Progression of a Food Plot


5 year old buck +
I take a lot of pictures of what we do on the property. As we start thinking of what needs to be done in 2024, I thought I'd share the progress of one of our food plots from 2013 thru the 2023 season. This thread will be picture heavy so please tolerate my crappy photography skills.

The 2013 season was our first year on the property. This field is a little over three acres. We decided to put in a small food plot in the far corner and planted some apple trees across the field from it. It wasn't a great plot by any means, but it was a start.


Here is a pic of the field along with the 2014 food plot.

2014 Field.jpg

2014 Food Plot.jpg
We also added more apple trees and planted some Norway Spruce trees too.

2014 Apple Trees.jpg

2014 Norway Spruce.jpg
We continue to plant the small food plot over the next few years. The deer are using it but we don't hunt it much. We put a blind on it but getting out at night without spooking deer in the field is hard. We usually only hunt it when someone can come into the field with a truck and pick the hunter up.



Here are a few pics showing the entire field and what we're mowing.



And the deer use the field pretty well.

I wanted to change the field but didn't really know what I wanted to do. I debated, ad nauseam, to change the field to all food or do a combination of food or switchgrass. In 2019, food won out, so I set out to cut down everything with a Stihl trimmer with grass and cutter blades. I'd just hire someone to come mow it now.


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I planted a combination of brassicas and cereal grains the first year.


We still didn't hunt the field much during the 2019 season. We hunted other spots on the property with success, but I was happy with the bigger food plot. We start the 2020 season with shed hunting. Like many of you, we really enjoy shed hunting, and we had a good season in 2020.

In Feb / March - the brassica side was hit hard.


Some other pics shed hunting.



Not all of these were found in the food plot but most were.


I wanted to plant RR soybeans in the field this year and in mid-May we started.

1st Field - May 16th - Just Planted.jpg

We moved an elevated blind into this field, and I wanted to try an approximate 1/2-acre brassica plot right in front of it. Speaking from experience, absolutely do not try to till up standing beans. What a PITA that was. Lesson learned! That said, the brassica plot turned out well.

20200815_192736 - 1.jpg


The plot in late September. My attempt at a screen didn't do much. I'll keep at it.

Most of our bowhunting was off the plot in spots we could easily get out. 2020 was the first year we rifle hunted looking over the plot. We moved a blind to the top of the field and my wife hunted there. We see numerous deer using the plot over the 9-day gun season.


We pass up some deer and my wife shoots a buck she's happy with.


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That looks like a great hidey hole plot.
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Overall, 2021 is a big year for the food plot. Many changes coming but first we shed hunt. We only find two small sheds! I think there were two reasons for this. One, the deer decimated the beans once rifle season was over. Two, a farmer down the road, for whatever reason, left a large bean field standing and there were 100 deer in there at night.


We do soybeans again this year. Last year we planted regular 'ol ag beans you get from the local co-op. This year we try the RW soybeans, with some buckwheat around the apple trees, just because I like to putz. Pic from early July.


Mid August....


Early Oct with brassicas now in place of the buckwheat.


Early Nov20211103_143244.jpg
We overseeded the beans with winter rye.


I am surprised with the number of deer you seem to have, they didnt eat those beans to the ground two weeks after emerging from the soil.
The hunting was good too. On November 13th I shot a buck just off the food plot over a waterhole.


Thankfully he didn't go far and I was able to pick him up with the tractor. The food plot is in the background.

My wife shot her buck during the 9-day gun season. We saw this deer seven times in nine days in the food plot. She elected to pass him a couple times and no real good shot opportunities on the others.


Trail cam picture.

Screenshot 2023-12-31 111623.jpg

Pics from the blind on back-to-back nights.


20211123_165012 - 1.jpg
Here is where the big change comes in. We're finally on the schedule to have our logging done. A week after the rifle season ends the loggers move in. I met with a local forester who is also a whitetail / habitat nut. We walked the property multiple times and came up with a plan. I mostly knew what I wanted but the forester also had ideas and we bounced them off each other. I was happy with what we came up with.

The loggers using the food plot as a staging area. The aspen is clear cut on the sides of the plot. Notice the blind sticking out like a sore thumb?

1st Food Plot - 1.JPG

1st Food Plot Left Side.JPG

1st Food Plot Right Side.JPG

The slash was purposely left like this.

1st Food Plot Slash.JPG
The 2022 season starts off with shed hunting again. As you can imagine, it wasn't a very good year. The lack of food and logging activity had the deer going elsewhere. We only found one match set and it wasn't on this plot. Bailey didn't care though.


It was tempting to clean up the aspen clear cuts and have a bigger food plot. I didn't want that, but I did have a local guy come in and push the slash back about 10 yards or so to get a start on my plan. The combination of waiting on the local guy, and having to clean up the logging debris, meant we were planting brassicas and cereal grains this year. No biggie.

In late July, I mow the winter rye that is coming up. Notice the regen in the aspen clear cuts?


A few days later I get the brassicas planted. Notice the tilled-up ring around the plot? I want a switchgrass screen around this plot so I broadcasted CIR switchgrass along with Northwoods Whitetails HD Screen. I knew the switchgrass was going to grow very little, if at all, this year. It's late to plant the screen but was hoping it would get 3-4' tall.


The end of August we get the other side of the plot ready for the cereal grains / clover / radish combo. Yes, the bare spots in the brassicas are frustrating. Winter rye will help. The HD screen is starting to pop up.


Up close, the brassicas look good in early September.

Some pics of the plot through the year.

Early September. The HD screen is getting taller but only in spots. Other areas don't have much if any growth.


Early October.


Early November from a treestand on the other end of the plot. This is on the waterhole where I shot my 2021 buck.


End of November.