In this episode, Jon Teater (Whitetail Landscapes) and Austin Delano (Mossy Oak BioLogic) discuss food plots from the north to south. Austin discusses annuals vs perennial food plots. Jon and Austin discuss what seed to plant based on the time of year and the ecoregion. Austin provides direction on how to compete with neighboring food plots and agriculture. Austin breaks down what grows best this time of year in north, Midwest, and southern areas.
Austin explains how to optimize small food plots to get the biggest return and ideal food plot sizes for certain seed types. Jon discusses interest gaps in food plots and how to maximize the time deer use food plots. Austin explains what food plot seeds are most important to our soil and deer. Jon explains how to deal with corn residue. Austin explains more about how he blends various biologic seed varieties to support various soil conditions.
Jon and Austin discuss poor soils and what seed will work best and the importance of clover on the landscape. Jon discusses equipment options for terminating crops. Austin explains how to develop microhabitats for deer in food plots to achieve the highest utilization. Austin breaks down how to establish alfalfa and if alfalfa is better than clover. Austin explains how to attract turkeys with chufa and why we need to consider this in our food plot designs.
[00:00:00] Welcome to Maximize Your Hunt, the podcast dedicated to those who want the most out of their hunting property. This podcast explores land management habitat improvement and hunting strategies that will help you maximize your time in the field. Follow along as industry professionals that live and breathe whitetail deer.
Share their secrets to success. The founder of Whitetail Landscapes, your host, John Teeter.
Hi, I'm John Teeter, Whitetail Landscapes. This is Maximizer Hunt. Welcome back everybody. I'm happy to be back. I am on the road in the next couple days traveling. I'm cutting timber on client properties. And hopefully everyone's enjoyed the past couple podcasts. We talked about how to design a property for turkeys.
That was interesting. Marcus Lashley, if you haven't listened to that, please go listen to that. Also talked about [00:01:00] soil and soil health, mineral balancing plant, back periods, all the different things that we considered when we went through the process of looking at soil. A deep dive. We talked about macros micro.
Nutrient deficiencies across the landscape. Born deficiencies. Detailed how I evaluate the landscape and the importance of that when we're coming up with a plan and leveraging the best souls on our landscapes. Those are really critical. If you haven't listened to those podcasts, please do go back and listen to 'em.
There's great content in there. I'll probably take a deeper dive into some of those and. I know that's, where does this relate to deer hunting? It, it all comes back to soil. I'll continue to say that and I'll continue to promote that. My process, trying to create more sustainable soils, with some other strategies, which we haven't talked about, long-term non soluble amendments. Will, I'll give you some of the details, I'll give you solutions for that. No fertilizer examples. We've talked about that as well in the podcast. So I just want everyone to start thinking a little bit outside the.
[00:02:00] Not just think focusing on the Mpk amendments, certain, plant varieties. Open your mind, try new things. I'm trying new things all the time. So that's the point of this podcast. So I'm excited. I have a new guest on today, and I'm gonna introduce 'em here in a second. Hey, Austin, are you on the line?
Yes, sir. Okay. Austin, I want you to introduce yourself. I'm happy I connected with you. I talked to Bobby Cole and he's you gotta get Austin on your podcast. Why don't you give a little detail about yourself, where you work, what your job is. I think people wanna know more about you.
Absolutely. And appreciate y'all having me on. The name is Austin Delano. I work with Mosy Oak Biologic and Mosy Oak Gamekeeper. I have been with 'em since 2006 been pretty good. Little tenure I've had there. Actually went to school for forestry way back when and was my original background was timber harvesting and production and kind of getting into the whole major pine tree crop that so much of the south was made out of.
That was [00:03:00] what I intended to get. As a young guy and started got an opportunity straight outta college years ago to run a privately owned wildlife management area, and did that for about 10 or 11 years. And then I've been with mossy Oaks since 2006 and do most of our r and d for biologic on our seeds and fertilizers and products that we're trying to bring to the market for helping the average guy try.
Make his place better. And I use this analogy all the time. We try to help the guy that's got four acres, 40 acres and 4,000. We we're trying to educate and also have management products for everybody out there. I spend a lot of time in the dirt all through the year and also spend a lot of time in front of a computer.
