Sitka Mountain Gear
Need Land Improvement Ideas
Contributors to this thread:
MNdeerslayer 26-Apr-17
orange feather 06-Jul-17
Crazy4whitetail 09-Jul-17
South Farm 03-Aug-17
MNBowAddict 04-Aug-17
From: MNdeerslayer

MNdeerslayer's embedded Photo
MNdeerslayer's embedded Photo
I've got a 90 acre parcel in central Minnesota. This property has a 20 acre section that is swamp that holds water year around most years, there is an acre or two island in the swamp that is accessible only dry years. It also has a hay field which is also about 20 acres. The remainder of the property is long grass and groups of mature trees.

This is a decent size of land but a chunk of it is not usable due to it being a swamp. I manage to get a couple deer a year but nothing too big. I'd really like to add some cover to the hay field. I would also like to add some sources of food being the only food sources are nearby corn fields.

I am new to improving land for wildlife and would like some suggestions, open to anything.

Looks like a lot of potential. it looks like there are spots for a couple of food plots. I would make at least one of them corn. You should put up some hedge lines along the boarders, big bucks don't like being looked at.

looks like fun... I would keep all food plots on one end of property (hay field) Mix it up with Soybeans, Corn, alfalfa and rotate corn and soybeans each year. you could even play with some fall plots as well radishes, turnips, rye. Keeping your food plots in this end of property would allow you to maintain them through out the year, treating the rest of the property as a sanctuary, well until hunting season. It all depends how much time you are willing to put into it. You could plant more trees on the other high ground and red willow in the swamp areas, deer love them. Tamarac do well in swamp areas

From: South Farm
Food plots have turned many a good hunter into half ass farmers, just remember that. You wanna waste money on equipment, bust your ass breaking dirt in the deer flies, just to sit on some mono-culture or do you want to enjoy your land and the hunt? Most I'd do is cut a nice access trail throughout and plant as many pines as I could affordably get my hands on. Your land looks pretty good for deer as is.

From: MNBowAddict
Surrounding area is a big part of things too, what you have there can be absolutely awesome depending on the neighboring property. Looks like ag to north and east? How much swamp and cover are to the south and west? BTW, I can almost guarantee that island is a bedding hotspot. Friend of mine was duck hunting on state land next to a swamp and there was a similar looking island about 100 yards off into the middle of it. He filmed with his phone, just before dark, at least 5 wall-worthy bucks get up off that island the weekend of duck opener when they were still in bachelor groups. Never step foot on it!

I agree that trees and willows can benefit your cover. The downside is the time it takes to grow them. Mixing pines rows with a fast growing dry soil brush/shrub can provide some quick cover in the more open areas while your waiting for the pines to get some height.

As far as food, given that you are so close to ag land, I wouldn't even waste time planting a corn/soybean plot. The neighboring crops are close enough to where it wont make much of a difference in funneling deer if you plant the same thing as what surrounds you. However, your property is textbook for a "kill plot" food source. Depending on what sort of crops are around you, plant something different. From what I see in your photo, deer need to travel through your property in order to get to the main crop fields. I would have two different types, as far away from bedding area as you can, but still concealed from the open ag fields, if that's possible. I would do a alfalfa/clover/chicory mix for early season. This can be tricky as it can be overgrazed before it get established if its small with a high deer population, but there are ways to prevent that. I have a similar plot and deer hit it EVERY NIGHT before they go to beans, including what I expect to be a 150" 10 in daylight hours. I would also have a brassica plot (turnips, radishes, etc.) for late season. Upon first frost I don't care what else is out there, be it corn or soybeans, every deer in the area will flock to this plot for a few weeks to eat the now sugary leaves. The actual roots will provide food for winter as well as the deer will dig them out of the ground.

Deer will undoubtedly swing through your plots before heading to the main food sources. This is also your best chance for bigger deer. As all the flat tops and 1 year old bucks are venturing out into the main crop fields before dark, the older bucks will likely linger in cover until it is completely dark, especially when they feel pressured. This is where your kill plots will be beneficial, if they are secluded enough, it will give you the best chance of seeing antler before the sun goes down completely.

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