J-birds place

Discussion in 'Property Tours' started by j-bird, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    OK - I have never done a "land tour" sort of thread, but I thought since we are all starting from scratch again I may give it a try. I'm going to start with some big picture stuff and then get into my journey thus far and then move into more recent updates and the like. I hope it's fairly picture heavy as that seems to get folks going. This is going to be a work in progress, but I gotta get started sooner or later.

    When I got married my wife was left 1/2 (we later bought out her brother half) of her dads farm in Decatur County IN......at the time the entire farm was 170 acres. That was 1996. It's a true farm, corn and soybeans dominated with the only concern being to maximize every acre they could. The property had timber cut a decade or two prior to that where they removed all the high dollar trees and left all the junk.

    Below is a large overview of the surrounding area. I think it's important to understand how your specific property fits into the local area. I think lots of folks tend to see their property as an "island" and the deer tend to not see it that way.
    landtour.jpg
    As you can see with all the light brown and green areas here my area is GROSSLY dominated by row crops (corn, soybeans and sometimes winter wheat). Only the dark brown areas are hardwoods or brush and are the areas of cover for the deer. I figured it up once and in my area the percentage of actual cover for deer is roughly only 20% of the available land available. it's tough to have many deer when you don't have many places for them to hide. I estimate I have a deer density of 20 ~ 30 dpsm (deer per square mile). That sounds pretty good....however you have to remember that is 20 or 30 deer per square mile of deer habitat.....NOT 20 to 30 deer per physical square mile.

    Here is a more close up of roughly a mile in each direction.
    landtour 2.jpg

    It's difficult to tell by the pictures but the area pretty darn flat. The only real changes in elevation are in the areas of the streams. This tends to make the ground too steep and not able to be farmed well and as such tends to be where the trees are. Since I didn't clarify North is "up". The soil here is a sandy loam - for those that don't know what that is that means there is very little clay - if you try to make a ball out of the soil it will crumble. This however means it drains pretty well. We do real well growing corn and soybeans....not "IOWA" type good, but this area is considered part of the "corn belt".

    Since Steve B asked - here is a topo - the property lines are not exact but you get the idea.
    topt.jpg

    Here is the "close up" of the entire place.
    Untitledland tour 3.jpg
    The north side of the road contains a horse pasture - which we have since parted ways with because my wife refused to allow me to turn it into habitat. The narrow strip of timber at the far north contains a basin due to a stream and contains various native hardwoods (maples, oaks, poplar, hickory, beech and ash).

    The south of the road has our house and barns, barn lot and grain dryer. It also has a large stream that makes up roughly the south property line. The southern most field is in a flood plain from the stream and is lower in elevation. This property has different hardwoods because of the elevated water content. Boxelder, buckeye, sycamore, hackberry and walnut dominate here with a few oaks as well.

    My oaks are typically Northern Red Oak, Burr Oak and Chinkapin Oak (native not DCO). Most of these oaks are few in number but are producing some mast. We will get into the condition of the "woods" later.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
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  2. Satchmo

    Satchmo New Member

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    Nice looking place. Looks like you have some great drainages to funnel deer your way.
     
  3. Blizzard Ridge

    Blizzard Ridge Well-Known Member

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    Good looking farm. I can see some nice stand locations already.
     
  4. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    I intend on going into a lot of detail as to what I have done and what I have learned along the way.....and boy have I done some dumb things, but yes, once I figured out how the deer used my place in general and how it fit into the big picture things really made a change in a more positive direction. Funny how even in fairly flat areas the minor terrain changes, points, funnels and the like still are very important. I am a self taught deer hunter....I have hunted this place and this place alone now since the late 90's The low deer numbers makes things very interesting because a mistake can cost you a deer for the entire season or not.

