-By Rich Miller
Here in the South, we are in the middle of a severe drought. As we watch our yards, lakes, and food plots dry up, we as hunters can’t help but wonder what kind of effect it is having on the wildlife that we hunt.
We have had only a handful of scattered thunderstorms since the first of May. During this time period, my lush green food plots have turned into dried-up brown patches of nothing. When I am planting my perennial food plots, I try to find and plant some of the most drought tolerant varieties as possible. I have found that my plots of alfalfa, clover, and chicory are the most drought-tolerant. They may dry up and not look very healthy, but when we they get a little moisture they will come back.
This week, I have started preparing for my annual fall food plots. I sprayed them with an herbicide a couple of weeks ago to get rid of the weeds and grasses. This makes it a lot easier when I get ready to start breaking the ground. Next, I will use a sub-soiler (i.e. middle buster, turn plow) to break through the hard pan. This will allow any moisture I do get over the next several weeks to seep into the ground and not run off. This will also make for easier plowing with cut away harrows or a box tiller.
With the food plots struggling and the other natural browse in the woods drying up, I have started supplemental feeding this past week with game feeders. I have been holding several different bachelor groups of bucks on my property for the last couple of months, and I didn’t want to lose them. If deer don’t have the necessary food available, they will leave and find it somewhere else. I start my feeders out with short feed times and increase the times as more deer start using them. This way I don’t have a lot of feed on the ground in case I do get a little moisture. With the price of corn on the rise, programmable deer feeders are a great cost-effective way to feed.
On a side note, last weekend was the World Turkey calling contest in Birmingham, AL. I would like to congratulate a couple of the Knight & Hale callers. Mark Prudomme won the Owl Hooting and Gobbling Championships while placing fourth in the open calling. Chris Parrish had a strong second place finish in the open calling championship. Good job guys!