Big bucks in food plots Q

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Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Mike » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:50 am

If you have seen or killed a big buck in a food plot/crop field:
What kind of plot was it?
How big was the plot and what shape?
What time of year was it?
What kind of terrain were you in?

Add any other details you think are important.


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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Black Squirrel » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:18 am

I killed my largest buck in a crop field. It was Oct. 14th. He was in a 25 acre bean field, and came out of a corn field in the evening. I was on the fence row between the fields.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby dan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:37 am

My best sightings of mature bucks in daylight in plots or fields have been at 3 distinct times.
Early to mid September
Rut
Late season

The best, and most predictable have been in late season. Corn has produced the most daylight "field" sightings...

The less pressure, and /or best managed properties seem to be more likely to have plot use in daylight... Some of it seems regional to me also... Like in very open areas in Iowa, Illinois and similar states I often see daylight field use as common.
I also think it has to do with population... Higher population properties seem to have more daylight use... I am not sure why, I had a discussion with Andrae recently after he said the same thing and he seems to think the younger deer moving around in high population areas gets the older ones feeling safer...
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby gjs4 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:46 am

aside from a couple tailing does.....summer time in beans, lablab, corn.... many claim they love hidey hole strips in the woods...i do not have any to sauy either way

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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Stanley » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:08 am

It is so had to tell when bucks are in standing corn. Bean fields is a different story. I see a lot of activity when beans are green such as right now. When the beans turn brown they seam to not be in them as much. Then when the beans are combined they are back in them again. I don't over food plots but I know guys that do and are very successful.
You can fool some of the bucks, all of the time, and fool all of the bucks, some of the time, however you certainly can't fool all of the bucks, all of the time.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Mike » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:36 am

I'm trying to get a feel if others on here are having the same experiences as me, as mentioned you can read about how bucks supposed like small hidden plots because of more safety etc but I zero trail camera pics of big guys on these plots early season, they seem to stick to bigger areas.

A friend of mine has a really small ~8 acre metro parcel and has one little 0.25-0.5 acre food plot on it. It gets hammered by does day and night and some small bucks, but he doesn't get any pics of bigger bucks until around oct 20 or so. Knowing this he has stayed out of there until that time and killed 2 nice bucks 2 years in a row.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby dan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:58 am

Mike,
My biggest problem with plots is that the daytime in season hits seem random and somewhat unpredictable. Mature bucks seem to know its a trap to enter any opening... Yea, they do it on occasion, but I don't like to set my goals on luck. I think putting the majority of food sources in a way to funnel the buck thru a place where you can kill him in daylight predictably would be a smarter option. I do think there are situations where small plots can work, especially if your set up does not ever place you walking in the plot, or on the deer trails.
I am working on a clients land right now who is older and has some issues with hunting mobile, I am putting small plots right in or very near to the bucks bedding area. In some of the cases the deer can see the plot from his bed. But the hunter is blocked from view and I have a mapped out plan for him to get to his stand. I blocked the stand from the plot with a pile of brush acting like a fence. even if the deer comes in from the other side, I don't think that stand will be associated with the plot... Time will tell as far as how effective it is, and what ages of bucks fall for it...
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Mike » Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:55 am

I don't know if it will work on my property but I think it happens enough to where its worth researching. The guys we buy our some of our seed from kill 3 monsters every year the first week of bow season, I will hopefully be checking out their setups and picking their brain on their tactics next spring.

I feel like I've been trying to do what you are doing in some of my areas but so far it hasn't worked out like I thought it would.

I'm trying to gather as much info as I can about food plot setups that produce early and see if there is a way I can mimic it on my land. I started thinking more about it after reading the nosejammer guy John Redmonds blog. Regardless of the product he produces some great bucks and what he said seems to fall in line with what I have observed over the years.

He wrote:
Deer have a certain comfort level; understanding what they are willing to put up with is an important factor in shooting big bucks. As I have improved the habitat at Fairchase Outfitters over the years I have learned what works for me and what doesn’t through trial and error. When I first started designing interior food plots I began with small plots and I would pile the timber from clearing around the plot so the deer had to enter from only two or three areas. I thought bottleneck entries and small plots would ensure the hunter would be able to shoot any deer that entered the plot. I was right, the deer did enter through those spots like clock work, the problem was that only a few does and fawns would feed in the plots during daylight hours, never any big bucks.

Hunting my new interior food plots, that I had spent so much time creating, was disappointing to say the least. I ran into the same issues with my exterior bow plots, they were too small and didn’t have enough drawing power to support the kind of hunting I was dreaming of, the kind of hunting I knew we had the potential of producing. The problem I learned was that I was hedging the odds too greatly in my favor. Each time I put in a small plot, I thought we really got em now, and the bucks would serve up yet another batch of humble pie. After 10 years of trial and error my approach is very different, and we are getting more shots at the biggest bucks on the property.

