In the final phase of the fall food plot series, we finally get to see the fruits of our labor!
It's been an interesting and fun season creating this fall food plot. We learned a lot in the process, and now you can see how it all turned out.
If you recall from Phase II, we planted two types of seed blends: Cabela's Brassica Blend and Cabela's Destination Blend. As expected, the perennial clover blend germinated great, but has grown slowly since. Next spring, it will be positioned to out-compete any other weedy plants and it should last several years with regular mowing and maintenance.
The annual brassica blend worked tremendously well! It had great germination and the deer started grazing it immediately. No waiting for a frost to sweeten the leaves with these plants. Nearly every day and night since it germinated, our trail cameras showed does and fawns moving across it back and forth, like living lawn mowers. The turnips and radishes developed edible bulbs that the deer relished for weeks. By the opener of Minnesota's gun season, the deer had unfortunately mowed the fall food plot into a dirt patch. Fortunately, bucks eventually followed the does. Turkeys also showed up in the dozens to pick insects off of the plot too.
It's always important to reflect on lessons learned during a process like this. Next season, we're going to need to either dramatically expand the size of the fall food plot, or employ a temporary solar-powered electric fence if we want to let the plants mature further until firearm opener. But as it is, we had some great bow hunting over the plot.
With any food plot, you don't really know how much browsing pressure it's getting unless you employ a utilization cage. Simply stake a wire enclosure of any sort to the ground so you can keep tabs of the plant growth. In our case, it was pretty obvious from trail camera pictures that the deer were hitting the plot pretty heavily, but we still wouldn't have known how it could have looked like with a fence around it to let the plants mature.
Our plot drew several does and fawns and held them there for the fall season, despite the plot only being 2/3 of an acre or so. It also attracted a few bucks, including the young 8 pointer below. Ultimately, a few management bucks were taken from the food plot, but with little food to offer during firearm season, the time just ran out.
I hope you enjoyed this series, and that you created your own fall food plot to hunt over this season. If not, you'll be much more prepared for next year!
All photos via Ryan Lisson