As turkey season draws to an end, we?re just about ready to put some seed down and it?s not just any seed, its Tecomate Seed?you know, the good stuff! You may think that we?re busy turkey hunting every weekend, but don?t forget that we?re also preparing some food plots for next deer season. Yes it?s that time of year! I encourage you to look at the ?Show Us Your Food Plots? page to see some of the user posted images of food plots on which site visitors around the state are working. Feel free to post yours too! You can even film a YouTube video of yourself and tell us what you?re doing/planting/anticipating. We like to see what?s going on around the state and hope to create a food plot synergy if you will! Though, I know some of you like to keep your ?best kept secrets? and food plots to yourself.
It seems hunting can be a year round task, which is a good thing if you ask me! It kind of reminds me of my football days in college. Many think that you just play during the season and come back next year at about the same time of year and play again, but its oooh so different when you?re inside the system. There was always something to do, film to watch, weights to lift, miles to run, practices to attend, meetings etc. Of course we only did that kind of stuff because we wanted to be successful. So I?ll draw the same analogy to hunting. We work hard in the off season running soil samples, clearing woods, and planting food plots in hopes of being successful. Optimistically we?ll be able to get some good deer walking around these food plots to share with you via photo or video. And as our coach would tell us, what you do in the off-season will directly affect what happens during the regular season.
With that said, what exactly do we need to do to prepare to put seed down? Well, there?s really not that much that needs to take place. We should already have our soil samples analyzed, lime down, and the soil should be ready to be seeded. As you can see in the pictures of this blog, we?ve cut the field again to knock down some of the previous year?s growth mixed with some volunteer plants that have come up. We should be ready to seed.
Just before we plant our seed we will broadcast the recommended rate of fertilizer and light disc & drag it into the soil. In doing so, we will reduce the chance of the fertilizer burning the new seedlings after they germinate. Now we are ready to plant our seed. In the larger areas where we?ll be planting, we?ll use a tractor to broadcast the seed. For the remote food plot area, where we used the GroundHog Max, we?ll spread seed with a spreader and an ATV/4-wheeler.
From my perspective, I?m excited (and a little nervous) to see what?s going to happen with all of this. I don?t think I?ve ever actually planted something like this in my life. We?ve had something similar to a garden at my house before, but for me this is a different adventure. Remember, I?m a web guy and my farming skills are little at best. I?m eager to see what will happen and to see if we can get some deer out of these locations. Even if we don?t harvest any of the deer though, at least I?ll know that the deer are eating something that will help them be healthier and help them reach their potential when they get to be mature bucks.
More to come at the seeding!
As we continue the Tecomate Seed ?Food Plot Journey? the time came to plant the seed. Due to a mix-up at a distribution point we are not planting three different Tecomate products, but rather two. We planted the seed for our summer plot this past weekend (Saturday, May 1st). The products we did plant were Tecomate?s ?Lab Lab? and ?Lab Lab Plus? and I?m very eager to see what will come in the near future.
Mike Lee of Barenbrug USA/Tecomate Seed, along with Don Willis from DBW Outdoors, were present with Keith Frachiseur representing the GroundHog MAX. We all got together and got seed in the ground at one of our food plot feature locations.
First things first?we got up early and went to Bojangles and got some good biscuits. Then we went to our food plot location. The weather predictions had been forecasting rain and isolated thunderstorms for Saturday, but somehow we made it out without getting wet. I was happy about that since I was shooting video and photos during this whole process. I will say that I learned a lot from Mike as we installed the seed and from asking him questions throughout the day.
We are installing one food plot location of our ?Food Plot Journey? on about 2.4 acres of land where the soil is pretty sandy in upstate, Pageland South Carolina. Since this specific location has been previously worked and cultivated for food plots, the soil sample readout result of the pH came back at 7.0. Since the pH was already in check, we did not have to apply lime at this location.
