Planning fall food plots can be a very difficult and even frustrating process. From weedy patches to little or no growth, it can often seem like a waste of time and money. The biggest battles are won in the preparation process. The best location for your plots are based on access to your stand, close proximity to bedding areas, and water.
The biggest battles are won in the preparation process.
Mapping out the best location for your fall plot will help make your work and planning easier. Wildlife typically have different patterns in the summer as opposed to later in the fall and into the winter. Oftentimes, field corners on edges of timber or prairie fields are highly traveled corridors due to the change in habitat. Planting food plots along these edges can increase attraction once the crops are out and increase your opportunity for movement. Check out this article to learn more about buck travel patterns.
Creating a food plot deep in the woods helps increase the opportunity to get a shot at a mature big game animal you are after, but you need to think about your access to this spot.
- Having easy access in and out when hunting a high risk attraction like a food plot is very important
- Consider the area and what equipment we would need
- Lastly, determine if there is enough sunlight to reach the plot. There is no perfect mix that doesn’t require sunlight, even if it is labeled as such. Choosing areas with adequate sunlight or utilizing a little bit of TSI work will go a long way in opening up the canopy to enhance the potential for your plot’s success. One can’t go without the other, and if one of these areas are lacking, the results will show.
Planting a food plot near a water source is a great way to increase early traffic during daylight hours. Towards evening, deer will visit water sources before going to feed if they don’t have enough lush vegetation to eat that satisfies their water intake. Water becomes especially important in the fall for big game when it gets closer to breeding season. Males typically consume about twice the water intake during this time compared to the rest of the year.
However, planting a food plot next to a water source does increase the overall risk of your food plot. To minimize this risk, consider your access or implement an access screen like Hideout to hide your movement walking to and from your stand or blind.
Taking the prep time before planting is very important to give your plot the best potential for fall success. The best way to suppress weeds is to apply a nurse or smother crop in the spring, but can be time consuming and costly. The easiest way is to mow the site in early summer and one more time towards the middle of July. Apply a herbicide to the weeds about a week later to kill any weed growth. You can then plant a week later into a weed-free plot and pack down the seed into the soil with cultipacker to create good seed to soil contact.
Tilling is another way to prepare the soil but does have disadvantages. It does kill existing weeds, but can bring up new weed seeds that can often outcompete your desired food plot species without spraying them. Tilling will reduce organic matter and dries up the soil, making it very hard to grow water dependent plants. It can be effective when used with mowing, followed by tilling, and an herbicide application 2-3 weeks later. Then planting and applying fertilizer and a lime or a lime supplement will greatly enhance the success of the plot.
Planting time depends on a variety of different variables, but hitting it towards the end of summer by getting your summer prep work done is imperative to fall plot success.
The right planting time can vary from region to region and even state to state. To learn more about your specific state, what to plant this fall, and more region specific prep work, check out our fall food plot guide and feel free to reach out or call anyone on Team Millborn to get help with your goals and enhance your opportunity for a great food plot and a great hunt.