Sitka Gear

Follow along as we grow a new food plot 

July 27, 2001 October 01, 2001


On Labor Day weekend I had decided that my clover plot field was in terrible shape. Weeds and grass had overgrown the field, choking out what little clover had come up from this springs' planting. So after doing some homework, based on comments here on our whitetail forum, I decided to try Buck Forage Oats in my big plot, as well as a tiny new planting on a pipeline close to our cabin. We discussed the soil, temperature and moisture with John W. Butler at the Arkansas Seed Company and he gave us some tips on getting our plot installed correctly.

Some Notes on Buck Forage Oats

Unlike our previous plot of Imperial Whitetail Clover, Buck Forage Oats are an annual plot so you need to plant them each fall. The seed must be worked into the soil so no-till methods will not work. Unlike regular oats, Buck Forage Oats are winter hardy and can tolerate frosts and freezes down to nearly 0 degrees. Our plot is in the Northeast, an area that is considered zone 4 for temperature so this was a consideration for us. The seed needs to be covered by 1-2" of soil and prefers a 6.5+ pH. For more information contact John Butler at [email protected] or call him at 1-800-299-6287.


This is a photo of our tiny test planting. You'll note that the plot is only installed around the tree, the ground in the foreground is existing vegetation. This plot was a test to see how well the oats would grow in new ground that had a poor pH and had not been fertilized or tilled. It came up OK, but there were a lot of bare spots.

Here's a close up of the oats. It came up thick enough for the deer to utilize as can be seen by the chopped off stems in the right picture.

Overall I was happy with my first planting of Oats. The plants came up fast, this plot was installed just 3 weeks before the picture was taken. The plants looked healthy and the deer sure loved them. My only problem was with bare spots, some areas were simply terrible but I think the problem was with inconsistent planting depths in those areas. The plants came up in rows which clearly defined the swing of my disc harrow as I rounded the bends at each end of the plot. The middle sections came up wonderful. Perhaps next season I'll try a seed drill instead of a disc harrow.

Hunting Results - On our East Plot (larger) we had deer in it every time we hunted. Our opening day hunt had 5 bucks and 5 does. My hunting buddy Bill killed a doe in the plot that evening. I was hunting the West corner where I could see my old ryegrass/clover (small plot) as well as the oats. The deer never hit the clover plot but they sure spent time on the oats. This was the most activity we had ever seen on the plot in any one given day. The oats worked out well!

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