Being Realistic About Food Plots

Food plots are not your answer to killing more big bucks. I’m just going to throw that out there now, because a lot of hunters seem to believe that to be true. This misperception most likely stems from the media fatigue we have in the outdoors where every other whitetail we watch being shot on television happens to be grazing in a beautiful plot.

The dirty secret is that those properties would harbor better-than-average deer, and better-than-average hunting regardless of food plots. Most of them would, anyway. Emulating that simply by planting some clover is a recipe for disappointment for most of us.

Instead, planting a small plot should be viewed as a labor of love because it will be a lot of work, and if you’re like me, you’ll love it. You might also turn a good spot into something special a little more special, and find yourself enjoying sitting in the woods a bit more. This is especially true if you happen to hunt small properties where you’re limited on ambush sites. I’ve got a few places in Minnesota and Wisconsin I hunt that fit into that category, and each one has a couple of kill plots that I’m continually tweaking.

But first things first, you need to choose a location.

Location & Soil Quality
My best advice is to choose a food plot location based on how you will be able to hunt it, and how much the deer like the area already. If you can access it, have a few quality stand trees, and it currently draws deer naturally, then you’re on to something. You’ll have to decide on how big you want your plot to be.

The best and manliest part of making a kill plot is clearing out the trees and brush in your chosen spot.

For me, that’s usually not very big. I do everything by hand, so carving out two acres in the woods is not an option. I tend to start really small, and over the years work to expand my plots a little bit each year.

Once you’ve got a spot picked out, it’ll be time to cut and clear. I don’t know what it is about watching a tree fall down, but I love it. The clearing part is manly work and it feels good to sweat your way through the task and see what you’ve accomplished. After that, it’s a matter of taking a soil test. Don’t skip this step. I repeat – don’t skip this step.

Whatever you do when you start a kill plot, make sure one of the first steps is to take a soil sample. Then, heed what it advises you to do to your soil.

With the first plots I created in…

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