An Outdoorsman’s Journal
Hello friends, There is way more to write this week than I have space to put it in but I will do my best.
Back in late April, while turkey hunting with my daughter Selina over a food plot that the two of us created nine years ago but no longer have regular access to, I had an idea. I was actually in the blind when I sent a text to a landowner who has property that borders mine that is 100% oak and pine forest and he has not used for hunting in years or seldom even walks. My friend does not live in this area. So I asked if I could create a food plot on it and hunt his land. Within one minute of sending that text I received a yes and, an hour later, Selina shot the heaviest tom that I have ever lifted.
Wednesday, April 29 High 62, Low 26
My new hangout can only be reached by foot or ATV. The forest has a solid oak wilt problem which means that, at ground level, everything is brush and there is zero sign of deer or turkey activity. Today I realized a sobering fact –– what was supposed to be my easiest spring in years would be my most physical. I have about four weeks to clear cut hazelnut brush and dead oak trees and spray everything with a herbicide, rototill the entire area. When finished it’s about three-quarters of an acre. Then I have to plant it before the optimal germination period ends here in sand country.
I figured 60 man hours and 35 days later I have about 75 “death hours” into it and holy moly is it pretty. Like nine years ago, I used my good buddy Scott Christensen, who is the plant manager at Allied Cooperative in Adams for advice and was told to get some buckwheat on that new ground. Deer and turkeys love to eat buckwheat. It is roughly a 60-day crop and it is well known to rebuild soil.
Several things happened as this project progressed. I had kicked both of my chainsaws’ butts by cutting so much brush so close to the ground and I did some real ugly damage to my tiller eating roots with a machine that is not meant to eat roots.
Every evening when I finished working I would open a can of beer, look at my project and think. I planned my stand positioning on the east side of it as that is your least dominant wind direction. After I thought I was done, I decided to double its size with a “new” food plot. Though my body is handling this project, pain and fatigue are my first and middle names.
I planted one area that is about 10 feet wide and 40 yards long with scattered corn and, just for kicks, I threw in some iron and clay cowpeas. I also went about 10% with the cowpeas in the buckwheat.
On my newest addition, in mid-July I will plant some winter wheat and maybe clover. After I plow in the buckwheat I will plant turnips and radishes. On Scott’s advice I also planted some sugar beets. On every trip back home I have a small trailer hooked up to my Polaris 500 “Sportsman.” I bring back either campfire or wood stove firewood from the land clearing and it is really adding up.
Four days ago I placed two trail cameras on it and last night I checked them for the first time. Like Scott Christensen said the deer and turkey would find the buckwheat and though the pics were not as clear as I like due to fog, I think I have two bucks with really good potential.
This project is both a challenge and a labor of love. I think I have about $500 into it so far and I have to tell you, when I saw my crops emerging from the ground I felt like a proud papa.
Hopefully this fall and winter and again next spring many enjoyable hours will be spent watching the forest behind my house from a tree and maybe even some meat will be made. Certainly some memories will be made.
Dream big, work hard!