As with just about everybody. Now technology is a major part of what we do. I can be reading soil samples all day in an office one day and the next day have a drip torch in your hand. [00:04:00] So I love what I do and happy to be on with y'all and I've got to catch up on some of y'all's episodes and love learning from some of the guests you've had on.
So it's good. Yeah. Thanks man. I appreciate it. Bobby was telling me that you you're a guru. That's what he categorized you guys, which, you probably don't want to take that accolade, but especially from him, of course. But I . I'm such a simple individual when it comes to food plots and we, I talked to Perry Batten, who's on this podcast with jury and obviously they use your product, they love your product and they're big clover folks.
That's, it's clover and corn. That's really it's not just what they do, but in a lot of their layouts that's where they focus is, when it comes to, biologic offerings. And I looked at your offerings, the past couple days and, I.
I struggle because in the springtime, you've got this debate, do I want to go with an annual or do I want to go with a per? . , sometimes an establishment period makes things easier. The other piece of this is, what are you gonna get more biomass or output yield, right?
People think, okay, how do I get the most tonnage possible? And [00:05:00] there's that debate that constantly is going on in your head. There's the other piece of it, maintaining it where you're mowing, spraying, we're talking perennial more than likely where an annual, you're likely not doing that.
You may spot spray or generally spray, but you're looking at these two options and I wanted to start there with you and say, what's your take on this? Yeah, that's a great question and something that, a lot of landowners and land managers struggle with every year is, trying to put the puzzle together of what's gonna work best for them.
Generally I really want to encourage people to look at the piece of property they're managing. Whether it's your granddad's, back 20 that you've got access to, or, do you have a 2000 acre hunting club that you're in with a bunch of other guys where you've got a lot of options, based on your prior experience with the area or with even that particular piece of property, what do you feel?
And we're gonna relate this mostly to Whitetails. What do you feel your white tails need the most and what time of year are they needing it the most? Are you in an area with [00:06:00] a lot of heavy ag where you know you're gonna have literally hundreds of acres of soybeans around you this spring and summer?
Or are you gonna primarily a, a timber part of the world where, there's very few wildlife openings? We have a lot of timber, mature timber cut. and maybe there's a major void in the amount of ag production in the spring and summer. Sometimes that can kinda weigh in on, a guy's decision on whether he's gonna use an annual or a perennial for a spring planning and what's gonna be, the most beneficial to him.
Like you were talking about from a biomass standpoint of how much food can we create on the openings that we have control. and then we're also looking at where are we at? Do we live in New York or do we live in the deep south? Because that's always gonna play a big role in wind and how we plant these crops.
Now y'all have, when you start getting up into the Midwest and the upper Midwest and the north, [00:07:00] things just grow better at certain times of the year. Up there. It's just a better window for growing. Also, it gets colder a lot quicker and stays colder longer. , all those things have to be kept taken into account when you start looking into, do I wanna try to frost seed a clover field this year and try to, get it established and get it really thick and healthy.
And by the time fall, archery season rolls around it's up and jamming and it's a really good food source. Or, do I want to go with a, a soybean and an ironing clay p or, and maybe some millets and sorghums in there to have a little bit more of an annual planning. I never say there's a right or wrong answer.
I, I always say there's a right or wrong answer maybe for your situation. And you have to say, okay, I've got five acres to deal with. I've got 50 acres to deal with because that's really gonna be the game changer. How much ground am I talking about here that I need to try to grow this crop on? And, if [00:08:00] that's the case and we're just dealing with a couple of acres, it's almost like your decision becomes.
It's more of a, we have to do this if you've only got three or four acres to deal with. Does that make sense? We don't, you don't feel like you have as much room for air when you've just got a couple of tiny food plots that you're trying to really make their best. And we're huge fans of the clover.
It's just, it's such a good crop for whitetails, all the small critters. Love it. And when you do it, It's just really productive from a wildlife standpoint. But there's a lot of other great stuff out there too. So I'm a really big fan of trying to create wildlife openings, food plots that are big enough that I can hopefully have two crops growing in there.
