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Food Plots Doing it Right by Gary Howey, Josh Anderson & Mitchell Sudbeck

  With the weather as cold as it is, you may not be thinking about food plots and minerals licks.       When in fact, this is the perfect time to think about them as this is the time of the year when it may be too cold to go ice fishing or calling predators, yet it is the perfect time to go on line and learn about how and when to put them in.

  My web site www.outdoorsmenadventures.com contains those from Mossy Oak Biologic, which have valuable information on foodplots, as do the numerous You Tube videos.

  I have hunted over food plots throughout the United States and Canada. I believe when temperatures start to drop and other food sources are buried under the winter snow that this is when foodplots are most important and needed.

  Food plots, if planted properly and there year round, spring, summer fall and winter, give wildlife-needed food especially after the crops are gone.

  As most of you know, the rut is hard on deer, especially the bucks as they are running all over the country, looking for receptive does and fighting any-and-all bucks they run into. This consumes much of their energy and body fat, that which is needed to survive the winter months.

  If food plots are available during the winter after the rut, they give all deer, especially the bucks; help to survive the long cold nights ahead.

  Winter is also hard on the does and fawns and any additional food they get will help the pregnant does to have healthy fawns and those fawns to make it to spring.

 No matter what mass merchandiser catalogs, web site, sporting goods store or sporting goods department you look at or are in, you are going to see tons of food plot seed.

  I have tried numerous brands and varieties, all which have worked, but some were better than others were.

  I let the deer, turkeys tell me what they liked best, With the game cameras we have out, it became apparent the deer and turkey in the area I hunt during the spring and summer like rye, clover, rape, chicory and oats. In the fall, I plant my fall and winter foodplots to wheat, beans, Brassica, corn or Milo as many of these are not covered up with snow and still available to wildlife above the snow cover.

  I am not saying others will not work; those I mentioned seemed to do the best job of feeding turkey, deer and other critters during different seasons.

  There are several things to consider before establishing a food plot including time of planting, rainfall, location and soil type.

  From what I’ve read and planted, there are two ideal times to plant a foodplot  depending on the Spring weather spring would March 1 through May 15 is a good time to put foodplots in the spring and in the fall it would be August 1 through September 1.

  Some folks believe that the area they is not large enough for a food plot, no true, as even the smaller food plots are beneficial to some wildlife. On the other hand, they might think the area they would like to put a food plot would be too hard to get into.

  If you have access to an ATV or UTV, like the Honda Pioneer I use, you have the biggest part of the problem solved as they can get into some very tight areas.  You do not have to look far to find here are a manufacture that makes the pull behind equipment needed to put in a food plot. If you do not have a four-wheeler, there are other options available.

  My smallest food plot, which was in close proximity to several other larger plots was one twenty yards wide and forty yards long, not really all that accessible to larger equipment, so we put in with a garden tiller and my Honda Pioneer and as small as it was, it was one of my most productive plots.

  Where you plant a food plot is important, as the location you choose is a very big factor when it comes to its success. If you want to establish one to hunt over, of course, you will want it within clear view and close proximity to your stand or deer house.

  If you are planting a plot to feed deer, increase body size, promote overall herd health and improve their antler mass, select a site that is isolated. A secluded, undisturbed area will draw more wildlife to the plot, allowing wildlife to travel to and from it without fear.  

  They work best if they are close to the animals travel route and close to cover, making it easier for them to get to the food plot without using up a lot of energy. Deer, especially the bucks can be in tough shape after the rut and the less distance they travel to get nourishment the better. The same goes for turkeys, if they need to come out into the open in order to get to food, they are more visible and easier for prey to find.

  Establishing a food plot does take some time, but if done correctly, the work you put into it is rewarding.

Below, you will find some of the things I did when I established my foodplots.

Soil Testing

  The first thing and perhaps the most important thing you will need to know is the fertility of the soil; to do this, take a soil test, as it  lets you know what nutrients and PH you need to add.  I picked up my soil test kits from our local Central Valley Ag in town and had them test the sample, that way I knew what I should incorporate into the soil in order to make it successful.

Seed Selection

  Seed selection is very important, as you want to make sure the seed you are planting is one that will grow well up north and tolerate our winter temperatures.

   Numerous companies including Mossy Oak Biologic, Hunter’s Specialties, Whitetail Institute, Tecomate,  Evolved Habitats and others all offer the seed type that grows best in your area.        

Weed Control

 Weeds could be your biggest problem and killing them first, will be an important step towards getting your food plot off to a good start.

  On all my plots, the first thing I did was to spray them with Roundup using a hand, backpack or a sprayer mounted on my Pioneer.

Site Preparation

  Next, you will need to prepare the site using a tiller on the smaller plots or a disk and harrow on the larger plots and then to drag it, creating a smooth seedbed.

  Once you have a smooth seedbed, it is not a bad idea to let things settle down for ten to fourteen days to see if new weeds l appear and then reapply your  herbicide as needed. Once you re-spray, hold off for a week to ten days before planting your seed.

