Foods plots are just a small part...
Here is a short article I wrote several years back... I belive it still has its place...
Food Plots are not the answer to every question... Form yourself a plan but do it in small increments to ensure a proper completion of your overall goal...
Quality habitat is the single most important factor in a management program for any form of huntable game. As with many other types of wildlife, whitetail habitat can be broken into three key areas: cover, food and water.
When we talk whitetail cover, we know cover provides bedding and resting areas, shelter from the elements and a place to escape predators. Without cover on your property or hunting area it does not take too much pressure to send deer off your property. You need to create a sanctuary of sorts for whitetail to feel comfortable. Easier said then done, perhaps. Depending on the total acreage you own or hunt, there are many ways to provide adequate cover for your deer population. A good idea is to find out what is on your neighbors property. Never limit your knowledge to your property alone. Use a good neighbor policy and join forces if possible. State your plans for habitat structure and what you will set your harvest totals at. See if there is a way to work together to benefit all property owners.
I like to have land owners break their property into 75-100 acre plots to help determine what is needed to improve habitat. A whitetail will spend a major portion of their daily activities in as small an area as possible if all the elements are within these boundaries. Many property owners can do very well with 75-100 acres or larger property owners working within smaller boundaries.
First you must make a mental picture of what a whitetail requires, where these required elements are met on your property and the distance between each. We are talking travel routes here, the natural travel patterns deer use to go from one area to another. If you don't all ready have one, purchase a good topo map of your area. Make copies to list the various elements and the distance between same. We want whitetail to keep their travel pattern in as tight an area as possible. You will want to mark bedding areas, water and food sources on your topo map. This will tell you how far apart each is from the other, the travel patterns and where needed improvements are required. This also helps you decide in what areas you will need work and in what order. Again having all these required elements are a small part of a much larger picture.
Look at the bedding sites you have marked on your topo and see where improvements can be made. Many areas can be improved with some plantings, thinning out of undesirable plants, pruning, fertilizations and select timber cuttings. Planting pines that grow fast and stay close to the ground provide needed cover and security. Thinning or pruning helps to maintain the exact type of cover whitetail desire. Remove older mature plants to provide room for younger plants to grow and spread. Are mature trees blocking needed sun light from fields or food plots? Remove as many as required to help establish a better food source. After any pruning, fertilize with a slow release fertilizer that can be spread with a hand spreader or simply dig holes around drip lines for trees.
Have a timber company do a select cutting and tell them to leave the tops where they fall. These tops will take root and provide shelter and new growth for a food source in the future. Select cutting also can put much needed money in your pocket for future projects. Keep in mind that these areas should be close together to keep deer anchored to your property. Food sources, closer to bedding, resting or staging areas, will be utilized more and possibly during daytime hours. You can create areas that deer will become more huntable by leaving an open area in hardwoods or fields that will create a corridor for travel or staging areas where deer wait for nightfall before entering a field or food plot. These areas can be hunted successfully during most times of a season.
Food can be anything from planted crops, food plots to natural browse. If you plant an agricultural crop, create cover on or near the edges. Unharvested in areas as close to cover as possible, provide food sources that require little movement from deer with safety nearby. Sections are better then rows and also provide cover on its own depending on crop type. Leave portions of fields uncut when harvesting hay or alfalfa near thick cover staging areas or bedding sites. Food plots should be planted in an area near cover and away from human activity. Keep in mind that whitetail require food all year long and plant food plots for the four season. Mineral sites should be placed on level ground near known bedding areas for time of stress.
Water is a must have when we consider habitat. You can create retention ponds with ease of effort and dam up creeks and run offs to hold water on a yearly basis. Swamps can be opened up to provide water without destroying cover, killing two birds with one stone if you will.
Steps for Seed Inoculation
Pre-inoculated seed has been marketed for several years. Results from its use have been variable. The use of additional inoculant at seeding will provide cheap insurance and reduce the risk of failure in legume establishment, particularly if the pre-inoculated seed has been in storage for a long time.
Legume inoculation will be more successful if you follow a few simple steps and provide suitable soil pH and physical conditions. Use inoculants specifically labeled for the legume you are treating.
Mixtures of bacteria strains usually are not as effective as preparations labeled for one specific legume.
Use only fresh, age and dated inoculant purchased from dealers who store their supplies in cool, dark places to minimize deterioration. Best storage conditions are provided by refrigerators with temperatures just above freezing. Store the inoculant in a refrigerator until used.
Dampen the legume seed, using as little liquid as possible. Approximately 1 pint of liquid per 100 pounds of seed is required. Use milk (whole, condensed, or skim), diluted pancake syrup, or gum arabic solution as an adhesive. Mix the seed and liquid thoroughly until every seed is moist but not wet enough to cause the seeds to stick together. If too much liquid is added, add a handful of finely ground agricultural limestone. Do not use containers or mixers contaminated with seed disinfectants or fertilizer materials that might be toxic to legume inoculants. Add the inoculant to the seed in small quantities until at least the amount recommended by the manufacturer has been applied. Two to three times the suggested amount can be used without difficulty. Mix thoroughly until every seed has come into contact with the inoculant. When planting under conditions that are not ideal, increase the inoculant rate. Be sure inoculated seed does not come into direct contact with the
Plant seed into a well prepared, firm seedbed immediately after inoculation. Avoid exposing the seed to sunlight, severe drying conditions, or high temperatures. If seed is not planted within 24 hours, repeat the inoculation
step because the bacteria from the previous treatment may have been destroyed by drying. When planting, leave seedbed surface packed to minimize exposure of seed to sunlight and drying conditions. Broadcast seeding should be covered and firmed by a cultipacker or roller. Plant seed just before a rain or into moist soil. Cultipacking the soil after seeding will help to maintain moisture near the seed.