An Outdoorsman‛s Journal
Love the Food Plot
Hello friends: This week’s column is an update of my experiences hunting the food plot that I created this past spring and summer in a dense oak and hazelnut forest about a half mile behind my house. I think that it is important to start out with the fact that though I love to bow hunt for deer, my passion has always been waterfowl and adventures.
It was about the first week in June when I began to see what looked like the early antler growth of what could be a really large buck. At the time I had my first planting in the ground of what was mostly cow peas and buckwheat, and folks, if you can remember one thing from this column, it is this: plant buckwheat. If I have ever seen a “deer cocaine,” it is buckwheat and I have hundreds of pictures as proof of that from four trail cameras.
So I watch this buck’s antler development as well as several others and in early July I doubled the size of my plot and put in radishes, some alfalfa, turnips, and braseca. I also planted another area in buckwheat for a second crop (note: buckwheat cannot take a frost).
So as crazy as this sounds, this was the busiest warm season of my life. Hobby farming, bear baiting, and creating a food plot along with my job were the culprits.
Helping someone get their first bear consumed my first two weeks of the bow season, but I did not care as I had from one to seven bucks at my plot every day, during daylight hours.
So here is where the typical Mark Walters-has-to-haveadversity part plays into the story. Behind my house is a forest several miles in length, directly in front of my house is a 120-acre field, and to the north of my house a mile is a couple of hundred acres of farmland.
I am good friends with the farmers and this year they planted a fall cover crop of oats on about Sept. 5.
My first bowhunt was about Sept. 28. I had one doe come in range from my stand and I made the trek home in a great mood. My second hunt I passed on another doe and again I was very happy.
Now here is a side note someone may have the answer for: though I feel I did everything right, the second crop was planted on July 15 and most of my beets, turnips, and white radishes did not grow anything underground but the deer love eating the tops.
So on about Oct. 15, I have this 16-inch 10-point buck give me an excellent shot. I use a compound bow and chose to watch him instead of fling an arrow. The next night I passed on him again.
At this same time I noticed that the fields near my house were loaded with deer and they never are in the fall as the farmer usually plants rye or nothing. I also noticed next to zero deer on my cameras and put it together that the local deer were living and rutting on the forest edge next to the oats.
Last week I hunted five days and loved every minute of it, but only saw one small buck and perhaps eight does in several hunts and the cameras were quiet.
On Thursday I did a fast 30-hour trip to Durand and lived and hunted out of my canoe on the Chippewa River. Nothing was happening there so I headed home and had just enough time to climb into my tree for an evening hunt.
About 30 minutes before dark, an 8-point buck with good length and mass with maybe a 15-inch spread offered me an excellent shot for a good 20 minutes. All I could think is that I have yet to see November, and I wanted to give one of the big guys more time to give me a try.
In reality there is zero sign of rutting deer in my neck of the woods. It has now been five days since the pass and I am 100 percent fine with my decision.
Anyone who knows me is well aware that when home, I am almost always working. The food plot is my time oasis. I climb into my tree and watch night become day or day become night. Until the oats, I had so many super cool experiences that my gut feeling is that more good times are yet to come.
I will say this — after sitting in a tree for a couple of hours the cool weather makes it a bit tougher for this 59-year-old body to pull back a bow that is set at 60 pounds. Should the eight or ten get in range, I may let an arrow fly! Sunset