-By Rich Miller
This weekend I was in the woods again putting up tree stands. It is amazing; looking back at when I was clearing out areas in preparation for food plots that with a little more thought I would have saved myself a lot of trouble in the long run. I realized how important it is to take everything into account. I should have planned my tree stand locations at the same time I was planning my food plots.
When cutting away trees and brush I normally, as a rule, take all the trees out of the middle and then all non-desirables trees from around the edge. If I had it to do over again I would have left a few of those non-desirables, such as some of the cedar trees, to place stands. On the particular food plot I visited this weekend, I really didn’t have a plan. I was just clearing to have a place to plant. I have done the same thing while preparing other plots, and with a couple of them I must have gotten lucky because I couldn’t have planned them any better. Now when I am preparing food plots I try to plan everything in advance.
I start with the overall shape of the plot, taking into consideration prevailing winds and where the bedding area is. Usually I plan these plots for rifle and archery hunting. I try to design them longer in length and narrower in the width. That way for my I can position my rifle stands on the opposite end of the bedding area with a view of the whole food plot. As for the bow stands, I will try to leave as many trees with cover on them as I can around the food plot. For these cover trees I like cedars and pines, they will provide cover from the start of the season to the end and also they will help mask your scent. With a lot of these trees around it will give me a lot of options for morning or evening hunts and a position to hunt in just about any wind.
Putting in a pinch point or a funnel in the design of the food plot is also a good idea to help channel the deer or turkey into range of either side of the plot. There are a few more tricks I use to help guide the deer to the places I want them, and also get them out into the open during daylight hours. I like to cut a trail from the bedding area to the spot where I want the deer to enter the field. Deer are like water, they will take the path of least resistance and you can direct them to go where you want them. I also plant a buffer strip of sunflowers or sorghum around the edge of the plots as a buffer strip. This will help make the deer feel a little more secure and get them out in the open a little earlier.
Thinking about a few small details before hand will go a long way in the long run and help put some trophies in the truck.