Lakers 80 Acre Adventure


Active Member
Hello everyone. I'm brand new here. I've spent the last week devouring thread after interesting thread here. I live in the Minneapolis area, and have a 80 acre property North of Cook MN, about half way to Orr MN and West a ways. There is private property on either side of mine, and many acres of public land bordering me to the North that looks pretty tough to access without crossing private property or miles of forest and swamp. I closed on the property in November of 2016 so I've just had it for over 1 year now. I've done some work.

My short-term goal is not massive trophy deer. Rather, it's just to reliably see deer and other wildlife, and shoot a couple for meat every year. I want to improve the habitat for deer specifically, but also for all wildlife in general.

Removed the old mouse house mobile home, the stench was amazing.
Added about 10 truck loads of gravel to area that had the mobile home for a reliably dry parking area.
Placed a 40' shipping container there for storage.
Started the process of clearing access trails along the edges of my property with a chainsaw and brush hog. This was a chore. I've got one in most of the way, another about half complete. But it'll be a work in progress.

The main access the previous owners used was a long North / South winding trail that ran the length of the property, roughly 1/3 of the way from the East Border. It appears to me they used this trail for access as well as stand locations. I believe they shot some deer. But, I think we can do better.

I hired a guy to open this trail up to an average of 50' wide and run it nearly the length of my property with a forestry mulcher. It's pretty wet up there, so he couldn't get the work done until late July. Here's what it looked like right after clearing. This is looking South, and is just a part of the plot. It's 2 acres total. This long skinny opening is the only real open area on my property, which was logged about 15 years ago. There are hay fields to my East and South.

Plot before planting.jpeg

Without benefit of a soil sample, and wanting to just get something green in for rifle season, I spread 300lbs /acre 19-19-19 and 150lbs/acre WR first week of August, then top dressed twice with WR about 100lbs/acre each time, finishing up the second or third week of September. The exact dates elude me. We got good, regular rain.

Here's what it looked like at the end of October, looking North this time. I asked my neighbor to check it out for me and he took these pictures and sent them over.


I walked the edge (ish) of the plot with my GPS track turned on and superimposed it on this snip from google images.
Laker Plot Outline.JPG

From trail camera pictures, identified two doe family groups using in the late Summer and early Fall. couple small bucks showed up on cameras in late October. That's it. I'm not surprised because last Winter there was nearly zero sign, nor tracks in the snow. I've got my work cut out for me and I'm OK with that.

Only a couple of us hunt the property. We managed to shoot one small buck for the freezer this year, and left the couple does we saw over and over alone. We never set foot on the plot, but we did hunt it. We have a box blind on the South end set back in the woods a ways, and a ground blind on the NE end in back in the woods. Both have sparse shooting lanes to the plot and access is solid. We only hunted them with perfect winds. As we learn about the property and how the deer use it, we'll put more stand locations in off the plot near travel corridors. We got a thick layer of ice then a few inches of snow before the season started and from then on we didn't see a lot on the trail cameras, even before we showed up to hunt....
On the last day of the season I was able to pry enough dirt out from a few locations on in the plot to send off for a test. Here are the results.

Laker Plot Soil Sample.JPG

It's clear to me PH and Phosphorus are low. I have no idea what type of weeds to expect in the Spring. I have a strong ATV, a pull behind spreader a DR walk behind mower, a 25 gallon sprayer and a chainsaw.

My plan was to spread pellet 600LB/acre lime ASAP in the Spring, and do it again with Fall planting. (I chose that number because I can only haul about 1,200LBs at a time on my small trailer, one trip. I'll skip a year then test the soil again. Aside from that I'm open to suggestions. I could use your advice.

Here is what I thought. If the weeds take over the plot come Spring, I'll drop lime and spray with gly at 2 quarts an acre+ AMS, then spray again a month or two later. Come fall, I'd drop another load of lime then plant something like a LC grains mix with appropriate fertilizer. (I'm not sure what appropriate fertilizer would be based on my soil test.) Drag it in and/or cultipack it if I have the equipment then. I have a feeling the weeds are going to be rough even if it's think with WR. I do not own a disc and really don't want to use one.

If there isn't a big weed problem, what would I do? Throw and mow the LC grain mix in August along with the appropriate fertilizer?

It's a 4.5 hour drive from my place so I can't just run up there on a whim.

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Welcome aboard. Like your approach. No suggestions now but will be following along. Do you have streams?
Thanks lakngulf. Yeah, a stream runs just the the West of my foodplot, up to the swampy area and through a culvert under the road that runs East/West on the South end the property. It is wet all year from what I've seen.
I should add that I have my eyes on a few areas on the property, to the West of my Plot, for improvements. I believe some chainsaw work to open up the canopy, then some mowing, will get natural browse going. These are spots with decent stands of Red Osier that I think I could get going if it got some sun and I eliminate some of the competition. Some of it is tall and thick. I feel I could propagate this by using live stakes.

Deer bed in tall native grass fields interspersed with evergreens to my West. And I believe the few deer I've seen are traveling from West to East in the evenings to feed a half mile or so away in a large (must be about 20 acre) field. In the evenings I've seen up to 20 deer in this field from the road. The guy that owns it has something planted in there. I haven't met him but when I do I'll ask.

I thought of my long skinny plot as something deer might use in the daytime, or at least stop off in during daylight on their way to eat in the giant plot to my East. Anyway, that's just me thinking. Maybe it'll work out, maybe it won't.
Thanks Okie. That makes sense. My property is almost like a zoo. Here are some trail camera pictures from this Summer. I've got some wolf pictures too, plenty of them.


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Here's a larger look. The green X is the neighbor's food plot which looks like the destination to me. I'll never be able to clear that much land and plant as much as they do. But he sure does draw the deer.

thebigpicture (2).jpg
Welcome to the forum group Laker. Wow zone 3A is really the deep freeze. I had a bulldozer carve out some road like plots similar to yours early in spring three years ago. Weeds came in slowly that summer, we sprayed them with roundup and planted rye, chicory and four varieties of white clover around Aug. 20 (zone 4b). The clover was thin that fall but now it is thick as ever and has plenty of chicory in it. I mow it once a year to cut the weeds back around July 15. That gets most of the weeds when they are large but before they reseed.

At each of those locations I killed a section of clover and planted a grains mix this past summer. It has worked out well and become a regular stopping point for the deer. The grains are the real draw in the fall when the clover loses it's attractiveness here. Best of luck to you with your land adventure Laker. I look forward to following your thread.
Welcome to the forum. There is a wealth of knowledge on this forum and great people conveying it.
Enjoy the adventure.