If you've been reading along, then you know we are on the second half of our year-long, Tecomate Seed, Food Plot Journey. We learned a lot during the past summer about food plots and even had some food plots that came up pretty well. Though, we did have one weed infested food plot that didn't turn out as well as we hoped, but it served as a good learning experience for us. We've been getting some good game cam pics of deer in the plots (mostly does on camera though) and for the past few weeks we've been working on our fall plots.
We're putting our fall plots in some different locations and we are carrying out the same processes of taking a soil sample, preparing the soil, liming, planting, and adding fertilizer (if needed) in all these locations. The main difference between the summer and fall plots is that we're planting plants that can grow in cold weather for our fall plots. Over time the frost and cold will end up killing what we planted for our summer plots. I will note that so far throughout the process with the fall plots everything has been really dry. I mean every time we do anything there is dust flying everywhere. After riding the GroundHog MAX last weekend for a few hours I was covered in dirt and my eyes were burning. I looked in the mirror and my whole face was covered in orange dust. I say all that to say if we don't get some rain soon, I'm not sure what is going to grow in such dry soil. Again, I'm a web guy and don't claim to know much about farming and/or food plots so I may be surprised, but for now I?m still hoping we get some rain to have some kind of moisture in the soil.
At this point we've taken the soil samples and are now preparing the soil. By preparing the soil I mean we have sprayed the envisioned plot with RoundUp to get the weeds out and gave them time to die. The weeds died and the video will demonstrate this as you can easily see the stark contrast between the dead brown weeds and the dark green weeds on the other side of the hill. I was actually surprised at how well the RoundUp did with only spraying it once. Initially I thought we'd have to spray it a little bit more to get it all to die since there were a ton of weeds, but I was wrong in that assumption. We waited about a week and a half and then came back to get the weeds out by disking up the soil. Thus far, we have been disking up the soil by using the GroundHog MAX, but for this large area we brought in a tractor to assist.
We're trying to put in this particular plot in an area that was an old power line. The power line is long and narrow and we're trying to install the plot at the lower end that leads down to a creek. This place hasn't been touched in about 2 - 3 years so the dirt there is hard and dry. The lower area of the power line has steep hills and rough terrain. These hills, rough terrain, and narrowness of the old power line combine to present a difficult situation for the tractor with regards to plowing. Parts of the power line are more flat and in those areas the tractor did well, but the other areas near the bottom presented more of a challenge for the tractor. So, as you would imagine, we brought in the GroundHog MAX and it got the job done again! The GroundHog MAX greatly helped us out in those hard to plow locations. Ultimately the soil in this plot was plowed by a combination of the tractor and GroundHog MAX with the tractor handling the flatter, upper end and the GroundHog MAX on the more rugged, lower end.
Before/After Pic of the Remote Food Plot on the Powerline
It took a lot of time to get the soil the way we wanted, but in the end I think it looks pretty good given what we started out with. Again, this dirt was very hard and very dry so I think we made some good progress. We'll try to continue to install food plots in these areas year after year and over time we think it will get a little easier if we stay on top of it.
I'm praying for some rain so keep your fingers crossed. Now we'll give the power line food plot a week or two to see if anything germinates, that is we'll wait to see if any more weeds start growing back. In our first go round with our summer plots, we sprayed a field and got a good kill on the weeds then we disked the field up and planted. The field ended up being full of weeds because the plowing covered some of the dormant seeds with dirt and moisture and then they germinated which lead to a mess by the time it was all said and done. So we'll see if any weeds start to come up and if they do, then we'll spray it again to kill them, then we'll wait a little while and put the seed out. We'll probably also put down some lime and fertilizer, but we're still waiting to get the soil samples back before we assess that situation.
I made the below video to show you what the area looked like after the spray and to give you an idea of how we worked both the tractor and the GroundHog MAX together to get the soil the way we wanted it.
And the journey continues...
Sorry it?s taken me a bit to get this one together, but I?ve been spread thin lately. As you know, we?ve been working on several summer food plots on our Tecomate Seed Food Plot Journey. I?ve been documenting one plot very thoroughly and we?ve been carrying out the same processes in other locations as well. I?ve also documented much of the journey of our remote food plot. We?ve been getting some good rain and the lab lab and lab lab plus is starting to grow pretty well. I?d like to update you on a few of the plots because we?ve got some mixed results that we can already learn some lessons from.
