By: Weston closet
Winter is a tough pill for those of us who love to turn the dirt on. But hopefully some of your passion for planting forage plots has evolved into other aspects of game management such as: B. improving timber stocks, hunting coyotes or capturing wildlife cameras. I know these things keep me busy in the off-season months. However, as we near March, I can't help but get back to meal planning. The most relevant thought that comes to mind in this time frame is my shamrocks. Late winter is the time to rejuvenate or establish clover feeding areas by frost seed. If you've never tried your hand at frost seeding forage plantations, then you'll be delighted because the process is simple, effective and will save you time and money!
Frost seed is a key item on my to-do list for the 2019 season. The 2018 hunting season had proved to me the concept of micro clover plots, kill plots, or "hide hole" food plots... whatever terminology you use always prefer. It has also boosted my confidence in clover as a food type over other more expensive options!Photo: Frost seeding requires minimal equipment, often just seed or the optional hand spreader.
Basics of frost seeding of food plots
Before we delve too far into strategy, let's cover the basics of why and how to seed a forage field with frost. Frost seed, sometimes referred to as snow seed, allows you to take advantage of the thaw, freeze, and thaw cycle that occurs in late winter and early spring. The last few hard frost touches or the last 1 to 2 inches of snowfall in February or March create perfect opportunities to set up a feeding station. The uptake and settling of soil as it freezes and thaws can act essentially like a disc or auger, placing a small seed between soil particles. It also happens that seeds are produced in a good amount of soil moisture even before the onset of spring rains. Because of this activity, frost seed is also great for thickening existing forage plots or even pads for hay or pasture, as it gives the seeds time to settle.Photo: The uptake and settling of soil as it freezes and thaws can act essentially like a disc or auger, placing a small seed between soil particles.
By nature, frost sowing is only possible with the smallest of seeds and requires an aggressive species to drive out the spring weeds, once established. Taking these qualities into account, frost seed is ideal for planting clover plots. Clover happens to be the little out of the way killer plot king. Clover can tolerate shade, is easy to establish, can be beaten by grazing and, most importantly, provides enough nutrients to make a very attractive foraging plot. It provides protein in spring and can provide green forage in October and even warm weather spells in November and December.
Little to no equipment is required for frost seeding considering the space for a plot is cleared a bit unless you seed too much into the existing vegetation. The amount of preparation or maintenance depends on the location, especially when it comes to spraying herbicides to keep weeds at bay when the clover emerges through already dense weeds and brush. Given a decently prepared site, all you need is your seeds, even a broadcast seed box is optional. It is also important to note proper seeding rates for establishing clover food plots. Typically, especially with frost seed, I send heavier than the mix or clover seed bag would suggest. This helps germination and in my opinion allows the clover to form a thicker canopy sooner than lighter rates. This can save valuable soil moisture in the summer and helps control weeds!Photo: Frost seed can also be called snow seed. The snow acts as a disc or drag and settles the seed in the soil.
Now that you understand the when, how and why behind frostseed forage plots, the next step is to determine where you might plant a plot. The clover field that set the stage for my 2018 hunting season happened to be one of the best examples I've seen of sowing a food field with frost seed.
The strategy where to sow a food patch with frost
2018 brought an uphill hunt as several of the top chart bucks I had my eye on were killed or went MIA in October. I had also lost hunting rights on one of the properties that had been one of the better adult buck producers in my immediate area. Despite these setbacks, I have been fortunate to benefit from a 2 year old plot of clover asserting itself on a property I had previously neglected. Little did I know that this weedy and battered patch of clover would become the focal point of my 2018 hunting season.
Photo: The feeding area outlined in green uses an already existing collection point between pine trees, hardwood and a field edge.
The property happened to be nestled in a stand of white pine that the property owner had planted between a ridge and the farm's buildable area. This habitat edge had been enhanced by an oak plantation that met the pines over a sinkhole nicknamed "junkyard". This was called a junkyard for the obvious reason that every sinkhole in the Midwest had sooner or later been a farm's personal dumping ground. This improved marginal habitat was then complemented by a south facing ridgeline and more than 20 hectares of row crops.
Given where the roe deer bed and its travel routes to areas of "tall feral growth" were dictated by bean scouting the previous year, a small opening in the pines was an obvious opportunity for a kill area.
