How to plan summer food plots with tree stand placement
The spring months offer those who have a passion for deer hunting an opportunity to enhance their opportunities in the fall dramatically...Deer hunting is a sport that requires a methodical approach in order to be successful.
Spring means it’s time for fawns to start dropping, and before long, bucks antlers will begin growing. This is an important time to consider the nutrition of your deer herd.
Tree stand placement is a product of two things, the type of area you are hunting (funnel, bedding area, food source, private land, etc.) and the available cover that you have to place a tree stand.
Not taking the time to analyze the placement can lead to mistakes being made. Often, tree stand placement along with other aspects of your overall hunting strategy can be fine-tuned if you are willing to take the time to dive a little deeper into the “when” and “where.”
In this blog, we discuss:
- Tree stand placement
- How to plan summer food plots
The spring months provide hunters another opportunity to install food plots, which in turn offer much more than just the benefits of summer nutrition, and when installed correctly, can significantly improve your property and help reduce food plot expenses over time. Let us explain.
Summer food plots are a great addition to any property and can help lead you to success this fall. But summer food plots can reap more benefits. Why? You have to consider what is happening from the start of May until the end of the hunting season.
Summer Vs Fall Food Plots ‘Why Summer is More Important’
- Bucks are growing antlers
- Does are lactating
- Fawns are growing
4 Steps to Remember:
1: Set Goals and Plan
The most crucial step in any project is to have solid objectives and an overall plan. Installing food plots is no different. It is important to define your goals are ahead of time and what you are specifically hoping to achieve by planting any food plot.
Ask yourself a few of these important questions...
- What do you hunt (turkeys, quail, deer, etc)?
- Is your goal to hold more deer year-round, or are you only interested in holding more deer during a specific part of the year?
- How does the layout of the food plot impact your ability to access and hunt the area?
- Are you considering the carrying capacity of your property?
- Is your deer herd well fed or eating anything they can reach?
Once you have your goals and objectives in mind, then it is time to get started. First, determine where you want to plant your food plot.
Great apps like HuntStand.com can help you map out your property, deer movement, bedding areas, stand locations, and can help you visualize where food plots make sense.
A general rule of thumb has been anywhere from 5%-10% of your property in food plots, but it’s rarely that simple. With smaller deer herds, you can get by with less food. And obviously, if you have a larger deer herd, you will need more than that 10% number somebody made up!
Consider hiring professional help. You might talk to a timber guy if you feel like you have marketable timber. Lumber prices are at all-time highs now, but timber prices are hovering at lows because of all the supply, especially in pines. Engage a habitat professional for help with your specific goals.
Grading spots to install food plots can be done by a timber crew, a grading contractor, or even you if you have the right tools and time. You’ve got options. It would be best if you had a plan.
And this is just the beginning. Every site is different, but all areas need a solid foundation to get started, which means soil tests and appropriate soil supplements to get your dirt ready to maximize the potential of the seeds you choose to plant.
- Beneficial to wildlife and the hunter
- Require a cost and time commitment.
Prepare before you start to avoid making adjustments halfway through the process.
2: Prepare the Seedbed
Now that you have your plan put together, it is time to get your hands dirty!
We’ve started using RTP Outdoor’s Genesis in our planting. It is a no-till drill that provides outstanding seed to soil contact even when cutting through vegetation.
A few new buzz words are being tossed around: Regenerative Agriculture and Sustainable Agriculture. Google them!
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
Preparing the seedbed through regenerative agriculture can be a very fulfilling and rewarding activity that starts painting the picture of what the final product may look like. To start, have a prepared seedbed with suitable weed control measures in place.
Next comes a soil test. Soil tests can be completed by your local Ag Coop at minimal expense and will let you know if you need soil supplements such as lime, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
Use this link to find your local Ag Coop.
Once you have determined what soil supplements are needed, then it is time to begin preparing the ground in preparation for planting. At Heaven’s Trail, we hired an expert and were coached to treat the weeds with glyphosate, then start the no-till drill planting.
3: Selecting your Seed
Now comes the fun part of planning your summer food plot, determining precisely what you will plant.
Selecting the right seed for your plan is an essential part of the food plot process, so be sure to take some time to make sure you are making the right choice. Also, consider the maintenance factor as well.
Common perennial food plot species are great for early fall deer hunts and early spring turkey hunts but will lose their effectiveness when the weather turns cold, and they go dormant.
Including: clover, alfalfa, or chicory.
Annual food plot species only grow for that growing season and are highly attractive. They can be an excellent early and late season food source of forage for deer and turkeys but can be hard to maintain without the proper time and equipment.
At Heaven’s Trail, we chose a Summer Release blend from Green Cover Seed. And we intend to follow this up with their Fall Release in September. We are not sponsored or affiliated at all with RTP, Green Cover, or even John Deere. These are simply the materials and equipment we choose to use.
Including: corn, soybeans, turnips, radishes, cereal grains, or peas.
4: Following Up
Follow-up is the missed step in establishing summer food plots and will lead to more failed plantings this summer than anything else. Hunters that establish food plots will think the job is done once the seed is in the ground when the reality is it is just beginning.
While the food plots may be planted as a source of forage for deer, in areas with high deer densities, they can nip off the sprouts before they ever have a chance to fully mature. If you find yourself in this situation, employing the use of a solar-powered electric fence can help to ensure your food plot meets its full potential.
Check out this review of the top 10 solar-powered fences for 2021.
These fences can be put up and taken down quickly and can make all the difference in the world.
Expert Hunter Tree Stand Placement Advice
Summer food plots are a great addition to any property and can help lead you to success this fall. While there is undoubtedly a time and financial commitment involved, these additions to your property will allow you to hold and grow more wildlife year in and year out! And over time, we believe the no-till method is the way to go. It saves money and is better for the land.
Entry and Exit
Unpredictability can also be a negative, as it can put extra emphasis on your entry and exit strategy. It is always essential to have a way in and a way out of your stand location that will keep you quiet and concealed.
Expert Tip: Deer tend to spend the majority of the evening in these plots, which can make it exceptionally difficult to get in and back out without being seen. This is why it is crucial to have an entry and exit strategy. You might even want to have a friend who can come pick you up after the hunt. It’s one thing if the deer see you walking around. It’s different if the deer see the truck or side-by-side driving around.
Our tree stands were specifically designed to encourage you to stay in your stand longer. We felt like if we provided a tree stand where you felt comfortable, you would want to ‘hang around” longer. That’s where the name came from, Hang Around.