In 2011 we had our best year yet and the reasons are now very clear to me; there are a few strategies I now use when I am bow plotting inside or outside the woods. The first strategy is to keep interior plots easy for deer to access, don’t block any entrance. The second strategy is to make your plots big enough so you can’t shoot across them; if you can shoot across them they are too small. In order to get bucks within shooting range on a large plot, I will put a water hole in. Even if water is prevalent in the area deer will use the water hole, it’s a matter of convenience.

Big bucks feel much safer in a large plot because they have enough room to use their defenses. Think about this, if deer feed in a plot the size of your garage, they don’t have time to react to an attack. Small plots also leave deer competing for a limited amount of food; this keeps most of them out of the plot looking elsewhere for food. As I made my plots bigger, more does and bigger bucks began using them on a daily basis. More food, more deer, and more shot opportunities at the biggest bucks on the property! It has taken years but we have been able to change the habitat at Fairchase, mostly through trial and error, so much that we have increased the properties ability to hold monster bucks while increasing our shot opportunities on those big bucks simultaneously!


Another blip about it:

For as good as that is for keeping the desirable bucks on a property, food plot strategies can also be a great aide. Take the long, windy ridge top I was set up on to begin this article. With wooded side hills dropping off to crop fields on both sides, the open top ranges from 100 to 200 yards wide. I strategically placed four, 1- to 3-acre food plots along its half mile length.

This approach allows the ridge to comfortably hold more mature bucks. During the non-rutting portions of the season, bucks travel very little. With the rest of the top being in native grasses, the bucks couldn't see from one food plot to the next. Even though the plots were within easy walking distance of each other, it was rare for the same buck to show up on scouting cameras in more than one food plot.

That same approach worked well on my 200-acre lease. There, I created a string of three plots, ranging from 1/2 to 1.5 acres in size. Because of the way the land laid, they were set up in a line, approximately 100 yards from the field edge, and spaced less than 50 yards apart. In this case, the thick underbrush created privacy fences between them.

Because of their proximity to each other, it was more common to get the same mature bucks pictures on an outside and the center plot. Interestingly, not once did I get the same buck on all three plots, until late October rolled around. The result was two mature buck's being able to share the 200-acre lease, with their only real overlap occurring on the center food plot. As stated earlier, the exception was during the rut.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby dan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:10 pm

Mike,
I think his results might have worked on his land... I don't think that means it will work every where. Where I have hunted in most of Wisconsin, getting a mature buck to enter a "big" plot is a lot harder than a small one... I wonder if he is seeing better results cause his management is maturing rather than the way he is now putting out plots... Andrea has very large plots and sees a lot of big bucks on those plots, but they hit the smaller plots there too... and the oldest bucks are usually killed in the woods on there way to the plots.
There is nothing wrong with kill plots, but I think you would be way better off to put the food farther back forcing them to stage and then travel to the plots and catch them close to the bedding when they stage...
I also think most hunters put so much work into there plots that they tend to feel they need to hunt them. Its really hard to get across to a guy that puts a grand or two into a few plots that he should only hunt them a few times a year, or not hunt them at all... But I think that could generate better results if played correctly.
My perfect plot would have a year round variety of foods and be in a hub on the top center of a ridge with bedding points coming off in a few locations. The food, coupled with water would draw the deer upward where wind is more predictable, making hunting better. Hindge cuts would be on the elevation line of the thermal tunnel around the points to cover multiple winds. Cutting would be done above the hinging to thicken and promote daylight travel and staging to a position where the bucks are shootable within close range of the bedding area. Shooting positions would be where the point edge meets the ravine causing a saddle crossing, or close to it. One on each side. I would hunt each of these spots no more than 4 times in on4e season, and I think 4 is really pushing it.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby fredhill » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:47 pm

although i don't hunt plots much if at all anymore, i never had much luck with small plots either. it was kinda like an African water hole on a Nat Geo documentary. any water hole that had thick brush around it close to the edge of the water made the animals hyper nervous because they knew lions/leopards were in the brush waiting. they like to be able to use their all their defenses and a wide open area allows this.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:07 pm

Mike wrote:...A friend of mine has a really small ~8 acre metro parcel and has one little 0.25-0.5 acre food plot on it. It gets hammered by does day and night and some small bucks, but he doesn't get any pics of bigger bucks until around oct 20 or so. Knowing this he has stayed out of there until that time and killed 2 nice bucks 2 years in a row.

