2019 Food plot results and seed reviews
About our Annual Food Plot Review
We've been planting food plots since 1992. In 2011 we bought a 310 acre farm on the southwest edge of New York's Adirondack Mountains. Our goal was to demonstrate that the average hunter, with sub-par lands, can attract and hold whitetail deer - transforming even the worst properties into a local hot-spot. Unlike the celebrities who hunt the best farms - in the best states, we decided to show you how land management can transform even a "crappy" parcel of land. That was, and still is the mission of Bowsite's DeerBuilder.com website.
For 2019 (2018 growing season) we again used mostly 'brown bag' seed varieties on all new plantings. This year we ended up burning down all of our perennial clover plots so you won't see them included. We followed all directions and soil test recommendations and brought this feature to you with fairness to the manufacturers, with accuracy and integrity.
Food Plot Choices and reviews for the 2018 season
- 2018 Review Introduction & Guide
- Food Plot 1a - Hancock Siberian Kale
- Food Plot 1b - Silver Queen Sweet Corn
- Food Plot 1c - Hancock Buckwheat
- Food Plot 1d - Alfagraze 300 Alfalfa
- Food Plot 2 - Hancock WGF Sorghum
- Food Plot 2a - Hancock Birdsfoot Trefoil
- Food Plot 4 - Hancock Deer Greens, Austrian Peas
- Food Plot 7 - Real World Soybeans
- Food Plot 7a - Hancock Blackhawk Clover
We expanded Plot 4 by .75 acres in 2018. We will be adding another plot in 2019.
Map of the DeerBuilder Property with Food Plot Locations
Planting Conditions last season
This area of New York is east of Lake Ontario and is part of the Lake Effect moisture band. It is wet here all the time and droughts are rare. Average rainfall totals nearly 90" of rain and up to 200" of snow. For 2018 we came off an average winter with lower than normal snow totals and total snow depth of 200" (previous year was 150"). While the snow was severe at times, there was significant warming / melting periods. Due to this, our area experienced very little winter kill.
We experienced excellent growing conditions in the Spring. The late summer conditions were ideal as well. Overall I rate growing conditions as a 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being best.
Soil Tests and Amendments
We are very careful to test our soil in each plot with some larger fields getting multiple soil tests per year. We brought in a semi-full of lime and spread that in August. Our soil composition is a rich, sandy dark loam with good drainage in our higher locations and very poor drainage in other locations.
We utilized all of our own equipment for these tests, nobody other than me installed these food plots. We own all of our equipment including a 55 hp diesel tractor, and attachments.
Trail Camera Survey
We had 41 cameras in use from May until March. We diligently maintained batteries and SD Card collections and finished out the Trail Cam Survey season with 34,114 individual photos of big game. These were sorted and maintained for establishing accurate deer utilization trends in each plot. We utilized two cameras running Moultrie Mobile in 3 key locations. This allowed us to have Real-time photos.
We spent 6 total man-days hunting this property. We identified 2 mature bucks, one that has been on the property for five years and another that has been around for four. The older buck, a ten point - was killed opening week of rifle season. All the other bucks survived. I did not kill any bucks or does this season.
How we choose our seeds
You will notice that a lot of our choices come from Hancock Seed. Please note that Hancock is not a brand, they are a seed distributor that sells fresh, 'brown bag' seed. I prefer to buy my seeds from a high volume distributor - rather than pre-packaged varieties sold by big name hunting companies. On occasion, we will use 'deer head' branded seeds. Please remember, I have been doing this for over 23 years and most people will never want (or need) to go to the lengths I do to plant food plots.
Our Plot strategy
New York, where my property is located, has one of the more regressive deer management programs in the Northeast. While this creates challenges, the single biggest problem we face is severe weather - which is typical for this area located just ten miles from Adirondack park in New York's Northern Zone . Our winters are harsh, with snow averages often topping 200 inches per year. Three years ago, we had a very severe winter with over 300 inches of snow. Predation is high here as well, with a good population of bears and an abundance of coyotes (and a short coyote season which makes no sense to anyone).
My plot choices take all of these factors into account. By far the single biggest factor is winter. I lean heavily toward winter crop varieties over spring and summer plantings. This year I planted more grains than normal and I dramatically lowered my brassica footprint. I found that the brassicas were too abundant and the deer were leaving for the deer yards long before they consumed all the bulbs.