    I might as well discuss some of that now. Like I said I am a self taught deer hunter. I hunted squirrels and rabbits but that was about it. I saw deer hunting on TV shows and figured..."It can't be that hard". I slapped the slug barrel on my shotgun and looked for deer sign and that was where I hunted. 2 years went by of hunting weekends of a 16 day firearms season without a kill. I was doing good to even see a deer! I bought a smoke-pole the next year with the intent of hunting more....hunting more would increase my chances at a deer....right? Nope. I had a buddy who bow hunted but I really didn't want to bow hunt. But in my effort to kill a deer....ANY deer - I bought a bow. I was watching every TV show I could find trying to learn. If there was a scent, gadget or something out there I thought would help I was trying it. Now mind you ZERO habitat work was going on at this time. I finally killed my first deer. I was on a steep bank sitting on a stump and I was sitting near the top and a doe walked down a trail at the base of the slope. I made a good shot with my bow and she didn't go far. Success! NOTHING fuels desire like a taste of success. That was 2002. I was SO proud of myself. I had done it, it was possible, little did I know then this would eventually lead me down the path I am on. I still have the broken arrow shaft from that kill.....darn deer busted it off! I also learned that archery equipment is expensive enough as it is and the deer breaking it wasn't helping!
     
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  5. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    So to continue on my story here.... I killed another doe with my bow in 2003 and shot my first antlered deer in 2004 with my muzzleloader. If I had known then what I know now - I would have left him go, but I was still a novice hunter and the opportunity to kill any deer was a treat for me. I continued to kill a deer a year in 2005 & 2006 (both yearling bucks).

    In 2007 I got real "control" of the place. I finally had the final say in how things would be run. This is also then I got involved with QDMA. I brought out my state forester, district wildlife biologist and my local NRCS representative as well....all at the same time. I told them, "I want more deer." The only one that took me seriously was my NRCS rep, so he went back to his office and went nuts. He had filter strips and windbreaks and all sorts of things all over the place in his plan. I was thrilled....and then reality set in. In order to do all of this I had to walk away from the income from farming! I don't farm the property directly - we rent it to family. With property taxes being what they are and having a young and expanding family - this wasn't as easy as I had thought. IF I went full bore we would have to remove 10~15K in annual income from our finances AND cover property taxes as well. Well obviously that wasn't going to happen. So I sat down with the NRCS folks and we talked about CRP programs. These programs apply to certain situation under limited conditions where the installation and maintenance of wildlife habitat is compensated for due to the loss of tillable acres. My NRCS office set it up to where I was breaking even between the habitat and farming in areas around the outer edges of my ag fields to a max distance of 120 feet. We looked at where this made sense and I stepped into my first CRP contracts. Originally the plan was to simply allow the weeds to grow back in these areas and all I had to do was control any invasive weeds. I didn't know squat at that time so I thought that was a good idea.....hard for me to screw that up. You can still see in the sat photos where most of the CRP areas are. I chose the area along the field edges where there was some sort of additional cover next to it.. With a max distance of 120' wide that left a few pockets that simply didn't make sense to farm. I simply adopted those areas as food plots.

    Before CRP buffers below - as you can imagine - once the crop is harvested you have a very "hard edge". Even the edge of the timber lacked cover because of the competition for light.
    field edge without buffer.jpg

    So I saw this as an opportunity to increase the cover at the edge of the timber and create a habitat type that was lacking in the area. I am not allowed to have woody brush and the like, but the overall lack of cover was apparent and anythign was better than what I had. Below is a buffer between the timber and the corn. It's been mowed as part of the maintenance that I have to do to keep the woody brushy under control. I wait until after the nesting season of the ground nesting birds. This one in particular is a steamside buffer where I agreed to plant cool season grasses to help control erosion. Cool season grasses where not an ideal choice for me at that time, but again...better than corn field!
    filter strip.jpg

    Here is another buffer where I simply allow mother nature to do her thing (other than control invasive weeds and the bush). These areas grow with lots of ragweed, marestail, goldenrod, and all sorts of native broadleaf plants. I then use the edge between the CRP and the ag field to get my small tractor around.
    CRP.jpg

    I wanted to attach a map of the areas I was talking about - the yellow areas are the "weeds", the green are areas of perennial plots, orange is annual plots and the red area in the south is my stream buffer where I planted the cool season grasses. IF I recall properly I have roughly 15 acres in various CRP programs now.
    CRP areas.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
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  6. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    So that was that from a CRP perspective. The perennial plots where planted to clovers and chicory and some alfalfa and the annual plots tend to be corn or soybeans. Every once in a while for one reason or another the annual plot doesn't do well and becomes a fall annual plot. I will get more into my plotting and reasons why I do what I do later. I want to stick on the CRP stuff for now since we are on that subject.

