August 2006
Featured Articles

Design your Fall Plots with “Hunting” in Mind

  Todd Amenrud poses with a respectable buck taken from an ambush site set up on a funnel created by a river and one of his food plots.
by Todd Amenrud

Fall planting is a ritual to many in the south - it’s a time to get together and have some fun. Even though this can be a fun event, make sure that you take it seriously. Plan out what you will plant and where you will plant it carefully, because what you do now can pay big dividends when hunting season arrives.

I actually go to the trouble of looking at past weather archives to document wind directions and speeds for certain times of the hunting season. When laying out my foodplots and making my ambush sites, I take this information into consideration. I suggest making copies of aerial photos or topographical maps so that you can jot things down, take notes and make your plan of attack. To me, it helps to understand things better if I can see them laid out in front of me. With today’s technology and certain software programs, combined with access to information via the internet, it makes it easy to keep meticulous records which help you to make calculated decisions.

Because of a whitetail’s needs changing so often during the season, I never "put all my eggs in one basket." I classify my plots into two categories, "feeding plots" and "hunting plots." My feeding plots are usually fairly large, often made up mostly of perennials (Clover Plus is my favorite) and I don’t hunt these plots. My goal is to provide as much nutrition to as many deer as possible and I want them to feel comfortable about accessing this nutrition whenever they want.

You certainly can plant perennials in the late summer or fall, but fall planting’s "stars" are the attractive annuals like wheat, triticale, oats, brassicas, winter peas and annual clovers. These plants establish fast, can pull in game from great distances and keep them concentrated in a certain area.

When designing your hunting plots it may be wise to actually pick your treestand tree or ambush spot before you design the plot.  
On the other hand, in my "hunting plots" my goal is to draw them in so I can kill them, or to use it as a magnet so that I can intercept them on the way to the plot. Here’s where the above mentioned "magnet plants" shine.

Now I’m not saying that you are going to sit on the edge of your plot and knock over Pope & Young whitetails - I might shoot him 200 yards off of the plot on his way to it. (If you do things right, you can harvest Pope & Young bucks right in your plots.) But the plot is the reason that he’s traveling to the area. Because I’m a bowhunter, my hunting plots are usually only 30 to 40 yards wide, and possibly long, maybe 100 to 200 yards long. You have to play what Mother Nature deals you, but at some point I want to be able to shoot all the way across the plot.

In my hunting plots, I try to "leave the table set" for them all through the season. If you just plant one thing in that specific plot you are limiting the time that you are going to be able to use it for a magnet. With a 40-yard wide plot I will probably divide that up into 4 ten-yard strips. I will usually plant Clover Plus in one of the strips, one of our blends that contain brassica cultivars in one (usually Maximum but possibly Premium Perennial), in one I’ll plant BioMaxx and one strip I’ll usually save and do a fall planting of Full Draw. Full Draw contains forage wheat and several annual clovers that are the most palatable during the first month of growth. It’s one of the best early season magnets that I’ve ever seen. By planting this variety, I’ve given them something that is going to keep them coming to this spot from the opening of bow season to long into the winter.

With a long skinny plot like this it’s very easy to position yourself to play the wind, and deer like to feed up and down lengthwise in them. As I said, many of us have to plant areas that Mother Nature might supply, in the form of natural openings, meadows or old agricultural fields. Regardless, make sure you take into consideration which way they (the deer) might approach from and if there’s a chance they’ll "bust" you if they do enter from a certain way. I will many times go out and select my treestand trees before I lay out my plots. Again, when doing so, taking into consideration the information that I’ve kept track of about wind direction.

Another blend that I’m very anxious to try this year is BioLogic’s new Outfitter’s Blend. This is a blend of New Zealand Triticale, Austrian winter peas, wheat and oats. It germinates quickly and pulls in deer right away. It was developed by obtaining information from many of the country’s best guides and outfitters.

If you take into consideration the "big picture" of your hunting area, leave "the table set" for them throughout the time that you’ll be hunting, and make sure that you place your ambush sites in a spot that is not easily detected, success will follow for you.

Todd Amenrud is the Director of Public Relations, Territory Manager & Habitat Consultant for BioLogic.