BUILDING AN EDGE - FOOD PLOT SECRETS
Food Plots are more popular than ever before. Almost every serious land owner in America who hunts deer plants food plots. There are a variety of reasons hunters love planting food plots. For starters, food plots provide deer with a quality food source. Providing a quality food source on a piece of property keeps the deer on a piece of property and gives them the nutrition they need in the spring and summer when bucks are growing antlers and the does are lactating. Some food plots provide food into the fall and winter. As fall turns to winter, it is especially important to give deer a quality food source like a food plot because during the winter, finding food can be difficult for deer. If built right, food plots can provide more than just food for wildlife like deer. They can also provide cover. I recently interviewed Jason Lupardus, the NWTF Field Supervisor for the Midwest. He says research shows that food plots that offer field borders are even more attractive to deer and other wildlife than fields that go from a food source to hardwoods. “Food plots that have a transition that goes from food to cover to hardwoods is extremely attractive to wildlife and easy to create,” said Lupardus. “Instead of planting a crop all the way to the edge of a field, you stop a few rows shy of the woods. When this small area around a field or food plot doesn’t get planted with crops, it will return to native grasses. These grasses will often grow fairly tall which will provide cover for wildlife including deer, turkeys and other upland birds.” This buffer zone around a food plot gives does a place to have their fawns that is close to a food source yet gives the doe enough cover to hide her newborn. It is also a place for turkeys to nest and raise their poults. “Turkeys love to nest in the high borders around the edges of fields because they can nest without being seen by predators. When the eggs hatch, the high grasses offer security cover for the small poults. As spring turns to summer, this cover will be full of grasshoppers and other insects which provide the small turkeys with a high protein meal,” Lupardus noted. According to Lupardus, the first year that a field border is allowed to grow, wildlife, will quickly find it and use it. The second and third year the edge is provided becomes extremely beneficial to wildlife. “The second year, the border is often taller and thicker, providing even more cover for deer, turkeys and other game animals, giving them more security and in some cases, more food. For instance, ragweed often takes root and provides turkeys and other birds with plenty of food in the late summer and early fall.” Best of all, building a field border is free. Most food plot projects require time and money. Creating a field border doesn’t take much of either. You lose a few rows of crops which is the only drawback. Leave an edge this year and see what happens this fall.
BY TRACY BREEN www.tracybreen.com