    So CRP/weeds, great right? Not so much. The issue I saw was these broadleaf weeds may provide some cover come fall and winter time they are reduced to stems. It looks like a forest of sticks....and they where not holding deer, at least not in the fall and winter when I can hunt them. So in 2013 with that in mind I went to my NRCS agent and talked to them about changing my contract. The end result was I was allowed to plant native warm season grasses.....as long as I paid for it. So down that rabbit hole I went.

    Just to get this started - here is a good side-by-side of the end result difference. The major grass is switchgrass and is obviously on the left.
    Winter NWSG vs weeds.jpg

    So to planting NWSG (native warm season grasses). First I sprayed and mowed and plowed and disced to kill off as much of the previous weeds and saplings as possible. I got down to bare dirt.
    2013 bottom NWSG facing east.JPG

    2013 Bottom NWSG facing south.JPG

    I hired a local guy to come out and drill a mix or 1/3 big bluestem, 1/3 Indiangrass & 1/3 switchgrass with his native grass drill. The bluestem and the indiangrass require a special drill because of the "fluffy" seed. The switchgrass was placed in a different seed box of the drill, but could have been broadcast if so desired.

    Here are pictures from 2014 of these same areas. 2013 was a struggle as I knew (from the forum) that the establishment year was critical. I sprayed 2,4-D to control the broadleaf weeds and mowed any competitive grasses. By the end of summer I thought I had lost! Foxtail seemed to have taken over and it was difficult to tell the difference between the foxtail and the other young planted grasses. I was pleasantly surprised in spring of 2014 to see some rows of nice green grass shoots.

    These are in the same order as the pics of the bare dirt above.
    2014 end june bottom switch facing east.jpg

    2014 end july bottom looking south.jpg

    You will notice lots of giant ragweed and other native weeds as well. I don;t mind these at all. these help add to the diversity of the planting and offer summertime browse for the deer and other wildlife. Below is a pic of the first full years growth. The "stick" is 48" tall.
    2014 end june bottom switch detail.jpg

    As 2015 came around the affects of the NWSG really became evident. The two pics below where taken in the same location as the very first pic in this post. I wanted to get a side by side in the summer time as well. Now don't get me wrong - that isn't the biggest tractor in the world, but I thought this was a good representation of what I see in the summertime as well. I am planning on expanding the use of NWSG as time and funds allow.
    NWSG summer.jpg

    NWSG as buffers like this have really helped increase the cover on my farm thru CRP programs without negatively impacting my household income while providing better and more habitat cover for wildlife in general.
     
  7. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    So back to the 2007 timeline. As my efforts above increased cover to some extent, I also started to think a little more critically of my own hunting methods. I put away the scents and the gadgets and tried to focus on using my growing history of how the deer use my property. Now I spoke of my deer numbers before - to simply demonstrate what I am up against - from my first harvest in 2002 my entire county averaged killing 423.6 deer (over 373 square miles) - that's an average of a hair over killing a single deer per physical square mile!

    So in 2007 I was absolutely floored when I managed to kill 3 deer off of my place! Now was it by chance - I don't know. What I do know is that since I started with the habitat in 2007 I personally have taken multiple deer a year ever since.

    So with the habitat bug growing I got a few apple trees. I didn't listen to the forum and instead got big box store trees - another dumb idea on my part. Now I don't know the exact year I planted my first trees. They where 3 gallon container tress in "people apple" varieties is all I remember. I also do something that some folks frown upon. I plant my fruit trees in my perennial plots. I do this because the cover is so valuable to me that I am trying to maximize the plotting area I have so the perennial plots do double duty as small fruit orchards.

