Plot now for Fall/Winter Success
We may be in the dog days of summer, but seasons are already starting to kick off around the country and before you know it, it will be primetime for you as well. While most people are sitting in the air-conditioning wishing it was season, now is the time to plant the literal seeds fall dreams are made of. While we may be getting close to the end of the window to plant a prime early season plot, there are still several attractive plants that can reach palatability by that late-October to mid-November prime time, & a plot planted now with post-rut hunts in mind will help you make the most of those last cold months when deer are back on a food priority pattern. Follow the tips below to have a plot that can help draw deer late into the season
A little work up front pays dividends in the long run.
Yes, we’re in a bit of a time crunch, but the effort spent up front is absolutely worth doing it correctly. Good seed on bad ground will not take the way you’re envisioning your plot to turn out. Once you’ve identified where your plot will be, spray the area if at all possible to kill off the vegetation. We use a glyphosate mix on our plots. Ideally, you’d like to have a couple days of dry weather for the weed killer to work, but we’ve had some success with as little as a few hours of contact. If you can disk the dead vegetation under, great; if not, try to drag, rake, or otherwise break the dirt. This would also be a great time to get any lime or fertilizer down in you did a soil test and need to make adjustments. Contrary to some internet opinions, a nice deep, fluffy seedbed is great, but most seed is planted less than 1” deep, & most less than ½” deep, so don’t let the lack of heavy equipment stop you from putting effort into preparing the soil.
Choose the right plants for your area & intended purpose
The right plant in the wrong place, or at the wrong time is the wrong plant. I consider three things when it comes to seed.
What are the major ag sources in my area? If it’s corn and soybeans, I’m not planting that. We can’t compete with thousands of acres of row crops, so we need to plant something different.
When do I need or want the plot to be at it’s best? I use 90 days as a general rule of thumb for a plant to reach maturity, but that is not always going to be when a plant is most palatable.
What is going to be most palatable & have the most drawing power at that time? If I’m hunting in the heart of the rut, I need the plot to be at its prime drawing potential in that window. If I want something to draw, hold, and help support deer over winter I need something that is most palatable later in the year, such as turnips or sugar beets that become more palatable after a hard freeze.
Once I’ve answered those questions, it’s time to fire up the interwebs and do some research. There is information available ad nauseum on preferred or attractive food sources, when they’re the most attractive, and when they need to be planted. Take your pick & don’t be afraid to try something different or new.
Get the seed in the ground.
If you can disk the dead vegetation in your plot under, great; if not, try to drag or rake the vegetation out of the way. This would also be a great time to get any lime or fertilizer down if you did a soil test and need to make adjustments. Contrary to some internet opinions, a nice deep, fluffy seedbed is great, but most seed is planted less than 1” deep, & most less than ½” deep, so don’t let the lack of heavy equipment stop you from putting in a plot - a garden rake and some elbow grease can get the job done of preparing a seedbed. Once your seedbed is loosened follow the recommended planting method for your seed, but don’t be afraid to hand broadcast your seed like I did with my sugar beets this year if that’s what you have to work with.
If you want to improve your hunting odds & help improve the health of your deer herd, make the most of these hot summer days & take advantage of the fall/winter plot planting season by following these tips before the window of opportunity closes.
Check out the Landgea webstore to prepare for your upcoming season.
Get outside & enjoy the outdoors.
Logan Chartrand, The Nemophilist
Logan is the host of podcast The Nemophilist. Helping others (re)discover the outdoors, The Nemophilist shares the stories, experiences, traditions, & opinions on hot topics of those who love being outside. You can find The Nemophilist on your favorite podcast apps & follow Logan’s adventures on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter (the.nemophilist.lc), or on Clubhouse (the.nemophilist).