An Outdoorsman’s Journal-,
By Mark Walters
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 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 percent 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.”
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 an herbicide, rototill the entire area (when finished about 3/4 of an acre), and 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 turkey 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 my chainsaw’s 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, posistioning on the east side of it, as that is your least dominate wind direction. After I thought I was done, I decided to double its size with a “new” food plot and though my body is handling this project, pain and fatigue are my first, and middle, names.
I planted one area, about 10 feet wide and 40 yards long, with scattered corn and just for kicks, I threw in iron and clay cowpeas. I also went about 10 percent with the cowpeas in the buckwheat.
On my newest addition, in mid-July, I’ll plant winter wheat, maybe clover and after I plow in the buckwheat, I’ll plant turnips and radishes. On Scott’s advise, I also planted sugar beets. On every trip home, I have a small trailer hooked up to my Polaris 500 “Sportsman,” and I bring back campfire or woodstove 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 said, the deer and turkey found the buckwheat, and though the pictures were not as clear as I like, because of fog, I think I have two bucks with really good potential.
This project is 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!
Dream big, work hard! Sunset