John's Journal...

Reasons Your Food Plots Donít Work with Dr. Grant Woods

Site Selection for Green Fields and Their Design Are Critical for Success

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you’ve put time, money and sweat equity into your green fields; planted 10 green fields; and spotted plenty of tracks and signs around the green fields, but seen few if any deer or perhaps only does and small bucks or only deer on specific green fields, then you need to know why you’re having problems with your green fields. We took your questions to one of the nation’s leading deer researchers and the creator of Mossy Oak’s BioLogic green-field plantings, Dr. Grant Woods of Reeds Spring, Missouri, who has spent thousands of hours studying deer and green-field management, as well as studying how to most-effectively use those green fields to grow and harvest mature bucks. Let’s look at common green-field problems and Dr. Woods’ solutions.

Problem: We plant all our green fields with the same crop – sometimes corn, clover or a mixture of seeds. We generally will have six or seven fields that do really well and two or three fields that fail miserably. Why do some green fields yield great crops and other fields are duds, even though we plant the same crops in all the fields?Click to enlarge
Woods’ Solution: Site selection is critical for good food-plot management. If you’re planning on planting dry-land crops, like sorghum, by creating a green field along a creek bottom that stays wet, then that green field will fail. Or, if you plant a crop that likes moisture on a hilltop where all the moisture runs off, more than likely that crop will fail. So, select a site for your green field to match the crop you plan to plant there.

Problem: We have several-different sizes of green fields on our hunting lease. We’ve kept very-good records and have noticed that we tend to see more deer on little, long, skinny green fields, than we do on our larger green fields. How critical is the shape, the design and the size of your green field to seeing more deer?
Woods’ Solution: The shape of the food plot often determines the amount of utilization it will have. Deer don’t like to look at each other when they eat. You only see deer in large groups when they’re extremely hungry. You never see deer in large groups when they’re fat and happy because deer are subject to social stress. I like to shape my green fields like a wagon wheel with a stand site in the center of the wheel and green fields spoking out in five- or six-different directions for that center. This design enables me to see every spoke of the green field wheel, but the deer feeding on each spoke of the wheel can’t see each other. A green field designed like this will encourage more deer to feed without their seeing each other and will be far-more effective than if you plant one large green field where all the deer that utilize it can see one another.Click to enlarge

Problem: We generally have a fairly-good crop in our green field until the fall drought hits. Then, some of our green fields produce well, while others almost dry up. Is there any way we can solve this problem?
Woods’ Solution: Take advantage of shade. You can conserve water in your green field by planting the field so that your crop is in the shade in the afternoon. Be sure the tallest woods are on the west side of your food plot, if that habitat is available. Not only will this technique of food-plot construction conserve water, but it also will allow shade to be on the west side of your food plot earlier during the day, often causing the deer to come out into the field earlier in the afternoon.

Problem: Our lease is along a major river drainage. The land is extremely rich and can produce bumper crops during the spring and the summer to be ready for the deeClick to enlarger in the fall. However, flooding often wipes out our green fields. What do you recommend?
Woods’ Solution: Determine when your food plot will be dry enough to plow. One year in the spring, the Mississippi River flooded extensively. Many of those river-bottom food plots weren’t dry enough to plant until hunting season. Therefore, these food plots were ineffective in attracting and holding deer during the hunting season of that year. So, even though river-bottom soils may yield highly-productive green fields, if those green fields are near a river that floods annually or even semiannually, you may want to consider another location for your green field.

Question: Any other recommendations for hunters if they encounter any other common problems when they create, manage or hunt green fields?
Woods: Consider how you’ll reach your green field during the fall before you create it. For instance, if you hunt in the South and some portions of the Midwest where the prevailing wind comes from the northwest, you don’t want to create a green field you have to approach from the northwest. If you do, every time you go to that green field, the wind will carry your human odor out into the green field and spook the deer using it. When you’re creating green fields, always make sure you set-up the green fields so that the wind won’t blow your human odor to the deer as you approach your stand site. Remember, just because you’ve found some open ground on your hunting lease doesn’t mean that spot will produce a great green field for attracting and holding deer.

Consider Dr. Woods’ suggestions, and follow his prescription for planting and managing green fields to have better crops and more deer this season.
Tomorrow: Other Solutions to Food-Plot Problems with Dr. Grant Woods

Check back each day this week for more about "Reasons Your Food Plots Donít Work with Dr. Grant Woods"

Day 1: Water – The Essential Element for a Successful Green Field
Day 2: The Importance of Fertilizer and Herbicides in a Green Field
Day 3: What Keeps Deer Coming to a Green Field
Day 4: Site Selection for Green Fields and Their Design Are Critical for Success
Day 5: Other Solutions to Food-Plot Problems with Dr. Grant Woods


Entry 525, Day 4