Strategic Food Plotting | Food Sources Produce Sheds
by Weston Schrank
People go crazy for white gold! Literally crazy…to the point in which you could equate them to a rut crazed buck hot on a does tail! Yeah, full-on slobbering, white-eyed, head down, antler-crazed shed hunters! Nothing stands in their way, even putting chicken wire or panel fencing sections to rip off sheds as bucks eat corn, even with a good chance of killing the buck! “If you ain’t out there, you ain’t gonna find them” well yeah so they are determined, but it’s pointless to freeze out there searching without finding antlers. And boy do they get mad when they can’t produce results. It simply comes down to not knowing where to look. If you pay attention, there is a way to increase your odds. Food plotting to kill deer is also a way to produce sheds…especially big ones!
Figuring out a buck is an extremely satisfying hobby. Trail camera photos, road sightings, hunting observations, and post-season scouting all has revealed his core area. Tracking your big buck on the property in all his movements and hopefully harvesting him is the reason for the addiction. It’s a sad day however when you find out someone else has claimed his antlers, or worse, killed him. You feel failure looming over your head as a hunter and a land manager. You have to ask yourself if you have done everything you could have done. Success is often determined by keeping deer on your property. That includes sanctuaries, adequate cover, quality habitat, and food. Given all those, a deer is happy to reside on the property staying within your boundaries besides perhaps the monthly excursion or two. That means good chances to lay your hands on his prized jewels, the white gold.
Unfortunately, one crucial item is repeatedly forgotten in the checklist above when managing land for deer. That is late season food, meaning you are keeping the buck on the property 9 or 10 months, but that 11th and 12th month he’s not there. He has gone to the neighbor’s property far, far away. This year, starting now, plan to keep him on your property all year! This is not talking about putting corn out tomorrow but figuring out where you can put late-season food sources. Besides the obvious positives to keeping your deer herd going strong through the winter, it will keep your bucks out in plain sight, in a field where the tines are easy to see. Want to increase your chances more? There’s a strategic way to plant to produce results for both hunting late season and especially shed hunting.
A buck is looking for three things during those cold and windy days…food, cover, and sunlight! Combining these three things is an incredible mix for finding sheds. Roll out your maps or hit google earth, If you can locate a tillable field close to a potential cover area such as native grasses, fallow fields, or thick woods you’ve got a jackpot. Anywhere that blocks wind but allows sunlight is a bedroom for deer. This can include southern-oriented slopes or thick and thorny hilltops.
If you can’t locate an area like this, you can make one. Using a chainsaw, some cover can easily be made with a little bit of TSI work and hinge cutting. Clearing a small parcel of woods, or even converting a cedar and briar thick field without equipment can result in a food plot. You could even hinge cut or place the small trees from the clearing of the plot to create a funneling entrance, narrowing your shed search area.
Now, what do you plant? Any late-season food source will do including brassicas, standing corn, and standing beans. Soybeans though are a land manager’s and deer hunter’s best friend. They are an 11-month food source. From the time of germination till the last pod is emptied. They have the power, if enough is planted, to feed deer from summer through winter. They will give you hunting opportunities from the first day of the season to the last. Your deer and that buck will spend countless hours gorging on standing beans, at a perfect height, without wasting much energy. Amending the soil right and exploding growth with DeerGro™ will boost yields leading to more hours spent feeding and a longer time period for his antlers to hit the ground.
Planting a bean plot next to a deer’s bedroom or designing your own bedroom can produce results! This strategic plan not only boosts shed hunting results but hunting results as well. It’s okay to be that crazy shed hunter, just make sure you can back yourself up by bringing antlers home. That includes your neighbor’s antlers too!