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My Summer Food Plots are Making Progress

by John Mueller 30. June 2011 13:36
John Mueller

Six weeks after putting seeds in the ground, my food plots are doing very well. I'm very pleased with the progress and the growth the plants have put on so far. The weather has been a little crazy for growing good food plots this year. We have had more than enough rain, cold weather, and extremely hot weather for this early in the season. I was actually lucky to get them in when I did. I know a few guys that are still hoping to get something planted because of the weather and time constraints.

My corn is looking really strong this summer. I planted it a little thinner this year because last year it was too thick and a lot of stalks didn't produce ears. The corn is well past knee high before the end of June. This should give it plenty of time to make ears before the bow season starts. That is if I can get the deer to stop nipping the tops off the corn stalks. The hot weather in the next few weeks should really help the corn put on a growth spurt. Once it's a little taller, the corn will be a source of food as well as good cover for the deer to bed in.


Here is a small part of the 2+ acres of corn I have planted.

I believe my soybeans are a little behind right now. We got a very heavy downpour right after I planted them which made them work extra hard to poke through the crusted over soil. Now that they have exposed themselves the plants have really taken off. We've had good moisture the last couple of weeks and the soybeans have been putting on plenty of new leaves. Hopefully there will be lots of beans left in the pods for the late bow season. Last year my standing beans were the food of choice after the snow blanketed the ground.


After a slow start my soy beans are adding new growth.

I am also trying an experiment this year. I planted a mix of corn and soy beans in part of the field. This will give the deer a little bit of both in the same location instead of having to travel all over the food plot for corn and beans. You never know which one they might be in the mood for when picking a stand to sit that evening. This way I have both bases covered.


My experiment. A mix of corn and soy beans with the milo and millet in the background.

The milo is probably showing the most growth right now. It is putting on the leaves in preparation for producing seed heads. The millet is already producing seed heads. One nice thing about these two crops is the deer only eat the seeds and not the foliage. This allows the plants to mature undamaged unlike the corn and soybeans, which the deer eat as soon as they emerge. My quail and turkeys will surely appreciate these tiny seeds too.


Mix of milo and millet.


The millet is already heading out.

Even if my food plots don't produce a ton of food this year, my deer will have plenty to eat. If the White Oak Trees inside the woods are anything like the ones along the edge of my food plot, there is a bumper crop of acorns this year. Just check out this cluster of baby acorns. And the whole tree is like this. That means the deer will be spending a lot of time in the woods this season. I think I'll be hanging a few stands near the White Oaks this summer.

 
Looks like there is no shortage of White Oak Acorns this year.

Now if I can just keep the hail storms away from my food plots I think I will have a good draw to keep the deer on my property this season. A neighbor just down the road had to start over after hail destroyed his food plots after 4 weeks of growth.

Big Buck Down in Illinois! October Bowhunting Success

by Todd Graf 21. October 2010 13:26
Todd Graf

As we head into the last 10 days of October I know bowhunters across the US are gearing up for the rut, and from what I've seen so far it looks like it's going to be a good one!  I know that bucks around here are really starting to work the scrapes pretty hard so if you find a good scrape line now is the time to hunt it, or at the very least set up a trail camera over it.  If you're looking for any last minute bowhunting products from scents to trail cameras make sure to look in the online bowhunting store right here on Bowhunting.com.  We have over 14,000 products most of which ship out the same or next day!

Here in Illinois things have been going very well for me.  As you've seen in our bowhunting videos I've had several great encounters with some super nice bucks.  One thing that I've noticed, along with a lot of the bowhunters I talk to, is that there's an incredible amount of acorns this year.  I'm sure the great spring we had helped contribute to this.  If you have a good acorn source it seems like the deer are really hitting them hard so that may be another spot to catch a nice buck before the rut really hits.


Acorns are a great food source for Mid to late October hunts.

Across most of the Midwest we've had a really dry stretch of weather which means a lot of water has dried up, making water sources another good option.  If we don't get a lot of rain before November being close to water may really benefit a lot of bowhunters.  Once the bucks start running hard they're going to need water and if you've got a good source you just may catch a nice buck while he's heading in for a drink!


Water holes are another great spot for October and November hunts.  Especially during dry weather.

Doing as much bowhunting as I do means climbing up and down a LOT of trees, which makes treestand safety one of my top priorities.  I truly hope that everyone out there is wearing their safety harness and if you can afford it I would strongly recommend a life line type product as well.  Being attached to the tree from the ground to the top makes the world of difference when it comes to safety and my confidence while climbing in and out of my stands.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been able to share some really fun hunts with a few of my friends as well.  I think it's important to remember to have fun while you're out in the woods and there's no better way to do that than spending it with good friends or family.


Dr. Ali Shaibani on one of his first bowhunts ever.  He hasn't gotten a deer yet, but it's only a matter of time now!


Justin relaxing in a Summit climber during and evening hunt over a soybean plot.

Of course once the fun is over it's time to get back to hunting!  Last Friday I was fortunate enough to close the deal on the white racked giant that you saw in Bowhunt or Die: Episode 2.  You'll have to watch this week's episode, which will be posted tomorrow, for the details but rest assured it was a great hunt!  Once again I was able to prove that you can film yourself harvesting a trophy animal if you work hard at it.


