It Is March and once again the silence of winter slumber is broken by the sound of the tractor firing up. The feel, smell, and sight of dirty hands, diesel, and fresh dirt can be addicting to us, just as much if not more than turkey or deer hunting. It gets us excited and brings us satisfaction. There is nothing a hunter and manager would rather do more than climb up on the tractor, wipe the dust off the seat, and break open fresh ground, but is that really your smartest move? While it might feel like you are doing something positive you might want to think again, give it more time, more planning, and as a result, better execution. Don’t make the common mistake of creating a hunting strategy according to your food plots, when you should be planting spring food plots according to your hunting strategy! Implementing the latter of the two will create more opportunity, better hunting, and more success.
The first question to ask yourself is why are you planting the food plots? For nutritional purposes or for hunting in the situation of the “kill plot”? You can bet on the majority of hunters that plant food plots, are doing so to create hunting opportunities. So which of the following situations would make the most sense?
Option 1: Going to a chuck of timber or an old field and clearing it, breaking the ground, and planting beans or clover just to find out there isn’t a single place to put a box blind, tripod, or ground blind that a deer wouldn’t bust your wind or your entry in.
Option 2: Strategically mapping known deer movement, tree stand or blind sites, and previous observations, then taking that information to determine where, what type, and when a food plot would make sense in that area.
The choice is obvious, we understand that…and we know that if your planting a food plot you are already putting up stands or blinds in your mind. The problem lies in the fact that this thinking (not even enough to call it planning) happens when you are sitting on the tractor, or waiting for rain after planting. True, successful, well thought out plans for a food plot will only come from enough time being devoted to a map, scouting, past hunting observations, and more often than not, research on the subject. Here is some information that will help you out with your spring food plots, ensuring you are maximizing your efforts, time, and hard earned money.
Maps, Scouting, and Observations
Hopefully you took some time to shed hunt this winter, and took some notes down when you were out and about. Shed season was the perfect time to scout, you were not negatively impacting your deer season next year with the pressure, and deer sign was still fresh from November and December. Marking scrapes, rubs, funnels, highways, and bedding areas down on a map and coordinating that with hunting season observations give you a great idea of the daily movement that takes place on your property. When it comes to installing and planting food plots this spring, human pressure, staging areas and bedding areas are your biggest concern. Where are the deer, more importantly bucks bedding. Once a known bedding area is marked, next figure out when, where, and which type of food plot would make sense in the area. This is by far the most tedious part of effectively planning food plot strategy with your hunting strategy.
“Which type of food plot seed” depends on your “when”
The best advice in the situation, before diving into researching the when, where, and which type of food plot to plant, is to think about when you hunt, and what food sources are available during that time around the property. Are you a turkey hunter, a land manager, or a just a deer hunter? When you deer hunt do you hunt with a bow in the early season, or are you a gun hunter waiting on November and December? Each situation has its own, where, when, and which type of food plot you need.
If you’re the turkey hunter, the ideal food plot set up is creating a food source and strutting zone that you can effectively hunt with a ground blind. In these situation size isn’t as much an issue as what type of food there is. In the situation of turkey hunting in the spring, the best candidate for turkey hunting food plots in the spring is clover and alfalfa. Clover and alfalfa explode in spring, making not only valuable spring forage for deer, but dynamite feeding and strutting sites for turkeys.