We had planned on using a no till drill to plant the seed, but were unable to secure the equipment. Instead we used a tractor, a plow, and a spreader to put the seed out. Per Mike?s instructions, we divided the field in half using different planting techniques on each half. On one half we left the dirt rows that were created where we used the disc to prep the field and on the other half we used a drag to smooth the soil out before we broadcast the seed. This left us with a field that was smooth on the right side and the small rows from the disc remained on the left. Then we broadcasted the seed, via the spreader on the tractor, on both sides of the field. Trust me?it was a whole lot easier hanging off the side of that tractor with a camera when we were riding on the smooth side!
After the seed was broadcasted, we went back and drug the right side again with our drag to cover the seed with dirt. On the left side we went back in and lightly disked and harrowed the field to cover the seed with dirt via the lightly discing method. Dividing the field up like this with two different planting techniques will hopefully show us any differences that may occur as result of the differing implementation methods.
Mike?s theory is that the seed on the left side (the side that was lightly disked and harrowed back in) will be a little bit deeper in the soil than the seed on the right said that was smoothly dragged in. Mike believes that the difference in the planting depths of the seed may have an effect on the seed varieties that come up in our field. Mike is afraid the White Grain Milo in the Lab Lab Plus could be planted too deep with the harrowing method and may not establish well. In time, and with rain, we will hopefully have pictures to demonstrate this.
Now that you understand how we divided the field in half and got dirt back on top of the seed, let me explain where we put which type of seed. Mike indicated that the White Grain Milo in the LabLab Plus will grow a little taller than the straight LabLab. Since it?s taller, we planted the LabLab Plus along the outside border of the field in hopes of giving the deer some kind of barrier to create an inner location where they will feel safe and less guarded. Thus, the LabLab is lower in height and was broadcasted inside the middle of the field. See the graphic below to help you understand how we segmented this field. In the near future, we plan on putting up exclusion fences in each quadrant to show you how the products should grow if they are untouched by the deer.
(We will come back after the first rain and put down some Milorganite to protect the food plot a little, but that will come in a later blog entry.)
All the planting took us about 2.5 hours to get done and we were dusty, sweaty, and hungry by the time is was all over. Since these guys were from Georgia and Alabama, I figured I?d take them somewhere that they most likely hadn?t eaten before. That?s right; we took them to the Legendary ?SmokeHouse Grill? in Jefferson, South Carolina. I believe the guys really liked the food and especially liked the barbeque sauce. We ate there for a bit and then headed to Pageland where my mom had some rum cake awaiting us! Nothing like mama?s cooking.
After eating some rum cake we showed the guys our remote food plot, which is in a totally different location. While we were there we discussed options for planting and discussed what would be the best fits for this location. Keith demoed his GroundHog MAX while we were there and turned up the soil again for me. We?re going back in there to plant soon too?probably this coming weekend.
GroundHog MAX Update: If you?re interested in getting one, The GroundHog MAX is now available at your local Tractor Supply Stores.
Below is a video we shot with Keith explaining a little bit about the remote food plots and the GroundHog MAX.
All in all it was a long day, but it was a good day. I learned a lot, got dirty, ate well, and we got the seed down in a good location with guidance from a panel of experts. I really hope that the man upstairs will bless us with some rain in order to get this stuff to grow because I?m curious to see what will happen. So stay tuned for more as we continue to update this blog series with results of this food plot location and others as well.
Remember when I said that I was taking some new batteries back out to the game-cam on the GroundHog MAX, remote food plot? Well, turns out that if you actually have working batteries in the game camera that it does take pics! Also, lithium batteries work better than the regular. Looks like I?m learning about all kind of stuff this summer.
Since putting new batteries in the game camera, I?ve been able to get some decent pics of does in the plot munching on some Tecomate Seed Lab Lab Plus! Still have not gotten any bucks to walk past the camera yet though. I?m thinking about putting a camera on the other end of the plot as well since it is very long and narrow and I can tell that the deer are browsing the plot and crossing through it at various locations.
Another thing I?ll note is that at the remote food plot, the Lab Lab Plus is growing so much that it?s starting to grow to the edges of the food plot and up the sides of other trees and branches of nearby plants. It?s pretty neat to see it doing that.
