Successful food plots, no matter what size, start with proper site preparation. Far too many deer managers get caught up in what seed to select, rather than understanding what exactly needs to be done to the anticipated food plot site prior to planting. It’s easy to do, especially when you’re a first time food plotter. Let’s face it, planting food plots is exciting stuff and it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves, but do yourself (and the deer) a favor and prep it right.
In this part of the small food plot mini-series, we’ll be addressing site preparation and maintenance of food plots. Site preparation and maintenance is largely the same for food plots big and small.
Brand new food plots are obviously going to require the most time and work. Small food plots, also known as kill plots, hidey-hole plots, or poor-man’s plots are a lot of times chosen based upon some sort of pre-existing site condition – usually an opening with no trees. These little open pockets of brush and grass are fairly common, and often trigger us whitetail hunters to immediately think “food plot” when we come across one. It can’t be that hard, right? After all, there’s no trees to bulldoze. “With a little help from a hunting buddy, we could turn this unproductive pocket of fescue into a lush green food plot in just a day or two”, we tell ourselves.
Let’s get to work!
Your first step should be to collect a soil sample from your plot and send it to a lab for analyzing. Don’t just think that because the soil looks good it is good. There’s probably a soil related reason why there is no trees growing in that pocket. A simple treatment of 10-10-10 won’t do, so get a soil test done before spending time and money on the plot. You want to do this first so you can get to work on clearing while you wait for the results.