  Fertilizer Application

When you establish foodplots properly in areas where deer’s travel, they will visit and feed there. If there are several trails that intersect, that the deer use to get to and from your foodplot, it is an ideal place to hang a deer stand. (Josh Anderson Photo)

  Once the ground is prepared, is the time to apply fertilizer spreading it, depending on the size of the foodplot with a hand spreader or one mounted on your four-wheeler? You will want to make sure you get all of the clods broken up, making for a smooth seedbed.                                                                           

 Planting

Next, you will want to spread your seed using a hand or four-wheeler spreader. When seeding, be sure to plant in two directions as it helps to make sure you to cover the entire plot.

  Then, work the seeds into the soil, do not make the mistake many hunters and that I have made, burying the seed too deep, as smaller seeds such as clover, Brassica or chicory only need to be planted a ¼” deep. Smaller seeds have less packed into them and need to germinate and get to the surface to grow, unlike the larger seed, which you can bury up to 1/2″ deep

  Then it is time to pack the soil for a firm seedbed, done by using a log, wood pallet, heavy drag, or cultipacker.

  As the plot grows, depending on what you planted there could be some maintenance involved, as crops such as of clover or alfalfa in order to make them more palatable to the deer needs to be clipped to promote the fresh growth

               Mineral Supplements

  If you are going to all the trouble to put in a foodplots, why not put in a mineral lick. If you think putting out a salt block that you have given deer all the minerals they need, think again. Sure salt will attract deer, but does not contain what the bucks and does need to prosper.  When a buck’s antler hardens, it is made up of 30 to 35% calcium and phosphorus, so why not put out a supplement that contains these two nutrients. The does will also in need of a higher amount of minerals for milk production to feed their fawns. I have used RAKS minerals for years and have seen the overall size of the bucks’ increase as well as the herd looking better.

  You do not want to pitch the mineral on the ground, cut away the grass and weeds and mix it into the dirt as the deer are used to digging for it. 

  I have had some mineral licks that are tore up shortly after I put them in and others look as if the deer had paid very little attention to them.  If the deer in your area do not need the minerals they will leave it alone and when they need them dig deep to get at it.  At different times of the year, deer will require more minerals, and because of this, your mineral licks may show very little sign of use in some months and a lot in others. It is a good Idea to redo and freshen up your mineral licks from time to time, having it out there when the deer decide they need it.

  Things may not happen as quickly as you would wish with your foodplot and mineral lick, do not panic, give it time and it will take off and be there when you and wildlife need it.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

 

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4 Reasons To Start Planting Trees

Tree planting has played an important role in improving wildlife habitat for ages. As GameKeepers, we know how effective “tree plots” and reforestation can be for attracting wildlife to a property, but let’s take a look at some of the other great reasons to go out and plant some trees!

Reliable Food Source

Everyone loves fresh fruit! Planting fruit bearing trees for wildlife can become a “hot spot” for game traffic when the trees are producing. These same trees can also offer up a tasty snack while in the field or at the home.

Improve The Environment

Trees improve the environment by preventing and controlling erosion and help to clean the air and water. Trees in urban areas provide shade and block cold winds, which in turn keeps heating and cooling costs down. The benefits of trees far outweigh the costs, making them a wise investment for the future.

Create Lasting  Habitats

All trees are beneficial to wildlife in some form or fashion. Food, cover and water are the pillars of necessity for all walks of wildlife, and trees can provide both food and cover. Acorns from oaks and leaves and fruits of mulberries are favorite foods by many, and a long row of mixed trees in a barren landscape of the Midwest can provide enough cover to provide safe travels to feeding areas. Advanced tree planting techniques and superior stock means nuts and fruits can mature in a hurry. [Read more…]

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It’s Time to Start Planning Your Fall Food Plot

                                                                                                               

Fall is right around the corner and it’s time to start planning your Fall Food Plot,whether you have an existing food plot or starting a new one from scratch,it’s a great time to add trees. Tree’s provide browse, cover and food making them a smart long term investment to any property.

Fall planting gives two cooler, damper growing periods – fall and spring – before a new tree faces hot summer conditions. Fall really is a good time to plant because:
Shorter days, less intense sunlight, more rain, and the cooler temperatures of early fall mean less stress (i.e. “transplant shock”) 
Newly planted trees tend to lose less moisture through their leaves in fall than in summer, which lowers water demands.
Bugs and diseases that are in high gear during summer mostly wind down and/or disappear to hibernate as fall progresses.
Planting in the fall gives them a head start on growth the following spring. Root systems will start to grow once the ground thaws, long before the soil can be worked by human hands and any new plants can be put in.

Adding Dunstan Chestnut trees to your food plot can be as simple as clearing a “spot” for your tree or clear- cutting an area.  If you are planning on planting trees this fall, make sure the area is weed free by removing existing weeds or clearing a spot in your food plot so the tree doesn’t have to compete with weeds or annuals for water. Hand weed, use herbicide and or lay some ground cloth down to prevent weeds from choking out your tree.

