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Making a wildlife Food Plot

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kmcconaughey

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Kraig McConaughey
My father and I had planned to put in a food plot or two at the family farm several years ago for turkey and deer hunting. Unfortunately my father was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005 and lost his battle with cancer in May of 2007.
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We also had planned to start bow hunting deer together, he with a cross bow and me with a compound bow. We did our gun hunting of deer up north at the family cabin. He did hunt the fall of 2005 with his crossbow at the farm and missed a shot at this guy, see photo below. He misjudged the distance and shot just under him. I decided this year to finally put in the food plots for my daughter and I to hunt turkeys and deer over. Last year my daughter was old enough to hunt in Wisconsin (have to be a minimum of 12 years old) and hunted rough grouse and deer with me. We'll still be hunting most of the Wisconsin deer gun season at the cabin but I hope to finally start bow hunting this year at the farm. Wisconsin also has a two day youth hunt in October so my daughter will hunt at the family farm during that hunt. I'll be posting some photos of my progress on the food plots, along with some trail camera photos of the deer and possibly other wildlife. So far I have mowed, plowed, disced and dragged one area. As a drag, I'm using a section of chain link fence behind an ATV. I still need to drag the area some more and then rake it and hope for good timing on rain for planting the seed. I will also be working on a second smaller area where I won't be able to get the big tractor in so I'll only disc and drag that area. I have already mowed it. Please feel free to post ideas and photos and details on food plots that you have done. Or photos of deer, I like photos of deer!
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kmcconaughey

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Here are some aerial photos of the family farm and the hunting area. The farm is 80 acres and is about half pasture land and half in cultivation. At the back of the farm is an area of blue spruce and scotch pines that my father planted in the early 1960's many more trees have come up from seed since then. Along one fence line we planted two rows of crab apple trees in the mid 1970's, theses have been producing heavy crops of apples for many years and many crab apple trees have since come up from seed. The farm is surrounded by more farm and pasture land.

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kmcconaughey

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Here are some photos taken with a trail camera of the area that I'm calling "Food Plot 1".

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These two were taken before I did any work on the food plot.

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Here's the rig I used to mow the area. My father bought the brush mower in 2006 for use at the cabin property. It worked great for mowing the 3+ foot tall grass. He bought the JD in 2005 to replace his Cub Cadet 2072. As much as I love my Cub Cadets this JD is one awesome machine, the 4WD sure comes in handy.

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kmcconaughey

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Here's some photos taken by the trail camera after I mowed the area. I probably shouldn't posts these!
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I must admit that after I saw these photos I knew I was putting the food plot in the right area!
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The day I drove the tractor out to mow the area there were 4 turkeys in the hay field that surround the pine trees, all 4 were Toms! I've seen them several times as I've traveled to and from the food plot area.
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Note the time stamp on the last two photos ~ 7:45PM on July 27th at that exact time my friend Jonah and I were practicing shooting our bows near the barn on the farm!
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kmcconaughey

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I was afraid that after I plowed the food plot area that the deer would never visit again due to all the activity. I think the activity has attracted more deer, that or the deer around here are really curious, or better yet like the way I smell, I hope, I hope!
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The bucks are clearly traveling in bachelor groups I have photos with as many as 7 deer.
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Here are some photos of the area after I plowed. I used my father's JD5210 with a 2 bottom plow.

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aschumacher

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Hey Kraig, "Dont shoot till you see the whites of their eyes..."
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Or are they some type of 'alien' deer. Usually I thought one would see Red eyes.
 

kmcconaughey

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Allen, yeah the camera flash sure makes their eyes light up. They are actually kind of greenish white but I lightened the photos to better show the deer. I best not be hunting them when it's the time of day that their eyes glow.
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One "issue" I have to deal with is that this is in an area of Wisconsin where we have what is called the Earn-A-Buck program. In an effort to reduce the deer herd one has to shoot an antler-less deer first to earn a buck tag. My daughter has the best chance to get one of these guys as the Earn-A-Buck program is not in effect for the October Youth Hunt. I might bow hunt at my house first as I have lots of antler-less deer walking through the yard. With any luck I'll be able to earn my buck tag ASAP. I'd hate to be on the stand waiting for an antler-less deer and only see these big guys walking by.
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My worst fear is that when the rut sets in the big guys will all go elsewhere and just the littlest bucks will be left here.
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bbowman

