Micro Plot Update
Back in the early Spring we started a project that would continue through the hunting season. The project was the installation of a new food plot in a transition area between bedding and a larger destination food source. The area needed cleared of brush- thorn trees, brier bushes and other small shrubs and grasses. I described in a past blog post about how we used all the brushed we cleared to created a wind row that would funnel deer from trails below the clearing up into the plot and past our stand location. This would help us remain undetected during evening hunts when the thermals would be falling down the hillside away from the food source.
Since the area was previously in early regrowth, golden rod and small trees we needed to lime and fertilize to make sure we would realize adequate yields from our planting. We applied lime at a rate of approximately 2T/acre and 15-15-15 at a rate of approximately 200 lbs/ acre. (For plots that were getting brassicas we applied an additonal 100 lbs of Urea (Nitrogen) per acre (46-0-0)). After the ground was worked with a disc several times we had a good quality seed bed and we broadcast a mixture of winter
wheat, winter rye, oats and winter peas. The reason I went with this mixture for a fall planting was two fold. The first reason was that these plants are relatively easy to establish in adverse conditions. Rye, especially, is more tolerant of acidic soils and is more drought resistant than some other food plot species. I knew that this first year, the pH would not be at optimal levels, even after lime application, and when we planted, western NY was on the back side of a hot and dry summer with below average rainfall.
The second reason for choosing this cereal grain mixture is that, unlike a brassica plot, it would immediately become attractive to the deer. I could expect deer movement through the plot as soon as the vegetation sprouted and it should continue all season long. The oats and peas have an immediate draw and in years past when we planted ONLY oats and peas together the deer herd destroyed the plots as fast as they could grow, leaving only a muddy field by hunting season. The wheat and rye will fill this void and provide additional food in the plot through the latter part of the season once the oats and peas are depleted.
After planting, we received a two inch rainfall event over the course of two days. This was vital to the success of our plot, as was the additional 2 inches that fell over the course of the next month. When we checked our Fall plantings during the first half of September we were pleased to find lush green cereal grain plots and flourishing brassicas. The cereal grains had drawn deer away from some of the clover plots, allowing them to recover from their poor drought strained state of mid summer. Deer had begun to utilized the micro plot, and the trails leading into this location were more heavily used. There was also evidence of browse pressure on the east end of the plot where the deer enter when coming from their bedding area.
To add to the draw of the plot we had left a small tree stand in the middle of the clearing and in early September I went in and made a mock scrape under one of the low branches of the tree and set a camera on the South side of the plot near the kill tree. The camera can be accessed without entering the plot in order to monitor the movement and activity through the clearing and by the mock scrape. Likewise, the tree stand overlooking the food plot is accessible in such a way that no deer trails must be crossed on approach and entrance and exit can be accomplished without pressuring the local deer herd.
I am looking forward to getting into this stand for an opening weekend hunt if the weather conditions cooperate. So far everything has been falling into place with our little project and admittedly, there is something a rewarding about influencing the deer movement. Hopefully, we will soon have some venison to show for all our efforts!
Email me @ CommonGroundBowhunter@gmail.com