Thursday, March 6, 2014

Build it, and they will come


A famous quote from one of America's most beloved baseball movies should provide every passionate deer hunter with one of those, "ah-ha" moments.  For me, "Field of Dreams" no longer brings visions of an Iowa countryside baseball field with a corn field set in the backdrop.  Last summer, my Dad and I decided to try our first adventure with food plotting.  I had great plans of creating a large plot on newly purchased land, to my surprise, most of my plans came together quite nicely.  After getting married, I only had so much time to scrunch in a few days to spray, disc and plant, all the while planning this around a good rain to ensure germination.  Mid-June 2013, Dad and I began to disc up the plot.  Within minutes my Field of Dreams was coming true.  Deep, rich soil began to show and I immediately knew we would at least have some success with our experiments of this summer.  An hour or so later, two plot sights were turned over and planted with brassica, clover and chicory.  Luckily we received a good rain and things were looking up.
Some time later, as you can tell, we received a little too much rain.  My large food plot was what I thought, completely destroyed.  I had spent hours removing rocks and debris from this area knowing it had the possibility of producing tons of food for my deer.  Well, the rocks found their way back into the plot, and some others that were buried for years decided to join as well.  There wasn't much I could do, I live in Green Bay and I wasn't going to drive back and forth 3.5 hrs to remove rocks and stew and fret over what happened.  We let it be and decided this plot might be a lost cause. 
Well, lets just say the dream was fulfilled after all.  I gave away the success story right away with the first photo I posted here.  Three bucks choosing to browse through my brassica plot in late December in search of high protein greens.  The above photo is from October 27th. Rich, heavy and very green, I knew this plot was going to attract everything that passed thru once the rut finished.  From October 27th to the top picture taken Dec. 28th, deer had basically eaten the entire plot.  Had I been around to hunt it more, I'm sure most evenings would've been filled with me seeing deer filing into the plot at the cusp of darkness. 

This post isn't to discourage hunters from creating or improving natural browse, or to say food plots are a better way to feed deer, it's simply to remind them, if you build it they will come.  Build natural browse but culling and clearing, or plant, they will come.  Seriously they will, and they did as you can see.  Later winter deer fall into a strict pattern of bedding in daylight and feeding at night to build up fat reserves for winter.  With the plot situated not 100 yards from bedding areas, the brassica was too easy and obvious for them.  The process of creating food plots was fascinating to me and had me appreciating the rich soils and rains God provides for us.  Even better is great tasting venison home grown on the farm.