Planting Food Plots On a Budget | Simple, Effective Food Plot Methods
In recent years, the food plot industry has grown from a couple guys throwing some seed around the base of their stands into a multi-million dollar industry. Complete tractor and food plot implement lines and an endless number of “specialty” seed blends have been developed to accommodate the overwhelming desire of the modern hunter to find out what all the commotion is about these food plots. Having experienced better hunting and better bucks in areas managed with food plots, we know they work. The problem is, they aren’t cheap. The average food plot from scratch costs about $200 per acre. However, ever hunter should have the chance to benefit from food plots where they hunt. The poor man’s food plot is extremely effective at attracting big bucks during the season and is the best way to plant food plots on a budget.
At its core, a poor man’s food plot is a cheap way to have food plot success without the use of heavy equipment. Hand tools are your friends! A chainsaw may be the most valuable piece of equipment in your arsenal when it comes to the poor man’s food plot, followed closely by a backpack sprayer, hand seeder, and yard rake. While these food plots involve more sweat equity, they make location a non-issue.
So many great food plots don’t exist because you can’t get a tractor to them. Often, these are the best food plot locations as they are deep in the woods, often near bedding areas bucks will surely be cruising during the rut. Poor man’s food plots are the perfect solution for these unreachable locations, creating a sort of whitetail “mirage.”
Once you’ve decided on the right location for your poor man’s food plot, it’s time to put the work in. Clear the area of any shrubs or small trees with the chainsaw and either drag them out of the plot or make a pile in the center of it to be burned later. The choice to use prescribed fire is your own. We have found it to be extremely effective at clearing the plot of debris and add organic material back into the soil if used correctly. Never burn without firebreaks in place and the right equipment for keeping the fire under control.
Once you have cleared the plot either with fire or the yard rake, you need to ensure the soil conditions are satisfactory for growing your food plot. You can do this by taking a soil sample with a small garden shovel and sending it out to be tested or with a pH meter. Apply lime and fertilizer at the amount recommended to prepare your soil for planting. There are also alternatives to lime that work faster and may work better for the poor man’s food plotter. Whichever method you choose, ensure your soil conditions are satisfactory before planting!
Clover is the crop of choice for poor man’s food plots for several reasons. It is shade tolerant, does well in slightly acidic conditions, and is extremely tolerant to whitetail browsing. To top it off, clover is a perennial, keeping your poor man’s food plot a hot spot for whitetail year after year. Clover blends give you the most bang for your buck, especially when your planting food plots on a budget. Put the seed down with a hand seeder and rough up the soil with your yard rake. The first rain will cover the seed just enough for good seed to soil contact and you’re off to the races.
Don’t get intimidated by the use of big tractors and fancy implements. Deer hunting is supposed to be simple and fun. Planting food plots on a budget is easier than you think. Get your hands dirty making the best food plot there is, a poor man food plot.