Mathews Inc.

An objective journey into the creation, maintenance and productivity of a whitetail food/kill plot


September 1st 2008 October 7th 2008

Before we go into our 2008 results, let's evaluate our Long Term History of the Food Plot

Year Overall Result Commentary
1998 Good New planting of Imperial Whitetail, did fairly well despite heavy grazing in summer and fall. No noticeable weed or grass intrusion.
1999 Excellent Unbelievable second year results. The plot was as good as it could ever get. Deer really browsed it down in fall but held up well.
2000 Fair-Poor Weed and grass growth took over plot. Imperial Clover all but gone.
2001 Poor Had to plow under, installed Imperial whitetail again, but the weeds and grass took over quickly. Had to plow under in late summer and installed buck forage oats. Had marginal success with growth.
2002 No Plot We decided to spend the entire spring/summer spraying roundup and killing existing vegetation. We planted peas in the fall but the deer over-browsed and killed it.
2003 Poor We planted Imperial No-Plow. The Rape came up in abundance, but the deer never touched it during archery season. Our plot was a failure despite a successful growth of rape.
2004 Good So far, plot is looking good. Heavy spring rains in the NE along with a new planting are showing positive results. Still some bare spots to overall progress is good.
2005 Good Due to lack of utilization, we planted Tecomate Monster Mix in the Big Plot and Imperial Clover from Whitetail Institute on Small Plot
2006 Good Big Plot (Monster Mix) came up great, moderate to low utilization, Imperial Plot highly utilized and healthy
2007 Fair Big Plot (Monster Mix) still healthy and thick, still moderate to low utilization, Imperial Plot all but vanished, completely overtaken by weeds and grass
2008 Good Big Plot (Monster Mix) remarkably healthy and thick - great action. Small food plot remained a disaster.

*Your results may vary based on the size of your plot, annual rainfall, planting times, fertilizer choices, etc. This chart represents the results of the Food Plot only as a reference to our experience. No Seed companies are sponsors and all products were chosen and paid for by us.

Well it all boils down to hunting season in 2008 and our Big Plot is in fantastic shape. The small plot never improved. Hunting the plot was amazing, resulting in some of the biggest rack bucks ever seen on the property. Given this plot is in Northern Pennsylvania these results are incredible!

Oct 7th 2008 Results

Big Plot - Growth was outstanding, lush and thick, especially on the Chicory (shown left) ...

and Clover (shown left).

We had left our game cam up on this PA property after we had left last September and we had captured some impressive buck activity!

The small food plot was a no-show. The clover was incredibly sparse and the annual rye grass completely took over the area. I will totally concede my mistake if the clover doesn't come up in the spring of 2009.
The food plot was also surrounded by several wild apple trees. This years' crop was especially abundant and provided a secondary food source to compliment the high protein content found within our food-plot.

We'd like to hear from you - Discuss our 2008 Plot

The Hunt: Oct 4 (Opening day ) - Oct 7th

Hunting with my good friend Bill Gaunt is a tradition at my McKean County property here in Northern Pennsylvania. There is a small parcel of game lands across the street and it is our tradition to do our morning hunts on the game lands and our afternoon hunts on the food plot. Since I failed to draw an antlerless tag I sat out the morning hunt and so did Bill. Our opening day started that afternoon on the food plot. I decided to hunt a Summit X-Pod on the little food plot and Bill would hunt a new stand I put up that had a shot at both the food plot and a big apple tree. Both stands were on the south end of the plot and were perfect for the North wind we had that day. After sitting for several hours I saw, what appeared to be, a really nice buck around 100 yards away but nothing close. Meanwhile on the Big Plot, Bill had an entirely different experience. It was only 5PM and the sun was still up in the sky. He had 2 legal bucks show up and they literally ran right into the plot and began feeding. He made a perfect shot on the smaller of the two. It was the buck that we had seen several times on our game camera photos. The other buck was a little bigger and we would see him again by the end of the hunt.

Bill Gaunt took this nice legal buck from the PA Food Plot.

Oct 6

We had hunted the game lands on Monday morning and saw nothing so we were both looking forward to our hunt on the plot. Bill and I switched stands for our Monday afternoon hunt. But with the exception of a flock of turkeys nothing had shown up at the Big plot. It was another perfect north wind too -so I was disappointed. Bill was hunting for a doe and no deer showed up as well.

Oct 7

Today was our last day of hunting. Due to work and business commitments we had to leave Wednesday morning. So I decided to make the most of the day and I headed up to the plot for both the morning and the evening hunt. This is not typical for us, the deer are typically there during the early morning hours and getting to the stand is near impossible. I decided to risk it due to thick fog and very quiet conditions. I was able to pull it off but soon realized that this may have been a mistake. The wind was swirling badly as the morning thermals met at the top of the mountain where this plot is located. A deer had appeared around 9:15am. It was on the opposite side of the apple tree and coming straight at me. If it was a doe, I'd be sitting it out. But I never did find out what it was. The deer winded me before I was ever able to get a good look. I stayed in the stand until noon and that was the only deer I saw.

For our last afternoon hunt Bill and I decided to hunt together, 50 yards apart. I took the stand he killed his deer from on opening day and he took the Summit X-Pod across from the apple tree. Late into our last hunt a buck showed up under my stand. He was a legal buck and he was very close. But I had no shot right away and would need to wait at least 10 minutes for the buck to give me a good angle. Meanwhile, to my right, I could hear more deer coming out of the woods. I was so close to the legal buck to my left that I didn't dare look up at them as they entered the food plot. But when the buck eating apples moved back to a poor angle I decided to turn and get a look at the deer now feeding in the plot. The first deer was a very nice buck. I had no shot at him. The second deer was the biggest deer I had ever seen in Pennsylvania. I almost fell out of the stand. The other two bucks were seen on my cam photos, but this big one was a total shock. The problem was I had one hole and a long shot for me (30 yards). I also had the buck still under my stand to the left. But I decided that this opportunity was too good to pass up. I risked getting busted by the close buck and drew my bow and waited for the big boy to step into the shooting lane. He did and I made a perfect shot. The buck never left the food plot.

Pat Lefemine shot this buck from his PA Food Plot. It was the largest buck ever seen in 15 years on this property.


Conclusion - do you think our food plot worked well for us this year? You bet it did. However we also agreed that for the first time in several years we have been seeing some really impressive rack bucks and we believe it's due, in large part, to PA's antler restrictions. This property is only 30 acres and is surrounded by public land, private, unposted land, and the hunting pressure is intense. Seeing bucks like this on our food plot was a long time in the making. But having a hand in making bucks like this, in a state not know for quality bucks, is extremely gratifying. You bet we'll be back next year with a whole new plot strategy.


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