    My fruit trees I plant in groups of three in an effort to assist in pollination. We have no wild apples or persimmons that I am aware of so I thought a source of soft mast that the deer could get to would be a great draw. So I have a cluster of 3 in each of my two perennial plots south of the road.
    apple south.jpg

    One thing I DID listen to on the forum was to protect them. I have a wire cage around each one, because the deer nip off anything that sticks outside the cage! I also have a wire mesh around the base of the trunk to prevent critters from eating the bark. I also have a weed barrier down and gravel on top of it to limit weeds and to keep rodents out of the roots as well. I tend to use whatever I can find around the farm and this old woven wire fence works fine. I use a T post to keep the deer from pushing the cage around. I keep my cages small in diameter and about 5 feet tall - I try to promote vertical growth with the tree as I need it to grow beyond the normal reach of the deer. Once the lower scaffold gets 5 feet off the ground I will reduce the outer cage even further in diameter to simply keep the bucks from rubbing them.

    This spring was my first real sign of any actual fruit.
    apple3.jpg

    They seem to be progressing just fine - even though there are not many of them....it's progress.
    apple progress.jpg

    My tress get full sun and get plenty of breeze thru them. I am no apple expert and my "pruning" I'm sure needs a lot of work....but I haven;t killed them yet! To be honest when I expand my soft mast further I will use crab-apples as I think they will take even less work and produce sooner for me.
     
  8. outdoorstom

    outdoorstom Active Member

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    Great write up and work....I'm enjoying the read. Keep it coming!
     
  9. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    2008 and a switch goes off! In the fall of 2008 - a switch went off.......I killed my first decent buck. I nearly had a heart-attack in the process, and I was so nervous and excited I was almost physically sick.....what a rush it was.
    2008.jpg

    So as my habitat matures from my improvements 2008 smiled on me with my first decent buck. This buck was coming to my foodplot to search for does and I was in the right place at the right time. I didn't know it at the time, but taking this deer would change how I looked at bucks. This deer isn't huge by any means 129 3/8" / 123 1/8" - yes I had him scored. However this too was a learning process. First of all 120" of antler is more than I expected, 150 or 170 is A LOT MORE! I figure this deer to be 3 years old.

    Now how did this change my thinking? I now had the bug for nice antlers. It dawned on me - killing these yearling bucks (and I had killed a few) was actually working against me. And the rush I had killing this one was well worth waiting for. That fall I implemented a "wide as his ears" policy for buck harvest. It wasn't popular with the others hunting my place, but we had evidence of what we could have if we just waited.


    The next generation:
    I don't remember the year, but I remember the day like it was yesterday. This event changed me as well. My son was very interested in following in Dad's footsteps. We got his hunters education card and the like and I took him out for our youth hunt and he was hooked. The first year we had a nice young buck walk right up to us. The bad thing was at that time the youth hunt was "antlerless" only. he was very frustrated. The following year however - both our lives changed.
    tom first deer.jpg

    He doesn't like heights, so we are sitting in nearly the exact same spot where I killed my first deer, using the steep bank to get us some elevation over a deer trail at the base. As the morning moved along we didn't see much of anything, but could feel the thermal moving up the bank so I knew we would be OK if a deer did show up. Tom was getting bored as kids do and the pestering questions started, "how long we staying here?" "I'm getting hungry." Well, finally I saw a shadow move. I told Tom I thought I saw a deer and he needed to get ready. A young doe came our way and Tom shot the deer. He was a nervous wreck! Good thing he had a single shot! The deer bounded away and it ran into some of my CRP but I never saw it leave. I make sure Tom was in one piece and I went to look for any sign. Eventually Tom came down the hill - it took him a moment to collect himself. I trailed the deer and we finally found it. Tom was thrilled and so was I.