Food Plot Location 1
Food Plot Location 1 is the location where we have been doing most of the documenting and I?ve got some bad news to report on this one. Initially we planned to plant this field with a no-till-drill which would get the seed in the ground without turning the soil up. We wanted to do this because this field had some weeds in it in previous years and their seeds remained on the soil. Using a no-till-drill is beneficial because it gets the seed in the ground without turning up the dirt. When the soil isn?t turned up the seeds of the weeds remain uncovered by the dirt and do not germinate while the seeds in the no-till-drill get planted into the soil. Since we couldn?t get access to the no-till-drill the undesired result has occurred. By not getting the no-till-drill we were forced to disc the field. This field had been sprayed, but spraying it only killed what was living on the surface. The seeds of the weeds remain dormant until they get covered in dirt. The moisture in the dirt causes them to germinate. Add all of this + our actions up and what do you get? a field covered in weeds and food plot product as seen below.
Since we have a mess on our hands in this field we have opted to spray it with 2-4 D + Round-up. We are going to spray it in hopes of killing the weeds in preparation for the fall plot. In short, the summer plot at this location = fail! Since we are spraying the field, we went ahead and sprayed a few different areas as that we are going to work on for the fall plots. I made it out late to the field, but I did get some footage of the other areas being sprayed. You can see how we sprayed it below.
Food Plot Location 2
Food Plot Location 2 has a much better result at this point and some deer tracks are already in the plot. We?ve even seen where some of the plants are getting nipped at the top already. This location has had food plot products placed in it year after year and there are no remaining weeds in the soil. For that reason, we were able to use a disc here without having a bad result (as we did at the previous location). You can see this plot clearly in the video, but here are some pics of it too. This food plot is kind of shaped like what a golfer would call a ?dog leg right? because it?s straight for a long time and then it curves around to the right at the top.
Here is a video contrasting Field 1 and Field 2? seeing the difference is easy
Food Plot Location 3
Food Plot Location 3 is a smaller area and is also coming along well. The soil here is a little more like clay than the sandy soil of the others. We were also able to get some pics of deer in this one on the game camera.
Remote Food Plot Location
The remote food plot is also coming along well so far. We?ve got some exclusion fences up in this location and we have fertilized it as well. The plants are growing well and since putting the fertilizer down, I think the plants look like they are a deeper green. Though, it could just be my eyes or something. See images and video of it below:
We were also able to get some pics of deer in the plot in the last few days. I couldn?t believe this one doe was so close to the camera at 5:00 in the afternoon in 100 degree heat! Then another snuck through at night and you can barely see her because the food plot is growing so high!
As we?ve traveled the ?Food Plot Journey? I?ve learned a lot about what to do and, as you can see with this journal entry, I?ve learned some of what not to do as well! Our inability to come through with the no-till-drill did not benefit us at location 1 because of the resident weed seeds in that location. By plowing and discing the field, we only covered the seeds of weeds (and other unwanted plants) with dirt allowing them to germinate. This happened because some seeds of weeds remained from previous years. Consequently, along with planting our food plot seeds and them germinating and growing, so did the seeds of the weeds. Since we?ve currently got a less-than-desirable food plot going on at location 1, we?re going to spray it with 24-d & round-up to try to start getting ready for the fall plots in that area.
So, we are not batting 1000, but we haven?t got benched by the coach just yet. I?m glad that the majority of the plots are going well, but I?m bummed that the main plot that I was documenting very thoroughly did not turn out. I?ll keep on reporting back with the others though to see what happens and we are planning to have fall plots in these locations as well. There?s a song by Meatloaf titled ?2 out of 3 ain?t bad? so that?s going to have to be the theme at this point.
We?ve got game cameras out in some of these plots and we?ll be moving them around in hopes of getting some good pics. There is a lot out there for deer to eat at this point, but sooner or later they?re going to come through these plots and pose for us. If we can get some good footage, I?ll post it here. Looks like I?m going to have to move the camera higher up the tree since the food plot product is now growing higher than the camera!