Here is a pic of the remote food plot as of August 20th. This food plot made possible by GroundHog_MAX & Tecomate Seed
Below are some of the pics that I pulled from the camera of does browsing the remote food plot. I think it has taken them a little time to get use to this new food plot being in their area and again, it looks like they?re being selective of which plants they eat. Nothing amazing, but does show how high lab lab plus as well as some deer getting tangled up in some Tecomate!
Location 2 Update Pics
I also got some pics from one of the other food plots we?ve been working on. This location grew well and did not have a drastic weed problem like the other area I was documenting so thoroughly. As you can see from the pic to the right the milo is growing strong and is getting tall. I believe these plants are the ones that once they get hit with a frost that the starches in them turn to sugar and the deer will start eating them more. At this location, the deer are accustomed to having food plots in it year after year and are ready to eat as soon as the plants start growing. The deer have wiped out most of the broad-leaf plants already, but they?re still coming through to eat.
Below is one of the pics we got of some does in the plot at night. I could post several more, but it?s the same does in the plot over and over again.
It?s good to get some pics of deer in the plots and hopefully we?ll get some bucks in the pics before too long. Sure hope that I have working batteries in my camera should a monster buck come through?and if he does, I?ll post it here for you to see.
This past weekend Adam and I got out and did a good day's worth of work on two food plots that we're installing in the fall session of the Food Plot Journey. Boy was it hot too! Up until this point we have taken soil samples for both areas, sprayed, and disked both of these plots. Given the best case scenario we would have preferred to get the lime in the soil a few weeks ahead of the seed, but due to the fact that we're just like you (weekend warriors) we've kind of gotten in a bind with our time and are putting down both the lime and seed on the same day. Again, I don't think this is the best practice method, but it can still work or at least we hope so!
The soil samples we took for these plots returned a pH of 5.2 for both of these plots...which is a little low. We are putting lime in the ground to help bring the pH up to a level that creates a better growing environment for the plants that we are planting. Also, this fall we are using a new type of lime. We?re using "Fact Acting Lime" which (I believe) is a recent development within lime products. Fast acting lime is supposed to do just what it is named "act fast"! Normally it takes several months for lime to start breaking down the acidity in the soil and changing the pH. Though, this fast acting lime is supposed to be able to start changing the pH at an accelerated rate. On the bag of the lime it says that it's 15 times more effective than regular lime. Since we're late putting the lime down due to our schedules, I sure hope it acts fast! We'll be interested to see how it works. The bags are about 30-40lbs a piece and we put 4 bags on the small plot and 8 bags on the larger, power line plot because that was the recommended amount given the size of our plots and the coverage of the lime.
After we made the passes with the lime and spreader, we then hooked up a drag to the ATV because we wanted to drag the lime in. We're doing this to hopefully cover the lime up with dirt and get the lime near the area of the soil where the roots of the plants will be located. If all went well, the lime will be right where it needs to be right when the plant needs it. You'll see in the video where we drug both areas. We used an old drag hare to do this and it seemed to work well and started leveling out some of the small hills as we drug the soil. It was real similar to dragging a baseball field.
After liming and dragging, it was now time to put the seed down. On the small plot we are putting in Tecomate?s Monster Mix. The seeds for Monster Mix are very small and look neon green in color. We only had to make 3 or 4 passes with the spreader because the seed got out so quickly. It didn?t take too long to get all this done on the small plot as it, of course, is smaller in size. Adam also climbed up in the stand to take some pics of the envisioned food plot to demonstrate our perspective on what we will be seeing this coming fall. Hopefully we'll be looking down on something that is green and thriving!
We repeated the same process on both food plots of liming, dragging, and seeding. As mid day approached, it started getting really hot. We worked on the power line plot for a while. We both were soaked and I even went to the store and bought 6 drinks and we drank them all within an hour?but there was still work that needed to be done. Since the power line plot is steep and "hilly", it was a little tougher to manage. The drag would get clumped up, the spreader would bounce and act as if it was about to tip over, etc. The power line plot required a little more time because of all of this mixed with the fact that I was going back and forth from the video camera to the regular camera etc.
