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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have started to utilize private property for deer hunting on account of what I found to be lack of respect and common curtesy that alot of hunters displayed this fall on the crown lands in my neck of the woods. In my opinion the lack of non-sprayed cut-overs caused people to think that it was ok to tailgate and claim other peoples set-ups for their own,so I have gave up hunting in those areas as of this fall. So my question is how do I get started on the whole food plot thing, what to plant for summer forage to keep them in the area during the key antler growth period and what would keep them there till early-mid fall. The property I'm trying to manage is 120plus acres of hardwood ridge running down-hill to an old farm with lots of crab-apples and winter-apples{high in sugar}and slightly grown-up fields. I've taken deer off this property before and have a few blinds and stands already set-up on known travel areas and pinch points. We hunt this property every year cuz it belongs to my uncle and it traditionaly has alot of bucks there every year,2-1 buck to doe ratio which from what I've been told is very good from a management stand point. I don't want to hunt over the food plot, I just want to use it to enhance the area for the over-all health of the herd. So what would you more experienced property owners recomend I plant. We were thinking cow-corn???
 

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Sound like a great property even without any plots. The old fields should be full or annual and perennial weeds that the deer will utilize anyway and the apple trees will keep them in the fall. My advice would be to mow the grown up fields a couple times over the sumer to keep the plants young and keep the deer utilizing it throughout the growing season. Corn is a later season type food meant to be used to atract deer late that helps deer put fat back on before winter. If your set on doing a plot of corn then you don't want to do it on a small plot or the bears, deer, ***** and everything else will have it gone to soon. If the deer aren't used to it then it won't be too bad having a smaller plot the first year or two.
Corn is a high fertility crop so you should have the equipment to prepare the fields right and put on the necessary ammendments if you want a decent crop. If your deer are not used to eating corn it may take several years to get them onto it as well. If you are looking late season foods then maybe splitting a plot and putting in some corn, brassica and winter rye would be a good start. Spring planted corn, spring or late summer for your brassica and rye later in the summer around the 1st of August.
 

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Sound like a great property even without any plots. The old fields should be full or annual and perennial weeds that the deer will utilize anyway and the apple trees will keep them in the fall. My advice would be to mow the grown up fields a couple times over the sumer to keep the plants young and keep the deer utilizing it throughout the growing season. Corn is a later season type food meant to be used to atract deer late that helps deer put fat back on before winter. If your set on doing a plot of corn then you don't want to do it on a small plot or the bears, deer, ***** and everything else will have it gone to soon. If the deer aren't used to it then it won't be too bad having a smaller plot the first year or two.
Corn is a high fertility crop so you should have the equipment to prepare the fields right and put on the necessary ammendments if you want a decent crop. If your deer are not used to eating corn it may take several years to get them onto it as well. If you are looking late season foods then maybe splitting a plot and putting in some corn, brassica and winter rye would be a good start. Spring planted corn, spring or late summer for your brassica and rye later in the summer around the 1st of August.
Well I tell ya let me come scout it all out so I can best advise!!! LOL However if it were me and if you have access to the equipment I would turn field over as soon as the frost was out then once its dry level it.get soil test done at nb lab in lincoln($40) they will 1st tell you what you need to add to soil for best grouth.Then pile the clover to it with fertilizer they suggest.Bye fall and especially next year will be a wicked buffay for all the deer there and neigbors too!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Bowtech and X-FORCE BABY. I will try corn in one of fields next summer and bush hog the rest. Would you recomend leaving a quarter of the corn standing through the fall and cut the rest or just flatten it when its ripe. Also someone told me that clover is fairly easy to take on old roadways,is this true as this was something else I thought about trying.
 

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Thanks Bowtech and X-FORCE BABY. I will try corn in one of fields next summer and bush hog the rest. Would you recomend leaving a quarter of the corn standing through the fall and cut the rest or just flatten it when its ripe. Also someone told me that clover is fairly easy to take on old roadways,is this true as this was something else I thought about trying.
There is some good info on NS site under this heading too.
 

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Thanks Bowtech and X-FORCE BABY. I will try corn in one of fields next summer and bush hog the rest. Would you recomend leaving a quarter of the corn standing through the fall and cut the rest or just flatten it when its ripe. Also someone told me that clover is fairly easy to take on old roadways,is this true as this was something else I thought about trying.
Leave all of it standing until the season and then either knock a few rows down at a time by just running over it with a tractor or ATV or bush hog a few to help them start utilizing it. You can knock a few rows down each week throughout the fall. I would also leave some standing if you are looking to provide a food source past the hunting season once you start getting snow.
Nothing is easy to establish on old roadways unless the road has been ripped and you can get some sunlight to it. Usually they are compacted and need to be ripped to break the hardpan layer so roots can establish. White Clover is usually preferred as it can be broadcast seeded and can get by with less light but you still need about 50% sunlight to get any growth.
We rip ours and then prepare it the same way as any linear type plot.

Here is a pic of a woodsroad we did just after we finished seeding. We put lime and fertilizer down and the seeded with alfalfa, chicory and white clover. I'll see if I can find a pic of what it looks like now, which is real nice.