This past Saturday Adam and I spent a great deal of time working in the heat and boy was it hot! We are preparing to put in some of our Tecomate Seed fall food plots. We went out collected a few soil samples and sprayed some round-up. At this location we're going to put in two food plots. One will be a half acre plot where we will plant Monster Mix. The other will be around 3 acres located on an old power line where we will plant Max-Attract and Ultraforage in alternating sections. The smaller plot has had crops on it before so conditioning the soil won't be too bad in that location. There are some weeds there, but not too many. The old power line, however, is slam full of grass and weeds so we've got our work cut out for us to be able to have a successful plot in this area.
While we were there, we also spent a good deal of time scouting and walking the land. We found some rubs, saw some sign, and even saw a deer as we scouted. We feel these are good signs, but we shall see as the season goes on. Our goal was to find areas where we wanted to put our food plots at this location and get the soil samples + start spraying and that's exactly what we did. I think I soaked 2 shirts with sweat and I got really dirty by the end of it all. I wore pants out this time since last time we did this I caught poison ivy. I also wore boots since I've been seeing a lot of pics of snakes lately. I had the perfect combination for being protected from the elements and also being hot and sweaty.
The Small Plot
The smaller location is at the back end of the property and it looks to be a good location. Our area of SC has parts of town that are all clay, some are all sand, and then there are areas that are mixtures of both. The area of this plot is made up more of clay than dirt. The small plot is probably about 100 - 120 yards long and 25 yards wide. This should turn out to be a nice food plot and it also has a few oaks on the edge with a good crop of acorns. We'll need to trim back some of the other trees to improve the vision to all end s of the plot. This location will be the easier of the two to plant. As you'll see in the below video, Adam took the soil sample and then sprayed the field with Round-up to kill the weeds while I documented everything.
In hopes of not getting our plot overtaken with weeds (as we did in the summer at the one location), we're going to spray it with Round-up, then come back in with the GroundHog MAX to disk it up, then return a few days later to spray it again. The reason we'll spray it the second time is to kill any dormant seed that we may have turned up while disking. After we spray again, we'll give it a few days before we go back in to plant the seed.
The Large Plot
The larger plot is the one that's located on an old power line. The power company use to have poles run through this section of woods, but in recent years they have removed the poles. This left a great place to put in a food plot. The only problem we have is the weeds and grass that now resides in the area. There are a ton of weeds currently in the area and so we've got our work cut out for us to get an effective food plot installed.
We are going to try to put another long and narrow plot in this location. Here again we collected another soil sample and sprayed Round-up heavily. We're going to let it sit for a few days and hopefully get a good portion of the grass and weeds killed. The weeds are so tall that I may even go back in and mow it down some. Then we'll go back in, with a tractor and the GroundHog Max, and disk. Following suit, we'll let it sit for a few days then return to spray again as we want to kill off any dormant seeds turned up while disking.
You can see the video of all this below to get a visual for what we?re talking about and attempting to do.
So you've seen the hopeful locations of 2 of our fall plots. We're optimistic that we can pull it off, but again only time will tell. In the mean time, we've got a lot of work to do. More to come.
This past weekend I spent a couple of hours out in the woods with my main objective being to get the soil for the fall, remote food plot disked up and prepared to be seeded. I set out with the GroundHog MAX and a 4-wheeler to get the job done and I had a blast riding this thing around the envisioned food plot.
The area where we are trying to install the fall, remote food plot is back deep in the woods, but it has had crops on it before?though none in recent years. So the soil was not extremely dense, but it wasn?t ready like we wanted it to be. The area had grass and weeds on it and when we came in last weekend we took the soil sample for the area and then sprayed some Roundup as seen in the previous videos. When I returned back to the food plot you could tell that the Roundup was going to work as many of the weeds had started turning darker colors already. This was a good sign as we are trying to get the weeds out!
I got the 4-wheeler off the truck and then had to ?attach the MAX?. To do this, I simply carried a wooden block and drove up on it and locked the brakes once I get on top of the block. The 4-wheeler was then elevated a little off the ground and provided just enough clearance to attach the GroundHog MAX to the ATV. I pulled out the pen, slid the GroundHog MAX into place, put the pen back and then got ready to roll.
