Wow, it’s been almost a year since I started this blog and just as long since my last post. I apologize for my absence from my blog and anyone who reads it. As a full time college student I had priorities after deer season ended last year. After school I got wrapped up in my summer job and other things that seem to make life fly by. But in all of the clutter I never seem to wander from my thoughts and ideas for the up coming deer season. I’ve had a little free time and I decided to bring up the blog and share how my offseason has gone.
First off I’d like to share how the Pinch Point Plot worked out. It turns out it didn’t work out at all, life has a funny way of doing that to you. But turns out to cut an entire acre square of timber down would be extremely difficult and detrimental to the property I hunt. It was a good plan, it just seems I aimed a little to high with my resources I have access too.
The outcome of having to change food plot ideas has been just as exciting though. I found a spot about 100 yards to the east of one of my stands last fall that I had a lot of success with, and was able to see a bunch of interesting deer activity. This new spot was a cleared out area that came from the water plant doing test drilling for wells. This particular spot was not ideal for a well, but it is shaping up to be a great secluded plot to hunt come fall.
After a week full of brush clearing and weed eating, I was able to get my mothers tiller in and till the soil up and a day later I sewed Frigid Forage Big n Beasty brassicas in the whole area.
I think this plot could be a huge success. It sits in the timber that seems to be a huge travel corridor for the deer. Travel corridors seem to be my favorite things to hunt here the past few years. i just feel it increases your odds of getting on a buck that is trying to stay secluded while cruising For does. There’s really two access points to this plot so I know exactly where the deer will be going and coming from. It also it completely surrounded by timber which could allow for a lot of daytime activity. The deer could move into the plot without feeling threatened. It’s got a lot of potential.
I’ve gotten a stand set up of the east side of the plot and hope to start hunting it after the first couple frosts hit. I’ll hopefully keep you posted as the season comes.
I’d like to give a little hint into my next post which will probably come tomorrow sometime. Earlier in the week I was able to check my trail cams. I’m pleased to tell you the cooler than normal August we’re having in MO is getting some MONSTER bucks moving and on camera. I’ve got 4 hit list bucks to share with you and I can’t wait to tell you how I plan to hunt them.
Good Hunting Folks!
Now, I’m not that serious of a food plot guy… yet. I mean, yes I plant one here and there. It might have some success, but not a whole lot. The thing is I don’t have the resources right now to really be 100% devoted to managing a plot all year round. Mostly due to me being at school 9 months out of the year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. Being a bio major, I look at things a little differently. I like to ask why deer might prefer this forage over that, and what it is about that forage that helps the deer on a biological level. Not just, “oh if a buck eats this his antlers are gonna get bigger.”. I don’t see it like that. I wanna know what it is about that plant that allows a deer to reach that genetic potential, and what is occurring in his body to make that happen.
Well when I first heard about brassicas, these were the questions I asked myself. I wanted to know why this plant was becoming so popular with food plot fanatics. So like any “good” college student, I did my homework. Did some reading on the plant and found some interesting stuff about it.
The Brassica is a genus of the mustard family. It is closely related to the turnip and other types of cabbages. It has large broad leaves that can get extremely large when not grazed on. It develops a turnip head down below the soil that can grow extremely large, depending on the species you’re dealing with. The thing about these plants that make them so popular with whitetail hunters. Is they are a little bit more heartier than other forages, which allows them to stay greener longer and be hunted over longer.
But I wanted to know why deer liked these plants so much later in the year. Bill Winke on Midwest Whitetails talks repeatedly about how the deer pound these products good in the fall, but really hit them after a few frosts. Then it hit me. It’s just like many other plants, such as a lot of vegetables that we grow in our gardens. Have you ever had peas before they’re actually ready to be harvested? They’re bitter and nasty. The same thing happens with brassicas. You see the pea plant is harvested after the plant has hit a certain air temperature and triggers mechanisms in the plant to draw sugars out of the roots, and into the peas themselves. Giving them a sweet taste. That’s what happens to the brassicas. After a few colder temps hit them, a trigger is set off in the plant and sends the sugars in the large turnip head up into the leaves, changing the chemical composition of the leaves. This is what the deer love about it. It’s got a sweeter taste that to them is more palatable. The deer feed on this after much of the forage has already turned brown and died. Which is what makes brassicas such a wonderful fall and winter food source for whitetails.
