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2018 Food plot results and seed reviews

 

About our Annual Food Plot Review

 

We've been planting food plots since 1992. In 2011 we bought a 310 acre farm on the southwest edge of New York's Adirondack Mountains. Our goal was to demonstrate that the average hunter, with sub-par lands, can attract and hold whitetail deer - transforming even the worst properties into a local hot-spot. Unlike the celebrities who hunt the best farms - in the best states, we decided to show you how land management can transform even a "crappy" parcel of land. That was, and still is the mission of Bowsite's DeerBuilder.com website.

Seed Choices

For 2017 we used mostly 'brown bag' seed varieties on all new plantings. We're also displaying the results from Year 6 of our Perennial Plots. We followed all directions and soil test recommendations and brought this feature to you with fairness to the manufacturers, with accuracy and integrity.

 

Food Plot Choices and reviews for the 2017 season

Plot Locations

We did not expand or add any plot locations in 2017. We will be adding another plot in 2018.

Map of the DeerBuilder Property with Food Plot Locations

Planting Conditions in 2017

This area of New York is east of Lake Ontario and is part of the Lake Effect moisture band. It is wet here all the time and droughts are incredible rare. Average rainfall totals nearly 90" of rain and up to 190" of snow. For 2017 we came off an average winter with decent snow totals and total snow depth of 161" (previous year was 90"). While the snow was severe at times, there was significant warming / melting periods. Due to this, our area experienced very little winter kill.

We experienced wet growing conditions in the Spring, with above average moisture which delayed the growing season. The late summer conditions were decent but not ideal. Overall I rate growing conditions as a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being best.

Soil Tests and Amendments

We are very careful to test our soil in each plot with some larger fields getting multiple soil tests per year. Our PH has dropped a bit due to the snowfall totals and wet spring conditions. We spread 5 tons of lime in 2017. Our soil composition is a rich, sandy dark loam with good drainage in our higher locations and very poor drainage in other locations.

Equipment Used

We utilized all of our own equipment for these tests, nobody other than me installed these food plots. We own all of our equipment including a 55 hp diesel tractor, and attachments.

 

Trail Camera Survey

We had 40 cameras in use from May until March. We diligently maintained batteries and SD Card collections and finished out the Trail Cam Survey season with 35,137 individual photos of big game. These were sorted and maintained for establishing accurate deer utilization trends in each plot. We utilized two cameras running Moultrie Mobile in 3 key locations. This allowed us to have Real-time photos.

Hunting Season

We spent 16 total man-days hunting this property. We identified 2 mature bucks, one that has been on the property for three years and one that showed up in late summer but was killed a mile away during rifle. I did not kill any bucks this season, however I did take one mature doe on a DMP permit the last day of the season. Unlike many QDM programs, our area does not require doe reductions due to the harsh winters and severe herd loss which can occur here.

How we choose our seeds

You will notice that a lot of our choices come from Hancock Seed. Please note that Hancock is not a brand, they are a seed distributor that sells fresh, 'brown bag' seed. I prefer to buy my seeds from a high volume distributor - rather than pre-packaged varieties sold by big name hunting companies. On occasion, we will use 'deer head' branded seeds. Please remember, I have been doing this for over 21 years and most people will never want (or need) to go to the lengths I do to plant food plots.

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Our Plot strategy

New York, where my property is located, has one of the more regressive deer management programs in the Northeast. While this creates challenges for my herd goals, the single biggest problem we face is severe weather - which is typical for this area located just ten miles from Adirondack park in New York's Northern Zone . Our winters are harsh, with snow averages often topping 200 inches per year. Three years ago, we had a very severe winter with over 300 inches of snow. Predation is high here as well, with a good population of bears and an abundance of coyotes (and a short coyote season which makes no sense to anyone).

My plot choices take all of these factors into account. By far the single biggest factor is winter. I lean heavily toward winter crop varieties over spring and summer plantings. You will see that this year over half of my acreage is planted in brassicas as these bulbs are critical for winter survival.

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