The "no plant" food plot

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by Native Hunter, Aug 15, 2019 at 4:40 PM.

  1. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    This is your thought for the day: In some places, what you kill is more important than what you plant.

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  2. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    Ya gonna have to ‘laborate a little for us uneducated heathens......
     
  3. Hoosierhunting

    Hoosierhunting Active Member

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    Jewel weed, wild carrot, the list goes on. I have to be honest with myself and admit that it’s my love of playing farmer that I’m really indulging, the deer will be fine without my efforts. I on the other hand would be miserable.


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  4. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    What we are talking about here is setting back ecological succession in an area that has at least some (and maybe a lot) of very desirable pioneering plant species that deer have a preference for. In other words, killing the undesirable climaxing species by mechanical means and/or spraying - and doing things to promote the plants you want to grow that are present in the seedbank, but being held back by other plants.

    In some places, this doesn't work very well. Plants you want to thrive don't exist in the seedbank and/or undesirable, aggressive, early successional plants (like dogfennel, horseweed, etc.) are about all that you will get. However, the place you see in the picture above is not a place like that, but one that works very well for my "ditch farming" technique. I will have a few undesirables to come up, but I can do drive by spraying and give the good plants the advantage they need to take over.

    What you see above is jewel weed, honeysuckle, tick trefoil, goldenrod, blackberry and several other desirable plants. These were not planted. They existed in the seedbank, and all I did was get rid of everything else that was holding them back. Once the initial work is done, I do a "drive by spot spraying" once a year to keep things going. By timing the maintenance based on germination times and other ecological factors, I can even control the mix of the desirable species while setting back the undesirable ones.

    Most of what you see is rough ground that I can't even drive a tractor over. I do the maintenance from the edges from a pickup truck and pole saw. Worthless ground becomes a deer feeding mecca with only a small amount of effort.

    Even though there is a huge corn field only 200 yards away from this, it is being eaten hard right now - especially the jewel weed. Other plants like goldenrod will be eaten later in the year. Their basal leaves are very desirable in the winter.

    Whatcha think now about hillbilly ditch farming????
     
  5. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Your deer will now wither away to nothing without you incessant endeavors to manipulate that land into a monoculture food plot with nothing but clover blooms as far as one can see.
    I didn't have time for pics at the farm today, but a new field I chose to. not mow this year was a zoo of birds bees and butterflies swarming the flowers by the hundreds. Monarchs included. I enjoyed it much more than my clover and chicory blooms in the adjacent plot. Great pic btw.
     
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  6. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    And how can you not love something with a name like Queen Ann’s Lace?? I’m managing more fields in fallow mode than my planted plots. Ragweed chicory dandelions pigweed pokeweed beggars lice blackberry greenbrier just to name a few deer love to munch on. Not counting an influx of native grasses. And I dont do much but mow every few years. God Bless America.
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  7. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Looking good dogghr. Below are some more pics. First is another spot in the ditch plot, and the next three are the NWSG fields coming up to them.

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  8. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    ^^^^^ Surreal.
     
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  9. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    Well, I think if you say it, then I believe it. First, I would have to know what all those species are and the only ones I recognized were blackberry and honeysuckle. Probably I’ve never seen the others. I try not to mow blackberry, honeysuckle, ragweed, or American beautyberry unless it’s in a trail or road but I’m extremely limited in open spaces for native plants to grow. I’m basically woods or plots, but I can see how fallow fields or other areas can be beneficial to all kinds of wildlife. After all, that’s all they had at some point in time and they survived.
     
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  10. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Jewelweed is a rule breaker where I've seen big stands of it. Deer don't browse it, they all out graze on it.
     
  11. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    Before I started working at that spot it was a mess of sycamore, maple, fescue and other useless junk. I could only see enough jewelweed to know that it existed in the seedbank. Now that the initial work has been done, it is easy to maintain - takes very little effort. If you look in the picture below, you can still see some of the stumps. At another waste spot I'm letting shrubs like elderberry become the dominant species rather than weeds.

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  12. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    One of my best bow spots ever was a stand of Jewel Weed growing naturally in fairly open timber in a wet spot about 100 yards from a forty acre alfalfa field. The deer would show up about 3 pm and after feeding on the Jewel Weed would simply bed down right in front of me until dark before moving on into the alfalfa. It was a great pre-rut stand that provided a huge amount of action over the years and was as good or better than any planted food plot early in the season.
     
  13. F12Mahon

    F12Mahon Member

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    I don't like queen annes lace. Invasive like wild parsnip. I've never seen deer eat goldenrod. I have 10 acres almost overrun with the stuff. Don't have a way to mow it so I pulled a drag over it to try to knock it back a little.

    I remember a picture some time back with a view of many colors of flowers blooming. I think the shed above was in it to. Thanks for helping narrow the search! It was a planted field so it must have been a different view. Or I misremember what I saw.

    The pictures above are beautiful.
     
  14. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    You have a good memory. Yes, i remember that picture. It was a view of the shed from a different angle. It had some planted species mixed in with some native species and was very colorful. Along with some of the species seen above there was some red clover, chicory, partridge pea and maybe some tickseed sunflower.

    PS: The basal leaves of goldenrod will be eaten late in the year by deer and rabbits, but it isn’t a highly valuable food species. I like it in NWSG fields because it makes good cover and the bees use it. In the ditch farming I like a little for the diversity but will knock it back some if it gets too strong. When I do knock it back, the jewelweed is usually what replaces it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019 at 6:56 AM
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  15. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    That’s good information Dave.

    PS: that tall apple tree near the center of that first picture above is one of those I grafted from your scions two years ago. I noticed earlier this year that it had around 5 apples. I forgot to look and see if they were still hanging.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019 at 6:06 AM
  16. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Queen Anns Lace aka wild carrot can be invasive. But if manage for native grass and herbaceous plants it becomes self limiting. It’s taproot mines nutrients and moisture from poor soils allowing eventual transition to more deer friendly plants.
    Like dandeline, it’s flower and roots work great in salad.
    Nothing in my world is more invasive than monoculture fescue so I take the variety.
    Goldenrod if mowed late summer will not come back for years. And like you I’ve never seen deer eat mine despite managing it for my screenings. Maybe I have too much too notice.


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  17. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    Goldenrod fields are a great place to find does bedded during the intense part of the chase phase of the rut.
    Does lay in it and hold tight like rabbits. They won't get up unless a buck almost steps on them.
    Bucks run does to the point that the does are completely exhausted. Bucks can smell that does are in goldenrod but the important part is that they can't SEE them. Bucks need to work the field like a pheasant dog which gives the does some precious time to rest.
    Lots of guys think they need to hunt the woods, but overgrown fields get a ton of deer activity during the chase phase.

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  18. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    And it has standing power. When the other grasses start going down around me, golden rod stands for a while longer.
     
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  19. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I've seen those chases many times from my tower blind, which sets in the middle of an NWSG field. At that time of year, there is no better cover.
     
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  20. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    You bring up a point that many people overlook. A good field needs to be able to "stand" though the harsh winters to keep providing cover. Lickcreek talked about this a lot in his threads. He showed pictures of some grasses that were flat by early fall. All of my NWSGs stand good except for Big Bluestem. However, it will stand really well at least through the end of our hunting season. When it does go down, I have enough other species mixed in that it will lodge and not be flattened. Switchgrass probably stands the best, and the variety of Indian Grass that I have does too.
     

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