I really like to have a three or four acre opening where I've got a perennial and an annual in the same area. and I can manipulate both of them to be putting as [00:09:00] much groceries in that area as possible through a 12 month cycle. I like that answer because that's typically what I do when I do my consulting.
I have both, and I think it's that happy medium that you're creating in the landscape. The other piece of this is, in between planning periods. So I have a roller crimper and I'm into, sequential crop consideration. So looking at the next phase, maturity periods of these crops, right? When I can create the next crop and there's these gaps, interest gaps I call 'em.
And so it's a period in between planning where the deer aren't utilizing that food plot. If you don't have a perennial food source, and this is time of your conting then you're not creating that constant attractivity to that particular area. And to me, that's a deficit to your design and layout. And I think if we thought through that, not just biomass, but just interest and that is meaningful to me.
I want Deere on my property all the [00:10:00] time. The other point you brought up is, and we've talked about this on the podcast previously, is if you are in an ag area and we're talking about competi, , what are you doing different? Are you doing something different from your neighbors, from the local agriculture at your farmers?
Are you doing something different or are you doing the same? And just, it's a timing thing because we've had that debate on this podcast a few times. Yeah. I'd like to know your opinion. Yeah, I think that's something that a lot of guys run into, especially as you start getting, in, even in the south where we have a ton of ag and you start getting a little bit out of the the areas that are primarily.
and getting into timber and ag and pasture and as you get up into the Midwest and the, the row crop fields become bigger and more expansive what are you gonna do to your couple hundred acres that you're trying to manipulate to make it different than the guy two miles down the road that's trying his best too?
Because we're all hunting the same deer, in a general area like, , [00:11:00] like you said, how can you differentiate your place from the guy down the road who's also trying to do his level best to create a landscape that's best for his whitetails year round? And I think it takes what I call windshield time of riding around talking to the guy down the road who's row crop, field, borders, year place, and what's his plans for the upcoming year?
Because if I've got a little bit of a heads up of you. Farmer Smith down here is gonna have 340 acres of soybeans, but he's planting, but he is gonna be putting 'em behind wheat, which means they're gonna come in late. How does that affect what I'm gonna do on my piece of property that touches him from a growing spring and summer food perspective?
So I might wanna do something different if I know the guy's planting late beans that year. Vice versa, if he's planting early beans, maybe I wanna do something. I think it takes riding around talking to people and if you wanna be, that involved in your piece of property and trying [00:12:00] to make it the absolute best it can be for a window of time during the year, not only for growing your deer and trying to create an environment where they reach their potential because you're giving 'em all the nutrients they need.
Plus have that two or three month time period where we're actually chasing these critters and trying to. , put some in the freezer and a couple on the wall. What have I done different. And that's gonna start right now, February and March in our planning period of what can I do to make this place special different than what's going on down the road.
And I think it takes 'em out of the box thinking sometimes I think it takes some timber stand improvement on a place that. You didn't think would make that big a deal, but you go in there and make a couple of, clear cuts in a couple of spots and create some bedding zones that they didn't have.
Maybe planting a different type of legume during the spring and summer that nobody else has. Maybe using some, some peas and some mung beans, some Alice clover. Something different because whitetails [00:13:00] are inherently in some areas have the ability to be. and they can pick and choose between their food sources, and we all wanna create a lot of diversity on the property.
We, we know that. So what am I gonna do to create that diversity from a food standpoint if everything around me is gonna be soybeans that year? Because you're thinking is I don't really have to do anything. My neighbors are gonna feed my deer for me all spring and summer with these row crops.
But at the same time I really want that bucket. I've passed for the last two, three. To keep on using this food plot that I've got here and keep on calling it home when he wants to. So what am I gonna have different if my neighbor's place is 95% soybean? . Yeah. I can't, I can't agree with you more that's exactly how I approach it.
It's being different. There's this other piece of this is, being different with your soil and talking a little bit more about managing trace elements and thinking about, the selectivity of deer and then that diversity [00:14:00] example you brought up earlier. And then the synergy of plants and then.