Normally we go out in groups working on the land, but on this day I had to soldier up by myself and get it done as my counterparts were unable to assist. So, I did the work and documentation both (which took me a little bit longer than normal). I got the cameras and tripod ready and shot some different angles and videos. By the end, the video camera and tripod were extremely dirty not to mention how dirty I got. I had dirt everywhere on me!
We haven?t had much rain recently so the dirt, especially on one end of the plot, was really dry. This resulted in a lot of dust being thrown up in the air while I was riding. You can easily see it in the video below. When I got through working I went to the truck and saw where my face was covered in orange from the dust of the clay-like soil. I washed my face in some watered-down, diet coke that I had leftover from earlier that morning. It was not the best feeling, but it got the job done and helped me regain sight! My face, shirt, and pants were just as orange as the soil was. Though, it does feel good to get out and work when often times I?m sitting behind a computer, so I didn?t mind it too much.
I rode the 4-wheeler in circles, figure-8?s, diagonally, and in straight lines trying to churn up the dirt in every way possible. It seems that the GroundHog Max churns up the ground a little better when riding in circles or figure-8?s, but then again that could be because the 4-wheeler I was using is a 2 wheel drive ATV. When you have a 4x4 ATV you have the muscle to put the MAX a little bit deeper in the ground, but since the ATV I was using didn?t have the cc?s necessary to pull through deeper dirt, I just made a few more passes and it still worked fine.
I probably rode the GroundHog MAX for around 1.5 to 2 hours and I?d say that I rode it way longer than I really needed to simply because I was having so much fun! After a while I had the top-soil so loosened up that I began sliding around and it felt as if I was playing bumper cars at the beach or something. It was really fun to get out there and ride.
All in all, I got the job done, had a lot of fun, got extremely dirty, and got the soil disked up and ready. We?ll now wait a week or so and go back in to see if any weeds have germinated from being disked under the dirt. If this is the case, we?ll spray again and then we should be ready to plant.
Again, I was very impressed with how the GroundHog MAX performed. The winner of the Big Buck Competition is going to be one happy camper!
See the video of me riding the GroundHog MAX in circles and attempting to talk over music below
On Our Way to Okeechobee
We woke up around 4:45am and headed west. We would be putting in on the southern end of the lake in a town called Clewiston. Since it was so early it was of course dark, but I as we approached the town of Clewiston I could smell the smell of smoke. I asked Matt what that smell was and he said “Oh that’s the Sugar Cane farms, they burn the sugar during some part of their harvesting process”. It was interesting to smell that smell for a good ways, but yet not be alarmed that something was on fire or wrong. Late on in the day we found out that the sugar cane farmers actually burn the fields before they even harvest the sugar. The sugar cane fields spanned for miles and miles and miles. It was a neat sight.
Roland Martin Marina & Marine Center
We were set to meet our guide, Mark King, at the Roland Martin Marina. Once we started getting near the landing you could see the Christmas light decorations that were in the shape of a bass hanging in the streets.
Of course as “foreigners” we didn’t know which was the Marine Center and which was the Marina, but we learned pretty quickly. We went inside and saw several boats, tons of fishing lures, hats/shirts, and just about anything you could think of. Roland Martin’s name was everywhere and the marina had about what you would expect as well. There were restaurants, boats, weekend rental apartments, tiki bars, and of course fish on the walls and they even had 2 swimming in a tank.
Mark King, Bass Fishing Guide
We met the guide Matt lined us up with, Mark King, at the Marina. Mark was a very nice guy who definitely knows how to bass fish and he knows that lake like the back of his hand. Mark’s been guiding for 18 years and has all the accompanying honors and accolades that anybody would want a guide to have. Learn more about Mark’s guiding service at http://markkingfishing.com
Mark didn’t waste any time and we all hopped into his boat, which he already had waiting on us in the water. We rode through the locks and around the edge of the lake as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful sight.
