Earlier we published this post about using timber skid roads for wildlife food plots once your timber crew finished with their work. In that post, we shared several photos of the clean-up work done by the timber crew and how we planned to use all the skid roads for “food plots” by having the timber crews over-seed with a wildlife mixture.
Additionally, we discussed a specific set of food plots near the west side of our eastern bedding area. Here we will provide a quick update on the progress and the next steps in turning our targeted area on the skid road into a food plot for our wildlife.
Although the snow is falling today, warmer weather has allowed some of the wildlife mixture “frost seeded” to sprout and we are excited to see our food plots begin to come to life.
No Spring in Sight
If you have read our “About Us”, you understand we just returned to the Appalachians after 29 years of military service. So, while I have spent years of spare time reading, researching and studying wildlife management, this is our first true shot at application on this scale.
So too is planting a deep woods food plot where leaves have covered the red and gray clay for decades. The fact it is snowing here again on the 16th of April as I pull this together, does not help my “will it grow” doubts.
However, looking at the long-range forecast, it looks like the weather is slowly breaking and with my soil tests complete and the plots limed during the winter months, I am ready to till and prep the seed bed.
What to Plant?
We have timbered this area over the past 6 months. Sunlight will be reaching the forest floor for the first time in 20-30 years. Trees have been hinge-cut to support the eastern most bedding area covering over an acre. White Oak, hickory, red oak, chestnut oak and maple remain, so what do would benefit the most animals on our property – clover is my answer – or at least what I am going with.
This plot will be around 1/10th of an acre and with our high deer density will serve more as a candy stop versus real biomass production. However, using a smorgasbord mentality, it will serve as another option for the deer to grab a few bites while foraging through the bedding area and out into the new growth.
Wildlife Food Plot Update – Tilling
With a new tiller connected to the Kubota, I made my way down to the plot area. After removing as many rocks, branches and roots as possible, I tilled about a 3-inch deep bed nearly 25 yards long by 10 yards and then I moved about another 75 yards and tilled another spot the about the same size. Together they will provide about 1/10th of an acre of clover.
Once I completed tilling, I went through the plots removing more rocks and limbs/roots with a rake. Roots and small twigs will provide some nutrients to the plot as they breakdown but are a pain when tilling and raking. We have a lot of sandstone in this region and it looks like that is what I am growing in these two plots.
Future Operations – Priorities of Work
Due to the previously described weather, I have left the tilled plot until later this week when the weather is to break. I plan to till the sites again and prep the beds for planting. If the rain and temperatures cooperate, I will plant the plot by the 30th of April.
Once planted I will add a two-tier horse fence to keep the deer out until the plot is established and at some point, put in an exclusion cage to monitor plot usage. Once I finish with those steps, I will provide another update.
Over the next month, the plot should start popping up of the ground as temperatures stay above 50 degrees. We will keep tabs on the progress and provide another update in the June timeframe. Just in time to start some other DIY habitat management techniques.