    Tom and I hunted together for a while, just because of safety reasons. Tom had to cut his teeth as well.
    in 2011 Tom shot his first buck (rookies are allowed to shoot any buck they want). 2012 Tom shot a nice 2 year old. He told me, "I want one bigger than last year" and he held off on several occasions. This buck presented itself and I was right there once again.
    Tom's 2012 buck woods.jpg

    Tom scored again in 2013 - but this time he had to hunt by the "big boy rules".....and I'll be dipped he did!
    tom 2.jpg
    This one he did on his own - sort of! They had a snow day at school and he was wanting to go hunting, I was at work. I told him to wait until closer to lunch time. The sun would warm and the deer will move. I told him to slowly walk in a manner that he wind would be in your face and to use the ridge in the south to his advantage if possible.

    I got a frantic phone call on my way home from work that evening, "I got'em dad, I got'em!" From what I could gather he had shot a nice buck with the smoke-pole - apparently the smoke had just cleared the air that is how soon he called me! I asked where he was and he gave me his location. I told him to stay put and I would come to him as I was only about 10 minutes from home. When I got to where he told me he was - he was 100 yards away. I saw a deer laying in the snow so I knew he found it. Well with social media being what it is it didn't take long - he was quite popular for a few days. This is the second biggest buck taken to date off of my property. I shot a buck earlier that year that beats his by a hair......2013 was quite the year for us.
     
  10. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    OK - back to some habitat work! So after the CRP and plots and apples where doing there thing....I got another habitat itch. I had expanded the cover as much as I could, so what could I do to improve the cover I had. Well, I got to thinking and looking at the forum and the best thing I could think of was a timber harvest....but all the sizable trees I had where "junk" so I thought. Now I took ag class in high school and I took soils and forestry so I know my native trees in IN pretty well, so I knew what I had....I just didn't think they where big enough.

    Now I knew what the extreme was - see below. This is a section I know where most of these larger trees are oaks, but as you can see there is NOTHING there for the deer other than acorns. My "woods" wasn't this bad.
    park.jpg

    My woods was one that in the summertime seemed thick enough, but in the winter time you could see for a good 100 yards or more. The understory was dominated by young sugar maple saplings and I just really wasn't to sure what to do.
    timber before.jpg

    Well my wife is related to some timber people so I had them come out and take a look. Turns out you don;t need near as big a tree as I thought. I learned that if the tree is big enough to where I can't reach around it - it is typically big enough to be of interest to loggers. We marked over 700 trees in 2 weekends! 95% that we marked had little to minimal wildlife value. We cut sycamore, cottonwood, hackberry, ash, hickory, soft and hard maple, beech, yellow poplar, and elm. I was with them to mark each and every tree. We didn't touch a single walnut, oak or cherry unless I said it was OK and we took a few but they where dead, damaged or dying.

    I will be honest - when I went to check on progress the first time - I just about threw up! I thought to myself, "I have destroyed my woods.....what have I done?" It literally looked like a tornado had come thru.

    Well I was rewarded the next spring....the sunlight had caused so much growth it wasn't funny. By the second year the new saplings had really taken off and the stump sprouts where growing strong as well.
    jungle 1.jpg
    jungle 2.jpg
    understory after QDM.jpg

    Now - we didn't make a fortune on the timber.....not even close, but we didn't do bad. The thing was I grossly improved my cover and we retained many of the better timber trees and specifically my oaks. To be honest 2 years after the cut I wished we had been even more aggressive......but I would get my wish soon enough.

    Turns out earlier this year - I found out that walnut had improved in price and that the loggers where interested in paying me another visit. We marked another 300 trees and went to town once again. It had been about 5 years ago or so when we did the last cut.
    Timber.jpg

    I got more sunlight and some real good access out of the deal this time as well. I need to get something down on the trails and I may plant trees or shrubs in the "dead end" sections, but I know mother nature will do her thing.
    timber plot.jpg
    Possible site for a wooded hunting plot!

    timber 2.jpg

    As "bad" as these pics look I know in two years these areas will be thick with new growth both feeding and hiding deer! Lots of folks fear cutting timber and to be honest it can be intimidating. It will be several years now before I get another visit by the timber man, but I'm OK with that. My habitat will flourish and be able to support more deer than it ever has. One thing the CRP and TSI projects have taught me is that sometimes the biggest rewards take some big risks. With the TSI - I had my own knowledge of trees to rely on and a partner that I felt I could trust to treat me right....after all they are extended family. I realize the stars don't align for everyone on this topic, but there is NOTHING wrong with proper timber management. The ONLY way an acorn can grow into a might oak of it's own someday is for it to escape the shadow of the oak from which it came!

