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Looking for some help on late season plots. I have a 1/2 acre and 2 acre plots that i would like to hunt over during PA's rifle season nest year which starts the Monday after Thanksgiving. The 1/2 acre plot is broken down in 2 sections (half & half). One section is an established clover plot that came up very well and was 6-7" high in early October. The other half and the entire 2 acre plot was planted last spring with GRO's soil builder. In early August, the soil builder was disked under and was replanted with GRO's Grains & Greens along with a clover/chicory mixture. Both of these plots looked great in early October with a good mixture of clover, chicory and the brassicas from the Grains and Greens. There were thousands of turnip and radish tops showing throughout the plots and the leaves were 10-12" tall. There was very little sign of the oats and triticale that were in the GRO's grains and greens but I a assuming that was due to the very wet summer and fall. With all that said, by November 14th, the 2 plots were mowed down to the ground by the deer/elk with only the tops of the turnips and radishes left. We got 10" of snow on November 15th which lasted until December 1st. There wasn't a single dug up spot in either plot while the snow was on the ground which was during this year PA rifle season and the deer were sparse and hard to find. We have a decent amount of deer and a few elk but I wouldn't say we have an excessive amount of deer. Game camera's show 14 in one plot and 17 in the other at the same time so its not like we have 100 deer in each plot. Both plots were lime and fertilized per soil samples sent to Whitetail Institute. What if anything can I do/plant for next year to have the deer in these plots during the rifle season.
A couple of thoughts if your food is gone by the time hunting season rolls around:
-You need more tonnage grown. this most likely means expanding the size of your food plots and producing more on those acres.
-It looks like one heck of clover plot! However, here in west central MN, the deer abandon my clover plots in mid October (at the latest). I would reduce the size of the clover plot and plant brassicas (more tonnage per acre and the deer will hit them much longer into cold weather).
-You can always fence part off and drop the fence in October. (several on BS have had good experience with electric fences to reduce deer depredation)
Hope this helps,
The only thing that keeps regenerating in my plots is winter wheat. My brassicas are devoured early.
I don't know PA but I have great luck with winter wheat bouncing back after hard grazing and even growing during warm spells in the winter. Deer on my place utilize it more than winter rye or oats (I often mix all three though for diversity)... every place is different though. My opinion is that 31 deer using 2.5 acres is pretty heavy grazing, and I bet you have many more than that are utilizing the plots that aren't pictured. Can you fence off some of your plots and take the fence down right before rifle season. Maybe leave half your clover field e-fenced off until the week before hunting season before taking the fence down?
Thanks for the advice everyone. Forgot to mention that when I walked up to check on the 2 acre plot that was covered in snow, there were 9 doe bedded down right next to it so the deer where there, just not touching the turnips or radishes. I would have thought they would have dug them up to eat them but nothing. With both fields having a clover/chicory mix, they should grow in nice next spring. Would it be ok to overseed the clover/chicory plots with a mixture of brassicas & winter wheat or kill the clover/chicory and re-plant brassicas & winter wheat?
I overseed a lot with decent results but it probably won't turn out as pretty as the plots you pictured. Deer on my place won't eat turnips and the only thing they eat on radishes are the leafy tops (but they do love the radish tops).
If I had to rate some of the better plots for lasting well into winter in colder northern climates, it would be Corn, Winter Rye or Wheat, Soybeans, Daikon Radish and Turnips (although the brassicas will die off once temps start reaching teens or lower nightly). Key, as mentioned by others, is to plant large enough plots for the size of your herd.
I am with Mark Watkins. In Northern Missouri, the deer move off of our clover by Mid October. They hit it hard all summer and early fall, but then move elsewhere.
IMO, it's easy to see why your food plots are eaten up. You have too many deer, there are 15 in that pic alone. Shoot some does !
drycreek, I hear you. Landowner isn't a fan of shooting does so that makes it hard. There are actually 17 in that picture. LOL!! if you could zoom in you would see 2 more along the wood line in the back ground. We also have a few elk that I am sure eat a lot. I am going to try to make them larger next year but i am limited with the equipment I have and since its up at my hunting cabin I am also limited in time. I guess i didn't think deer could eat that much in month. Thanks again for all of your help
^^^^ I didn't realize it wasn't your property Stym, that would hinder you somewhat ! Might try explaining to him that does eat as much as bucks, and if you can't at least get some meat in exchange for the groceries they eat, it's a losing proposition.
Here in SW Ohio the deer feed in my clover plots all winter. But the 3 plots are all WI clover which might explain why the feed all winter.
I would recommend a brassica like Giant Rape that carries maximum tonnage per acre. Large leaves and stems and not hard to grow. Just make sure you fertilize accordingly. Rape needs nitrogen. I go 150# per acre with a 5.5-5.7 PH.
I use the Deer creek autumn buffet and it works awesome, they like the rape and kale early then the radish and turnips get them way into the winter. the clovers in the mix also come back in the spring to give them food till you can plant the summer plot.
this guy loved the autumn buffet
Getting deer to dig up turnips is a frustrating issue. It is commonly thought that it takes deer 2-3 years to utilize turnip bulbs and that has been my experience. I suspect your herd is too big for your plot acreage to fully produce.