:21 am
by RoadRanger
You can usually find BFO at any local co-op / feed and seed store. Coon town farms here in Florence is where I get my seed and fertilizer. I have got my plot bush hogged now and will disc it up really good come the second or third weekend of September and plant. Run a drag across it all to smooth it down and pray for rain. The forecast will play a large roll in when I put the seed in the ground

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:06 pm
by Alan Chavers
I calculated my two plots to be about 0.2 ac on one and 0.3+- on the other. This week I put 400lbs more lime on each bringing the total for each plot to over 700lbs. I also put 50lbs of 13-13-13 on each of them. Last night a friend brought his tractor mounted tiller out there and he tilled them to a pretty fine powder. I had a camera out over some scattered corn and got some pretty good pics of several does, a couple of beautiful daylight pics of a mamma and spotted fawn, and a 4 AM photo of a young 6-8 point. I am waiting for some rain to plant Buck Forage Oats. I tried to find Triticale but the two feed stores I asked looked at me like I was nuts saying they never heard of it. Anyway, I am waiting on rain to plant. Have any of you ever heard of driving your ATV over the plot after planting in lieu of scratching it in? I don't have anything to drag and the buddy that tilled it said that some just plant it and pack it down driving their side by side over it. I could do that if it were a legit way to cover up the seed.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:00 pm
by gtk
You can get a piece of chain link fence and drag it behind your fourwheeler.. would do better than nothing.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:05 pm
by RoadRanger
Coming from a man who is poor I found that if you get a FREE pallet from a store, co-op, etc that works like a champ. Simply run a rope through the pallet and get to dragging. Last year was my first year to do this and I was very impressed it worked so well. My plot was as smooth as my front lawn.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:53 pm
by huntall
If nothing can drag a pine top or some kinda limb that has fallen off a tree to help cover your seed.
I have done that a couple times a long time ago before I got all my tractor equipment.
Beats nothing!

The co-op should have Triticale.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:17 pm
by Alan Chavers
I got another recommendation to just pack it down by running over it with my side by side.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:39 pm
by e_smith06
That's what I do too Alan. Works great

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:09 am
by FireCloud
There are so many variables that apply to food plots it is hard to predict anything with certainty. Weather plays a significant part, especially later in the season. But don't worry too much about the cold because where you are located all of the following should grow at least a little during most winters we typically get.

Bob oats (or the expensive brand name varieties like "Buck Forage Oats"
Winter Wheat
Elbon Rye
Austrian winter peas

I have planted all four, in a 25% each mix, with good results for the past three years. They tolerate some shade but do better with more sun. But they should all germinate and grow in your plots given that you have some sunlight, well prepared soil, and have both limed and fertilized the area. The benefit of planting a mix like the above is that if one of the crops does not thrive, the others likely still will grow enough to keep something available for the deer throughout the season. This mix DOES NOT contain any form of rye grass. Deer can and will eat rye grass but they prefer better quality foods.

I bought individual sacks of each seed and mixed them myself. The cost is far less than buying a commercial brand with a picture of a big buck on the front.

The problems you, and every one of us, face is that the later in the season it gets the slower any plantings grow and the less they produce. That is just the problem of trying to grow green things in winter. Not much thrives with short daylight days and cold temperatures.

Also, if you have an abundance of deer in the area, or the plot attracts more deer than you expect, either you will have to kill off a bunch of the deer quickly or scare them off. Otherwise, they will eat your plot to the bare dirt and move on to somewhere else. If they hit your plot hard as deer normally do when it first germinates, they can damage the young plants so much that the plot may never recover well. Essentially, the plot needs at least two good weeks of growth after germination before the deer start hitting it. That is next to impossible to achieve in a small unfenced, unguarded woods plot. So if the deer start eating the young shoots as they first come up and wipe out your plot, which is likely, they will move on to somewhere else, thereby defeating your attempt to attract them to your stand.

What this means is that you have to size your food plots big enough so the deer in the area cannot readily eat all of it early on. If the plot gets established, it may then be able to withstand browsing pressure. The Elbon Rye and Bob Oats are very fast growth plants so they can usually out grow the initial hits by the deer. Planted in a mix, they serve as "nurse crop" cover for the winter peas that need to get some size to them before they are browsed down.

Here is my main 0.13 acre food plot as it looked two weeks into the season on October 14, 2012. The plot was being hammered by the deer every day (or night!) The deer were already eating down the plot to the point where it looked bad.

2012-10-14 11.22.23.jpg
Food Plot - 10-14-12

Here is the same plot just 12 days later on October 2, 2012. As you can see, the deer have mowed down the plot until there is very little left except bare dirt. Notice this plot has a fair amount of shade which limits its growth.

2012-10-26 17.50.38.jpg

Finally, here a different plot of the above mix with a little rye grass seed thrown in. The difference here is the plot is larger and it has much more sun for more hours each day. This photo was taken December 13, 2012. The deer were never able to eat this plot down. I shot a decent 8 point in this plot 6 days after the photo was taken.

My advice is do your best to get a larger plot with more sun if you want it to work well. Meanwhile good luck with your plot this season!

