In October 2015 I completed the purchase of 80 acres of hunting property an hour north of my home. I had this chance to get into this property by partnering with a great friend who I have known since 2nd grade. He was looking for the same thing and by going in together we were able to purchase more property than either of us would have on our own. Up until a couple of years ago I had only thought of the idea in passing but as hunting waterfowl has become more difficult due to the challenges of finding places to hunt. With 4 children I wanted to be able to introduce them to the outdoors and hunting and this gave me another opportunity beyond waterfowling hunting to do so.
The property we purchased had been managed and developed so that it was hunt ready when we purchased it. It has a 4 acre food plot, 4 elevated permanent blinds and two tracks throughout the property. There are plenty of hardwoods with both white and red oaks.
After a disappointing first firearm hunting season only seeing a few deer after many days and hours in the blinds we set out to find out what our herd was made of by getting plenty of trail cameras up to document our herd. Quickly we realized that our problems during gun season did not have to do with a lack of deer but the fact that they were operating completely nocturnal. We have had cameras up for nearly the entire time we have owned the property and we continue to be excited for the abundance of wildlife we have including some nice bucks, many doe’s, some great long beards and even a large black bear.
This spring we had to plant our first food plot spring planting. After quite a bit of research we decided to purchase our seed from Tecomate as their success and research of seed mixes that produce healthy deer herds gave us the confidence in our initial planting. In order to get a better idea of what the deer like and what grows best we selected multiple different mixes. We had two annual mixes “Horn Maker Extreme” and “Deer Pea’s Plus”. We also put in a perennial Tecomate Monster Mix. We planned the middle of May to disc under the rye/triticale mix that was growing over the winter. We got help from our neighboring property owner who sold us the property, who brought his tractor and rototiller. Our friends at Snyder Landscape lent us their new Kubota which allowed us to run a disc and the rototiller at the same time.
Once the ground was worked we tried a couple of different methods to spread both the fertilizer and the seed. After landing on the best spreader we were able to work up and plant two acres in one day. Overall the end results looked promising after that first day of work. On our second work day we cleared out a pocket deeper in the property and planted a new small food plot using Throw and Go’s extreme oats and after the second day we were tired but satisfied that we had accomplished quite a bit in our first spring.
After four weeks which were drier than we would have liked we were seeing pretty good emergence for all of the different mixes. The trail cameras were documenting both deer and turkeys using the plots.
After 8 weeks we were seeing growth but also seeing lots of weeds. Without a sprayer we have been left to allow it to grow as is.
Here are a couple of learning’s from our first year. When they tell you to get the soil tested and add lime and fertilize based on the test, do it. If hand seeding you should plan to seed more than the recommended amount for the size plot you are planting (one of our plots we just did not put enough seed down). Try to time the rain if you can to make sure your seeds get needed early water to germinate on time. If you can come up with a sprayer it is worth spraying weeds to allow your high priced seeds the chance to grow.