    Now what I will do is go in this winter and hinge cut some of the low quality trees left and move some of the tops to create blockades, thickets and other "structure" within the woods as well. I will not treat any stumps. Stump sprouts at least for now will help get me even more ground level cover.
     
  11. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Ok - so in the previous post I talked about hinging. I have a small corner in the north that is dominated by sugar maple - which cast a lot of shade. This past winter I went in and removed some completely (those that would never make decent timber) and then I hinged some more. For those that don't know what hinge cutting is - it is essentially cutting 3/4 thru a tree and then pushing it over. The intent is for the tree to live and provide ground level cover.

    So here is a view of what this acre or so area looked like before.
    hinge before.jpg
    You can see that there isn't much ground level cover - now obviously with leaf drop the cover level diminishes any ways, but my plan was to improve that regardless.

    So I went to town swinging my chainsaw. The larger trees of poor quality I simply cut down. I removed the log to before fire wood and drug those out with my tractor.

    I left the tops lay and then started hinging the smaller trees. Because I wanted this area to be cover and NOT a blockade I hinged as high as I felt safe - nobody likes staring at a running chainsaw chain at eye level! Now I will also say I have poor luck hinging hard maple. So if they snap off I tend to cut a "V" in the tall stump and then place the log up in that "V".

    Here is the after picture of a days work.
    hinge after.jpg

    With the now available sunlight this area will grow into a nice thicket for the deer. There are a few oaks in there as well so maybe I will get some oak regen as part of the process also. The trick with these areas is cutting them in areas the deer like anyways. This area faces south so deer like this little area for bedding anyway and hopefully will like it even more now. By cutting the trees higher it allows the deer to get under them if they wish and to move thru them a little easier. I ensured that their main trails remained open as well. Just as an FYI - I have a shooting house that sits about 100 yards from this location.....that isn;t by accident either!
     
  12. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    OK - we talked about some habitat how about some more deer?

    I had a good year in 2011 - with my second buck on the wall.
    Jason 2011 buck inside barn 3.jpg
    I guess him to be a 4 year old deer. 141 6/8" / 119 3/8" - this is the buck where I learned deductions SUCK! The turkey foot point on his left side is considered abnormal and as such the deductions just pile on.

    2012 - got me all excited! This was plenty of motivation to get up and out of bed. This is taken in a location where I have a stand....I never did see this deer in the daylight.
    2012 photo buck 1.JPG

    2012 resulted in my buddy taking a nice buck as well.
    brian buck.jpg


    2013 was a year to remember!
    You have seen my boys buck from 2013 -
    I took this buck the early in the year from only about 200 yards away from where my boy took his.
    2013.jpg
    This is my biggest to date and the biggest off my place thus far 143 5/8 / 131 6/8. I figure him to be 4 years old as well. Now I realize these are not B&C bucks, but you have to remember where I am hunting. You have to remember where the property was at from a habitat perspective and where it is now. The property and myself have come a long ways. I went from shooting basket racked yearlings to holding out for at least a 3 year old buck. The property went from very limited deer habitat to one of I would say at least better than average in my immediate area.

    2014 was another good year - again not killing monster but taking nice deer.
    Mine from 2014 - man I need to learn how to smile - oh I remember why I wasn't happy.....I was disappointed in myself. Nothing to do with the size of the deer.
    2014 buck 2.jpg
    I learned a lot from this deer. I learned that I wasn't nearly as smart as I thought. I pulled the shot on him and was not smart enough to wait. I ended up pushing this buck....twice. I found him a week later after looking for 2 full weekends. The meat was bad and I was disappointed with myself, very disappointed. I was determined to see it thru and locate this deer, but it was sort of a hollow victory - for those that are wondering I DID tag this buck and I didn't hunt any more until I found him.