It’s not just in the fall that deer like these plants either. Into the winter months when times are harsh, and food sources are thin. The deer will dig into the earth and eat the turnip portion of the plant. Which still has plenty of sugars left in it. Too me the winter months are crucial to growing trophy whitetails. A lot gets sucked out of a deer in these months, if he doesn’t have good enough resources to live off of in the winter. Minerals such as calcium are taken from the bones, along with vitamins and protein from muscle tissue. If poorly fed through the winter a deer can lose a lot of weight, jsut from feeding off of itself. When spring rolls around, depending on how much has been zapped out of the deer. He’s going to have to recover and regain all that he lost in the winter. If he’s ate good and been taken care of through the winter, it’s going to take less to get him back on track. Hopefully you see my point.
Now brassicas are not only loved by deer, they’re extremely good for them as well. These plants are planted in late August and early September, so they’re not really a part of your summer food plot program. But they still have a large amount of nutritional benefit for the deer. Besides a great plot program is a year round thing, not just a spring and summer commitment. They supply a large amount of carbohydrates and proteins. Which during the rut are highly crucial and need to be available in large quantities for the entire herd.
Overall I can understand why brassicas are in high demand during the fall months. Any hunter that hunts over food plots should get their hands on this forage and get it in the ground.
Here are the planting instructions for brassicas, via Food Plot Resources (foodplotresources.com)
Longevity:Less than 6 months of grazing time
Adaptation Zone:Entire Eastern U.S. and Plains. Excels as a winter plot option from the upper South into Canada.
Seeding Rate:4 lbs/acre (5-6 lbs/acre creates a denser forage canopy which can help decrease weed and grass growth).
Seeding Date:Deep South (September-October); Central (late August-September), North (August-September).
Soil Requirement:Most soil types are adequate
Seeding Depth:1/4 – 1/2 inch
Soil pH:5.0-8.0 (6.5-7.5 is ideal)
Fertilizer Requirement:Medium-high (nitrogen, phoshorous and potoassium)
Palatability:High (especially after using for consecutive years)
Average Seed Price
(per acre):Rape $7; Purple Top Turnips $10; Improved Forage Turnips $14; Brassica varieties (rarely carried in retail stores).
Herbicide Options:Poast will kill grass.
As cost of feeding products rise, it’s tough for a college student on a budget to dedicate a lot of money and resources to a feeding program. While discouraging, it shouldn’t stop hunters like me from enjoying their season and providing for their herd.
Implementing a Shoe String Budget Whitetail Deer Feeding Program
Rather than purchasing an expensive deer feeder that runs on batteries and wipes your behind, you can build your own using the following supplies:
-10’ section of 3” or 4” PVC Pipe. The 4” will hold more feed/corn and require fewer refills.
-90 degree elbow, needs to match your PVC Pipe.
Slip cap for your appropriate sized pipe. Do NOT use a screw cap.
Zip ties or bungee cords, long enough to reach around your feeder and the tree.
1) Take the 10′ piece and cut it in half. You now have two 5′ sections.
2) Cut 1′ off of each 5′ piece. This will be used for your tray section.
3) Glue one of your 90 degree elbow’ to the end of your 5′ section of pipe.
4) Glue your 1′ piece of pipe into your 90 degree elbow.
5) It’s best to lay your pipe and elbow section on a stable, flat surface such as picnic table. Using a small handsaw or hacksaw, cut your 1′ piece of pipe in half starting at the end of the pipe cutting back towards your 90 degree elbow.
Once you reach your elbow, stand your 5′ pipe and elbow section upright. Cut your 1′ section straight down until it intersects with your previous cut. The top half of your 1′ section can now be removed. The remaining portion attached to your 90 degree elbow will be your feeder tray.
*Note – You don’t want to cut your 1′ pipe section in half before gluing it into your 90 degree elbow. This doesn’t allow for proper adhesion to the elbow. The deer will knock the 1′ section off the feeder, draining it of your corn/feed.
6) Place your slip cap on the bottom of your feeder. The cap simply prevents the corn from pouring out on the ground while filling the feeder. Finish by filling with corn/feed, leaving a small space at the top of the pipe.
I also hope to implement the product Grow The Bone (source where I got this feeder idea), in with this feeding routine. By mixing small amounts into the corn/feed it should attract the deer to the feeder, as well as provide a mineral supplement with the feed.