With an ideal location determined, it was time to test the theory by going through the logistics of hunting on the property. With a stand between the ridge and the plot and access covered by standing corn, the plot would provide an ideal trap for any hit-list buck that calls the surrounding stray areas home. In case the field is planted with beans, I could use the terrain to sneak into the lot with a little less cover and more risk... but it might work. Taking thermals into account, the plot could be hunted both in the evening and in the morning based on the movement of the deer as the thermals would carry the wind over or under the plot.Photo: The clover patch (marked with an apple food source icon) represents a merging area between south-facing bedding areas and a larger bean or corn food source (mapped with HuntStand).
To keep an eye on the property, it happened to be the center of the property and, with the help of a mock scraper, an ideal place to survey which bucks were where on the property and when they were moving. With all of that in mind, we decided to lay the foundation. We created the plot without a soil sample and simply applied a½ Tomorrow PlotStart(The property is about ¼ acre so we had to apply about 2 tons of lime per acre) to increase the soil nutrients of the forage field. We came back for a cocktail several times in the first yearherbicides for food. This containedClethodim (Grass selective), 2-4-DB (Butyrac for deciduous trees), andPlotBoost. This strategy and ideal establishment, neglected the following year, resulted in a number one hit list pattern being found on the property.
Hunting strategies for clover plots
The buck below showed up in October and checked pseudo scratches throughout the property. Eventually, when the hunting pressures of the surrounding properties, including my own failed attempts, had focused him on being caught by only one camera, the shamrock.Photo: The target buck emerged, coming from one of the sunny, south-facing bedding areas that worked their way through the clover feeding area collection area to get to the larger corn fields on the property. One of the first and better daylight images of the buck was taken.
The wildlife camera information and numerous failed attempts to catch this buck on its feet lead me to believe that this buck could actually only be bedded 10 or 20 meters in the woods on the high side of the property and consequently caught my movements when I came in to hunt him down. Still focusing the hunt on the shamrock, I decided to line up on the other side of that peak, hoping to catch any off-property moves.
Late one afternoon after work, on my way to the stand, I caught him near the highest point in the standing corn. Pausing for the ridge line's thick blanket, he stopped in my corn row at 20 yards for a shot.Photo: Author Weston Wardrobe pictured with the target buck.
This goat had fallen victim to a shamrock. While he may not have fallen directly for feeding in the plot, the popularity of the plot among other bucks and deer, in addition to the communal scratching on the plot, had made it an irresistible gathering place through which to pass when in the area. While the final hunt might not have played out in the storyline, it was what brought the entire season together.Photo: The target buck, which was harvested less than 100 yards from the plot, lay on the clover forage plot just before being loaded into the pickup.
Final thoughts on Frostseed Clover food plots
If there's a strategic point, trying your hand at Frostseed food fields is a no-brainer in my opinion. Given the time, effort, and expense, you really can't afford not to use this food plotting method in some way. Just think about the logistics and basics of a good clover forage plot you want to hunt. It must fit in an area that deer already use as a gathering place between forage and bedding, access should be as bulletproof as possible, dominant winds and thermals should be safe for at least a morning or afternoon hunt, and space should complement all other strategies for foraging sites or wildlife habitats.
For my 2019 season, I plan to use the frost seeding method to monitor and compact the plot. I also plan to hit the herbicide and PlotBoost cocktail again. Thissmall clover feederand the like are becoming a critical part of my hunting strategy, and it just so happens that frost seed is one of the easiest ways to establish and maintain these plots.
Do you have a food plot question for us? Ask away here!
Small soybean food fields 101
What food plot attracts deer the most? ›
Deer love soybeans, but no single crop can meet all of a deer's year-round needs. Diversity is best, both in your food-plot options and in natural forages that occur outside food plots. Overall, this means that there is no magic crop that will always best meet your deer's needs throughout the year.Can you mix plot start with glyphosate? ›
Yes you can immediately spray PlotStart after a Round-up or Glyphosate application. We simply do not recommend mixing it in the same tank as the reaction could build pressure and blow hoses on the tank.What is the best fertilizer for food plots? ›
Use 13-13-13 fertilizer.
