Ok folks, let's be honest; how many of you have decided which seed you are going to plant in your next hunting food plot, without knowing exactly where you were going to plant first? I certainly have! I can remember back to 1999 when hunting food plot guru Ed Spinnazola gave me an acre of a brassica combination to plant and I couldn't wait to get it into the ground. I had heard all of the talk about brassicas at the time, I just knew they would be a great fit for the region of MI that I was going to plant in, and I was going to get those tiny little seeds in the ground somewhere, somehow.
*Since 1999, our favorite food plot mix has changed a bit. We used this Food Plot Blend in 2016 to attract, hold, and harvest several great mature bucks!
Even back then, I was still extremely passionate about hunting food plot locations, in particular as it related to the entire parcel strategy of our land. But I have to admit, I spent more time looking for where that brassica combination would grow well, than how it would effect the overall huntability of the land. It is very easy to get extremely excited about the next great food plot seed variety before you even know exactly where to plant your next hunting food plot.
I would like to offer you a perspective that maybe you haven't considered before, and it has a lot to do with an incredible amount of hunting influence. It may seem obvious that the process of influencing where to plant a hunting plot should consider a large degree of hunting strategy, however the hunting concept is easy to overlook when the creation of your hunting food plot becomes more about the seed, than the location to actually plant the seed. When it comes to strategy, seed varieties and deer stands should feature parallel hunting goals.
Let me ask you something: "What is your process for hanging a bow stand?" In my experience, the process of finding your next stand location should be no different than when scouting your next hunting food plot location. Something to keep in mind is that your treestand is only as good as the location it is placed, and at the same time the next great seed variety craze that you try is only as good as where it is planted. It is critical that you follow a strict set of steps in an effort to consider where to plant, more than what to plant. Because no matter what the quality level of the growth of your hunting food plot, or how perfect the seed choice; it is all for not if you are planting in the wrong location. I think if you follow the strategic hunting steps associated with hanging your next killer stand set up, it's hard to go wrong in your strategy for where to plant your next food plot location.
*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series including, "Food Plot Success by Design," to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!
Scouting for Hunting Food Plot Locations
*Treestand: While scouting where I may hang a treestand I consider many items, including:
1. Can I get in and out of this treestand without spooking deer?2. What is the prevailing wind for not only when I am near the treestand, but during my access as well? 3. Is this treestand location away from neighboring influences, including hunting pressure? 4. Will I destroy potential high quality bedding areas, in particular remote mature buck bedding by accessing this treestand?5. Why am I placing a treestand in this location? Is it between a bedding area and a food source, between a bedding area and a bedding area, or maybe within a cruising funnel?
*Hunting Food Plot: Now what I would like you to do is this: Replace the word "treestand" above, with "food plot". Can you see where I am going with this?
Try reading this Food Plot Location Guide guide for more info.
Exactly Where to Plant a Hunting Plot
*Treestand: A bad tree should never get in the way of a great spot, and neither should a bad location for a plot. I good plot location just has to be adequate; not the best, but adequate. When I get to this point in the process of choosing a treestand, I look for the closest adequate tree while considering:
1. If I choose this tree, in this exact spot, how will it relate to all of the factors that led me to choose this spot in the first place?
2. If I choose that better tree over there, will I be in a better position as it relates to how the deer will travel and move through the natural lay of the land, or worse.
*Hunting Food Plot: Now replace the word "tree", with "ground". The same strategies still apply.
Which Seed Variety to Plant in a Hunting Food Plot
*Treestand and Food Plot Types: You have to match the product, with the conditions. Would you place a giant ladder stand against a 8" diameter oak that was the only tree available in the best spot? Probably not. What about a pop-up blind in an area with no cover, or a shooting house in the middle of a mature buck cruising funnel? Again, probably not, and it should be no different with a seed variety.
Try reading Balanced Food Plots For Small Parcels for more info.
By matching the seed to the soil, size of the plot, local browsing pressure, climate and available sunlight you will find success. For example, winter rye or clover, may be your best bet for a high browsing pressure, small plot, low sunlight and poor soil location. While on the other end of the spectrum maybe a brassica and soybean combination would work best for you for a hunting plot location that totals 1 acre or more in size, receives a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight, contains favorable soil conditions and moderate to high browsing pressure.
Stand locations and hunting food plots; shouldn't they carry a similar set of tactical hunting strategies? I have experienced that they certainly should.
1. Find the best location first
2. Find the precise spot 2nd
3. Match the product to the exact spot last
In whitetail habitat management there is often a temptation to complete activities in the wrong order, and that includes the creation of bedding areas, travel corridors, waterholes and even mineral sites. For example the best habitat conditions to build a bedding area may not be the best location to build a bedding area. No amount of quality, whether it be in the latest seed variety or treestand, can overcome a bad location. If you focus the most on where for your hunting food plot locations instead of what, you will be on the road to experiencing the highest level of food plot success; and that may mean that you apply a healthy dose of treestand strategies while doing so.