Well-Designed Food Plots | Irregular Shapes Equals Success
No matter what game species you prefer to hunt, its habitat and health can greatly benefit from well-designed food plots. This is not a new discovery. There are more food plot seed varieties available than ever before. Between determining what we need to plant to best suit our land management needs, spraying, mowing, and fertilizing, it is easy for a few things to slip through the cracks. Here is what you should know about designing ideal food plots.
When it comes to designing food plots, there is one word to keep in mind. Irregularity! Most game animals are edge species. There is no greater example than the whitetail deer. Luckily, what benefits the whitetail, also benefits a plethora of other game species. Have you ever noticed wildlife working the edge of a crop field? These are common areas for turkey strutting zones and deer scrape sites. As it turns out, the more irregular the field edge is, the more secure a deer, or any other animal, will feel using that area. There is no denying the fact that irregular shaped food plots with winding edges, will create areas that wildlife feel safer using.
This is not unique to field edges. An edge can be defined as anywhere where two habitat types meet. An example of this is a young stand of pines adjacent to mature hardwoods, creating an edge. Many times logging paths are used at food plots. It’s no surprise that the winding and twisting paths provide more security than the straight away roads. Of course, it’s tougher to hunt these curving roads, but that’s why wildlife use them regularly. Plus, this is where scouting comes into play. So what does this mean? It means even if you are planting food plots within a timbered area, it is still important to create a curvature or “soft” irregular edge to promote wildlife activity.
The best way to do this is to ensure when designing areas to plant you do not cut vegetation in straight lines. This will result in an undesirable hard edge. When clearing brush, be sure to cut back and forth in a zig-zag pattern and round off the edges of the plot. Envision an opening in the forest. If it were a natural opening, it would not have abnormally straight edges. You want your food plots to look as natural as possible, and irregular edges are the key.
On the other hand, some plots have straight edges and that’s all you have to work with, such as crop fields. In this case you can rely on a number of forages designed specifically for this. These forages are designed to be planted around the perimeter of the food plots and typically grow higher than the primary vegetation in the plot. This will allow wildlife to ease their way into the plot. This creates a more comfortable environment because they have a transitional area between the timber and the openness of the food plots. This is where many wildlife species will check their surroundings before entering to feed.
By creating a plot that wildlife feels comfortable using, you will increase your odds of success, along with the benefit the wildlife will gain from using natural, well designed food plots.