Contributors to this thread:
Here is my layout of the 80 my wife and I bought this winter. I walked the potential food plots this weekend and mapped them out in yellow. The red trail is the old logging road. I put the dark blue lines in as future chainsaw cut trails. The light blue will be the road to the plot made by the dozer. White lines are deer trails that I have walked and scouted when there was snow on the ground. The NE corner is tag alder swamp with a creek cutting the corner, where deer bed at times when the water level is lower. The NW corner is mature oaks and had a lot of sign when we walked it in December. The southern 1/2 is aspen cutting that is 13 years old. I really focused on areas to set stands by the plots and between them. The plots range from .8-1.2 acres with flat ground. My plan is to have the dozer push piles where I don't want the deer to enter the plots. Yellow pins are stands that are in place, purple pins are future stand sites.
If I'm missing something please let me know.
Get some water on the south end of the property, preferably near a plot and where you can have a couple options for kill trees overlooking it depending on the wind direction. I'd also be adding a bunch of apple trees around the plots along the edges. They are twofold: A) they don't get big enough to drown out the sunlight for your plot, B) they will be where the bucks will scrape once they are well established.
Where will you be entering and exiting the property? Looks like a great set up!
My wife wants apple trees so we plan on adding them. I love the water idea and will look into that.
We can access the land from 360*. We can park on the north and east roads and walk the fields to enter the woods.
Hard to give any opinions without knowing where your bedding areas are, ingress and egress points are, where the deer feed, travel routes, etc. It takes me about 3 years to understand a property through observation, trail cameras, etc.
I will say this, based on experience. I think its best to go with a light touch right off the bat. I get how much fun it is to start excavating trails and plots. Trust me on this, I live for that so I understand completely. But once the bulldozer is done, you're stuck with it - at least for a long, long time. I excavated areas that I regretted that same year because it altered natural travel patterns and security cover that I hadn't understood yet.
Also, you have a lot of plots in your design. That may make it harder to hunt, not easier.
I own 3 separate parcels of land. The only one that is a slam dunk for killing the best buck in the area remains my Pennsylvania property which is only 30 acres. I have one, .75 acre food plot there. Every buck comes to that plot in the early season. My original design called for 4 plots but back in 92. I couldn't afford the excavation. So I took my very best travel route and put a small plot on it. 30 years later, that turned out to be the perfect location, and the only plot I needed. My other grounds are larger with multiple plots. They draw deer exceptionally well but they are much harder to hunt.
Again, I have been doing this for 30 years and as I get older the more I realize that less is more.
Good luck. It's addictive and fun as hell. Wait until you get your first trophy deer pic. You will be hooked for life.
I agree with Pat. Better to plan observation stands with minimal disturbance yet have the chance at killing from one of them. The issue with blocking certain areas of entrance and egress, it may be the way the deer want to use that piece of the property and can actually change where they end up and not in a good way. I have a couple properties I hunt and have hunted for years and I am still learning all the thermals and what the winds are doing. Shawn
I always say it takes me 5 years to really figure out a property so I sure as heck ain’t gonna tell you what’s what from an aerial.
I know a person doesn’t need to wait 5 years (and I didn’t) before making some changes, but waiting one or two would be best.
Ex) right away I stopped cattle grazing on my land. I’m only a few years in and have yet to shoot a deer on it. But seems like things get better every year. I’m also not looking to shoot just any deer.
I agree it takes some time to learn a piece of property. It’s a ton of fun.
I guess I will be the one to disagree with the majority. I've been doing this a long time, I don't get the wait and see approach. I guess you have to work within your comfort zone. My comfort zone is to get in and create better deer habitat, create a better deer hunting parcel right away. It works. Build it and they will come, they will follow your plans if done correctly. Now, certainly you will have adjustment to make as time goes. That's okay, that's part of the process. The changes you make year one will improve the hunting on your property right away. Not for everybody, I agree with that, but if you know what you are doing or get help, you will land with hunt better. IMHO. BC
Pats advice is spot on, learn your property before creating lots of plots and trails. More plots only creates less consistency on where the deer feed and a hunter traveling through core areas only pushes deer off your 80 especially mature deer. Two plots with great access and the right wind setup is all I would consider, that’s what I have on my 90 and it’s prolly one too many.