    Most of this was posted in QDMA forum and was later published in QW. I was very pleased to be able to share my journey with QW readers.

    As much as folks don't like to admit it - these bucks are why we do this. Without the reward many of us would not put forth the effort and resources to do what we do. So I am sorry if I sound like I am beating my chest - that is not the message I want to send. The message I want to send is that if I can do it.....so can you. It isn't easy, it isn't cheap and it isn't fast - but if it is what you want - it can happen. I may never kill a B&C buck on my place and I honestly more than likely never will. That isn't my goal. Nice deer, healthy habitat and I can share with my friends and family.

    OK - back to some habitat stuff.....maybe next will be my plotting....notice I waited on that until now. Yep - plotting was another dumb move on my part!
     
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  13. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Decatur county, IN Zone 6a
    Ok - plotting. Well, once again I screwed up in the beginning.....again! When I first got started I bought into the "plant it and they will come" BS that was the undertone of every seed plot company add. Well stupid me was focused on the "quick fix" of food plots. I planted plots without any consideration to the habitat around me. Since then my experience has shown me that when your surrounded by an ocean of corn and soybeans planting more of that to feed "your" deer isn't really smart. But what I have learned is that timing is everything.

    OK - first off I have few deer so I can get away with planting small plots of corn and soybeans without any sort of means of keeping the deer out. But that gets helped because with all the other food around me I don;t have to worry about deer hammering my plots. So to help with that I intentionally plant a week or two AFTER the area farmers do. That deer s the deer spread out and feeding away from me. I can plant whatever I want at this time and not have any real issue. Yes I still plant corn and beans. Now that may seem stupid....and maybe it is. However - in production agriculture a good combine can turn a corn or bean field into have the same amount of deer food in it as a wal-mart parking lot! I'm serious. It used to be I could walk my field and you couldn't walk 10 yards without finding a dropper corn ear....not any more!
    foodplots.jpg
    So, I plant corn and soybeans to stand all fall and winter....that way as harvest progresses I have to only food around that the deer are really interested in (other than acorns). This brings in the ladies....and the ladies bring in the boys! Now I also tend to seed brassica and cereal grains into these plots as well, again trying to get double duty out of my resources. I also try to set up plots so I get my cool season perennials and my annual plots in one location.

    I will also take advantage of trails and the like for an early season archery hunting spot over perennials like a nice clover and chicory mix. This one is where we take equipment from the upper southern field to the lower southern field. Deer like the cozy little spot and I can hunt over the plot or between the plot and bedding areas if I want.
    tractor path.jpg

    If for some reason I can't/don't get my summer plots planted I will then plant then as a fall/winter annual. For this I tend to row plant AWP/soybeans and then broadcast PTT/GFR and WW/WR.

    AWP - I like AWP - I have low enough deer numbers they don't wipe it out - even come spring time.
    AWP.jpg
    Brassica (PTT & GFR) - I started with PTT and the deer didn't like them. I did start to get some use of the radish however. I still plant both. They are great for the soil and great insurance crops for your deer - the deer can eat the leaves or the tuber as well - they do however really stink in the spring time!
    Brassica 11-1.jpg

    Cereal grains (WW & WR) - Winter wheat and winter rye. To be honest I prefer the wheat....it will survive the winter in my area and it doesn't get near as tall in the spring when I need to till it under. The rye however does stay green longer and becomes green sooner if a week either way means anything.
    what a difference a month makes.jpg

    Corn & Soybeans - I row plant these and I use round-up ready seed. You may have to watch the deer browse on the soybeans, but they are much easier to grow and less expensive to buy and fertile. Corn can be a pain. Weed control is a must, proper fertilizer is a must and rain, but not too much is also a must. I however prefer corn as it seems to provide a sense of security for the deer. I have a thread going on another forum that I will carry over here soon about how I planted my corn plot this year and it's progress.

    As far as perennial cool season plots go I'm pretty basic - I mix some ladino white clover with some sort of medium red clover and some chicory and call it good. I have used alfalfa in the past, but the only way it seems to do well for me is in pretty much a pure stand and it needs regular mowing and removal of clipping which can be a pain.