This general purpose, quick-release product gives an equal mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. We recommend the equivalent of 300 pounds per acre.
If you're dealing with soggy ground, Delano suggests looking to clover, a staple food source for deer and one of the most resilient crops in damp ground.What is irresistible to deer? ›
By far the most popular and widely used bait for attracting whitetails is corn. Not only is deer corn highly consumed and well received by whitetails in almost every habitat across the continent, but it's also one of the cheapest options for hunters.What is the number 1 deer attractant? ›
The Wildgame Innovations Acorn Rage deer attractant is our top pick for 2022 because it's the most popular and highly reviewed option on the market. The Acorn Rage pretty much guarantees deer will come to your stand, and it's something I can personally attest to.How long after spraying glyphosate can I plant food plot? ›
Wait 5-7 days after spraying Roundup before starting to till up the plots. How do I plant food plots? »Can I seed after spraying glyphosate? ›
You can safely sow ornamental flower seeds a day after spraying with glyphosate and grass and vegetable seeds, three days after, even though the herbicide takes up to seven days to destroy weeds. If you remove the dying weeds too soon, live roots could remain in the soil, ready to regrow.Can you fertilize and seed a food plot at the same time? ›
Applying fertilizer at the same time you seed your lawn is not a recommended idea. Many experts will tell you that doing so you could risk to destroy a large part of your lawn where the soil was heavily fertilized.What is the best liquid fertilizer for deer food plots? ›
BioLogic Liquid Plot Fertilizer Concentrate is a true liquid Nitrogen, Phosphorous, & Potassium fertilizer with added calcium for antler development and egg shell strength in turkeys. BioLogic Liquid Food Plot Fertilizers 6-12-6 analysis is ideal for most all food plot blends and wildlife plantings.
What is the fastest growing food plot for deer? ›
Autumn Quick Plot Seed is a fast growing blend of annuals and biennials formulated to be planted from late Summer to early Fall. It is one of our best food plot seed for deer in the Fall.How long after seeding can I fertilize? ›
At about 4 to 6 weeks after the seed germinates fertilize the lawn with a high quality turf fertilizer that is predominantly nitrogen. Once turf is 4 to 6 weeks old or older, nitrogen is the most important nutrient for a healthy, attractive stand of grass.Do deer prefer wheat or oats? ›
Oats definitely perform best and are most attractive to deer when the soil pH is 6.0 or greater and nutrient levels are maintained in the high range. Similar to other cereal grains, oats are very easy to establish and can either be broadcast or drilled into a prepared seed bed.What food plot grows best in poor soil? ›
The two seed varieties that have worked best for me have been annual rye and buckwheat. Both seed varieties are extremely tolerant to poor soils, both are known as great soil builders, and both are competitive with weed growth.What is the best food plot to plant in the woods? ›
The clear choice for many is white clover. With the ability to sprawl, grow great in shade, and take a beating from browsing deer, clover makes the ideal species for food plots in the woods.What smells do deer love? ›
Deer are attracted to the smell of soil as is, but if you want to up the attraction factor, pour some buck or doe urine, or scrape starter into it. This will create an exceptional trail camera site, as bucks will continue to check the scrape every time they pass by or are in the area.What is deer's favorite vegetable? ›
When food is scarce, deer eat just about anything, including prickly-stemmed okra and hot peppers. Vegetables that deer seem to prefer include beans, lettuce, cabbage, and cole crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.What attracts deer quickly? ›
From larger plots of forage soybeans covering 10 or more acres, to small parcels of broken tree canopy planted to brassica; various crops including corn, milo, turnips, peas, clover, and alfalfa will attract and keep deer. One of the surest ways to attract deer is through their stomach.
Deer will primarily eat browse (woody portion of leaves and stems), forbs (broad-leaved plants), mast (acorns, apples, etc), and grass. Although these are the main foods deer like to eat, the quantity of these different foods differ throughout the year and the region you are hunting.What liquids attract deer? ›
Liquid Instant Mineral Lick Deer Attractant. Buck Jam is a juicy gel-like mineral lick that is full of sweet fruit flavor and minerals. Deer are attracted instantly to the site, where they will begin licking and enjoying the minerals at once.