Water is the single most important factor for tree survival. If the year you plant is like the severe drought experienced by the Midwest several summers ago, if you do not water your trees they will die. The truth is that many trees die from too little or too much water during the first few months after planting. Trees are likely to get too little water in well-drained soil and too much in soil that is poorly drained.

If you plant in the fall, water in at planting, and then 1x/week until they lose their leaves and go dormant with the onset of winter. Resume watering after leaf out in the spring. Make sure water is applied to the original root ball. Adjust water according to soil type, temperature, rainfall, and other irrigation.

It is not necessary to fertilize in the fall and in fact, we do not recommend it. Fertilizing too late in the season can cause trees to grow when they should be shutting down for the winter. This tender new growth, when pushed too late in the season is also more susceptible to winter injury.

During the first couple of years, chestnuts grow best when weeds and grass are kept away from the trunks. Also during their first few years of growth, the trunk should be protected with grow tubes. These are plastic tubes that act as mini-greenhouses that enhance the growth of young trees and give protection from the activities and feeding of deer, rabbits, and mice. They also help protect the tree from spray and drift from herbicide and offer some cold protection in late season frosts.

“Deer and other wildlife seek a variety of food types every day,” said R.D. Wallace from Chestnut Hill Outdoors. “If you’ve ever watched whitetails move through the woods, you know they stop frequently to nibble on leaves and mast. When you concentrate a variety of preferred foods in a relatively small area like a food plot and enhance it with mast-bearing trees like Dunstan Chestnuts, it creates a variety deer can’t resist. The deer are seeking the nutrition that other leafy foods do not provide. They’ll spend more time on your plot, which increases your chances of success.”

Chestnuts are chosen by deer over all other nuts because of their taste and nutrition. They are high in carbohydrates (40%), contain up to 10% high-quality protein. This provides the critical easily usable energy source over all other available foods during the Rut in the fall. Chestnuts have no bitter-tasting tannin – and a deer’s taste buds are 1,000 times as sensitive as humans. Deer prefer White Oak acorns over Red Oaks because they contain less tannin, and this is why deer prefer chestnuts over all acorn. Some Oaks can take decades to produce nuts, while the Dunstan Chestnut starts producing at 3 to 5 years!

The Dunstan Chestnut Tree is a great investment because it is an American x Chinese hybrid bred in the 1950’s by plant breeder Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, that is blight-resistant, produces early and annually. The Dunstan produces a large, sweet, easy to peel nut making it an excellent Orchardist tree for human consumption, as well as an excellent food plot tree.

We will start shipping our one-year-old Dunstan Chestnuts this fall at the end of September. The seedlings are 18 to 36″ tall shipped UPS in their pots to your doorstep. This is the perfect size/age to plant in fall, stick a grow tube on it and watch the growth begin in the Spring.

We are getting ready to ship two-year-old Dunstan Chestnuts in 3-gallon pots to specific Rural King stores. Chestnuts, Persimmons and Pear trees will be shipped to the Co-op feed Dealers this fall. Expected to arrive before or by Labor Day. A list of stores will be posted on our website and emailed to you as soon as it’s been confirmed. 

Please visit our website or call our office and ask about our Deer Candy and Deer Magnet Persimmons, Dr. Deer Pear and Thanksgiving Pear that will also be available for Spring 2018, to extend your harvest.

Visit our website: chestnuthilloutdoors.com or call our office 1-800-669-2067 for more info.

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More Habitat = More Wildlife Gary Howey

  The latest pheasant outlook for South Dakota just came out and I do not want to say it is a Doom and Gloom report, but they are indicating that the states pheasant numbers are down significantly.

  To some, especially those who do not live in the upper Midwest, those that travel a long ways to hunt the state bird may think twice about making the trip.

  Well, let me tell you, if I were those individuals, I would not let the report alter your plans as even if the numbers are down, which they could be, there are still more pheasants in South Dakota than in any two or three other states in the U.S.

   In South Dakota and other upper Midwestern states, there has been a huge acreage allocation of Conservation Reserve Plantings (CRP)  land and because of this new habitat, wildlife will not only survive, but also should eventually increase in numbers.

  In my neck of the woods, we are seeing a few more birds and the reason for that is because of the low commodity crop prices and the new CRP bill, which allows good quality land to be pulled out of production and planted to native grasses.  These fields that once produced row crops are now in the CRP program where trees and bushes are planted as well as native plants and grasses. These native grasses; Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Sedgegrass, Little Bluestem or Side Oats Grama which grow best in the heat of the summer will take longer to establish. The first year CRP plantings may look as if there are few grasses and wild flowers with a lot of weeds, but once these grasses start to grow, they will eliminate many of the weeds found in the field the first year. These grasses provide excellent wildlife habitat, giving not only pheasants, but also all wildlife a place to live.

  Some plantings are not huge, maybe just the irrigation pivot corners, while others could be a hundred acres or so, no matter what the size, every little bit helps. [Read more…]