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Kraig, great pics from your trail camera! We won't be making food plots down here until Sept., with bow season starting in Oct. What is your choice for food plot seed mix? Clover is gaining in popularity down south, but most folks go with grains such as rye, oats, and wheat. We also put out something called "rape", which is similiar to turnip tops, but the deer won't touch it until the weather gets cool! You may want to plant some saw-tooth oaks; they make acorns in five years and deer and turkey love 'em! Good luck,Bob.
 

kmcconaughey

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Bob, I'm planting a mixture of Annual Clover, Rye-grass and Rape. It's an annual mixture that Fleet Farm had on sale a couple of weeks back, I sure hope it grows.
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I'll see how well this works and next spring I might go for a better quality brand perennial clover mix. I'd like to put in some food plots on our 40 acres up north but the soil isn't as good there and it's about 100 miles away so I'm going to experiment on the farm first. On the #2 food plot I'm not going to plow first just disc and drag it. I have another location where I might also just disc/drag to put in another small food plot. These two smaller food plots might stay as annual plots. We'll see how it all goes. I might put in just Rape seed in one of the small plots for a late season hunting plot, my friend Jonah has that planted at his 30 acre hunting property over in Minnesota. Thanks for confirming what I've read and heard about Rape plants. I forgot to mention it and to note it on the aerial photos that the fence row of trees on the east property line is filled with oaks. I'll have to check into the hardiness and availability of saw tooth oaks. Thanks!
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thoffman

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Tom Hoffman
Kraig,
Is tht a tree stand in the 2nd. picture???
 

kmcconaughey

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Tom, which photo are you referring to? The second one from the bottom, the aerial photo? There is an old home made wooden, 8' tall, tower stand along the north side of the pines. It has not been safe to use for at least 10 years. It's located right about here.

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lhinds

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Very nice Kraig. I don't hunt deer but i like to watch them. I own some property in the middle of thousands of acres and wildlife is abundant. After i pick my garden vegetables i take the plants, corn stalks ect. out to my other property and the anamils clean it up in a hurry. I can buy 200 pounds of shelled corn and take it out there and it is gone in a few days. That is where I go to relax. The only problem is snakes are attracted by i guess all the mice and other snake foods. I killed a 49 inch timber ratler last week and let another get away.
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kmcconaughey

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Luther, thanks. Oh yeah deer love corn.
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Thankfully we don't have rattle snakes up here, there are some Timber Rattlers about 20 or 30 miles south though. My wife and I ran into some while hiking along the bluff of a river that empties into the St. Croix River one warm spring day back in the mid 1980's. I spotted one and took three photos of it then noticed several others sunning themselves and decided it was time to get out of the woods.
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Here's the photos, actual print photos that I scanned in.

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kmcconaughey

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Back to food plots. Last Saturday I used my parent's ATV and my friend Jonah's disc to disc the food plot. I used 4-40lb JD suit case weights to help the disc cut better. After several passes I remembered the trail camera was on and decided I should shut it off.
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Oh well, at least it gave me some action shots.
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I think that Big Boy approves.
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kmcconaughey

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Here's some photos of the food plot these were taken Saturday after I disced it but before I dragged it. The main section of the plot is about 80' long and 40' wide, and there is an ~12' wide by ~30' long leg off of the south east corner. The deer appear to be entering and leaving the "pines" via the south east corner of the food plot area.

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bcorn

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Kraig great job!! I have 14 acres of woods and fields myself and I really enjoy taking care of it.

After the winter of 78 we lost all of our quail and I have missed them until the last couple years leaving grass and good habitat management. Hear 4 different quail families this year so I know I am headed in the right direction.

