Hunting is a big part of the self-sustainable life we are creating here at Kowalski Mountain. While not all homesteaders hunt, it’s an important aspect that Philip and I enjoy. In the summer, deer can range over 500 acres of habitat. In the rut season, bucks may increase their range to as much as 800 acres. So, while our 68-acre homestead is sizable, it’s a very small portion of typical deer habitat. For that reason, we like to make Kowalski Mountain as hospitable as possible to the local deer population. Food plots planted especially for the deer are a good way to make that possible.
Benefits of Food Plots
Food plots provide a sustainable food source for all wildlife. It’s a way to improve the soil, adding healthy organic matter to the soil and prevent erosion in fields. The wildlife benefit from a varied source of nutrients that might not be available in the local area naturally. They also benefit by having a reliable source of food when they need it most.
What To Grow in a Food Plot?
The rule of thumb regarding food plots is to plant 60% cool-season perennials, like clover. 20% cool-season annuals, like turnips and kale that can handle the cool weather. Finally, 20 % warm-season annuals like corn, soybean, and alfalfa. To mke this easier, Philip usually purchases seed blends for this purpose. This year, Philip used several different mixes, the three largest bags were Bio-Logic Deer Plot, Pennington Dual Season, and WinterPz. These three blends provide a range of cool-season grains, brassicas, radishes, soybean, cowpeas, sorghum, buckwheat, and clover.
When to Plant a Food Plot?
I asked Philip if we were behind in our food plot planting, and he said we were not. I researched when to plant food plots and found that 45 to 60 days before the first frost is a general guideline. Some hunters plant their food plots in late summer (July and August). Our projected first frost date is October 5th, so with a September 9th planting date we are slightly under that 45-day minimum. The product websites for the specific winter seed mixes we used did indicate that it was appropriate to plant these seeds in September. Last year the food plots did very well, though I can’t remember what time frame Philip planted in 2020.
Preparing the Land
We planted 7 food plots this year! The most we have ever done. To prepare the plots for planting, Philip first used the tractor and till to break up the top of the soil. Next, he went over it with the discs and drag. We walked through each plot removing rocks, and large sticks from the planting area. Finally, he used the spreader on the front of the tractor to spread the seed. The whole family participated to get the job done.
Year-Round Food Plots
Once we move to the homestead, we will plant food plots year-round. The goal of the food plots is to provide a reliable food source that will encourage the deer to make Kowalski Mountain their home. Bucks naturally wander more but does that have a reliable food source are more likely to stay close and raise their fawns on the property. When the rut begins, the does will naturally draw in the bucks for hunting season. While we are not trophy hunters, a large buck will provide our family with plenty of meat for the year.
To read more about how we feed the deer, check out this post done during our July Workcation.
Planting the Food Plots: A Family Affair
Follow Us through the process as we plant this year’s food plots.
October Food Plot Update
The food plots were planted on September 9th with the family. On our trip this week we got to see the progress in just a month’s time. There is quite a bit of growth in all the food plots. Check it out.
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.