With regards to the seed and food plot product for the power line food plot, we're planting Tecomate's Max Attract & Ultra Forage. We mixed these seeds together to offer the deer in the area a smorgasbord of food sources. Optimistically we?ll have a hillside leading to a creek that is covered in green right about when other food sources start to diminish for deer in our area. This will not only get them where we want them to be, but will also help them with their year round nutritional and dietary needs.
Now that the weeds have been sprayed, ground disked, soil limed, and the seeds have been sowed, all we can do is sit back and hope for rain. It has been extremely dry these past few weeks/months. You can see this in the videos we've previously posted where dust is flying everywhere and covering us from head to toe. Without any rain, there's nothing much that can grow so we?re going to be praying for rain in the coming weeks. Hopefully everything will come together. On a positive note, Tecomate's seed is covered with a "Yellow jacket" coating that retains any moisture it comes in contact with. This coating is specifically designed to aid in dry conditions.
The seeds of the Monster Mix were bright green and very small as seen in the image below
Below is an HD video collage of the lime, dragging, and seeding install.
And now...the wait for rain!
After the Eagles game Friday night I knew it was going to be cold the next morning, so I put some extra layers of clothing in my McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag and let that baby roll all night long. In retrospect I was glad that I did because it was pretty chilly out there the next morning?and yes, I smelled like dirt! With the cold weather, all the scrapes, rubs, and rut activity going on, I was excited about going and sitting over one of our fall, Tecomate Seed food plots the next morning.
If you?ve been following any of the Tecomate Seed Food Plot Journey over the course of this past year, then you know that we?ve been working hard putting in food plots in various locations. I went out to the ?power line plot? this past Saturday morning and had a pretty neat hunt. The power line plot has Tecomate?s Max Attract & Ultra Forage in it. It sure is coming along nice by my rookie food plot creator standards.
We?ve got a tower stand placed about 1/3 the way down this plot. We put it here so that we could easily see to the bottom of the food plot. I like this stand because it?s in a good location and it?s provide a spacious setup from which it?s easy to film. Oh, and there just happens to be a nice scrape about 20 yards down from the stand as well.
I arrived very early so that I could get in the stand and give myself time to get situated and ready for the sun to rise. As I walked through our food plot to the stand it was easy to see that the Tecomate Seed Ultra-Forage & Max Attract was growing well. This stuff was higher than my ankles in many places. With the low-levels of rain that we?ve had this year I was pretty pleased with the growth. I opted to walk through the plot versus around it because there were dry leaves all on the side of the plot and I was trying to be quiet. Walking through the plot rather than the edge helped reduce the amount of noise I made entering and I wasn?t worried about spreading a lot of scent in the plot because of McKenzie?s Scent Fan Bag + Atsko?s odor elimination products that we?re using this year.
When I arrived to the tower stand I put out some doe estrus and then left the bottle open at the base of the stand. The power line acts as kind of a ?wind-tunnel? and with all the recent talk and signs of rut I wanted this estrus scent to blow down the plot in hopes of luring a buck into the area. I was hopeful that a buck would come through to eat and then smell the scent and work his way up the plot?at least that was my mental picture of what would be neat to happen and get on film!
I sat there in the dark for a little while and tried to get everything situated. Carrying a camera, tripod, gun, bag, etc makes for a little extra work and requires some extra time to set up. I finally had everything up and was ready to watch the sun rise. I sat for a little while when I noticed a deer enter the food plot at the very bottom left. I could tell the deer had a decent size, but yet wasn?t huge. It was still kind of dark and it made it a little difficult to see?and even more difficult to film (so sorry for the initially dark footage at the beginning of the video below). The whole time I was watching this deer I thought it was a doe. It wasn?t until after reviewing the film that I learned that it was actually a small buck. The raw footage isn?t quite as dark as the footage in the video below?when YouTube encodes the video there is a little bit of quality lost in the encoding. As I sat in the stand thinking this deer was a doe I was pretty pumped because I thought there was a good chance that a buck may be coming behind shortly thereafter.