See the full video of me harvesting this buck on tomorrow's episode of Bowhunt or Die.


When self-filming it's important to make sure you have all of your camera pieces before you leave the office!  This is my improvised mount after our video editor forgot to put the mount back on my camera.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest episode of Bowhunt or Die!  We've got our best episode yet with two doe kills and two 150 inch bucks hitting the ground.  You don't want to miss it!

Early Season Whitetails and Food Plots

by Cody Altizer 31. August 2010 08:49
Cody Altizer

As the Dog Days of summer begin to dwindle down to the early stages of fall, so my excitement and enthusiasm for the opening day of bow season rises.  As if it could rise any higher!  Opening day for some is just weeks away, but for most of us we still have to wait until October to ascend into our favorite early season tree.  Regardless, we will all be bowhunting for whitetails before we know it.
    The early season is one of my favorite times to bowhunt.  The anticipation and uncertainty of a new season, coupled with the beautiful transition into fall, make any trip to the woods in October a successful one.  In fact, chances are that in the first two weeks, often the first couple days of a new season, we are presented with the best opportunity of harvesting a mature buck.  This year is no different with my fall food plots planted and thriving.  Also, 2010 has proven to be a banner year for many of the hard and soft mast producing species on my property.  The white oaks have produced an excellent crop of acorns which is important to my hunting success, as 90% of the 260 acres I hunt is mature timber.  Soft mast species such as apple trees and autumn olive groves have also produced a bountiful yield which can be early season hot spots as well.

Success during the early season often boils down to finding a favored food source.  Be on the look out for soft mast species, such as autumn olives, as they can be little honey holes.

      This fall I have 7 different food plots planted and all are in excellent condition heading into the hunting season.  I have two small hunting plots planted in Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover.  These plots have been established for three years now.  Since their first planting in the spring of 2007, they’ve attracted and held many whitetails on my hunting property without having to be reseeded.  I do, however, frost seed them every late winter/early spring to increase the tonnage.  I also have an additional food plot, about one acre in size, planted in Whitetail Institute’s Extreme.  The soil in this particular plot is marginal at best, mostly composed of sand and clay, making it extremely difficult to grow my seed of choice, Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail CloverWhitetail Institute’s Extreme, however, has performed beautifully this spring and summer.  This chicory, clover, alfa-alfa, burnet blend established quickly in the spring and has grown tall, thick and lush all summer long, despite the poor soil conditions and record heat in Western Virginia.

Imperial Whitetail Clover has been my seed of choice when it comes to food plot planting since I began using it in 2007.  It's simply the best!

    Temperatures this summer in Virginia’s Mountain Valleys were scorching.  Daytime highs averaged over 90 degrees since late May, during which the mercury rose above 100 degrees 5 times, including three days consecutively!  This type of weather is abnormal for Western Virginia.  Still, my Whitetail Institute food plots not only survived but continued to grow and are strong and healthy heading into the hunting season.

Apples are another early season food source enjoyed by deer.  If you have apple trees, or any other fruit trees for that matter, they certainly warrant a hunt during the early season.

    My fall food plot planting is what has me the most excited.  In two separate locations, totaling almost to two acres, I sowed in some winter oats as part of a “dual plot.”  Fortunately, just days after I sowed the oats, we received steady rainfall and the oats germinated and took off quickly!  I then immediately sowed more Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover to grow alongside the oats.  This all took place over a week and half in mid August and both plants are growing quickly.  I cannot be thankful enough for the ample, steady rainfall we have received.  Ideally, the oats will serve as a hardy, nutritious, attractive food source throughout the hunting season.  When next spring rolls around, the clover will have an established root system and flourish.  The final two food plots, totaling about 1 ½ acres, are made of turnips and rape.  Both plants, like the oats, germinate quickly and are easy to establish.  Fortunately, these plots are coming along great as well!

A close up shot of the young oats.  This food plot, which is also seeded with clover, will provide a reliable food source for the deer all season long.

    The past two seasons have made for difficult hunting for me primarily because of a lack of food reliable, consistent food source.  This fall is shaping up to be much, much different.  While the principal purpose of the food plots is to attract and hold deer while providing first-rate nutrition, they have the potential to make for exciting hunting opportunities this fall.  The topographical layout of 5 of the 7 food plots allow me to hunt downwind of the food plots with undetectable entry and exit routes.  The early season relationship between whitetails and acorns is undeniable as well.

When it comes to early season whitetails, it's hard to beat white oak acorns.  This particular tree is loaded with them!

    Bow season begins for the majority of us in just over a month and I’m eager to get in a tree with a bow.  However, I am equally excited about my new job opportunity.  From mid September through mid January I’ll be helping Todd and Justin out at the bowhunting.com office!  I’m excited about making the move to Northern Illinois.  Hopefully, I’ll make some new friends, enjoy a different culture, and help bring home some awesome footage of Todd and Justin throughout the season.  It’s going to be an exciting fall!

 

 

 




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