Not everyone owns a large tract of land for hunting. And most people don't have a tractor parked next to a shed full of farm implements.
But more and more landowners want to plant food plots to attract deer and other wildlife to their acreage.
"One of the most common questions I get asked is, 'What should I plant in my food plot?' " said Todd Amenrud, director of public relations for Mossy Oak, a company that sells a multitude of food plot products under the name BioLogic. Amenrud also edits the magazine Gamekeepers: Farming for Wildlife, a quarterly publication that focuses on wildlife stewardship.
According to Amenrud, oftentimes these landowners have a minimum amount of land and farming equipment. Some are first-time planters who want to test the waters by planting just one food plot before making a bigger investment.
"I would never suggest that anyone plant just one thing," stressed Amenrud. "Variety is a key to many different food plot-related goals. However, if a person has limited acreage and only has room for one planting, then it would depend upon their specific goals. As an example, if I wanted to use the plot as a draw and I knew I wanted to take my vacation [for hunting] during the week of Halloween, I would look to plant BioLogic Deer Radish or BioLogic Trophy Oats because they would be close to their peak in attraction during the time I wanted to hunt.
"However, if I were limited to planting one thing, here in Minnesota it would be BioLogic Clover Plus. This blend contains white clovers, red clovers and chicory. I would plant it because it is a reliable source of nutrition from spring green-up through the summer and into the fall, and it is a consistent source of attraction for the first part of the hunting season until cold temperatures force the plants into dormancy. Also, a plot of BioLogic Clover Plus, if properly maintained, will produce quality forage for three to five years or more. I get a lot of bang for my buck."
When deciding new food plot locations, consider soil quality and moisture. You shouldn't plant a plot where flooding will be a problem or on a sandy hilltop exposed to the wind and sun. Try to place your plots on the most level ground possible. I learned firsthand that a heavy rainfall will wash away seed, fertilizer and lime when plots are planted on the side of a hill.
Meadows and forest openings are ideal places for food plots because the initial work of clearing the land is greatly reduced. Other good locations are uplands immediately adjacent to the north side of a swamp or lowland. These spots allow a maximum amount of sunlight to reach the plot, plus these areas are always the first to warm in the spring.
Whether you're a hunter, photographer or wildlife-watcher, food plots work wonders by attracting deer and other animals to your property. And besides, implementing a plot makes offseason boredom a thing of the past.
BioLogic products are available at most sporting good stores or on the Web at www.plantbiologic.com.
Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.