Story

Summer Food Plot Work

Even after clearing the trail it's still difficult to spot in the thick cover.

Even after clearing the trail it's still difficult to spot in the thick cover.

Once the trail cameras are set up and the buck pictures start rolling in, it can be really easy to get distracted from the rest of the work that needs to happen on the farm. Seeing those first few good bucks of the year is super exciting and once those images get stuck in my mind I start to get a bit of a one-track focus. Despite the good pictures we’ve been getting so far, we’ve been able to stick to the plan and have gotten a few projects knocked out on our food plots.

A few weeks ago we attacked the Southline Plot, which is one of our smaller kill plots. This plot is planted to clover and, like any other clover plot, it needs to be mowed at least a few times over the course of the summer. This plot is placed right in the middle of a bunch of really thick cover and getting a tractor with a brush hog in there is out of the question. In the past we’ve used weed whippers to mow it but starting last year we began using our “redneck brush hog” to do the work. The redneck brush hog is nothing more than a push mower that we set the blade up as high as possible on. This mower has proven to be all most unstoppable and will take down just about anything you can push it over.

Clover plots always look a little rough after mowing but they bounce back quickly.

The first mission for the mower was to re-open our walking path into the plot. As I mentioned above, this plot is surrounded by thick, thick cover and once the spring green up started the trail filled in quickly. After a pass with the mower the trail was recognizable, and passable, and we moved on to mowing the plot itself.

The clover in the plot was pretty long and there was a decent amount of grasses and broadleaf weeds mixed with it in spots. We reworked part of this plot last year and the clover was a bit thin last fall and early this spring but hopefully with a few more mowings that clover will thicken up and start to out compete some of those weeds. The rest of the plot was looking pretty good aside from being a bit longer than we’d like it. The redneck brush hog took care of that issue in no time and with the mower running strong and only a small plot to mow we were done in short order.

We went back up this past weekend (two weeks after mowing) and the plot had rebounded nicely. Just as I had hoped the mowing slowed down the weeds a bit and it appeared the clover in the new section was coming back in strong. That is just what I wanted to see and it has me hoping that a few more mowings will wipe a lot of the weeds out all together. The deer seemed to appreciate the effort as well and we had many pictures of deer browsing on the clover in the plot.

Two weeks after mowing the plot is looking good and drawing deer.

With the Southline Plot taken care of and doing well, we set our sights on the next of our food plot projects; the plot screen around the Plateau Plot. A few blog entries ago I talked about our plans for the Plateau Plot this year and a big part of that plan involves getting a plot screen planted. We’ve never planted a screen before but we’re hoping to have some beginners luck and get a nice thick wall of sorghum and Egyptian wheat to help close this plot in a bit.

Our original plan was to get this seed in the ground back in early to mid June but things just didn’t fall into line for us to meet that goal. We don’t own a tractor or a disc so we had to rely on our awesome neighbors for some help on this project. Once we got all the stars aligned we set a date and put the plan in motion.

We got to the property early since there were some storms predicted for the afternoon. We really wanted to get the seed in ahead of the rain and hopefully avoid getting soaked ourselves. The Kubota made short work of the tilling and once the ground was turned it was time to get to work. In a return to true Whitetail Weekly fashion, we sent the fancy tractor home and started in with the manual labor. The seed and fertilizer was spread with a walk behind broadcast seeder and then out came the rakes.

With a rake in tow I do my best Amish tractor impression to get the seed settled.

We wanted to get some dirt on the seed and with no cultipacker in sight it was rakes to the rescue. After several passes with the rakes in tow we had the area looking good and the seed and fertilizer was ready for the rain. Unfortunately aside from a few brief sprinkles that showed up while we were working, the rain never materialized. Hopefully Mother Nature comes through soon and gets our seed the water it needs.

Once we finished our work it was time for some fun so we headed off to pull the cards out of the trail camera’s and see what we had. On the last camera check we were lucky enough to come across a few bucks that looked to be off to a good start so we were excited to see how they were looking now. The Plateau Plot, a buck hot spot last year, was showing signs of heavy browsing and we hoped our cameras were catching the action.

We had two cameras watching the plot and when we saw that between the two of them they had well over 400 images we were pretty confident we were going to find at least one of the bucks from the last camera check. We snagged the other cards from the remaining cameras and headed up to the cabin to fire up the laptop.

By the time we had reviewed all the pictures we were on cloud 9. We had hoped for one or two decent bucks and instead found 4 good ones along with several smaller bucks, some of which are showing some good potential. We had a great year last year in terms of buck sightings and were wondering how this year would compare. So far it appears we are off to a great start, and it’s only June!

I’m not going to show a ton of trail cam shots in this entry but if you like trail cam shots and velvet bucks I would recommend staying tuned. The next few weeks will be full of trail camera action. I figured it would be pretty mean to talk about bucks and trail cam shots without at least sharing a teaser and a sample of what’s to come.

This is a buck we’ve nicknamed Bob Marley

The buck in the picture above is running with a group of 7 bucks total and, including him, there are 4 bucks in the group that we will definitely be keeping tabs on this summer. It’s way too early to tell just what they’ll be but it’s easy to see that they are worth keeping an eye on for sure. As we (hopefully) continue to get pictures of them I’ll continue to share them with you so stay tuned, it should be a fun summer!

Take care, and thanks for reading!

This article originally appeared on the Whitetail Weekly blog on Michigan-Sportsman.com.

Images copyright Whitetail Weekly/mightymouse

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.