An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 11-27-2013

by Mark Walters

Food Plots Bow Hunts! 

Hello friends,

This week I am writing to you about several bow hunts that I went on with my 12-year-old daughter, Selina, which took place on our food plot just a short distance from our home near Necedah.

Selina is a first time bow hunter and this is the first food plot that I have ever put in. I sat with her for 12-nights, which was split up over 50-days, before I carried a bow.

On our first hunt, which was on September 17th our food plot, which was planted in radishs, turnips, soybeans and oats, we had several reality checks. A 30-day drought that pretty much halted most growth of our crops, had severely stunted the growth on all plants.

Thankfully, before the drought, we had two weeks of rain when everything was planted. I mixed the soybeans with the oats and we had two learning experiences in that area. The deer and turkey consumed all the soybeans in a week, and the oats would become a very reliable deer and turkey attractor and just kept growing as the deer would eat the tops and the plant would continue to grow until early November.

As I was saying, our first hunt we had 15-turkey (all jakes) come into the food plot and those jakes (males born this past spring) would become a regular part of our fall. I was always amazed at how there was not a mature hen with them, and that over the last 60 days, not one of them was consumed by a coyote of which there are many in this neck of the woods.

On that same hunt we had an experience with a six-point buck and two doe. The six-pointer and another buck, in the same size range, would become a regular part of our fall.

During the first maybe 7 hunts we saw bucks, does, and turkey every night and it was really cool to watch as they devoured what we had planted for them. A problem that we did have was two people in one tree, and the shooter was a twelve-year-old. On three separate experiences Selina was busted trying to position herself for a shot.

We tried placing stands in different locations and we always tried to work with the wind.

Probably our most unique experience happened when our six-pointers came in and started chowing down and were soon joined by, what I believe is an 8-pointer with good mass, very symmetrical and maybe a 17-inch spread. Just as the larger buck was about to offer Selina her first shot ever, the two 6-pointers started sparring and it was a very positive experience.

I was really impressed with Selina, as she made a very mature decision on a broadside buck that was 22-yards away when she decided not to try a shot as she figured it was just out of her range. If I had been carrying a bow, that buck would probably be in our freezer.

There is a very small pond on the border of our food plot and it is amazing how many critters rely on it for their daily drink. Just as it is getting dark every night, about a dozen mourning dove come flying in. I feel there are 3 packs of coyote that live here and it would appear that the pond is where they get there water.

In mid-October, after having been busted too many times on our hunts, I put up a ground blind for our hunts and it would appear that putting up a ground blind, at least for us, was not a good route to go. The activity on our trail camera diminished drastically and all deer tracks were always on the opposite side of the plot from the blind.

I left the area, for a while, to go on a trapping trip and when I came home I pulled the blind and two days later the deer were back.

When we started hunting the rut, I put a stand off from the food plot and had another learning experience and that is, try not to hunt the plot, hunt the trails near the plot.

Selina and I had dozens of learning experiences in both what to plant, how to grow it, the affects of a drought and how to hunt a food plot. I was constantly thinking about what I would do differently and I have some new ideas.

In no way is our hunting season over but I can proudly say that this experience was a combination of a father and a daughter growing a crop, a bit of biology, a lot of practice with a bow, 12 hunts together and most importantly time spent with my little girl before she grows up, becomes totally scheduled and fly’s away!

Enjoy your day!