If you’re a homesteader, hunter or survivalist, then you may have seen videos or read how-to books about making a food plot in the woods – all requiring purchases that can run in the hundreds of dollars.
In this story, I’m going to tell you how to make your own food patch for free, nothing out of pocket.
For those of you just tuning into the subject of food plots, let’s talk about what exactly a food plot is. You might be thinking, “Don’t you mean garden?” Well, the answer is both yes and no. Food plots are meant as a lure to draw in certain game. From squirrels to game birds, a well-made food plot (depending on what you’ve planted or allowed to grow there) can make trapping and hunting a far easier endeavor.
However, study up on your local baiting and luring regulations to stay inside the law and avoid a monstrously hefty fine or possible jail time. Finding these regulations is as simple as searching “baiting and luring regulations for (your home state).”
There are three reasons that you would want a food plot.
- Luring – Luring simply means you either plant the seeds of plants and foliage that attract big and or small game, and in doing so you do away with the need to track in the future.
- Feeding — Feeding large game is a way to ensure that their numbers don’t drop suddenly.
- Wildlife watching — This is a great option if you have children or don’t have to worry about food, and simply want the enjoyment of wildlife.
Once you have the legal information on luring and/or feeding in your home state, then the next step is to get your food plot set up. Let’s line up the items that you will need.
- A clearing in a wooded area where large and/or small game are known to congregate.
- A strong or at least hole-free pair of working gloves. Get ready to get your hands dirty.
- Homemade compost. Foliage, potato peelings, orange peels, carrot tops, etc. (preferably non-acidic compost, as what you want to grow doesn’t like acidic soil).
Now you will need to clean up the area in which you plan to make your food patch. Make sure that your patch doesn’t have mushrooms growing in it, as this is a sign of acidic qualities.
Our goal is to create a food patch with red clover and chicory — two plants that many animals, including deer, simply love.
Remove any dead foliage littering the ground, such as leaves and the like. Once you’ve given it a good once-over, it’s time to dawn our gloves. Anything that is currently growing in your patch outside of red clover or chicory should be removed by the roots to prevent them from coming back any sooner than normal. Once you are positive that all plants and weeds inside of your food plot are removed, we can move on to the fun part — turning the soil. To encourage natural growth of the plants we want such as chicory or red clover (or any variations) you will need to disturb the soil.
If you prefer to do this part with your hands, then all the power to you! Personally, I find that a garden hoe works best. Remember not to go too crazy and slap into the soil, as most of the dormant seeds of red clover and chicory won’t lie further than 3-4 inches below the surface. Once your entire plot is nice and fluffed up, you can add to the effectiveness of this free method by adding a small layer of your compost over the soil and mixing it in.
If you are one of the fortunate individuals who knows where a patch of red clover or chicory grow naturally, then it would be in your best interest to wait for it to go to seed, grab yourself a few plastic sandwich bags, and collect as much as you possibly can. Spread the seeds out as evenly as you can in your food plot; this gives your soil a little nudge in the right direction and can save you some wait time.
You will need to return often to ensure no invasive species of weeds has moved into your beloved food plot.
Once your food patch is working well, you can return and begin setting snares for your small game along the edge of your patch, or if you’re abiding by the regulations on luring and feeding in your state, you can wait for a buck to stumble into the wonderful meal you’ve laid out for him.
Enjoy your food patch!
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