What attracts deer more than corn? ›
Peanut butter has physical properties that will help deer hang around in front of your trail cameras better than corn. It tends to leave a longer-lasting residue than corn, so whitetails stick around wherever you smear it.What should I spray before planting a food plot? ›
Commonly referred to by its original trade name Roundup, glyphosate is undoubtably the most commonly used when it comes to planting food plots.Should I spray Roundup before tilling? ›
In most situations, we recommend waiting 2 to 3 days after applying Roundup before performing tillage. If you are dealing with larger weeds and/or perennial and biennial weeds, you may want to consider waiting longer. If you are using paraquat (Gramoxone), tillage 1 day after application should suffice.Can you put plot start and plot boost in the same sprayer that had glyphosate? ›
PlotBoost can be directly mixed with a Glyphosate or round up application or any of your common food plot herbicides. When spraying clover mix PlotBoost with your herbicides to boost your clover and fight negative yield drags of possible herbicide damage. PlotStart cannot be mixed with herbicides in the same tank.How long does glyphosate stay in soil? ›
Glyphosate binds tightly to soil. It can persist in soil for up to 6 months depending on the climate and the type of soil it is in. Glyphosate is broken down by bacteria in the soil. Glyphosate is not likely to get into groundwater because it binds tightly to soil.How long after glyphosate can I plant seed? ›
Glyphosate has no soil activity and will therefore not affect seedlings when seeded even the same day of application. However, for maximum control of tough-to-control weeds with stolons or rhizomes, a 7 day delay is recommended before raking or aerification in order to translocate herbicide to the distant plant parts.Can you spray for weeds and seed at the same time? ›
Answer: Most broadleaf herbicides should not be sprayed on newly seeded turfgrass until after the area has been mowed twice. You can start mowing a newly seeded area once the yard has grown to three inches tall, and you can mow it at 2 to 2.5 inches height of cut.Should I fertilize first or seed first? ›
Do I apply the fertilizer before seeding or after? Apply the fertilizer before seeding. When is the best time to plant a new lawn? Spring and fall are the best times to plant a new lawn.Do you apply starter fertilizer before or after seeding? ›
Apply starter fertilizer before seeding or laying sod, or after you plant the new grass seed. You don't want to apply it directly to newly planted sod or burning can occur. Note: Wait six to eight weeks before applying another dose of balanced fertilizer to your grass after planting so it doesn't burn the grass.When should you spray food plots? ›
Spray when vegetation is 5 to 6 inches tall for the best results. This is a popular post-emergence option among food plotters. In fact, it's used so much that some genetically-modified food plot seeds, such as certain soybeans and corn, come “Roundup Ready,” meaning they're resistant to the chemical.
What is the highest protein to plant for deer? ›
Soybeans are arguably the king of deer feed. These offer 25 to 30% protein, a high carb count, and even provide two stages of food sources: green forage and dry grain.Is it better to use granular or liquid fertilizer? ›
✓ Liquid fertilizer typically shows results sooner than slow-release granular fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer is likely the better option if you need to green up your lawn quickly. ✓ Because liquid fertilizer provides nutrients right away, it's an ideal starter fertilizer for new lawns.How many deer will a 1 acre food plot support? ›
If we are an average food plotter who produces an average level of forages per acre (4000 lbs) you will be able to feed about 9 deer per acre. In areas with larger body weight deer you would feed less than that 9. In areas of the south with much smaller body weights you would be able to feed 11-12 deer per acre.What is the easiest crop to grow for deer? ›
Clover. Clover is by far one of the easiest food plot species to establish and maintain. It is one of the most popular species to throw into mixes, put into standalone plots, or throw it in around other larger food plots.What is the best thing to feed deer year round? ›
Oats, dried fruits, nuts, and especially walnuts are great choices for making your own deer feed. You can buy these items in bulk and mix them with your corn to improve the protein intake of your deer. Another great source of protein is beans – beans are a great way to help deer recover from the rut and winter months.What is the best year round food plot for deer? ›
Consider Perennial Crops
You plant this crop one time and, with management, it provides a green food plot on an almost year-round basis for five years or more. Crops that fit this category include Durana clover, Ladino clover, Alsike clover, red clover, and alfalfa.
