Grow Your Own Better Deer All Year by Careful Planting and Fertilizing
Preparing Your Food Plots in July and August
Editor’s Note: If you want to take trophy bucks, you have two options. You either can pay several-thousand dollars to hunt a couple of days at a ranch or a lodge with an extensive deer-management program that produces trophy bucks each season, or you can grow your own trophy bucks on the land you hunt. I’ve contacted some of the nation’s leading deer managers and developed a month-by-month guide, which if followed, will help insure you’ll have more and bigger bucks on your land each season.
Use binoculars or spotting scopes to study the bucks coming to the food plots. At this time of year, the bucks will begin to show their antlers. You can get a good idea about the number and the size of bucks you’ll have to hunt next season. If you don’t use some type of fertilizer – perhaps one specifically developed for food plots – then top dress your food plot with nitrogen. Make certain that the soil has enough moisture in it to insure that the nitrogen will bind to the soil. If the plants in your food plot have gotten too big, bush hog the tops of your plants to stimulate new growth. Too, this month you should concern yourself with edge management. Deer travel and feed along edges of different types of habitat. If you can improve the quality of the edges and the food found in them, you can improve the habitat for the deer. For the edges of roads, clear cuts, pine stands, hardwood stands, fields, fences and gates, use a herbicide. By spraying one-percent herbicide along the edges, you can control encroaching hardwoods, like maple and sweet gum. Controlling these low-quality hardwoods, will open the roads up to sunlight, which will encourage desirable natural vegetation, like legumes and rubus species, to re-colonize. Then you’ll see an increased growth in plants that deer love to eat, like blackberry, partridge peas, lespedeza and other legumes. You’ll also find edging with a herbicide very beneficial around the edges of food plots, pastures and wildlife openings. If you also broadcast some kind of native-plant fertilizer along these edges, you drastically can increase the amount of crude protein these native plants produce. Then the edges become not only travel corridors, but also feeding lanes for many forms of wildlife.
In August, break-up the soil in preparation for planting fall food plots. For the best results, spray the ground with herbicide first to kill the weeds. Next, come back a couple of weeks later, and turn the ground. Too, install the spoke-and-hub wildlife-managementsystem this month in existing pine stands less than 3-years old. Make the center of the hub a clearing planted for wildlife. On the edge of the hub, place your shooting house or tripod-type stand. Have three lanes, 35-feet-wide each, spoke off this central green field and extend 100 to 300 yards in three-different directions. Bush hog the inside of the left edge of each spoke, and disc the inside of the right edge. You can install this spoke-and-hub wildlife-management system in a pine plantation anytime prior to planting the pines up until the pines are about 3-years old. This system drastically increases the wildlife productivity of a pine stand with minimal loss of timber production. You may need to use a herbicide concentration of one-percent prior to developing this spoke-and-hub management system, if undesirable hardwoods exist in your pine stand. You also can install stalking trails, serpentine lanes you clear through dense-cover areas at this time of year. These types of trails should have blind corners and switchbacks to enable you to move quietly through dense foliage where deer like to bed and feed.
Tomorrow: The Best Ways to Prepare Your Food Plots in September and October