The Challenge of Food By Scott Bestul
’ve learned a lot from Tom VanDoorn. The northern Wisconsin logger is one of the best outdoorsmen I know, and he’s a wizard with a chainsaw (pretty logical, given his occupation) and a keenly savvy deer manager. Tom can make whitetails bed, travel and feed with scary regularity, and his frequently filled buck tags are proof. But if I’ve helped my big-woods friend in one aspect of whitetail management, it’s been in the food plot realm. Most of the food plots I plant each year have plenty of competition. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa and even the odd food plot from a neighborhood hunter combine to compete with whatever seed I stick in the ground for deer. Don’t get
me wrong. I relish the challenge of planting a farm-country food plot I know will attract big deer during the hunting season despite the competition. But helping Tom has really jazzed me about food plots in the big woods. I’ve had the chance to assist Tom several times, and the prospect of getting quality whitetail food established in an area where farm fields are scarce to nonexistent is exciting. Of course, big-woods deer do an admirable job of surviving fine without help. Still, getting quality whitetail food sources going in timbered country shows the true power of improved nutrition and hunting attraction that only food plots can provide. But big-woods plots come with challenges. It’s tempting to think that a lush plot of clover or brassicas will immediately turn into the next great killing field, but there are plenty of hurdles to clear first. Although when any of the challenges of farm-country food plots disappear, unique ones take their place. Here’s a look at how to establish, maintain and hunt food plots in the big woods.
Site Selection The biggest challenge to big-woods food plotters is the most obvious. All those darned trees get in the way. Trees present an obstacle and also block sunlight from prospective plots. Although there are shade-
Charles J. Alheimer
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/ Vol. 28, No. 2
Whitetail News Volume 28 Issue 2