No tractor, no problem.
A large chunk of trophy bucks come from hunters who use food plots. This isn’t always feasible for every hunter. And, you might think you don’t have the right equipment to plant your own plot. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need a tractor. If you’re willing to work for it, you can have a quality food plot without spending a ton of money.
I’ve planted my own plots successfully without much more than a garden hoe and a rake. Admittedly, I’ve also planted them with the aid of a four wheeler and rototiller. Both yielded similar results and required about the same amount of time.
The first thing that you need to do is find the right area. Look near bedding areas and along ridge tops. If you hunt near another agricultural field, travel corridors and paths to and from these fields are great for food plots.
Now that you have the area picked out, it’s time to clear it out. If you have a chainsaw, use it and cut out any bushes, shrubs or trees that may be in your way. An axe and a machete will also get the job done with a little more work. Plants need light to grow, so there’s no such thing as clearing too much. What you do with the brush is up to you. If you can burn it or mulch it, that’ll definitely help your food plots. I like to position these clippings to direct deer movement closer to my treestand locations.
Next, it’s time to expose the dirt. If you have access to a lawn mower, you can cut down any grasses. Otherwise, a rake or garden hoe with some sweat equity will function just as well. Regardless of how short you cut the grass, I recommend exposing the dirt. While technically a rototiller is cheating, feel free to use one.
Once you have your dirt, what comes next is the most important part. Get a soil test. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART. You’ll need to know how to fertilize this soil properly to aid in growing your plot. Once you have your plot fertilized properly, you can choose whether or not you want to seed. If you’re on a strict budget, just adding fertilizer and starting some fresh growth will work as its own attractant.
Let’s face it, though, you’re most likely going to plant and seed your plot. While seed choices are up to you, there are two I recommend. Clover is the standard for low-maintenance plots. If you’re lucky, you can frost-seed the clover, lessening your labor. The next seed is the one I use the most: Siberian Kale. It grows in everything—sand, snow, acidic soils, you name it. You can frost-seed kale, too.