Grass Paths in The Lake
Mark then made a left turn ducking into the grassy reeds of the lake. One thing I noticed throughout the day of fishing was the grass or weeds that were in the water. Of course I’ve seen grass in a lake before, but the lake had a lot of these on the edges and the paths that the boats ride leave carved out tunnels of sorts that were like hidden paths to bass hotspots if you will. I’d never really thought much about it, but these weeds or reeds were something that stuck out to me about the lake and when I think of Lake Okeechobee I’ll envision the grass in my mind. Anyways, we rode through these carved channels and we were head to a specific destination. I had the feeling that Mark knew these paths just as good as I know my way to some of my deer stands.
The Fish Were Biting
We got to our first stop and it wasn’t long before we had fish biting. We were using live bait, minnows, for our bait and they worked really well. I’d say we’d been stopped for about 5 minutes before we had corks going under. Mark told us to wait until the cork went under, count down from 5, then set the hook. This was obviously to let the bass get the minnow in their mouths really good before we set the hook. Even though we definitely wanted to let the bass get ahold of the minnows really well before setting the hook, you could see your cork darting off back toward the depths of the grassy weeds. It worked on my nerves a little bit to have a bass on and let him run back into that stuff, but I trusted the guide!
We set up right on the edge of the grassy reeds and would throw right out beside them. In every spot we fished in it wasn’t long before a bass would come out of that stuff and hammer the bait. We probably caught 15 bass the entire day and we constantly had action. There may have been a few minutes of lulls in action, but just as soon as I would turn around to look at something Mark would say “You’re down” and boom we’d have a fish in the boat.
Every fish we caught was healthy and nicely sized. We didn’t catch any state records, but we caught a nice mess of fish. One thing Mark told me was that the entire lake was only about 5 feet deep. I figured it would be deeper, but it wasn’t. Because it’s not that deep a lot of the boats there have unique anchoring systems called the “Power Pole” http://www.power-pole.com. You may be familiar with that type of anchor, but I wasn’t. I’m used to just throwing out something heavy and waiting until it hits the bottom.
Here are a few pics of fish we caught:
We Had a Blast
Needless to say, my friend Matt and I had a great time. We enjoyed being out on the lake and Mark was definitely effective as a fishing guide. I hope to be able to get back down there and fish with him again at some point. If you’re ever down in that area, be sure to give Mark and shout and tell him that you read about him here. You won’t be disappointed!
It seems like time just slips away on me and before you know it deer season is almost here and I feel like I?m behind on my envisioned schedule. This past weekend I pretty much dedicated the whole day on Saturday to accomplishing some things I?ve wanted to do for a while. There are always cameras to put out or move, feeders to set up, stands to move & check, ground to plow, and the list goes on and on. Up until now I?ve been doing some of this whenever I could, but with the season right around the corner for me I had to get on the ball.
I ended up not getting home after our game on Friday night until 2am. I had an 8 o?clock meeting on Saturday morning to do some work so, as you may expect, I was a little tired. After getting a biscuit and a Bojangles sweet tea I was good to go. We took the tractor over and did some plowing on one of our hunting properties. I?m planning on doing a separate blog about these food plots so I won?t go into too much detail other than to tell you that the tractor messed up on us after plowing the first plot. We had to stop at this location shortly after the tractor quit running. I did walk the land some taking a few pictures and as I walked down one area something caught my eye?a 4 foot long snake! I did have my snake boots on and I was glad that I did because initially just seeing this thing scared me. I looked closer at it and saw that it was just a black snake and that calmed me down a little bit. I tried to get a picture of it, but it scurried off before I was able to get the camera on my phone turned on.
Also, walking down this same path I saw where some turkeys had been ?dusting? on the edge of the woods. I had never heard of a turkey ?dusting? before until last spring when Mr. Puette told me about it. Apparently turkeys can get mites that aggravate them and to remedy this they choke the mites out by wallowing around in dust. I guess it makes them feel better, but you could definitely see the circular patterns of dirt on the edge of this area and the turkeys had dropped some feathers there as well. I guess it?s a good sign to see that you have turkeys on the property though!
