Late winter and early spring is a great time to get onto your hunting grounds with ideas for improvements. For me, it is always the best time to hang new stands and trim out old spots…move that stand you’ve been wanting to move and scout for new areas to exploit. This past weekend my son Forest, good friend Anthony, and I spent some time working on my farm in southern Iowa. Here’s what we did and why…
The first order of business was to locate and hang a stand for a hunter that is coming in next year who is not the most comfortable with heights. When the “broken toe” interior plot was in its design phase, this tree was picked out before we ever started the plot. The tree, although smaller than we would normally like, was on the SE corner of the proposed plot and will have good cover in the fall from the leaves. It is a shingle oak. If the deer follow our script, they should be upwind of the stand and offer good across the body shooting for a right handed archer. Our plan was for a medium high ladder stand.
We decided on a 17′ ladder stand that has a full bottom and is wider than average….this should help the hunter feel more secure. We hung red pine (also called Norway pine) branches and some army surplus netting behind and around the stand for cover. We use red pine because we have found that even when the needles turn brown they will not fall off, sometimes staying on and lasting for years. We haven’t found this to be true with cedar, spruce, juniper, or other pines.
A hunter with some basic camo on should blend in well into this stand. I think it is important to have a good background of cover in your stand. In the fall this stand will really blend in when you add the long lasting leaves of the shingle oak!
Here’s Forest and Anthony planting one of 6 apple trees. We went with late apple varieties for October and into November hunting. We planted 4 trees together in one area to supplement an exterior food plot and the remaining 2 went in by the “broken toe” interior plot. We fenced them off so that the deer won’t eat them clean for the first few years.
Here’s Anthony and Forest putting the finishing touches on the fencing around one of the apple trees at the “broken toe”.
I wanted to take this picture and share some thoughts on preparing interior plots. I have found that the first year you create an interior plot it is likely to have weed and vegetation issues. The best way I have found to battle this and win is to bust up the soil in the spring of the first year….this stimulates growth of weeds and things like regenerating brush and briars. This is good, because then I hit the plot hard with a non-selective herbicide like glysophate mixed with 2,4-D. Glysophate is the active ingredient in roundup and 2,4-D is a broadleaf herbicide. This kills off this growth and prepares the plot for a good fall annual on the first year. Plant green food in these plots like clover, rye, oats, or brassicas.
I went with a two row system of electric fencing. The outside row is one, two, or three strands of wire at 16, 24, and 35 inches. The inside row is about 30 inches away at 16, 35, and 72 inches. The idea is that deer will see a 3-d obstacle…not wanting to jump two layers of fence they will crawl through and get shocked.
Here’s Forest putting the finishing touches on the fence. On this plot we went with 3 shorter outside wires and 3 wires on the inside more spread out and taller. With other preferred sources of food available, this electric fencing should allow me to save and later “release” this plot.
The last thing we did is new for us. I have a strong opinion that soybeans are one of the most attractive plots you can plant. And in the past having them last into late November was always good enough when my winter rye and brassicas would then take over as the winter plots. Now, I am trying to extend the length these beans will be available for hunting by electric fencing them off and then releasing them later in the season. The thought is that during the spring, summer, and early fall there is plenty of other food available both naturally, on farm fields, and on my other plots. I am just saving these beans so that they will be available later in the year after the fall harvest. I am kind of forcing the deer to be smarter on what they eat and when they eat it. Like I said…this is new for us but I believe this will work in allowing me to better manage my food plots for the deer. When I want the beans to be available for the deer, I will simply remove the fence or pull it down and remove the electric charger to let the deer in.
This is one of those things that if it doesn’t work I will feel kind of silly…but it won’t be the first time that has happened!!! I will report on this later this year with results.