Yeah I like your philosophy because this is very similar to the way I look at things on the landscape. Okay? I want to get more specific now. So I want to, we're in the planning preparatory part of the year. I have a snowstorm going on right here in my house. This is the time to sit down and start to think, what am I gonna do this season?
I'm in this mode myself, right? I've got there's been strategies you've probably heard of this, people burn down corn actually, lighted on fire chop it. I'm in this stage where I added a bunch of amendments and rock dust and all sorts of different amendments that are on the landscape.
And then I'm in this cycling phase, so I want to get back in the nutrient cycling phase. So for. I got like a standard, I go with my oats, my peas, and my buckwheat. I've been using that combination and that's a 50 50 day maturity crop. Basically, I roller crimp it, and then I do another 50 days and I'll, I might go.
Partially into, a [00:15:00] perennial on one half and I'll continue on an annual on the other. And that annual, we can get into that for fall planning. But we wanna talk about that's one of my circumstances. That's an prime example of one thing that I have to worry about. And a simple rotation like that I may add in some white mustard some other plant species and maybe even some perennials into that annual rotation as well.
Just because, I may lack in legumes, I may ha have a more carbonation crop in there. We talked about that on a previous podcast. Thinking about kind of the straw component, things that don't break down at a fast rate. . So I want your perspective on. Looking at a, let's say a fallow field starting, what's the steps?
What are you doing? And then I want some examples of kind of seed selection based on soil type. I want you to be specific and think through some of the examples things that you deal with all the time. Yeah. I think being knowing your soils, we're talking about getting specific and obviously, I'm sure you know a lot.
anybody that's listening to this podcast, it's [00:16:00] probably gonna be a little bit of a nerd like we are on, soil sampling and getting to know the dirt that you're trying to manipulate is one of the best terms for it, because that's what we're doing on a, sometimes two to three times a year we're manipulating the soil to grow crops that are the most beneficial for something that we're all after.
Having samples sent in and getting to know what your soil has and also what it doesn't have, and that's one, one, one of the big things that people call all day long, email us. What's the best thing I can plant for my deer? Okay that is not a good question to an ask me because you fix and be here for a couple hours yep. Not becau not because I. Tell you everything I've got in my brain, but I want to give you the best answer for your situation and what I told a guy five minutes ago that lives somewhere else may not apply to you. So I don't want to just cast out some general recommendations that might or might not help you.
[00:17:00] Getting to know the soil on your place and what it does. And also, like I said earlier, when I just harp on people all the time, please go get a sample. Please get 10 samples done on your place depending on what you're working with. And let's look at a big picture of what is your place missing, what's it not missing, what do you have that other people don't have?
And let's look at what crops are most likely to do the best the first couple of years as you amend the soil and get it better. And what can we look at using down the road? Being. , having a plan instead of, a lot of people already want to have all the stuff that they want to plant and they want to get in the ground as soon as it warms up, but they've, that they haven't done any of the prior work to it to find out whether that's actually gonna be successful or not.
And like you were talking about doing, whatever you wanna call it, regenerative farming and trying to use, trying to disturb the soil as least as possible. . I want [00:18:00] to make suggestions for guys that are gonna not create more work, but create more results. And a lot of times that thinking outside the box, like a little bit like you're talking about using roller crimpers and actually pumping the brakes on, okay, why do we not plant, clover in the south in the spring?
Because it's 99% of the time gonna be a failure. Yeah, because we don't have the. To grow clover in the spring and summer long enough for that to get established. Now, if you frost seeded February, early March, it gets started, you've probably got a chance. But if you go on there and rip up your dirt in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, may, and try to plant clover I'm, you're chunking a hundred dollars bills out the window.
Will it never work? Sometimes it might, but I've been doing this long enough, I've been all over the place. It just doesn't work that often. So little things like that, [00:19:00] that a guy reads in a magazine and he eats clover, but you gotta take into account where are you at and what's gonna work best for the time of year.
when I can start attacking that piece of property. And like you're talking about putting in, some grains and I, some of my summer, spring, and summer mixes, man, they're odd. I've got some weird stuff in there. I might put, I might have a cereal grain in there. I might have a, one of our cool season Nebraska's in there and some beans and some peas because maybe it's a piece of dirt that needs a lot of help.
