Outdoors Column: Spring Planning

My wife and I took an extended ride to check plan out strategy for next year’s food plots. The dogs were hunting enthusiastically. We are not sure what they were hunting, but they were doing a good job of it. Jag and Louie took off in opposite directions, each on the trail of something they thought needed to be hunted. We were well on our way to the turnip patch when they caught up with us again. Louie was out of breath, having run over hills and through the woods for a mile or so. Jag approached more slowly and unlike him, wanted to ride. He jumped in, shook his head, and sprayed blood all over us and the ATV. He apparently caught whatever he was hunting and it did not go well. He had a cut on his face and a tear on his ear. It is not unusual for him to attack a raccoon twice his size. He usually wins the fight, but I am not sure about this time. A few minutes pampering and he wanted to get back out to continue exploring.


I spotted a shed antler in the pasture ahead of us which rekindled our desire to find more. We walked hills, woods, and ditches in search of the antlers left behind by the bucks roaming the farm. For as many deer as we have, a person would think there would be antlers all over the place. Such is not the case. At least, if they are, they are not easy to spot. My wife did find a pair together on a hillside only inches apart. It looked like a young ten point buck had laid down to rest in the sunshine and when he stood up, his antlers fell off.


At the turnip patch food plot, the ground had been turned and every turnip was gone. During the cold weather, every deer in the area must have moved in and dug up turnips. Where hundreds of turnips had been, only pock marked ground remained. Another food plot was planted to wheat last year. At the time of planting, I had a few pounds of okra seed left over. I thought it would be interesting to see if any wildlife liked okra, so I planted all the seed along the edge. During the spring, turkeys enjoyed the wheat. The wheat that matured was eaten by the deer in the fall. Nothing ate the okra except a few eaten by my wife and me during the summer. Thousands of dried okra pods remained on the stalks until the really cold weather in January. It was then, the deer decided they did indeed like okra. In a few weeks, every okra pod was stripped from the stalks and eaten.


The alfalfa food plot looked pretty rough. Everything likes alfalfa. When a young shoot would pop out of the ground last spring, a deer would nip it off. Turkeys would scratch around and take plants out by the roots. Any lonely alfalfa sprouts that survived were eaten off close to the ground by rabbits that live in a nearby brush pile. I was hoping not, but I think I will have to replant this plot also.


By late afternoon, we had walked, hiked, and driven several miles around the farm. The dogs were as tired as my wife and I. Everybody had sore muscles but Jag seemed to be moving the slowest. A big fight as well as a long hike will slow down even the toughest in the group.