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:33 pm
by Alan Chavers
Good stuff Firecloud. First off, my great, great grandmother in Rubottom, OK was Cherokee and Choctaw and when she had to register on the Dawes role as one or the other, she chose Choctaw. We don't know why- lost in the past. Anyway, on my mom's side of the family we are all proud Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma members. I also noticed you list your acreage to the hundredth. You wouldn't happen to also be a surveyor, would you? (PLS in MS, AL, LA). I should probably mix something but I wanted to keep them separate, put wire cages around them, and see what they really like. I limed them pretty well and I don't know how many deer there will be out there but it probably won't take many to eat down my 0.17 acre plot. I have more lane available and if that becomes a problem, I can expand it even if it is late in the season as it stays warm down here for a long time. Anyway, thanks for the input.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:28 pm
by FireCloud
No Sir, I am not a land surveyor. However, I have been a licensed real estate broker and certified general appraiser for the past 35 years so dealing with acreage, land descriptions, and many other aspects of your world is pretty standard stuff for me. I guess it never occurs to me that most people don't do the math to calculate acreage to any degree of precision. It's just second nature to me as I know it is to you too. Just don't send me any acreage to calculate using rods and chains. It's been a long time since I had to do that sort of stuff to pass my license tests! :D

My two grandmother's both claimed to have native american blood from their ancestors, with a Cherokee & Choctaw mix. I'd say the bloodline has gotten pretty thin by the time I was born. But the true requirement, most agree, is you only need a single drop of Cherokee blood to be Cherokee. I guess I would have to run a DNA test to see what really is in my blood! At this point in time, mostly it's blood thinner to keep my heart working right. LOL.

I've tried the separate plot stuff before on my land and frankly the deer eat all of them about the same. If you plant several different types of seeds in plots close to each other the deer will just wander through them all eating some here and there in each of them. So it really did not tell me anything much about what ONE works best. After trying that test, I went back to just mixing everything. The deer don't care one bit.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:14 pm
by bigsteve
:ylsuper: :ylsuper:

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:43 pm
by Alan Chavers
Dumb Question: I had my plot tilled pretty good but it was more than a week before I could plant and it looked like it packed back down although it didn't rain. I planted several days ago just before a good rain but had nothing to scratch it in or till it under. It just went on top of the ground and I ran over it with my side by side pulling a small roller- that's all I had. It's just laying there on top of the ground. When it sprouts will it take root? I saw some of them had split open but they were jest a layin there. I'm a little worried.

Re: Food Plot Newbie

PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:27 pm
by FireCloud
All that is required for seed to germinate is "contact" with the soil. Seed burial is not an absolute requirement, although obviously it helps considerably. Seed laying on bare ground will germinate, if it gets sufficient moisture and sunlight. Once it germinates, seed roots know to grow down into the sunlight just as the actual plant knows to grow "up" toward the sunlight. So there really is no reason to worry if your seeds are germinating. They will take root and grow.

That said however, there are some hazards that affect your probability of success when you broadcast seeds on the surface of bare dirt. I always plant my food plots this way, due to lack of equipment, and they always grow. But here is what you face using this method.

One, exposed seeds attract wildlife who see them as a free meal. In a small plot, the turkeys, song birds, squirrels, deer, and other animals will eat a fair amount of the seeds if it is several days before it rains and there is enough moisture to germinate. Thus, you want to avoid planting seeds too far in advance of rain.

Two, if your plot has very much slope, when it does rain, many of the seeds will be washed to the lowest points, such as into a creek, and disappear. Using any sort of compaction to press the seeds into the soil, even just walking on them or riding over them, helps avoid the run off problem.

The seeds that are not eaten or washed away have a chance of germinating. But a lot of them won't because they simply don't have the ideal situation, ie. buried to the correct depth with soil, to help the germination process work as it should. So the germination rate will be much less.

Finally, if anything walks through the plot during the first couple of weeks the tiny, poorly rooted plants can be dislodged by the foot traffic and die. Thus, you lose still more seeds.

My experience is these things combine to cause one of two things most of the time. First, you could get "spotty" patches of growth, not complete coverage. But if you get enough growth to provide enough food for the deer, it does not matter to the deer that the plot is spotty and does not look pretty. They just don't care and will use a spotty plot just as eagerly as they will a lush plot. the solution is to "plant again" ie. broadcast more seeds in the bare areas and try for a second germination.

Second, if you do get a "thin, spotty plot" due to the above problems, then the amount of food being produced may be so little that the deer will quick mow the plot down to nearly nothing, the leave for other areas. This means your plot might only be good for a couple of weeks and after that, the deer will seldom visit it again.

In general, you need to purchase 3X to 4X times the number of seeds recommended for your plot size. The recommended planting rate is for buried seeds. Broadcasting requires at least 2X to 3X the number of recommended seeds. Replanting the bare spots or over seeding if the deer mow down the plot will use up the remaining extra seeds. But seeds are cheap and the labor and time spent to broadcast seeds is minimal.

I have sometimes had to replant two or more times due to the poor results caused by the above hazards. But if you keep at it, eventually enough seeds will take root and grow to produce a decent plot that attracts deer. My advice is plant EARLY enough in September to allow for one or two plantings in October if you need to do so. You will know after the first two to three weeks of planting what you need to do.

Here is a picture of my main plot planted using this method a couple years ago when it was smaller.

Main Food Plot -Oct. 2011

You can see it is "spotty" but it does have green plants under the leave. It did have the benefit of being a green plot of food in a secluded spot in the middle of the woods. As the season got later, this plot became more appealing as other food sources dwindles. Deer visitd the plot all season long and I killed deer in this and other plots like this one. In fact, one of the reasons the plot looks so bad is because deer visited it constantly, although mostly at night, and ate it down.

Don't be discouraged at how your plot looks today because it does not take much at all to attract deer. Green browse when there is little to eat is very appealing to a hungry deer. Just keep replanting by over seeding the existing plants and filling in the bare spots. Seeds will germinate and grow even in early November.

You may also want to read my Hunting Journal as I discuss my planting methods in some of those posts.

Good luck!