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Food Plot Success Through Wildlife Management

Growing A Wild Tomorrow!® An Informational Website From

Wildlife Management Tips

Whitetail Deer HerdWildlife areas in many parts of the U.S. have become smaller with the encroachment of civilization and many of the natural wild food crops are disappearing along with many water sources.

The nutritional supplements provided by food plots now supplies prime food resources to wildlife in many areas.

While some animals range hundreds of miles in migratory routes; some only travel a limited area in their lifetimes. Yearly instead of just seasonal foraging needs to be kept in mind when planting the food plots. The new hunter manages wildlife just as the farmer manages domesticated animals with an increased awareness that today's young provide tomorrows hunt. And just like the farmer planting for his own animals he also provides for the "wildlife" that eat his crops; the hunter is providing forage and seeds for other wildlife also. Songbirds, mice and a host of other animals in the environment utilize these crops throughout the year in one form or the other.

Dove On A Branch

Rotational crops should be employed not only to attract but also serve as cover and breeding grounds for wildlife. Crops that mature at different rates can be planted in one planting. Cow peas and clover can be planted together and the peas will grow, produce and die while the clover is still being foraged. Many of the tubers and millets can be planted for wet areas and will germinate only after flooding when the season is in for ducks. Wildflowers adapted for your area are not only beautiful but provide seed for many of the smaller wildlife. Corn can be one of the longest usage crops for a host of animals while green and afterward when either left standing,  pushed or mown down for fall and winter forage. Early and late millets can be planted along with sunflowers that mature at different time depending on the variety chosen.

Successful food plot management is designed to incorporate the maximum use of annual and perennial food sources. Food plots should provide yearly (not just seasonal) food, shelter, reproductive areas, nursery conditions, the range according to the species, adaptable water sources and the usage of native plants that each species are accustomed. Animal plots are not much different in the planting and care as human food sources are. They generally must be cultivated in some way, seeded whether manually or by machine, fertilized, weeded, watered if needed, and tended in one form or the other to get the maximum benefit expected. The basic difference is that pesticides and herbicides are used only in extreme cases.

One of the best sources of information is your local county extension agent. These agents are trained in the types of soil and native plants that are in your area.  Valuable information concerning plants that should not be planted in your area can be obtained here.

Food Plot Elements To Consider

Food Plot Grazing DeerYou may be planning on attracting one species but you can also attract unwanted ones to the area so be prepared. A good example is the wild hog populations that are so destructive to these prepared food sources. If you have a feral hog population on your property you should know that they love Chufas (so do Deer). Turkey also thrive on chufas and you may want to plant them but not use them as the primary forage source in your food plot. In other words mix it up use some Chufa and other food plot plants attractive to turkeys. You may also want to consider food plot protection to keep deer, wild hogs and other unwanted animals domestic or wild out of your food plots until they are well established. This can be also done with fencing or by planting multiple food plots in various locations on your property.

Basic knowledge of wildlife habitat is essential to preparation and maintenance of food plots. Food plots are planted with grains, millets, tubers, legumes, grasses, trees, shrubs, vines, oil seed plants such as sunflowers, weeds, mushrooms, berry plants, reeds, water plants and all of nature in one form or the other.

Serious game management might include adding ponds or waterways with the plant life suited for the site. Swampy marshes may not be popular with most people but including or enhancing an existing one will bring in the animals. Fertilization of fields and  plants will only add to the productivity of the land and the nutritive value of the forage material offered. Clearing some over growths to provide better animal egress, putting in fire lanes, planting small bushes which overtime will become hedges, planting nut or fruit bearing trees and much much more. The reintroduction of natural plants species is becoming slightly easier with the wild crafters gathering and growing some of these vegetation. The natural plants are adapted for the locale and have built in resistance to disease and insect damage while still attracting the insects that wildlife naturally fed on many years ago.

Steps For Successful Wildlife Management Food Plots*

  • Decide What you Want - You should carefully plant you food plots around the species of wildlife you wish to attract.  Study habitat, food and water requirements along with the range the wildlife species covers.
  • Size of Food plot - Your food plot can be as small as a few feet or pasture size.  Many plot plantings are suggested at 1000 square feet.  A plot this size can be managed easily by planting annuals either yearly or seasonally.  Remember that wildlife species have habitat ranges from a couple of miles to hundreds of acres.  This is why it is a good idea to have multiple food plots.
  • Population, Species & Range of Habitat - These are factors that determine the size of your food plots and the type of seeds you choose.  Many species are attracted to the same types of foods and you will attract a variety of animals including aquatic.  Tubers, millet, rice and other aquatic plants used in waterfowl plots will also attract nearby wildlife using the water sources.
  • Keep Wildlife There longer - By adding perennial plantings to your food plots such as permanent grasses, shrubbery, wildflowers, berries, clovers and so forth you will attract wildlife species longer than short term food plots and provide shelter for some species. Also do not discount or destroy all weeds as they provide seed and attract insects for wildlife such as quail, turkey, grouse, and other species.
  • Mix It Up - Seed mixtures used in food plots should give a range of plant material that bear and mature at different times.  Seed types planted individually should produce at varying times to give wildlife a versatile diet.  Early spring crops are needed by mothers feeding the young while the summer and fall crops prepare wildlife species for winter.  Perennial fall and winter food plots should be planted to help wildlife through the often harsh winter months.

*For more information go to Planting Food Plots Growing a wild tomorrow!®
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