 

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Thanks Bowtech and X-FORCE BABY. I will try corn in one of fields next summer and bush hog the rest. Would you recomend leaving a quarter of the corn standing through the fall and cut the rest or just flatten it when its ripe. Also someone told me that clover is fairly easy to take on old roadways,is this true as this was something else I thought about trying.
Before you do anything you should decide how much time and money you have to spend. If it is close to were you live it will help alot . If your uncle has an old tractor and a bush hog to trim the grass you may only need the fuel and time . You will also need to find out how open he is to having it all plated in a crop like corn. He may want it reseaded to grass when your done $$$. If you don't want to spend a lot of time and money to prepare a seed bed 3-4 inchs deep for a new crop I would go out early spring once things dry a little cut all the old dead growth as much as you can and get an old spring tooth harrow or an old peace of chain link fence and drag it around every were (old feilds / trails in the woods )just a little sratching is realy all you need to get small seed forages like clover to grow , especialy if it is a little damp when you go. Go to a local co-op and buy a big bag of mixed clover seed (Probably alsike and white they would have )you don't need to cover it or anny thing . the rain will wash it in .something most people may not realise is a lot of farmers in the spring(us included) will go out and scratch the hay feilds with a pasture harrow and just broadcast triple mix(timothy/alsike&white clover) to fill in any dead spots over from the winter. Those two types of clover will realy grow anywhere you even see it in the highway ditchs .Don't forget you will have to post it and somehow reduce the acess to others or all your work will be for nothing.
 

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Spending the time and money to correct soil ph and fertility will definitly increase total crop tonage and allow you the ability to grow more fertility sensitive crops such as alfalfa but for the most part I think the cost and efort to really do this will discourage most .P.S. you may get lucky and maybe you uncle will help you .
 

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Another thing to consider : the soil ph will typicaly be much lower (require more lime/amendments) in coniferous areas as apposed to were hardwoods and alders grow well .
 

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Pretty much all of our soil types here in NB will be below 5.5 on new ground. If your lucky the old field will have had lime in the past. Heavy clay soils take a lot more to adjust than lighter sandy soils but your soil test will tell you what you need. You can decide if you want to spend the money. Pretty much all our crops minus a couple do best with ph's over 6.0 with 6.5-6.8 being ideal, except for alfalfa which likes neutral. Your soil test recommendation will give you 3ph's to adjust to with 6.5 as the highest. For every drop of 1ph the ground is 10X more acidic so a ph of 5 is actually 100x more acidic than a ph of 7.

If you don't figure to bring the ph and fertility up then don't bother with the corn as you won't be happy with the results.

The frost seeding into the existing field is a good idea, even without the corn. Ideally it should have been harvested/burnt off or cut last fall but drop your bush hog low and give it a good clip and as big bore said, if you can find a spike toothed harrow or something to get some ground contact. Frost seeding works best in the spring when the soil "honeycombs" from cold nights and then melts in the day but anytime it is wet enough will give you some germination as long as you can get soil contact.

I do not recommend a triple mix unless you custom order it since it's highest percentage of seed is timothy, usually 70%. Deer do not eat grasses for the most part, although they will eat some timothy when its young. Clovers are more preferred and also frost seed better than timothy. If you want a triple mix then call now and order a mix made up special and have the timothy reduced to 5% of the mix. They are taking orders on seed mixes now but you will have to buy a full bag (25kg).

IF your going to get a mix made up have them do one with chicory, alsikes, a little red, a few varieties of white including a ladino or two and add a trefoil instead of alfalfa if you don't plan on bringing the ph up. You can also have the 5% timothy thrown in too. Perfect perennial deer mix
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bowtech, how early in the spring should I get started? Bushogging is already something we do every couple of years but we try and manage the low browse natural forage as a food source. Is doing it a couple times a year more benificial than letting the young hardwoods get 3-4feet high or is that to tall? I already try and take advantage of the food sources that the property already has on it like the apple trees which there are plenty of in the old fields. I plan to prune them for more fruit production this year and am thinking from what your saying clover is the better option for this property. This property has been a blessing for me as a hunter because my uncle is crippled up quite bad and has given me sole hunting rights to it for taking care of it[road clearing,firewood cutting,etc]. The area has always held huge bucks that are 200 plus pound animals so the potential is awesome. I rarley pressure this area in the fall only hunting it when the weather is just right and they have been pressured by the hunters off neighboring properties. If I put in all the work I have into it plus trying the clover idea it's definitly going to be posted next fall.
 

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Bowtech, how early in the spring should I get started? Bushogging is already something we do every couple of years but we try and manage the low browse natural forage as a food source. Is doing it a couple times a year more benificial than letting the young hardwoods get 3-4feet high or is that to tall? I already try and take advantage of the food sources that the property already has on it like the apple trees which there are plenty of in the old fields. I plan to prune them for more fruit production this year and am thinking from what your saying clover is the better option for this property. This property has been a blessing for me as a hunter because my uncle is crippled up quite bad and has given me sole hunting rights to it for taking care of it[road clearing,firewood cutting,etc]. The area has always held huge bucks that are 200 plus pound animals so the potential is awesome. I rarley pressure this area in the fall only hunting it when the weather is just right and they have been pressured by the hunters off neighboring properties. If I put in all the work I have into it plus trying the clover idea it's definitly going to be posted next fall.
I'd start just as soon as you can get on the ground without damage. Do your bush hogging and frost seeding and get your plot ready.

Depends on what you want to provide for browse. Bush hogging it will allow more forbes as opposed to early successional growth which will be more utilized during the spring/summer/fall months before things get tougher. Leaving it for a couple years allows for more browse which will be better early before forbes mature and again later when growth stops but also provides great fawning cover. You could do a little of each if you wanted. Mow part for a couple/three years and leave the rest, then switch. We keep a couple small fields fallow in addition to plots, one we hog off to keep the forbes and another we only do once every few years.

Pruning the apple trees will definitely help as well as adding some fertilizer/amendments. If they are in a bunch then get a soil test and indicate apples on the form and adjust accordingly based on the soil test. It will make quite a difference on their production.

If you are looking at a one acre plot to attract deer during the rifle season I'd go with a brassica mix which will be more attractive later. The perennials will be best till mid/later October. You can frost seed the piece your bush hogging and increase the perennial forbes instead of doing them in a plot and save the plot for the brassica to increase the diversity if your only looking at one plot.
 
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