Water new grass seed for 5 to 10 minutes immediately after planting to gently moisten the first several inches of soil.Should I water after seeding and fertilizing? ›
At Master Lawn, we typically say to wait 24 hours before watering your lawn after fertilizing. But it is important to make sure that it does receive a good watering session soon after that 24 hour waiting period. Watering helps the fertilizer to activate and to break down and begin feeding nutrients to the lawn.Should I water after seeding? ›
Step 1: Irrigate the soil daily, at least twice a day, but possibly more. Try not to let the soil completely dry out. If your seed is planted in bare soil, do not soak or flood your lawn. When watering a new lawn, use just enough water to keep the soil moist at seed depth.What is a deer's favorite forage? ›
As a general rule, deer need browse, prefer forbs, and relish mast. They “need” browse because it is the most stable forage supply due to its relative independence from rainfall. Deer “prefer” forbs because they generally are more palatable and higher in protein than browse.
What is deer's favorite grass? ›
The grasses which they prefer (a maximum of nine percent of their diet) are rescue grass, wintergrass, witchgrass, panic grasses, sedges, and rushes, as well as wild and cultivated rye, oats, and wheat. White-tailed deer prefer forbs when they are available.What is the fastest way to improve soil quality? ›
Add Organic Matter. Organic matter is the single most important ingredient to improving any soil. It can make heavy clay soil drain better, easier to dig and not so hard or sticky. It can also help sandy soil hold together better and retain more moisture and nutrients.How do I enrich poor soil? ›
To feed the soil, and improve its structure, use bulky materials like garden compost compost, rotted manures or leaf mould. These materials release nutrients slowly, improve soil conditions, and stimulate essential micro organisms. Growing green manures is another organic technique for soil improvement.What is best plant to plant in food plot for deer? ›
Typical cereals planted for deer would include oats, wheat, triticale and rye. When native green forage becomes less available from fall through spring, these crops will attract large numbers of deer and provide valuable nutrition to help them through this difficult period.What can I plant in the woods to attract deer? ›
Deer Love to Eat Sweet Fruit
Plant at least six trees in each location so they are able to cross pollinate. I've tried many species but the four I've had the most luck with are apples, pears, persimmons and plums. Try to plant some early- and late-maturing varieties.
Daytime Bedding Browse
In order for deer to use a food plot during the daylight, they need to be able to bed during the daylight, very close by. Bedding during the daylight requires hardwood regeneration, acorns, briars and other forms of mid-value forages to be available within a deer's bedding area.
Annual plants are a better choice for a late summer food plot than perennials. They grow faster than perennials and can more easily handle colder conditions.What will attract deer fast? ›
Some of the means to attracting deer to a specific spot include the use of: food plots, baiting, mineral sites, and deer scents. Hunters can utilize one or many of these methods in combination to attract deer into their hunting area depending on factors like state and local laws, available resources, and terrain.What smell attracts deer the most? ›
Deer are attracted to the smell of soil as is, but if you want to up the attraction factor, pour some buck or doe urine, or scrape starter into it. This will create an exceptional trail camera site, as bucks will continue to check the scrape every time they pass by or are in the area.Where do big bucks hide? ›
They find both around the edges of marshes. They love to bed down in areas where marshes meet hardwoods and other forms of standing timber. These areas often receive less hunting pressure and aren't frequented as much by the rest of the deer herd.
Do deer like sweet corn or field corn better? ›
The best corn to plant for deer food plots is field corn. Choose late-maturing varieties if you want to leave corn standing in the plot for winter feeding. Avoid white corn and silage corn.What is the best time to plant a deer food plot? ›
The end of July and early August is arguably the best time of the year to plant a food plot. Weeds will be dying, moisture will be on the increase and food plotting practitioners have plenty of months to prepare their next great food plot planting.What is the cheapest thing to feed deer? ›
An inexpensive way to feed deer is with corn. Deer love corn and many hunters rely on it for supplemental feeding. That being said, corn is not an excellent source of protein, which is essential for antler growth and the nursing of fawns.What is better than corn for deer? ›
Providing a variety of different food sources within your deer feed mix is a good way to reduce the chance of acidosis. If you're looking for something else in the mix or what to feed deer instead of corn, a better and safer option for winter deer feeding is to use deer food pellets or other high fiber deer feed.