In a seemingly quiet time of year for hunters, these late winter food plot tips will keep you busier than you would think.
Most hunting seasons across the country are over. But that doesn't mean you get to rest on your laurels and take the winter off.
It's important to fully utilize late winter, because spring has enough tasks in store for land managers as it is. Late winter is the time to prepare so that things go smoothly when the weather warms up.
These late winter food plot tips will help you get more accomplished this year. That could mean the difference between sitting behind a trophy buck and eating a tag sandwich next season.
One of the first and most important late winter food plot tips is reconnaissance; basically, you need to see what worked on your land. Hopefully you kept some observational notes throughout the season to help paint a better picture (I keep mine in a spreadsheet, but a notebook works well too).
Depending on snow cover and conditions, it's also a great time to go burn some shoe leather on your property. Walk around and make notes about entry/exit points, wildlife utilization, plot persistence, etc.; anything that could be useful back at home.
While you're at it, scout out some potential new plots. Spooking deer by bushwhacking this time of year doesn't hurt your chances next fall, so don't be afraid to go find your next great staging area or ambush plot.
Research and Planning
Once you have your notes compiled, you should review your goals and do some more research. Was your plot developed to strictly be an attractant during early bow season? Or was it meant to provide winter nutrition for the deer herd?
Now it's time to make some decisions based on your observations. Did your plot persist through hunting season or get wiped out in September? Is it providing adequate forage throughout the winter? Did the specific seed blend germinate well last summer or was it stunted for some reason?
Thinking through these questions will help you hone your food plot approach. If your plot didn't work out (and you did a soil test and amended the soil as recommended), consider purchasing different seeds this year. If your perennial plot is on the downward spiral, plant some annuals or an annual/perennial blend.
Mixing it up will be beneficial for the soil and you may find a blend that works really well on your land. There are so many great options available. Check out the selections at Cabela's or Gander Mountain and do your homework!
After all the planning is done, you can also look to physical preparations. Take some time to give your planting equipment some TLC, whether it's a full tractor and drill system, an ATV and disc, or some simple hand tools. Don't let your equipment hold you back come spring because you didn't do routine maintenance to prevent problems.
If you're starting a new plot in a forested area, get out now with a chainsaw to outline the shape and remove the logs and slash. One less step down the road is one less obstacle to your hunting success.
While out in your plots, you can also place mineral supplement blocks this time of year. Once spring arrives, the blocks will already be available for pregnant or nursing does and velvet bucks, which eliminates another trip for you.
If you can check these late winter food plot tips off your list now, you'll be much better off in a few months. Then all you need to worry about is what you're going to do with all that venison.
Good luck next year!