Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Laying out Your Food Plots
By Bob Humphrey
Proper planting prevents poor performance. Where you lay out your plots can significantly influence how effective they are. This is true especially of hunting plots, but also of year-round feeding plots, to a lesser extent.
First we can dispense with the low hanging fruit. If you have a choice, you’ll want to give strong consideration to where the optimal soils, slope and aspect (exposure to sunlight) are. You might even make this top priority for feeding plots.
For hunting plots you need to consider other variables, not the least of which is proximity to feeding plots. Deer tend to use larger, open feeding plots predominantly after dark. They’re more inclined to use smaller plots before dark. Put those smaller plots near a larger one and you double their attractiveness.
Even at this level there are several things to consider, including access and wind direction. Look at the lay of the land, the topography and the various habitat types for features like hills, ravines or large timber stands that may intercept, re-direct or funnel prevailing winds. Then eliminate them from consideration.
Also consider wind direction in relation to access points. You’ll want to lay out your plots so you can approach from a direction that will not blow your scent into nearby bedding or staging areas, and will not leave scent on regularly-used travel corridors.
Road layout can also be important. If your approach direction from at the far end of the property, you may be better building a perimeter road than driving through the middle. A simple two-track big enough for an ATV is all you need.
Even plot shape can influence effectiveness. Square or rectangular plots are designed for agricultural efficiency, which is fine for feeding plots. Hunting plots should be designed for hunting. Take advantage of natural features like topography and existing cover taype and make them irregularly-shaped. A classic hourglass, for example, creates a natural funnel at the bottleneck, making that a great place for a bow stand. A longer “s” shape may offer multiple funnels and multiple stand sites.
If you have multiple plots, you can lay them out to work in concert. One example we’ve already mentioned is putting small hunting plots near large feeding plots. Another may be to position several plots in a spaced, linear pattern to create channelized movements. Yet another is to place hunting plots around a feeding plot in various directions to take advantage of different wind directions on different days.
There’s really no limit to what you can do. The key is to spend a little time plotting before you spend a lot of time establishing your plots.