Of course deer are very plentiful as I do not hunt anymore the guys that work for me love to hunt my ground. Plus they know pops will help get the deer out with the 7264.

Good luck on your project and glad somebody thinks like me on taking care of our nature and animals. Hunting or just watching there is a lot being lost that our children and grandchildren will not get to enjoy.

Pops
 

kmcconaughey

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Pops, thanks for the nice comments. My father set a good example by planting the pines and the crab apples. He also put in a wildlife pond in the 1970's. It doesn't hold a whole lot of water because our horses and my cousin's cattle got into the area and punctured the plastic liner many years ago. (My cousin owns the 80 acres north of my parent's property and the 125 acres east of it along with several other properties in the area. Quite often over the years his cattle have gotten through the fence onto my parent's property.) There is a thick clay layer (aka clay lens) several feet down under much of the farm and specifically under the pond that holds some water but not as much as we had hoped. The pond is located on the far west side of the property. I sure wish we had quail up here. My dad built a quail "call back" pen many many years ago. He had a game farm license and we used to raise quail, pheasants, wild turkeys, ducks and geese. The quail always fascinated me. At night they form a circle facing outward and if they are disturbed they spread in all directions. When in the pens they couldn't spread very far but you could sneak up on them and see them setting in the circle. Back when they had the soil bank program he used to plant many acres in sorghum and buckwheat. I always liked the sorghum, it was kinda like sugar cane.
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bbowman

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bobby l. bowman
Kraig, nice food plot action shots! I use the same style disc for my small plots. I gave my 128 to a good friend and we use it and my 149 to plow and disc. It's a great combo;I also use chain link fence for a drag. Some things are just universal! I've had great success with the Imperial Whitetail Clover;it's expensive and ph particular, but with a little maintenance it will keep coming back. Some evenings I've had 10 to 12 deer feeding in a 1/2 acre plot! Looking good!
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kmcconaughey

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Bob, wow 12 at a time! Are you using trail cameras to track them or are your food plots visible from your house or did you see them while watching from a stand? Once I get my Original and my 125 refurbished I'll have two tractors I can plow with as I have rear lifts for them. I'll be able to get into those tight spots where the big JD won't fit. I'd like to pick up a dual gang Brinly disc setup to use on the Cubs for food plot prep and maintenance. Thanks, I guess I should leave the camera(s) on next time I'm out there working the plot for more action shots.
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I've had a subscription to the Whitetail Institutes's "Whitetail News" for several years now. After this experiment this fall I'll likely switch to a perennial food plot and Imperial products are what I plan to go with. One of my high school classmates was on their front cover a year or so ago and wrote an article in that same issue, Volume 17, No.1. He's had good success with their products. When I get around to putting in food plots on our hunting property in Northern Wisconsin I think I'm going to try Imperial Whitetail Extreme. The soil at the cabin is thin, low pH and it gets dry during the late summer, exactly the conditions they developed it for. I won't have to plow that soil, that would actually make it worse it's only an inch or two deep, might even be too thin for discing with a heavy disc. On the farm the field that the pines are in is currently a clover field. It's planted for hay, it's been cut and baled once and it's just about ready to be cut again. On Sunday when I was driving the ATV back from dragging the plot two smaller bucks, a 6 point and a small 8 point, were out in the clover field grazing, they spooked and ran in front of me right into the pines. They sure do like those pines for cover as do the turkeys.
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bbrigham

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Brendan Brigham
Lookin nice Kraig. I have a spot where I hunt I have been tryin to get a food plot started but I just haven't been able to get my cards lined up right, one set back after another. Next year will be a new start so I'm not too worried about it. The property I hunt is owned by a guy in NYC and he seems like a real good guy. I've only talked to him on the phone but he's glad I can get some use out of it as his plans for it have been set back a few years. It's a nice natural funnel going through the area with alot of traffic and wild apple trees. Got to pick up another bow some time and get back into that.
 

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