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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On January 3, 2012, I took my first look at a piece of property in Kentucky. A month later, the parcel belonged to my wife and I, and I was more than a little excited to get started on the first piece of hunting property that we could call our own.

From time to time I see questions on here about “throw and grow”. While I haven’t used a buck-on-the-bag product, I have several plots that I have planted without tillage or other mechanized equipment. The following is a pictorial of one of those plots, through the past year. I would call my method “Mow, spray, and throw”. The “grow” depends a lot on the weather.


Let me start by saying that this location is difficult to access with large equipment of any kind, at least from my property. I am well aware that there are easier ways to go about this, but I don’t own an atv or a tractor bigger than my lawn tractor, and since the property is 450+ miles from my door, coordination of use of equipment that’s not mine is a logistical issue, for the limited time that I can be there. A little physical work is good for a desk jockey like me anyway, so I’ve done what I can with what I have.

The day I first saw this 1+ acre field:



The field had been left go for a year or two, except that it had been mowed with a bush hog sometime in the Fall of 2011. It is situated on a small bench on one side of a steep sided hollow (“holler”, if you are going to be locally understood). This holler leads down to my larger fields below. Bedding areas are on either side of the holler, but this field is in the NW corner of my property, so I only own 10 yards into the woods along two sides of the field. I do own one of the ridge/bedding areas, but quite a bit of the game traffic through this field also comes from my neighbor.

Here’s what it looked like in early March:



The farmer who cash rents most of my lower fields was initially to just mow the field twice in 2012; but we found that the access road was too steep and narrow for the equipment he wanted to use, so we cancelled that plan.

In early April, when my son missed a longbeard in the field, it looked like this:



By early May, the grass and weeds were getting tall:

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I needed to make a decision on what direction to go with the field. Some small saplings, briars, and locust trees were taking off, amongst the goldenrod and other weeds. I decided to put in a plot in only a quarter acre along the south side of the field; this area is the side of the field that is farthest from the property lines, and I wanted to encourage a travel pattern across the field that was less random than what I was seeing. I sprayed the new plot area with glyphosate on May 6. On June 29, it looked like this:



As you can see, there were a LOT of weed seeds in the seed bank, and some of the bigger weeds and saplings were slowed a bit, but not killed by the herbicide. In mid July, we built a shooting house along the Southeast side of the field, at the east end of the new plot.



On the 17th of August, I finally found time to mow the plot. Yep, with the trusty push mower.





After mowing, I sprayed again with gly. I know that it would have been better to wait a week to spray, but I simply didn’t have the luxury of being there a week later.

Because I had not planned on planting this field at all yet this year, I did not sample the soil in it when I did the others in early spring. However, based on my other plots and the fact that this one is surrounded by woodland, I’m sure this one needs lime. I can’t get a lime truck up there, and I did not have time to haul sacks up this year, but it’s on the short list for this winter. I’ll sample before I spread lime, so that I have a baseline to gage progress from.

On Labor Day, I was blessed with a bit of rain, after a pretty dry summer. Decent day to broadcast the seed, but a bit more rain probably would have given me better seed to soil contact. I broadcasted 12# of cereal rye, 14# of oats, 1.5# of ladino clover, and 1.25# of groundhog forage radish. I also hung a trail camera on the south side of the plot.

The plot really didn't look a whole lot different than it had a couple of weeks earlier, except that some of the weeds were wilting from the gly.





 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sometime during the summer, as I watched the weeds come back after spraying, I realized that I should have left a wider buffer along the edge of the woods, both to feather and thicken up the edge, and to avoid the heavily shaded area. I plan to do some edge feathering along there this winter by cutting a few of the hickories and locusts along that edge.

The plot on October 13:



Still quite a few weeds in the mix, but lots of evidence that what I planted was also taking root. A bit on the yellow side, I presume from lack of lime/fertilizer and full sun.



In hindsight, I wish I’d taken the time and effort to put up an exclusion cage on this plot, but time is always short when I’m at my property, so didn’t get it done. The camera showed lots of deer usage though.







 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A shot from the stand on November 10. As you can see, leaves also may be an issue.



And a pic from the shooting house on a very rainy November 12:



My brother actually finished off this buck for my neighbor, along the upper edge of the field, on November 11.



The camera check from this trip had plenty more evidence that the deer were using the plot. If not for heavy feeding, definitely as a travel corridor.









And a pic on December 29:



My plan for this winter, besides edge feathering, is to frost seed some additional clover. This summer, I’ll mow the plot a few times and see what kind of clover stand I get. I’ll also be adding an additional ¼ acre strip plot this year, 15-20 yards above this one, in the same field.

So far, while I can’t say that I grew a lush plot on this site with the ‘spray, mow, throw’ method, I can say that I think it’s a good alternative for small spots that are hard to reach. I also know that the deer used and travelled through the plot regularly, and that’s really my goal for it, so I am happy with the results so far.

I'll try to update this thread this spring/summer, once I see how the clover takes hold (or doesn't).
 