After my walk (and since the tractor quit working) I moved on to the next business I had on schedule for the day. I traveled down to my in-laws house where we put together a new deer stand. Last year at Christmas I got a deer stand as a present and I exchanged it for a ?buddy stand? and have been meaning to get it together and put up for some time now and I finally got around to it. Turns out putting this deer stand together and putting it up was quite the process. My father-in-law and another member of the family helped me assemble the stand and it took 3 of us about 3 hours to figure it all out and get it properly assembled. The parts weren?t labeled and the directions weren?t the greatest. The winds from hurricane Irene were blowing enough to keep it somewhat cool, but every now and then they?d stop and the sun would come out and it was really hot. We had tons of pieces of this deer stand just lying around on the driveway and slowly but surely we figured it out. In retrospect I don?t think one person could have gotten it done by themself and if so, it would have taken about double the time necessary. It was a project to complete and some bonding time with my in-laws nonetheless.
After getting the stand assembled it was time to get the stand up. One of my in-laws who was assisting just happen to have a new tractor and the tractor made it really easy to carry the parts back down into the woods since there was already an old road there. We drove the stand there in pieces and then put them together and got it up on the tree. The stand is higher than I would normally like (around 17 feet) because I don?t like heights, but it?s pretty sturdy so I think I?ll make it. It seemed that the biting flies back in these woods particularly liked me for some reason. I had several encounters with biting flies and on some occasions they won and on some occasions I did. Putting up a deer stand while being harassed by biting flies is not one of my favorite past times! We took some extra straps to go around the tree and up the tree as I moved up the ladder to ensure safety. After getting to the top I winched the stand as tight as I could to the tree. The stand had two wenches and I got both of them really snug and then we put the roof on which I also winched really tightly. After everything was set up I put the skirt on and unzipped the windows to look out and see the new perspective on the scenery. It looked good!
I sat in the stand and as I looked out I thought to myself that if I ever got a deer out of this stand that I would remember this day and all the sweat, time, help from others, and fly bites that were necessary to get all this accomplished. A lot of energy was put into getting that stand up in that tree. Hopefully I?ll be able to get some good footage and maybe even a good buck out of the stand this season.
In case you were wondering how I go that much free time on a Saturday let me back up and say that earlier that day my wife and her mother went shopping. Yes, that explains it all right. When they were leaving they asked if we needed them to pick us up anything. Sarcastically I responded and said ?Pick me up some deer corn? because I knew they weren?t going shopping anywhere that I would have deer corn. After all of our work we returned from putting up the deer stand and they had returned and my wife said ?I?ve got your deer corn in the back? and I almost couldn?t believe it. Yes, I?ve got a good wife! She had picked me up a bag of corn. I was still dirty and sweaty and figured I might as well go put it out while I was there and able to. I didn?t give her a hug at the moment because she wouldn?t have it, but I did thank her and grabbed the bag and headed back to the woods. As I turned I noticed that my father-in-law had an old large PVC pipe leaning on a building. It could potentially make a great feeder if he wasn?t going to use it. I asked him if he had plans for it and he said no?10 minutes later I had a skill-saw out cutting it at the bottom and smoothing the top off. The only problem was that this thing is white and stands out like a sore thumb. I?m going to paint it at some point, but for now it will just have to suffice. So I headed back down into the woods and had me a homemade feeder and a bag of corn. I strapped it to a tree and filled it with corn. I?ve had a salt block down there now for a couple of months and they are definitely licking on it. It?s starting to get smoothed out. The corn feeder is right beside of the salt-block and they are both about 30 yards in front of my stand. Hopefully all this hard work, some feed, and a salt-block out there for the deer will keep them coming in regular. If I get lucky then you?ll probably read about it on a future blog sometime.
All in all it was a very productive Saturday even though the tractor quit working half-way through our work at the first location. I was dead tired by the end of the day and I downed 3 gatorades in a row when I got back to the house. My body was hurting?literally. My eyes were burning from the sweat getting in them, my back was aching, and the sweat had dried on me making me feel just sticky and grimy. Combine all that with the sting of the biting fly bites and you?ve got how I was feeling. Needless to say it didn?t take me long to get to sleep that night.
I think about all of this hard work, time we put in, and energy we hunters spend in preparation for hunting season and wonder if it?s worth it. I can remember hunts where I?ve harvested deer and know that it?s very worth it when you?re able to have that experience in the woods.
I?m looking forward to this coming hunting season and guess what?s going on this coming Saturday as well? another work day!