Tired of having bad outcomes with your food plots? Lean on the many-featured HuntStand app to help guide the way.
While it doesn’t take a degree in horticulture or a lifelong career as a farmer, growing quality food plots isn’t easy. Planting them so they will improve your chances of tagging a whitetail isn’t, either. There are plenty of things you can do to increase the odds, though, especially with help from the many-featured HuntStand app. Here are some tips ready to help do-it-yourselfers everywhere, plus a real-life success story that shows how it can all come together.
Recording Location Data. Planting food plots with a purpose is important for short- and long-term success. Doing this correctly begins with careful planning, which requires data and information. HuntStand is an excellent tool to record this information. Your color-coded markers and notes of beds, rubs, scrapes, sheds, sightings, tracks, trails, and other sign left behind by deer all compile to create valuable intel, and it’s pretty easy to make sense of it on your specific deer hunting tract, by using the map of your hunt area in the app. One glance shows virtually everything you need to know, instantly.Analyzing Location Data. Once valuable information is recorded in the app, it’s simple to analyze. Charting bedding areas, feeding destinations, water sources, potential/observed staging areas, transition areas, major routes, minor trails, and more is directly connected to a successful food plot program. This is especially true for positioning small micro (kill) plots used to put deer in position for short-range shot opportunities. By having all of this information in one place in your hunt area, it helps you visualize how deer traverse the property, and it makes choosing quality, productive food plot locations much more attainable.Understanding Terrain Features. While placing food plots along natural lines of movement is important for encouraging deer to use them, it’s also important to choose locations that are optimized for plant growth. While it’s impossible to use an app to determine precise soil type and conditions, it can reveal clues as to whether the site might work in terms of drainage and other important features. For erosion and safety reasons, you want to select a location that’s relatively flat. It also helps to reveal open areas already mostly cleared for plots. By using the many helpful HuntStand app layers, it’s easier and faster to plan ahead, rather than to hike in and search the entire property on foot.Designing Food Plots. While precise plot location can be critical, it’s also important to properly design a food plot. Creating plot shapes that enhance their huntability is extremely important, for increasing the number of quality shot opportunities you’ll see. In my experience, bucks entering a food plot will soon travel to a point where they can see the rest of the plot—an act that requires very little movement to accomplish within a circular, square, rectangle or other easily-viewed opening. So build your plot to help “guide” incoming bucks (see image above). Your goal should be to plant in such a manner that requires bucks to travel to a very specific location of the plot to see the rest of it. Trying unique shapes such as a J-, K-, L-, T-, U-, V-, hand-, hourglass- or turkey-foot-shaped plots forces deer to travel to the vertexes of these shapes, to see what other deer might be feeding in the open—and these are the spots you should cover with blinds and treestands.Measuring Food Plots. Of course, it can be difficult to create unusual food plot shapes. In overgrown fields, the best way is to mow the desired shape, while leaving the remaining vegetation as a buffer all the way around it. If that isn’t possible, you’ll need to stake off the plot. Using this method, you can plant the plot with food plot seed, and the exterior with a tall-growing “screening” crop, such as Egyptian wheat.
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Before you purchase a seed, or even decide what you’ll plant, it’s important to know how much you’ll need. Fortunately, HuntStand has an area-measuring tool that allows you to determine the volume of seed, fertilizer and lime you’ll need to cover the entire food plot and surrounding buffer strips.Choosing A Seed Type. Picking the right species to plant is also part of the puzzle. And it’s all about understanding lines of movement, and how deer traverse the landscape between bedding areas, food sources, and everywhere in between. Because most food plots are destined as micro plots—minor food sources that deer will pass through on their way to major food sources—it’s important to “sync-up” these plots with the destination food source they’ll pair with. So, by marking local crop field species, mast crop areas, and other food sources on HuntStand, you can position micro plots between those and suspected bedding areas, and then choose a seed type that will peak, or at least coincide, with the major food source beyond it. For example, to sync-up with local green soybean fields, it might be best to plant an early-season food plot option—in my hunt areas that means cowpeas, iron clay peas, or lablab. Observing Weather Forecasts. Experienced food plotters understand the importance of timing their plantings. Plant too early and a cold snap can kill the plot. Plant too late and it doesn’t have enough time to mature before first frost. Timing plantings just prior to much-needed rain is part of the deal, too. Fortunately, HuntStand helps keep track of the weather forecast, and helps provide the information necessary to effectively coordinate this aspect of the planting process.
