Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:29 am

One of my dreams came true this year. I made my first deer food plots. In 2006 my Dad and brother bought 80 acres in Michigan's eastern UP that adjoins a 40 my Dad bought 15 years ago. It also adjoins 240 acres of my uncles and 80 of my cousins. It starts 1/4 mile past the end of a dead end road and I had to make a road across 1/4 mile of my uncles property just to get to it. Its all wooded mainly soft woods but about 10 acres of maple. And rises in elevation 100' from the lowest point to the highest with four lime stone ledges.

Developing this property has really brought our whole family together. I spend the most time up there but both my brothers come up and help out and my sister, BIL and their two kids come up several times a year for a vacation. Its off grid with the nearest power about 1/2 mile away. We have a home built diesel generator and a forklift batter and 5000 watt power inverter for power. I usually run there days on the battery then fire up the generator for 5-6 hrs to charge the battery back up and hope to have two small windgenerators up next year. We have a 26' travel with a 12x20 bunk house hooked to it to stay in.

Now to the plots. Finally got past gotta get this and that done just to stay up there. And got my first plots in. I plowed up 2.5 acres at my cousins just over 1/4 mile from the trailer. And about a acre where my Dad hunts 1/2 mile from the trailer. Starting in may I started clearing the brush and small trees from a acre across from the trailer.

Here's what the new field looked like April 5th before I started working on it. The area I cleared is to the right of the loader.


I cleared half of it burnt it then cleared the other half. The property was all woods when we got it and I had to make all my clearings roads and trails (I am still working on the trails) I have a fire hose pump and fire hose. And pushed out a little pond for a fire reservoir. So if I had the fire get away I could put it out. I also have a 500 gal tank on a wagon that I can pull around if I need it.

Here's my first brush pile.


Dad and I infront of the little fire


A lot of people use a rake to stir up there fire I use a JD 450g dozer


My field grew the best where I burnt and spread the ashes. It was also noticeably taller under the trees I left. Charcoal is very good to put in the ground. Benefits of charcoal (biochar)
Reduces nutrient leeching from soils by binding nutrients.Improves soil health by providing surfaces for beneficial bacteria and fungi to live on.

And here it is July 31st just after I got done seeding it.



It was pretty rocky and there was some sand there. I had to plow it with the dozer and dig up a bunch of boulders and push them away. And even after two days of picking rock and half day of using a rock rake there are a lot of stones left.


There was a sharp sand and running it over with the tractor compacted it badly. And there were roots and rocks sticking up everywhere and I did not expect it to grow.

8-18 when I made it up next it was up 4-5 inches and I was shocked. It turned out to be the best of the three fields I planted. I didn't even put any fertilizer on any of the fields until it was 8" high then I only put 150 lbs of 19-19-19 on it. Latter the rape plants showed it was potassium deficient.

Here's a good site that show what different mineral difficientys look like. At the bottom of the page are links from apples to wheat.



10-2 it was really up. You can't see the brassicas in there but there was a lot but the deer were really knocking them down. For some reason the deer barley touched the oats WW and rye. As of nov 30 it was headed out and turning brown and they still weren't touching it. I have no idea why. I was going to mow some strips through it so some of it would stay green but my friends talked me out of it now I wish I would have.



I planted a brassica mix I got from the co-op. Along with trapper peas, winter wheat, rye and oats. Even though I didn't know to use it I used my crows foot cultipacker first spread my seed, drug a bedspring over and ran the cultipacker back over it.

And thanks to DB I now know about rye, radishes. Planting in strips. And planting cool and warm season feeds. And am really looking forward making a list of what I want when to plant each. And planting next year :way: My cousin that I really respect told me to plant a little of everything because you never know what the deer want one year to the next or one field to the next. He said one year all of one or two things and the next year. Leave what they ate the year before and leave what they ate. And thats what I did. But what I am learning here is rounding it out and expanding my knowledge. And I can't wait to try it out.


Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:30 am

Now to Dad's spot. He hunts on the lowest level in a small one acre field in the middle of our property's. It is just to the east of some natural springs and to the north of him are cedar swamps. We haven't seen any big bucks up there for 15 years. My uncle bought his property in 1965 and its about 10 miles from our original homestead. For the first 15-20 years they were getting 8pt's and seeing some bigger. But as the years went by they keep getting smaller. When my uncle bought there had been recent logging behind our property. And my feeling is that there was just less feed and lesser quality feed since the woods have thickened and grown up. My uncles think I am wrong and that their are as many as before but we just don't see them. I feel my food plots will prove my point and we will see bigger bucks. But time will tell.

We have also had a lot of problems with wolves the last 7 years. Last year we had a doe and two fawns. Christmas the wolves killed the doe 200 feet from our trailer just before we came up then came back our first nite there and finished eating what they left the nite before. Then they killed a deer behind our pole barn and one on a trail half way between the trailer and where Dad hunts. And those are just the ones I found.

When I plowed Dad's up it was almost all heavy red clay with maybe 1 1/2 inch of topsoil. I did put 350 lbs of lime on it. And the same seed mix I used in the other two. I feel the lime really helped while the other field took off better. This one caught up and the planting looked healthier even though it was grazed a lot heavier. With 6-10 deer a day there where as the other field. Had mostly the two that were fawns last year and there mom was killed by wolves Christmas and another doe and fawn that would show up time to time. It was great watching the yearlings in the plot across from the trailer they were in there eating 2-3 times a day happily eating. We would be in front of the trailer with a bonfire and radio playing and they would be 150 feet away just eating and were so used to us I could drive the fourwheeler 40' from them and they would just watch me. The twins ended up being a doe and three inch spike.

Here's Dad's spot. I plowed disk and rototilled with a 265 massy and used my 1957 farmall 130 the 14' brillon crows foot cultipacker. Its a nice unit as it has two hitches one you pull with for working it. The other for when you drop the wheels and transport it from the side. Which is a good thing as it would not fit down my trails otherwise.


I do need to get some drag harrows to help level out the field. But I was able to use the blade on the 130 to help level the field it has down pressure on the blade and that really helped.


July 30th its in.


August 18th its up and growing good.


You can see the water tank on the hay wagon behind the utv. That I have for fire suppression if I need it. When I burnt the brush pile in that field it wasn't opened up to the springs yet so I hauled water in.


Oct 3rd even better


Its hard to tell but you can kinda see how the trail drops 30' down into the field Dad hunts in.


And this is one of the four rock ledges.


Aug 28th I opened Dad's field up to the springs but it rained 3" while I was doing it and I made a muddy mess and the seed got burried too deep and didn't do well.


Dad had four mini strokes nov 1st 1008 and hadn't hunted the two years before from being sick (colds/flu) 2009 he hunted and did not see anything worth taking. This year at 77 he got his 33 buck a nice sized 6" spike.


Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:33 am

I am thinking of doing a early planting of kale which I hadn't heard of before I read the brassicas article. From what I have seen by reading if they will eat it without frost sweetening it it seems would be very good for horn development.
from a QDMA article

Chemical Composition of Antlers
Growing antlers are comprised mostly of proteins (80 percent by weight); whereas, mature (hardened) antlers are comprised of roughly equal amounts of proteins and minerals. Studies have shown that calcium and phosphorus are by far the two most common minerals in deer antlers comprising nearly 30–35 percent of the mature antler by weight. However, they are not the only minerals present. A University of Georgia study (Miller et al. 1985) detected 11 different minerals in the whitetail’s antlers. In addition to calcium (19.01 percent) and phosphorous (10.13 percent), the next two most common elements reported in the Georgia study were magnesium (1.09 percent) and sodium (0.50 percent). Lesser amounts of other minerals were found including potassium, barium, iron, aluminum, zinc, strontium, and manganese. Other than calcium and phosphorous, little is known about the role of these other minerals in antler growth.

The level of daily phosphorous intake required for optimum antler growth in whitetails has been reported to range from 0.14 percent to 0.56 percent (French et al. 1956, Jacobson 1984a, Grasman and Hellgren 1993). Grasman and Hellgren (1993) predicted that the normal dietary intake of phosphorous by adult bucks was 0.12 percent. These studies suggest that in areas where soils are highly deficient in phosphorous and where additional phosphorous was not provided through fertilized food sources (e.g., food plots), phosphorous supplementation may increase antler growth.

