Outdoors Column: Waiting and Watching

The dry soil looked like dark gray flour after I ran the tiller over it. The dirt turned to powder after one pass. I am trying a new strategy on food plots this year. I am planting turnips earlier and wheat later. Last year, the turnips did well but were planted late enough, they only grew to about the size of golf balls before winter set in. It may have helped if the deer had not kept the tops constantly grazed off while they were trying to grow. This year, I have hopes the deer will leave them alone until they are well established. There is currently enough lush green feed, they should not feel the need to eat the turnips off to ground level before they have a chance to grow. In the fall, when everything else is turning brown and drying out, turnip leaves will still be green and fresh. After a hard freeze, during the winter when food starts to become more difficult to find, deer will dig up the turnips and enjoy a high energy snack.


I am going to plant my wheat much later, so it will be green and just starting to mature in late fall. Last year, the wheat matured in early fall and the turkeys ate it. I have nothing against turkeys sharing in the bounty, but they ate it all, leaving only the straw for the deer in winter. There is little nutritional value in straw.


I switched from the tiller to the seeder and headed out to plant turnips. I am not sure what the rate of seed per acre is supposed to be, so I just plant a bunch. Crop Services in Drakesville is not very far away if I need to replenish my supply and they have become accustomed to my coming in with strange requests. They have learned to stock plenty of turnip seed. I may have had the rate gauge set a bit high as going across the first food plot, I used the seed I had planned on spreading over two plots. Oh well, if they all grow, by fall it will be like walking on a field of softballs. It will keep the deer happy.


Having finished my farming for the weekend, my wife and I took off for a ride on the ATV to check the cameras. We put the trail cameras out two weeks ago for the first time since last winter. We were both anxious to see what was moving in the timber, hoping to have some pictures of fawns. Much to our dismay, two of the cameras were not working. Apparently, memory cards do not last forever. Fortunately, the other cameras did have some good pictures. There were several pictures of fawns and one picture of a buck with a good start on his velvety antlers, not to mention, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, and one owl.



With the farming done for a couple of months, we can just wait for the food plots to grow if it ever rains and watch the pictures of wildlife eating things before they are supposed to.