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First of all ...CONGRATS on the ownership of the land ng270!!!! Some might think the downing of a 160" buck is the crowning jewel of deer hunting...NOPE, NOT EVEN CLOSE..owning your own deer dirt is by far the best thing to ever happen to your hunting life. Within 2 weeks I will have the deed to my 54acres here, free and clear..no loan anymore, and no one in the world has stake in it but me and the deer and other critters.


Secondly, i am a push mower food plotter too, you will see the fruits my frined, not like a tilled farm TV field but heck deer take notice of a new tree growing for heavens sake...they will notice your work.

INCREDIBLE thread...Welcome to heaven on earth IT COULD NOT HAPPEN TO A BETTER HUNTING FAMILY THAN YOURS. KY huh?? i always wanted to have a good buddy down south...
retiring there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks RB. I can't tell you from personal experience if taking a 160" buck is "all that" or not, but I have difficulty believing that shooting any single buck could be more satisfying than owning and being able to tweak the habitat on my own land. My wife and I get the "Not as good as you thought, huh??" comments from the non-hunting suburban in-laws when we come home and report that the kids haven't killed anything. I just smile and say, "It's all good!" And I mean it. But hard for folks like them to understand.

Big congrats to you on paying off your land!

I don't know yet about retirement there; I still have quite a ways to go before I need to decide on that though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Nes. I think that most of what I have is honey locust, but there is a group of saplings in the field that are Blacks (so probably there is at least one larger black locust somewhere?? The saplings are near my property line, so maybe the bigger blacks are on the neighbors). My plan has been to cut these small ones and immediately stump treat with gly, but the regional biologist is coming to go over my property with me in February, and I want to see what he suggests before I proceed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
January update:

The plot shows just a bit of green on Jan 20. The critters have it mowed down close.



But the clover is there. Can't wait to see what it does this spring. Gonna have some weeds though.



I had 50# of corn in front of this camera for bit of a post season inventory.

A couple of the pics:





The boys are back





I'm also trying to whittle down the predator population a bit, but whatever I caught under the shooting house on Friday night stole my trap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's in the northeast part of the state, not too far from the Ohio River. I have done some hunting further west in Ky, where deer numbers were a bit higher, but the area I bought in is a couple of hours closer to home, and has solid trophy potential. Once I had picked a general area via online research, a friend and I took a couple days last winter and went land-shopping. Started with realtors, but stumbled onto a local who knew this parcel was for sale, and he got me connected with the previous owner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Re: Evolution of a Food Plot (2-18 update)

The plot is grazed just about to the dirt. On 2/16, I frost seeded ladino clover.



If you look closely, you can see the white seeds in this shot.



Syd and I cut and stump-treated a bunch of locust saplings in the weeds/briars/reverting area directly above the plot, but I forgot to take pics of before and after. I took a walk with the regional KYDFWR biologist on the 15th, and he suggested I spray the fescue in the reverting area and see what fills in, so I'll be spraying that when we are there for the youth turkey hunt.

And we worked on nest predators over the weekend.





Also got a round into a coyote that I happened to cross paths with while checking a camera on the edge of the plot around 9 am. Long shot through the woods with a solid from the trapline cricket .22. I connected, but a few drops of blood was the only reward.
 

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Re: Evolution of a Food Plot (2-18 update)

Awesome I m jealous!!! Wheres camp in 2G...were over in 2H I guess it is now...Nice Work!!! Smiles are the reward!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Re: Evolution of a Food Plot (2-18 update)

Thanks! 2G camp these days is in southern Clinton Co, near the Centre Co line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Re: Evolution of a Food Plot (2-18 update)

On the 7th of this month, this longbeard met his demise in the plot.



We added a few persimmon and wild plum seedlings at one end of the plot on the 8th.



This past weekend I was back for the regular turkey opener, and things were growing rapidly.



The shaded areas along the edge of the plot are still sparse, and I still have some weeds and fescue scattered about the plot, but some "good stuff" is growing too - rye and clover.



No turkeys taken in the plot this weekend, but still saw plenty of action there. These two are actually in the newly mowed (and sprayed) quarter acre strip immediately above the initial plot.

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: Evolution of a Food Plot (7-22 update)

Not sure how much interest there is in this, but figured I'd update anyway.

Here is what happens when you can't get back to maintain the plot for 12 weeks of spring/summer:


On the bright side, the wild plums we planted just off this plot in early April are already out of the tubes, and the persimmons have awakened and put on leaves.


In spite of LOTS of broadleaf competition, there's clover under all of that, and it was a job, but got it mowed just before a heavy shower rolled through. I also broadcasted a bit of brassica mix into the thinner area along the woods edge (turnips/rape/radish); not sure how much will grow, but figured it's not going to hurt anything either. Already raining by the time I took a pic:


I wish I could have gotten on it earlier, but time will tell if the whole thing is a flop, or if the clover still comes through for me.

The neighbor timbered the area just up the ridge from this plot this spring, so I'll be interested to see how that effects deer usage of this plot this fall/winter. A friend and I also bought 70 acres of timber, the corner of which just about touches this old field, so we will also have a bit more flexibility in choosing stand locations this fall.
 
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