I know some say it’s early but now is the time to get ready for Archery season here in eastern PA. I will share with you my preseason preparations that may help you with your hunting location. In the beginning of April I sent out my soil samples for analysis. Within a few days I had my results. Plot 1 had a ph of 6.6 and Plot 2′s ph was 6.1. PH of your soil is critical for planting food plots. A range of 6.0 – 7.0 is ideal growing for most forage. I stick with perennials because I don’t have to replant them for several years with proper maintenance. To get good solid ph readings get your soil tested after the rifle season, this will give you an idea of how much lime is needed. Apply lime after rifle season, this will give the lime time to penetrate into the soil better and this way you can get a soil sample in early April and get your results before you want to plant. This allows you a chance to apply more lime if needed in April and you can get seeds in the ground by the first week in May.
With that being said I planted a mix of clovers and chicory. I found this blend to be very trustworthy since clover is always a favorite of white tailed deer and the chicory is very drought resistant in late July through early September. My plots are up and growing well, since here in northeastern PA has had good growing conditions with plenty of rain and warm sunny days. This year I am using a deer-repelling fence around my plots and from my trail cams and weekly checks on my plots the deer are staying away from the plots but they do come and inspect constantly smelling the tape around the plot. So for now it’s working. This may be due to the fact that the rye, alfalfa, barley, and wheat are available but that is the point. My plots and yours should be for later in the year when most crops are gone and only soy beans and corn are available. Your plots will offer good forage for deer in transition from crop fields to bedding and the opposite.
Plot 1 is located at a pinch point between agricultural fields and a known bedding area, perfect place for a food plot. Plot 2 is smaller and located just outside the bedding area, this plot is for bucks that don’t like to venture into open woods during daylight hours. Plots like this must be put in and planted early to let the bedding area settle for months so you don’t spook your monster buck from his favorite bedding area.
April and May are also perfect time to cut travel paths for the deer and make them travel where you want them to go. I linked a heavy trail from the bedding area to Plot 2 and Plot 1 and planted grass (yes, ordinary grass) on these trails, which allows me to do my weekly checks in silence and gives the deer traveling on it something else to graze on. Another trick I used last year as an experiment was the use of sweet peas and snap peas as a growing barrier to help funnel deer to where I want them to go. It worked well and deer love to eat them. It’s an expensive tool but it works really well.
So if you haven’t gotten started on your food plots and travel corridors don’t count yourself out, you still have a little time to prep and plan for fall plots. I will be prepping an area for a fall plot (Plot 3); I will go through this process as the weeks continue as well as update my current preseason activities and food plot monitoring.