How To Plan (And Build) A Truly Killer Food Plot

As the sleek whitetailed doe quietly and cautiously sauntered into my small-but-lush turnip and radish plot, I already felt a sense of satisfaction even before taking aim.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

Use your HuntStand app, and the following proven tips, to start building a truly killer food plot right now—so it will be ready for exciting point-blank hunting action come fall. FoodPlot LEAD 900

Editor’s Note: Author Jason Herbert, of Plainwell, Michigan, is a part-time outdoor writer who has traveled the world in search of memorable adventures. When he has free time, Jason enjoys spending time with friends and family on his small organic homestead/hops farm.

As the sleek whitetailed doe quietly and cautiously sauntered into my small-but-lush turnip and radish plot, I already felt a sense of satisfaction even before taking aim. A few minutes later, when I anchored her with a well-placed arrow, the experience was that much sweeter. That encounter played out during my first year of hunting that particular killing plot; the following year I shot a doe and a nice fat buck out of that same plot within 20 minutes of each other. I’d rather be lucky than good any day, but I’m pretty certain my killer food plot setup was helpful to my success.

Here’s how I set up my killing food plots, and some things to consider when planning yours. FoodPlots2 900Two Types Of Plots With Separate Goals. Being a deer and turkey hunter is a lot like being a realtor, where much of the success depends on location. There are two types of food plots that I create; destination food plots that keep deer around, and killing plots that I hunt.

Destination plots tend to be bigger and typically, offer more than one food source such as corn, beans and clover. This is the sort of situation where an animal can count on a solid food source throughout the year. I do not recommend hunting on destination plots, but rather well downwind of them, hoping to catch a buck scent-checking a destination plot for a hot doe from a distance, downwind.

ScoutBuck GOOD 900A killing plot tends to be more of a situational plot that is ideally small, close to a known bedding source, and may even become a prime food source in the fall. If created well and hunted properly, deer feel comfortable feeding in killing plots all day long. A good example of a killing plot would be a small plot of turnips, radishes and young oats, all planted in August for an October or November hunt. It is really important to ensure that the killing food plot can be easily accessed without bumping any bedded or feeding deer. Also, effective exit routes are equally important because the deer do not care whether you are coming or going, they just know that humans are a threat. Use the detailed Satellite and Terrrain overlays found in your HuntStand app (see above) to determine these killer locations, taking into consideration important details such as prevailing winds. Ideally, all plots should feature several entrance/exit trails, and a few different stand sites, to ensure use in varying wind conditions. Food Plot SoilTest 900Plots Are What You Make Them. After deciding on a smart plot location, the next step is to prepare it. I’m of the belief that more is better when I prepare food plots. I like to get really aggressive with my chainsaw and tend to slash and hack at any trees in the area. At the very least, this approach ensures that new woody browse growth will pop up in any areas I don’t till under. I’ll burn the resulting logs, or use them for deer to lay against in bedding areas. Then I’ll take all the brush and line the edges of the plot to create a barrier, effectively allowing only well-planned entrance and exit routes. Then I’ll spray the ground generously with weed killer at least once, if not twice in a two- or three-week period. Then it is time to take a soil sample to make sure everything is kosher for planting. Many people waste hard-earned money throwing good seed on poor soil. Once the soil is deemed suitable and prepped, with additional lime for instance, it’s time to turn it all over and start planting the seed. FoodPlotHeartland 900Creating Your Own Custom Menu. Some common and effective food offerings include clover (which is full of protein), soybeans (also full of protein), and corn (which offers desirable carbohydrates). Brassicas (such as turnips and radishes), are also full of sugars and carbohydrates. The brassicas, especially, become desirable in the late fall after a few hard frosts when the starches in their greens turn to sugar. So what’s the ideal mix? Every area is different. Do some research, talk to experts—maybe even a local wildlife biologist—and figure out what sort of food plot offerings would be best for your area. Or, keep it simple. Heartland Wildlife has taken much of the thinking out of the equation; they offer a great spring blend, fall blend, as well as effective minerals and attractants (see above). As a bonus, Heartland Wildlife offers one of the best (and easiest to use) soil test kits that I have found.

FoodPlot Summit 900Smart Stand Setup. As mentioned earlier, stand location is critical when hunting close to a food plot. It is imperative that you remain as invisible as possible, and it all starts with stealthy entrances and exits. I like to trim trails and have them neatly manicured by the time hunting season arrives, so that when I’m hiking in my footsteps are faint, and I’m not snapping and cracking dry branches and rustling noisily through piles of leaves. Once on stand, even the most-secretive exit route can be ruined when deer are feeding in the plot, so be extra-careful and alert as daylight wanes, and be ready to sit patiently. Another great help to remain undetected is your HuntStand app. If on an extended food plot sit and your app shows a forecasted wind change, it might be wise to bail early and sneak over to a more-favorable stand, rather than risk spooking incoming deer. FoodPlotKenetic 900There are also several smart products that can minimize your impact on local deer. The neat new Ozonics Kinetic Backpack system (see above) allows you to run your Ozonics ozone-producing unit while hiking in and out of stand sites; this approach comes highly recommend if your goal is absolute scent control and the smartest entrance/exit strategy possible.

FoodPlot Redneck 900For treestand hunters, Summit offers a variety of smart stand options to safely and secretly hunt in most any tree. Where there are no trees, or if you’re not comfortable leaving the ground, well-made Redneck blinds offer smart ground-based options, and even elevated blind stands. A nice bonus with Redneck blinds is that you can sit wherever you want, and their hard-shell models also offer a good deal of scent control, especially when combined with an Ozonics unit.

nullMonitor Your Plot Success. As with any killing food plot, it’s really important to closely monitor it. This can be done in a couple of different ways. The key to monitoring anything when you’re not out there is about smart use of trail cameras. Moultrie is very proud of their new Moultrie Mobile program and for good reason. This technology allows the hunter to hang a camera and never have to visit it, until much, much later when the batteries finally die. Through an in-field modem, pictures from a Moultrie Mobile compatible camera are sent to your email. This game-changing system not only eliminates a huge dose of human interference, it allows you to travel to your plot only when the time is right to kill a trophy buck.

If using traditional “check the card” style cameras, make sure they are in very high-traffic areas, ideally in locations where human presence is expected and will not be too alarming. These areas are logging trails, creek crossings, farm gates, grain or hay field edges, etc. When hanging and checking a manual trail camera near a killing plot or bedding area, scent control, again, is very important. Residual, unchecked human odors do all sorts of damage to the deer woods. Once again, the Ozonics Kinetic Pack will come in handy in this situation. In super-high-traffic areas, where human odors are not alarming, I simply drive up, leave the truck or UTV running, and swap cards quickly. But when the hunting gets technical and your cams show a trophy has been making his rounds, the Moultrie Mobile technology and Ozonics Kinetic Pack setup are a worthwhile investment. FoodPlot 900Sweat The Details For Consistent Success. I like to hang my treestands with the specific hunt, time of day, and wind conditions in mind, and here again, the accurate forecasts, detailed birdseye views, and accurate historical weather data found in the free HuntStand app can be invaluable. When on site and hanging a stand, always make sure that the sun is at your back, and shining in the animal’s eyes to minimize your chances of being busted. Also, educate yourself a bit and beware of the thermal effect of rising air in the morning, and dropping air in the evening. As mentioned previously, invisible entrance and exits to stands can’t be overstated. Put all of these pieces together to create your perfect stand and killer plot location this spring, and you’ll reap the benefits of it all this fall.



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