That's big for an early season kill plot IMO. 1/20 acre or less is more like it. You just want it big enough to give a deer something to snack on, not feed him, before he goes out to the diner or "destination plot". Whether that be a large food plot, alfalfa field, oak flat, etc. I think for mature bucks to feel comfortable using them during daylight the plot must be small enough not to attract a lot of activity from other deer which I think would make it more attractive to predators (and less attractive to the buck your after). It also needs to be near his bed. It depends on the pressure in your area as to how small you may have to go, but a ten yard by ten yard plot might not be to small in some situations such as near a bed that doesn't get used very often because it needs an unusual wind. Just make sure you have your soil fertility where it should be to keep your kill plot healthy and producing enough to keep him coming back to look for some munchies.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Mike » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:05 am

Slayer I read that a lot and have several small plots (down to 10ftx20ft) like that near bedding areas but I have never seen a big buck use them or got a picture of them there. The theory of it makes sense but when I go back over all our sightings over the years it doesn't seem to match up.

Have you seen big bucks using plots like that or gotten pics of them there early season?
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby Bucky » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:25 am

I found "cuts" through thick cover is better attack plan then hunting over food. Making a path of least resistance through thick cover allows buck to cruise through and past stand setups. Multiple pathes converging in one area (like a hub in the hills) is killer... plus if younger deer you don't want to kill come thru you just let them walk by... it is a path to a destination not the destination itself.
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:32 am

Mike wrote:Slayer I read that a lot and have several small plots (down to 10ftx20ft) like that near bedding areas but I have never seen a big buck use them or got a picture of them there. The theory of it makes sense but when I go back over all our sightings over the years it doesn't seem to match up.

Have you seen big bucks using plots like that or gotten pics of them there early season?

I have not owned land where I had woods with a mature buck bed near by to do this. I have used corn for a make shift bedding area where there was field on three sides of the field I owned and I had bucks up to 3.5 (that I know of) come out during good daylight. When I used a camera it spooked the deer so I quite using it. However, I used to do some habitat consulting back in the 90's. I told people to set up as close to the bedding area as possible and not on the plot itself, but they often couldn't help themselves. Several times they reported seeing mature bucks on those plots during daylight in early season, but after one sighting usually didn't see them on the plot again.

One of our Beast members has also seen and killed a 150" buck on a little kill plot. Here is part of his story from the big buck contest on the old BBO site.

kurt wrote:...As i head through the corn i decided to take a picture of the other food plot for DEERSLAYER, it was pretty close to where i was headed and the wind wouldn't blow in past it so what the heck. So as i quietly approached it i couldn't help but notice the deer sign. big tracks, fresh droppings all coming from the food plot. but in order to even see the food plot,to take pics, i had to climb up to a tree stand i setup for the landowner hes a gun hunter and he wanted a stand over each food plot as part of deal for letting us bowhunt and put the food plots in. It so thick at the base of the tree theirs no way to see the food plot even though its 12 yards away. I set my lone wolf and my bow down start climbing the tree, camera in my pocket. AS i poke my head up over the brush i see him, eating away. With his head down i contemplated what to do. I decided not to back out i had burned too much of my bridge but it hasn't quite burned out yet. With the huge leaves blocking his view with his head down and him facing away. i slowly got down and I tie my bow up and slowly make my way up. I still see him feeding and everytime his head was down i went up keeping the tree in between us as much as possible thank you green leaves and brush. It took 8 of the 13 feet to just to see him. So as i get to the stand i start to cringe this was no lone wolf, that was laying on the ground. i was suppose to walk around the food plot and hunt the tree leading to it like i show in the picture and had planned in spring. But that wasn't happening. My dad made this stand in High school , i did replace the wood to new 3/4treated ply before setting it up for the land owner. With his head down i slowly place my weight on the stand it took 3 times with his head up and down. it made alittle noise as just got on and he looked my way for a minute. As he started to feed again i leaned out to pull up my bow pull up rope he looked alittle nervous but he continued to feed.(whats in DEERSLAYERS seed holy crap). I pull up my bow fairly quickly and i grab the limb just as his head comes up and he stares at me leaning out. I close my eyes i figure the cat and mouse game was over. As i look up hes still their feeding. I grab my bow lean back into the cover of the tree. I get my arrow and release on and ready. I take a breathe and lean out with my bow drawn. Hes quartering away and looks up just as i release my arrow. it hits him alittle forward for quartering away and the arrow lodged into the opp. side shoulder. It almost rolls him he gets to his feet and out of sight he circle to the back of the food plot. Staggering with legs spread wide he walks towards the marsh as he does this i put another arrow and smoke one right down the middle of his back i figure it was good to do, with the other arrow still in him. He drops instantly a few kicks and Im holding my trophy...
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Re: Big bucks in food plots Q

Unread postby dan » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:47 am

I agree with Slayer... The food plot is not the place to kill mature bucks... If you make bigger plots, your likely still not going to have much daylight activity from mature bucks... Gotta hunt them where they live and move in daylight, near there bedding areas.


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