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Tracking Your Paces. While planting, some people like to know how many passes it will take to disc, fertilize, plant, cultipack, etc. This can help you guesstimate things like future fuel costs, time to complete, and more. This (and much more) can all be recorded with the HuntStand Trace Path feature, which records and shows the paths you take while using the feature. Pair that up with detailed notes you’ve logged in the app and you’ll have a complete record of accurate, helpful planting data.Marking Finished Food Plots. Once a plot is finished, keep track of it by using a unique app marker, markers you can quickly and easily color-code (and share with your hunt group) to denote type of planting and This way, all members in your hunt group or club will know, at a glance, where specific plots are located, and which ones are most likely to attract attention during specific months of the season. (Unless you’re keeping a specific honey hole for yourself, of course …)Plotting Ground Blind & Treestand Locations. Once food plots are finished, placing markers for possible ground blinds and treestands will serve as important reminders for the relative locations of these important spots. Again, HuntStand makes it easy to use specific colors to differentiate between actual and potential ambush sites. Then when it’s time to set a stand or blind, or actual head in and hunt, you or one of your hunt group will be able to travel straight to the spot, even in complete darkness, instead of bumbling around, wasting time and spooking deer.
Mapping Entry & Exit Routes. Veteran whitetailers know having quality entry and exit routes is just as important as choosing a good stand or food plot location. HuntStand offers the ability to chart smart entry and exit routes (using both terrain and wind direction) to food plots, too. This way, you can hopefully minimize the chance of spooking game on the way to and from your stands, and maybe even better, this information can also be shared with your entire hunt group so all of you are on the same page. Monitoring the Wind. One of the most-iconic features of the HuntStand app, the HuntZone wind direction and speed chart, is a great way to gauge what the wind will be doing in a food plot throughout your hunt, complete with any forecasted changes. This is a crucial step in deciding whether or not the wind is good for hunting there, and when it might be wise to hunt the location for, say, just the first half or last half of the day. Avoiding hunting from these locations on days and stretches when the wind is bad will not only improve your immediate success, it will also improve the longevity of consistent daylight deer movement within a given food plot—or anywhere else for that matter. Know before you go!
Reserving Ground Blinds & Treestands. Thanks to a relatively new addition to the HuntStand app, hunters can now reserve specific ground blinds and treestand locations. This is a significant help to those who share permission on hunting properties, and even boosts safety, given that all hunters will know where everyone else is planning to hunt and when.When It All Comes Together. I’ve tagged numerous whitetails in and near food plots, and have filmed or otherwise helped others do so, too. One memorable outing dates back to 2018, when I filmed my uncle Ben Honeycutt tag a buck in a 10-acre woodlot that held a well-planned food plot in its center.
When we decided to plant this strategic food plot, we had the information needed to do so, thanks to HuntStand which helped make the process relatively simple and painless. We knew the general area well, and had plenty of past data recorded in our apps for analysis. We also understood the surrounding terrain, how deer used it, the prevailing wind directions, and much more. With a rough plan in mind, we designed the food plot, and went with a shape that would ultimately funnel deer toward the stand location.
How To Score A Great Deer Hunting Lease
We also measured the food plot for its precise acreage, chose a seed type—which was chicory for half the plot and brassicas for the other—and then started the creation process. We waited for a good planting window, and finished up the plot.
Already knowing where we’d locate entry routes, exit paths, and treestands (which should be completely thought out before planting), we marked all of these on HuntStand. And eventually, our trail cams revealed that a really nice non-typical buck had taken notice of the plot. So, we waited for deer season, and when the buck started moving frequently during daylight, we made our move.In late September, we eased along our carefully selected, low-impact entry route, and climbed into our double-set stands at the vertex of the food plot. After several deer passed through that evening, the big fellow finally appeared. After making several scrapes—and even a rub on a large cedar tree less than 10 yards away—he walked into the vertex of the food plot. My uncle drew back, settled the pin, and released an arrow. The plan came together and worked to near perfection.
Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, of course. But that time in late September, it mostly did. And when you design, plan, and plant food plots with a purpose, it’s much more likely to play out as you hope it will. And fortunately for HuntStand users, we have a multi-featured app that helps with every step of the process.