Plotting For Whitetails: Part 3

Part 3 of 4 — Boys Gone Wild!

Seeing the results of our soybean planting soon had Travis Keith and I feeling like chicken-killing dogs — we wanted more of the same! Approaching the landowner for some more dirt, we soon found ourselves back in the food plot business.

This is our first planted food plot — a soybean field.

Busting more sod, building more fences and ordering more seed, we were quickly shooting our yearly hunting budget full of holes — for many years to come! But we didn’t care — we were having fun and learning much!

By late-summer our efforts had turned about 5 acres of prairie grass into barren dirt. As it turned out, we’d learned that our one acre of soybeans wasn’t enough to feed 12-15 deer for long — especially when the beans quit growing in July due to a record drought and heat.

By early-August, our bean filed was toast, and all our antlered visitors had departed for parts unknown — there were no more trail camera pictures. We’d certainly learned that prairie deer will come a long ways for beans, and they’ll homestead them when they find’em. Such being the case, we planned on making some significant improvements in our planting plan for the next summer.

This is some of our second planting (in autumn) that was available during bow season.

As for now, however, autumn would soon be upon us and we wanted to make sure we had an abundance of new food plants available for the deer come hunting season, and winter. It was our hopes that most of the bucks that had disappeared soon after the beanfield was defoliated in July would reappear if we got something else green growing by late-summer. Only time would tell.

In mid-August — with fields prepared — Keith and I put more seed into the ground and prayed for rain and cooler weather. I headed out on my Western bowhunts with high hopes of what I’d see in the food plots when I got back to Kansas to check them in early-October.

We planted this food plot hoping the bucks we saw in the summer would return in the fall.

Calling home every week or two, I was thrilled to hear Keith’s report on our efforts. Soon after I’d left, the blistering heat and drought had begun to break, and we now had “green” above the ground. We’d planted one of our fields in brassicas, and as fate would have it, a small rain had come soon after planting, germinating the seed immediately. The weather had then turned off hot and dry again for a few weeks and it looked like we’d lost the young seedlings. Oh well, so it goes in the life of a farmer!

Overall, however, for a bunch of beginners — we’d done fairly well with our efforts. It certainly looked like we would have plenty of “salad on the platter” come October when the bow season opened. Both Keith and I wondered whether we’d feel like all our expense, work and expenditure had been worthwhile when we looked back on our great “experiment” after the season came to a close. Come season, would we see any of the deer we’d lured to the summer beanfield? And even if we did see some of them again, would we be able to harvest a couple of them? 

This was going to be an interesting (and expensive) learning experience, and we were like a couple of little kids anxiously waiting to tear into a birthday present — what awaited our fantasy? Disappointment or joy? As I finished out my elk hunt in Montana, for the first time in my life, I found myself eagerly awaiting my arrival home. Soon, there was going to be a certain skinny Okie headed to Kansas to view the fruits of his labors!

A deer trail leading to the food plot.

Upon arriving in my whitetail hunting location in early-October, I was thrilled to peer at beautiful green fields that had been barren dirt when I’d last seen them in late-August. Mother Nature had been generous, and our “gardens” looked inviting — we hoped the deer thought so also.

A quick check of the fields showed plenty of deer usage — tracks were plentiful, and grazed plants were numerous. I think we both had a warm and fuzzy feeling inside — that was worth something!

Please read the conclusion of this series in Part 4.

For a fine selection of Food Plot feed, seed and accessories, click here.

Eddie Claypool provides tips on bowhunting, with an emphasis on whitetails. Over the past dozen years, Claypool has harvested 23 Pope & Young recordbook whitetails. Six of the deer were taken on public ground, with the rest coming from private ground that he accessed through knocking on doors. He has not been guided on a hunt, or hunted on managed properties. He also has hunted many other species of game including elk and mule deer.

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