How To

Small Food Plots for Big Bucks

-
Small, out-of-the-way food plots can yield good bucks like this one.

Small, out-of-the-way food plots can yield good bucks like this one.

Hard Core hunters know that food plots work. They work very well, in fact. We’ve all seen TV shows, magazine stories, and ads showing us perfect, large food plots and all the cool implements, ATVs, tractors, and what have you, to perfectly maintain and prepare a plot. But you don’t have to have any of that to have a winning plot. In fact, you may want to skip all of that to make the one special plot that just might get you that buck of a lifetime this season.

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention. Making a top secret, hidden plot is a new technique a lot of hunters are latching on to. They are small and tucked out of the way where no one expects to find them. They can be deer magnets, especially when the pressure is on.

A honey hole food plot, as many call them, is simply a small food plot in an area where you know deer are. They can be spots where you have always dreamed of hanging a stand, but didn’t.

I started using them where I had a long strip of land that was basically a wooded ridge that ran across a section of my property. We had a field on one side with either corn or alfalfa in it annually. The backside of the property was kind of a bowl that we always had a one to two-acre food plot on each end of. There are several thick corridors of trees that the deer use to move across to the main field and as cover to get to a sanctuary area in a low-lying swamp on the edge of the property.

I had always seen bigger bucks before season, but when it came time to hunt, they never came out in the fields. Trail cameras showed me that they were still running the corridors, but were running late and had learned to avoid the main fields during the day.

I had stands set up in those corridor areas and tried several times to get a shot, but never did well. So what I did was place several small plots just off those corridors near some bedding areas. I wanted to give the deer something to forage on and give me a top secret weapon to hunt from.

I started early in the year. I chose my areas and did a little work with the Husqvarna Rancher 455 chainsaw and 327P4 pole saw so that I’d get enough light in. I then either tore up the soil with a rake, or in one spot, snuck in with our small tractor. I planted the seed and placed cameras. It worked very well, but we’ll get back to that.

A small tractor can be a very helpful tool for getting your honey hole set up.

A small tractor can be a very helpful tool for getting your honey hole set up.

Tools

You need a rake and maybe a shovel. I also like to have a small chainsaw and even a small rototiller. One great tool is a wheeled weed-whacker. It has way more power for clearing out brush than a handheld and is less tiring. Can’t recommend that enough.

ATVs and small tractors can be very useful as well, especially if you have to spray. Also get a small fertilizer spreader for lime and whatever fertilizer you need. A soil tester is a must, but is a cheap way to see what is going on in the soil. Evolved Harvest makes a great one that tells you pH level as well as soil moisture, and it has a light meter, making it an all-in-one handy tool.

Seed

I’ve been a big fan of Evolved Harvest Throw and Grow and Shotplot. They have a new Throw and Grow with radish in it that I’m trying this year.

You can also mix in several other things. I have a buddy that takes whatever seeds his wife doesn’t plant in their massive gardens every year and he uses those to make a special honey hole plot. It worked well with his season last year.

Picking your spot

You want to find a spot that is relatively flat and workable. It should be near a cover area, so the deer don’t have to move far from the comfort of seclusion. I have a travel corridor that is pretty thick and I often place my food plots close to, but not directly in the path of, these corridors.

You also need to make sure the spot has ample light. If you have a thick canopy of trees overhead, the seed will not grow. If need be, a little work with a chainsaw can remedy this.

One other thing I do, and this may sound odd, but I move the plots year after year, rotating between several along the corridor. I don’t want to condition the deer to having me hunting them hard in one spot. This season’ honey hole plots are at least 100 yards from last year’s.

Go hunting

A honey hole doesn’t need to be big. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. It doesn’t need a ton of time, or tools you don’t have. It also doesn’t need to be expensive. They give you good options for taking big deer in areas you need that little extra edge to get the shot at that buck. What more do you need?

Be sure to check out Hard Core’s Facebook and Twitter pages for exciting news and contests!

Images courtesy Derrek Sigler/Hard Core Decoys

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.