After reading the QDMA article and started looking at what some of the forges had in them other than just protein. The mineral and vitamin content in it looks good for what the deer need early in the year.

I also read that the human body absorbers calcium easier from kale than milk. It has also been shown to lower the risk of five types of cancer and lower cholesterol in people too I may have to try some myself. ... ce&dbid=38


Gram Weight: 100.0

Calories (kcal): 41.0

Energy (kJ): 170.0

Protein (g): 4.3

Carbohydrates (g):

Fat (g): 1.2

Total Dietary Fiber (g): 4.3

Vitamin A (RE):

Thiamin (mg): 0.15

Riboflavin (mg): 0.29

Niacin (mg): 2.8

Pantothenic Acid (mg):

Vitamin B-6 (mg):

Total Folate (mcg): 60.0

Vitamin B-12 (mcg): 0.0

Vitamin C (mg): 124.0

Vitamin D (IU): 0.0

Vitamin E (IU): 8.046

Biotin (mcg):

Vitamin K (mcg):

Calcium (mg): 135.0

Chloride (mg):

Chromium (mcg): 8.3

Copper (mg): 0.091

Fluoride (mg): 0.02

Iodine (mcg): 1.4
(counteracts the goitrogenic effect)

Iron (mg): 2.0

Magnesium (mg):

Manganese (mg):

Molybdenum (mcg): 2.0

Phosphorus (mg):

Potassium (mg):

Selenium (mcg): 5.0

Sodium (mg): 35.0

Zinc (mg): 0.3


Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:49 am

Thanks Billy for a great pictorial of your progress on the farm. Those food plots are going to pay off BIG very soon. I sure wish I had a place down here to work with. Happy hunting :)

Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:50 am

Cowboy wrote:I am thinking of doing a early planting of kale which I hadn't heard of before I read the brassicas article. From what I have seen by reading if they will eat it without frost sweetening it it seems would be very good for horn development.

On my plots, the deer have been eating the brassica down to the ground after it only gets 1 inch high, way before frost. Guess I need some larger plots (or less deer)

Re: Food plot for deer

Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:46 am

Thanks Ken

I really had a lot of fun doing it and watching the deer eat it. I didn't really know what I was doing when I planted it. But decided to go for it as the seed doesn't do any good in the bag :!: But I have done a lot of reading since I planted it learning and trying to figure out whats best to do for next year. I haven't hunted since junior high but if I can grow up some nice bucks I might. I brought up the info I found most useful as it may have gotten lost on the last page.

Cowboy wrote:You definitely need to test the soil to see what it needs :!: If the PH is way off it won't grow well and the plants can't use any fertilizer you put on.

There are two main types of plots warm and cool weather plots. Each provides deer forage for different times of the year. Rather than planting a field in just one type of feed its best to plant stuff in strips at different times of the year and rotate them over the years.

Read this for a good overview on different feed requirements deer need over the year. ... ticles.htm

Rye vs Wheat and Oats. Rye stays green longer and starts growing soonest in the spring and will grow good in a wider range of PH levels. It also puts nitrogen back into the soil for other plants where as wheat, oats use it up.

Brassicas. High energy forage for deer going into winter. ... f=24&t=566

Drilling vs broadcasting seed.

Last year I broadcast my fields. But if I can get a small seed drill that my uncle gave me working I will use that next year. The problems with broad casting One you don't have any control of how deep the seed is planted Two you have to use more seed as some sits on top of the ground and gets cooked and some gets buried to deep to germinate. Three its hard to adjust it for proper seed per acre with a broadcaster. On the other hand its a lot easier to clean out and store.

Hi Todd

Thanks. They went for my brassicas too and barely touched the grains. Since it was stated that they didn't like it until it frosted I figured I would pass the warning along. But I will know better this year :wink:


Re: Food plot for deer

Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:14 am

Cowboy, thanks for the great information. I am sure I will have questions and will reach out to you. Thanks again :D