Progression of a Food Plot

Let's go back to the clear-cuts on each side of the plot. I put travel corridors in the length of the clear-cut running parallel to the food plot. I have paths coming into the plot on each end. My goal was to get in and out of these spots without being seen, but also, to get these bucks to use these trails adjacent to the plot.

Here are a couple pics to hopefully show what I'm talking about.


A treestand view. The first looking back towards the blind. The second shows the path going into the plot. I'm impressed with the regen in the first year.


I put a Spartan cell cam on one of the paths going into the plot. Here are multiple pics that show the path and how deer were using it. These pics will also give you a view of the regen throughout the year.





The hunting, other than being unsuccessful, was good. We saw numerous deer and passed a bunch. Yet, the deer responded to the things we did, and I was happy.

Opening night of bow season had us in the blind on an observation sit. The deer used the mowed path we put in. The pics aren't the best as I'm taking them with my phone across the food plot. The buck in the first pic was under my wife's stand on an early Oct cold front hunt. The stand is on a waterhole and just off the food plot. She couldn't get drawn on him with the does around.

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My wife took this picture bowhunting from the same stand as the pics of the paths thru the regen.


I have to admit this is taking me longer to put together than I thought. But, onto the 2023 season and shed hunting.

I'd like to tell you that Bailey and Bella are working the field, but in reality, Bailey is teaching Bella how to eat deer shit.



Bella did find her first ever shed.


and Bailey got on the board later.


A good year. Not all of these were in the food plot but a few were.

Hopefully the pictures still have you following along. I'm sure most of you are like me, you look at the picture of what's being presented, but also looking at things in the background. I'm sure most of you have noticed the blind sticking out in the open. It's about a tractor's width away from the woods, but I agree, we need to get a screen. I'm hoping the switchgrass comes up but we're also going to plant Giant Miscanthus next to it and to have a screen across the top of that food plot. I looked at Maple River Farms and Real World when I bought, and Real World was a little cheaper, so that's what I went with. I bought two bags of 100 rhizomes and each bag had over 100 rhizomes. Thumbs up!

My plan is to have a three-layer screen - 18" x 18" spacing. I'm planting right in the switchgrass that I planted the year before. I hope this works! I staked out the pattern before I started planting. This is what it looked like.


Now we plant. I man the post hole digger and my wife plants the rhizome.


Some progress pics. I should say that this year was a crappy growing season. We have been in a drought all season, including now. It was a struggle to get anything to grow except weeds. They did well.

May. The winter rye looks great, so I have hope. Notice the 2nd year regen on the clear-cuts?

May GM.jpg

June. I planted a HD screen behind the switchgrass and GM. In the clear-cut in the background, I widened the travel corridor to drive a tractor.

June GM.jpg

July. The switchgrass and GM is coming up better than I thought.

July GM.jpg

August. I knew the switchgrass and GM, even in a good year, would have minimal growth for a screen so the HD screen was back-up. I'm now having issues with crabgrass and foxtail in the SG and GM. I sprayed Quinclorac / 2,4-D / Methylated Seed Oil to try to kill them.

August GM.jpg

Both pics below are from September - from each end of the screen.

Sept GM Alt View.jpg

Sept GM.jpg
Soybeans are back on the agenda for this food plot. For us, they're great for hunting, crappy for shed hunting. The drought had other plans for us. Here is the plot in late July before we're going to overseed with brassicas. Lots of bare dirt. You can see the ring of switchgrass around the plot. For the most part, it did well. I'll show other pics of problem areas.


Late August. Numerous weeds in the plot but we're going with it. I sprayed the Quinclorac combo over the switchgrass too. It's hard to keep on top of the weeds! We also put a blind on the other end of this plot, more for bowhunting. The path the deer come out of is about 35 yards.

September - other end of the plot.


November. You can really see the switchgrass around the plot. Yet, notice where the switchgrass stops right in front of the camera? I have a couple spots like that and not sure why. Do you think I should frost seed more switchgrass or will it come up on its own?


December. The second pic shows Bailey walking into the mowed path.


Now, the clear-cut paths. I learned I need to widen them and will be doing that this spring. The deer still use them, but the 2nd year growth, makes those paths seem much smaller. They have rubs all thru the path but now everything is over my head, and it gives a tunnel effect.



I think I'm also going to put in a small clover kill plot in the clear-cut. In the picture below, from the left side of the path over 15 yards. I'll add a waterhole on the right-hand side with a mock scrape. We have a stand on the left of this pic, about 18 yards off the path. Hopefully this will get the deer over in the open more, giving us a better shot.

We had another good year of hunting. I was after a certain buck, and it wasn't meant to be for me. My wife got her buck but kind of bittersweet. He was at 18, 26, 43 and 60 yards while bowhunting. A branch saved him at 18, 26 is pushing her limit, and 43 and 60 is too far. Opening day of gun season, he walks across this plot at 70 yards. He's now in range! She's killed three bucks in four seasons off this plot.

Some trail cam pics and the hero shot.



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Some more pics of the plot during hunting season.

This buck came out the mowed path, but 38 yards is too far for my wife to ethically shoot her bow. Notice where the switchgrass stops again?


Other pics.



The small clover plot will be in marked area in the pic below. I have 12 trees coming from Whitetail Crabs this spring. I'm thinking of planting three just inside the food plot in that same general location. The switchgrass will be between the food plot / apples and the clover, hopefully giving some semblance of a screen. Any recommendations on what three to plant there?

(3) Droptine
(3) Crossbow
(2) 30-06
(2) Whitney
(1) Arkansas Black
(1) Redfield Apple / Crab Cross

And that's the end of the progression of a food plot. It's come a long way from 2013 but it's been a blast. I wish I would have done some things sooner than I did (analysis paralysis) but all in all, I'm pretty happy where it's at. I'll continue to tinker - thinking about planting some screening within the plot - but not sure I will. If you have any recommendations, or solutions to my switchgrass issue, I'll certainly take them. Thanks for following along.
Great job and thread! You chose wisely making plot area big and diverse in one area. So food plot area is 3 acres still?

Do you like spring planted beans with other crops interseeted in fall or cereal grain half/brassica half?
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The plot is a little bigger now - approximately 3.25 acres.

If I had to choose one over the other, I would choose spring planted beans and then broadcast winter rye in them over Labor Day weekend. The beans, for us, have been so good to hunt over.
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 surrounding ag helps me. This is a pic of our neighbors field from a few years ago. The only thing that changes is if it's beans or corn.

Fantastic thread and pictures. Looks like an awesome place and I like what you've done with it.

How are the spruce growing that you planted a while back?