This first deer stayed in the plot for a little bit and I zoomed in and out trying to get more light in the camera. I even moved the camera once trying to get it closer to me (you?ll see the bump(s) in the video). The deer was just browsing and poking its head up and down. I could see the deer ?winding? as some call it. He was putting his nose up in the air and seemingly inhaling so as to smell what?s in the air. I felt sure that the estrus scent I put out was making its way down the power line. Though, thinking this deer was a doe, I didn?t really care that it smelled the estrus. Either way I was pretty pumped because a deer came in the plot early and that signaled to me that deer were moving in my area.
After seeing this deer my heart was pumping a little so I was very focused looking for anything that might be trailing shortly thereafter. Sure enough about 15 minutes later I saw another deer enter the plot from the same direction?this one had a bigger body. I zoomed in with the camera and got the deer in the video screen. When I saw the rack I knew it was a good deer, but I knew that I wasn?t going to shoot it. I wanted to, as the saying goes; let him go so he could grow. I was sitting there with my rifle in my lap with the barrel leaning against the railing of the stand and with the tripod and video camera just to the right of me. It may not sound like it, but in those few seconds it?s a lot to manage in between operating the video camera, getting the gun up, and paying attention to deer in front of you (without spooking him). I?m trying to learn the art of managing this all at once.
Seeing these deer come through made me realize just how quick I?ve got to be ready to get my gun up if I want to shoot. If the deer don?t stop, eat, or spend any time in the plot, then there are only a few seconds that you have to react. If I would have wanted to, I could have probably got a shot off at this larger deer, but the shot would have been rushed a little and I don?t like taking shots in a hurry if I can help it. He?ll be bigger next year!
Hoot, I did some commentating in this video for ya!
Ultimately, it was a good trip in the woods for me. You don?t always get to see deer, but I was fortunate enough to see some on this hunt. It also felt good to see some bucks in the area and to have them browsing on the food plot that we spent a lot of time installing. Hopefully these two will make it for a couple of years and will hang around to walk in front of the camera again.
As you can imagine, a wedding consists of a lot of planning and events which take some time to orchestrate. This minimized my window of available time to put seed in the remote food plot. As you can also imagine, Mother Nature doesn?t wait around on weddings to pass. So, I had to soldier up and get the seed down. I planned on putting the seed out with Mr. J.E. on the morning of my wedding day at 6:30am. Little did I know that I would be up all night and only get 3 hours of sleep before hand. It was rough and if you hear my voice, you can tell I?m struggling on the video. Though, we got the task accomplished.
The remote food plot is located back deep in some woods that we hunt in. The loggers came in and cleared out some rows of pines. To this point, we had cleared out one of the areas where the loggers removed a row of pines. It took some time to clean out, but I think it will be worth it. We then ran a soil sample and put some lime down to try to get the soil pH closer to 7.0. This is the same process that we are doing at our other food plot locations that you are reading about in the other blog entries only this is the remote food plot edition.
Since the ground was recently turned up, we only needed to smooth it back out and then spread the seed. We simply took the 4-wheeler back in the woods with a drag hare and a spreader. We used an old timey drag hare to smooth the soil back out. Mr. J.E. said that the drag was used back in the day behind a mule and you can see the wear and tear on the drag in the video. Though, it did the job and worked well.
After dragging it again, we detached the drag and attached the spreader. A few laps on the 4-wheeler (while I tried to commentate) and that was it. Understand though that we used an extremely large amount of seed for this very small location. The bag will seed one acre and we poured the whole bag over an area about ¼ of an acre. I?m not sure if this will result in an abundance or if it will hurt the food plot. I do know that there is ample amount of seed on the ground though. I guess time will tell on all this.
A week later my dad and I went back to put down some Milorganite in hopes of acting as a fertilizer and keeping the deer off the food plot for a few weeks (as denoted in the previous blog entry). Just a small note to self about this process, it always helps to have the right size pin for the spreader attachment or else you end up pulling the spreader around in circles with your hand! In between 2 Saturdays and a lot of events in between we were able to get the seed and Milorganite down. Since then we?ve had some rain so I hope everything will start to grow. For the next little bit, it?s up to Mother Nature.
(I had a million things running through my mind and I forgot the Flip, so I shot this video with the I-Phone...thus the blurriness)