Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew
Over the course of the Food Plot Journey we?ve been demoing the GroundHog MAX as well as planting a lot of Tecomate Seed. We?ve demonstrated that average Joes (and rookie food plot web people like myself) can even use these products and get a decent food plot to come up. All of the products that we?ve used can be purchased online, but recently a new outdoor store right across the NC line opened up that carries these products and more!
The Springs Wild Game Center is located in Mineral Springs, NC and is run by Bryan McCarver. The Wild Game Center is a sister company to the local Feed and Seed company in Mineral Springs. It takes about 25 minutes to get there from Pageland and is also not a bad ride from Buford or Lancaster. It sits right off of highway 75 just across the train tracks. The store is relatively new and is really nice. From cities like Pageland?s perspective, it beats driving an hour to Rock Hill or to a store in the Greater Charlotte area and it?s a nice ?country? drive along the way (Google Map to Springs Wild Game Center).
The Wild Game Center carries both fishing and hunting products and is also going to carry guns in the near future. As I mentioned, the store hasn?t been open too long and has some plans for some really neat things such as an archery course and even a 3d archery course?so it?s good now and will only get better in time. The Wild Game Center is also one of the few places where you can find another emerging product in ?BuckYum?.
We had some WeHuntSC.com decals up there earlier, but they?re out now. We?re working to get some vinyl decals offered permanently in the store as well. Best of all you can go there and pick up a GroundHog MAX or a McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag and even some TrueTimber camo! You can give it a look and touch/feel it before you buy if you want. Bryan and the guys at the store can also get any flavor of Tecomate Seed that you want.
If you?re on the NC/SC border then you ought to give the Springs Wild Game Center a look at some point. We like to use our site to promote good places and good people and this place definitely meets both of those criteria! If you go, be sure to tell them that you heard about them from WeHuntSC.com! Once the 3d range gets set up I?m going to go back and shoot some video of the place to give you a feel for what it?s like too!
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...
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
The WeHuntSC.com team headed back out to do some more work on a remote food plot that we?re installing as part of our Food Plot Journey. It has finally started warming back up in our neck of the woods and I?m glad it has. In between wedding showers, parties, the weekends of honey-do?s + flower/tuxedo/ring/invitation/ selections, birthday celebrations, and all the recent snow, getting a weekend to work has been some slim pickings. With all of the business, it was good to get out and do some work and try to be productive again.
As part of our Food Plot Journey, we are planting several food plots for the upcoming deer season. Most of these food plots are located in fields that tractors can easily access. With this easy tractor access to the food plot areas, it?s not hard to plow the dirt up, spread lime, or get the seed out. Though, with a remote food plot, we specifically place smaller food plots in thicker, denser areas where tractors could never reach. Just to get to these locations is difficult sometimes. For this particular food plot, we had to cross a creek, a few mud holes, and ride through the woods for a good ways just to reach the stand location. As you are probably aware, deer like cover and so placing food plots deep in the woods is just fine by them. In some ways we are taking a food source to them instead of trying to get them to come to our food source.
Taking the food source to the deer incurs a little work on the hunter?s part though. I guess there are some prices to pay in order install a food plot back deep in the woods. Though, the prices you pay mostly come at the expense of your physical labor. Some areas are more open and naturally lend themselves to having a food plot installed in their locations whereas other areas may require a little more work. In our case, this area required some work. We spent a total of three days working on this remote food plot. This area is situated in some planted pines where a lumber crew had previously come in and thinned out the pines a few years back. The part that took the longest was cutting down the volunteer saplings that had taken up where the pines use to be. We cut these down and eventually had to get their root systems out as well because the pointed stubs in the ground are prime suspects for puncturing the tires of a 4-wheeler. Rakes, axes, bush-axes, sheers, clippers, shovels, chainsaws, you name it we used them all. Over the course of working out there I caught poison ivy once, dulled a chainsaw blade twice, and had several blisters on my hands. I think Will may have pulled an ab when he bent over once as well! Though, I guess typing on a computer every day at work doesn?t really prepare my hands for this kind of labor either! All in all, we had to put in some hours of work to get ground ready to be disked and I?m not sure if we could have done it without Sam Mungo in the previous week.
Since we had cleared the ground, it was time for Adam to come in with the GroundHog MAX and throw some dirt around. As we?ve mentioned before, the GroundHog MAX is an attachment (not a pull behind) that attaches directly beneath an ATV. People have asked me ?How well does that thing really work? (with an emphasis on the word ?REALLLY?) and after today, I can confidently tell you that it works very well. You?ll see the video of it in action below.
The area where we are installing this food plot has some thick clay beneath the surface and I was interested to see how the GroundHog MAX would handle the clay land. Another note that I mentioned in the video and will mention here is that Adam?s 4-wheeler is a 2-wheel drive. The GroundHog MAX would probably do even better with a 4-wheel drive, but regardless we were still able to get the job done with the 2-wheel drive ATV. We ran the GroundHog MAX lightly for a good while to get the top-soil broken up some and then later we dropped it down lower to get more traction with the soil. As you?ll see in the below video, we were able to get the dirt turned up well, plenty well enough to get some seed in the ground.
Apologies... for some reason I was shouting into the Flip Video Recorder - I'll try not to shout at you in future videos
With the ground now disked up and soil overturned, we are now ready to come back in and put some lime down. (NOTE: We know the ratio of pounds per acre of lime to put down based off the soil sample result that we previously had returned to us from our local Clemson agricultural extension.) Due to the snow and the aforementioned factors of a busy life, we are probably a little late getting the lime down as the soil sample reports indicated that the lime needs to be in place 3 ? 6 months before planting. Lime needs time to work and in this case of our remote food plot, we?re a little late getting it down. The pH in this specific location is 5.4 and (as previously mentioned in the soil sample blog) we are shooting for a pH of 7. Thus, we need to get some lime down and some fertilizer in hopes of getting the soil as close to 7 as possible. We may not get it to 7 quickly, but as we keep working this food plot the pH will get closer and closer to 7 every time we put down more lime. So, this will be a work in progress and a continued learning experience. Thanks to the guys for coming out and helping get this accomplished.
Next up will be a blog entry about putting some lime down. I continue to learn more about food plot installation, management, and Mother Nature in general. This time I also learned a little more about the GroundHog MAX.
*** Be sure to check out our Hunter?s Night Out that will take place on May 1st, 2010 where the inventor of the GroundHog MAX will be on hand speaking along with representatives from Tecomate Seed & QDMA.