    How do you know if you plant enough in plot acres? To be honest I don;t know...I do know that my goal is to have some, not a lot, of food left come spring green up. If I achieve that general goal then I don't worry about it. I don't have plots hammered to the ground or anything like that so food is one of my least concerning issues other that it's importance to my hunting.

    My stance on BOB (buck on bag - fancy bag stuff you see on retail shelves) is that if it works for you fine. I use it some times when I need just a small bit and don;t want to screw with it. My main issue is that they tend to mix different seed sizes and that typically means your paying for something that may not germinate. Larger seed needs to go in the ground further, while smaller seed can simply be pressed into the ground as a general rule.

    habitat and plotting tools.
    I started with a 790 JD tractor, FEL and rotary mower.
    QDMA equip before resized.jpg

    My "toys" now.
    QDMA equip after3.jpg
    what's all there:
    Tractor, FEL (front end loader), Rotary mower, 2 row planter, Hand broadcaster, Conical broadcaster, Disc, 2 bottom plow, 3 point boom sprayer, backpack sprayer and chainsaw.

    Now you don't have to have all these. Some I only have because I got them for free or for dirt cheap. As much as I hate to say this...knowing what I know now.....in my situation, if I could only have just one......if would be the chainsaw!
     
    Jack Terpack likes this.
  14. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Decatur county, IN Zone 6a
    OK - I started a thread on the other forum about my corn plot planting this year. I don't intend on going into that level of detail again here, but I will update the progress here.

    Plot was planted 6/11 I used a tiller to till the plot, my conical spreader to apply the fertilizer and my two row planter to plant the seed.
    corn planter.jpg

    Nothing really but some tilled dirt and some planting tracks!
    corn planted.jpg

    Corn just germinated and poking thru!
    young corn.jpg

    Another update:
    young corn 2.jpg

    Status of as July 4th.
    corn july 4th 2016.jpg

    As of July 10th....also applied gly then.....it needed it!
    corn july 10th.jpg

    Corn as of July 23 roughly 48" tall.
    corn2.jpg
     
  15. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Decatur county, IN Zone 6a
    While I was out today I had the thread on my mind and thought I would take some follow up pics.

    This is the same area I hinged over the winter of the very area I posted earlier. Not all the hinges lived but some did and the area is nice and thick now.
    hinge summer.jpg hinge summer2.jpg hinge summer3.jpg
     
  16. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    While I was out I took a few pics of the few apples I have as well.
    They started like this and I wasn't even certain what they where as these are my first apples.
    apple3.jpg

    And this is what they look like today....they may not be impressive, but I'm thrilled!
    apple july 23.jpg
     
    Familytradition likes this.
  17. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Decatur county, IN Zone 6a
    What the hey....While I was out today I also pulled a cam card. Nothing to write home about but a nice prospect for the next year or two!

    I simply use a trace mineral block (50 lbs for $7) and I place it where I think it will see the most traffic. I also put these in areas we don't hunt.
    Here is the set-up. I also like using Lithium batteries if I can.....for some reason they seem to be harder and harder to find. They are more expensive, but they seem to last a lot longer for me, which is real important in cold weather.
    SW mineral.jpg

    I had up to 4 does and fawns at the site at one time. The fawns still had spots! This is the lone buck - I also like using the video setting. The mineral has only been out for about a month - I didn't have it out while the logging was going on. I figure it will get better the longer it's out. I had one here last year - you can see the hole just to the left edge of the pic from that one. These blocks will last roughly 6 months for me.
    SW july buck.jpg
     
    Worm likes this.
  18. OkieKubota

    OkieKubota Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
    Northeastern Oklahoma
    J-bird, I have read your postings over on QDMA about your hunting and the challenges but now I can see what you were working with. Thanks for posting it.
     
  19. jlane35

    jlane35 Member

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    Location:
    NEPA
    Awesome, I love seeing what others are doing. Great work!
     
  20. ALwoodsman

    ALwoodsman Member

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    Location:
    North Alabama
    Great looking farm! Thanks for the detailed write up.
     

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