SAFE ZONES, FOOD PLOTS, AND TRAVEL PATTERNS
So many questions go through our minds prior to planting food plots that it can sometimes be confusing. What do I plant? Where do I plant? Which tree or trees will I hunt out of? Can I bring more deer to my property by planting food plots? Let’s take a look at the BIG picture and hopefully answer all of these questions.
If you take one thing from this article be aware that you need to establish a SAFE ZONE to have consistent deer travel patterns. Safe zones should be thick, gnarly, and nasty. Clear cuts, old overgrown brushy fields, pine thickets, and large hilltops are the best. Keep safe zones as sacred ground and only enter these places for 2 reasons. 1) Enter when blood trailing a wounded animal. 2) Enter when searching for a lost hunter. These are the only reasons other than a onetime shed hunting trip. If you have a group of hunters on a good piece of property set-up a meeting and come to an agreement on a safe zone. All hunters will benefit from natural deer movement.
Once your safe zone has been established you can change travel patterns in a short period of time. Plant small tasty food plots and established quality mineral sites near the fringes of your safe zone. Put enough distance between food plots that they cannot be seen from one to the next. This will cause cruising rut crazed bucks to visit each location or at least circle downwind in search of estrous does during the rut. Once the local crop fields are picked deer will become food plot hogs. By planting highly attractive and highly nutritious food plots and keeping mineral sites active you really put the odds of harvesting a whitetail in your favor. Once the guns start cracking and deer drives get started your safe zones will attract more deer than you can imagine. Outside hunting pressure will now work to your advantage. Deer will rely heavily on your food plots for survival.
Plant high quality seed blends and maintain mineral sites for year round nutrition and attraction. Put your food plots on a maintenance schedule. Frost seeding and fertilizing every spring will greatly increase forage and food plot longevity. Mowing or brush hogging 2-3 times a year reduces weed intrusion. Liming will keep acid levels down and make forage more attractive. Fertilizing will increase tonnage and help resist heavy grazing pressure. Mineral sites should be resupplied every 60-90 days. All of this work must be done without disturbing your safe zones.
Shot responsibility. you have spent hours of planning and sweating over the placement and establishment of your food plot system, and you have strategically placed all of your tree stands. Now your responsibility shifts to proper shot placement. You must always know your effective range. Place a stick, rock, or a wire growth cage at 30 yards for a reference point. The worst thing you can do now is make a marginal shot. As soon as the deer is hit he/she will retreat on a bee line straight to the safe zone. Recovery may require you to cover every square inch of the safe zone. In retrospect a perfectly placed fatal shot put the animal down 50-60 yards away and recovery will require minimal safe zone disturbance.
Bob Duncan and his staff are currently testing a couple new products. Bob has been testing the INVITE Rack X-ploder plus with sugar beets to ensure fertilizer requirements, Ph levels, and growth rates. Also in testing is the new INVITE FAT RAX mineral. Last report from Ben Rising of Wolf Creek Outfitters the deer were uprooting stumps and digging deep holes to get this stuff. For land evaluation, technical support or to place and order contact Bob Duncan Sr., 330-889-2087 . INVITE X-TREAM WILDLIFE SYSTEMS.
BY: Brian Woods, Pro-Staff/Field Operations