It has no organic matter. . It just, it needs biomass introduced into the soil for seasons. And so for that first couple of years, I'm not gonna be real specific about what I put in there, as much as I'm gonna be very broad because we just need, we need crops growing in there and decomposing and more crops growing and more crops.
And you know what I'm talking, you just need to build the. Of [00:20:00] that particular ground up so that it can start being more and more productive down the road. Versus if, maybe you've got a couple of fields that you've been working on for 10 years where, everything is pretty much up to snuff.
And we can be very specific about, okay, July 15th we're gonna put in our, late season Nebraska crop that's gonna have a, a really cold, tolerant turnup and a couple of Nebraska's in, rate varieties in there that are really good. early and mid-season, and then you can start being a little bit more specific about planning, timing, and the actual varieties that we're trying to put in there.
I like you going weird there on me a second and talking a little bit. So two things. One, I like the fact that you talked about a deficiency, your organic material deficiency, and as a result of that, your dec, your decision making is next. How do I build that up? And you're talking about. A more annual cycle because biomass decomposing material, right?
That kind of builds the foundation in that case. You may go that route, you may look at more [00:21:00] an annual food plot. So let's go into your annual food plot example. Let's, right there, specifically low og, you've got a lot of amendments to apply at some point, right? Over time, you're looking at this kind of as a long game.
Also depends on, is a property you gonna hold onto for a while, right? Could be a lease, for example, but what are you deciding? What are you gonna plant in that? . Yeah. So generally during if and I'll give you an example of a place that's right down the road from my house that I lease where we have a tiny bit of row crop, but if you can imagine really big rolling heels of southern Tennessee.
So I, I live right on the Alabama, Tennessee line and so I hunt both states. I live on a little 40 acre place that I bought a few years. And if I stand on my back property line and throw a rock, I can hit Tennessee. That's how close I am to the line. Okay, so all of our dirt in this general area is, you know what a lot of people would call a church, rock, dirt.
It's very red orange in places with a lot of gravel [00:22:00] substance to it. Some finer than others. And then you can come 10 minutes south and we're on the Tennessee River and. Flatland cotton growing. So it's a, there's a major change in the landscape once you get up here into the very northwest corner of Alabama and southern Tennessee.
So a lot of our fields and these leases that are in this general part of the area are on High Ridge tops, and there's not a lot of top soil there. There's probably was not a lot to begin with. And if you start looking at when logging started taking place back in the 17 hundreds there's less now than there's ever been.
you have to be really picky about where you put your food plots, if you want 'em to be successful year in and year out because what we're dealing with a lot is stuff that dries out very quickly, obviously since it's low top soil, low organic matter. And if I go into one of those places and it's a typical rocky seed, Not a lot of [00:23:00] top soil to deal with.
I can tell the organics matter's low as soon as I take a shovel full outta the ground most of the time by just smelling it. And you just need plants growing in there. So what I usually will start with is a spring and summer planting of legumes and also grasses. So I like, we've, years ago we came out with a little simple but extremely effective.
Of ironing clay peas and mung beans. And if you've never used mung beans they grow a lot more like a peas than they do a soybean. Big leaf kind of vny, bushy growing not your typical little, 36 inch max height ag, small leaf soybean. They're very broad. Vine will crawl up stuff like a, like an irony clay P wheel.
So I'll use those as my legume base because they're both extremely heat. Because we're gonna have a lot of days that are 98, 99 degrees with 90% humidity, and if it's not a tough plant, it won't survive down here for more than about [00:24:00] two or three weeks. Once the bad weather sets in for, June, July, August, and most of September, it's pretty rough down here.
We just have to get enough rainfall to keep stuff alive so that it can keep doing its job. So I'll. That p blend as my leg, Hume base. And then I'll take one of our bird blends A lot of times that we focus on, usually for upland birds, whether it be a dove field planting or, flooding it for waterfowl that's gonna contain, two to three types of millets, like a pearl and a proso, maybe even a brown top or a German foxtail.
Might throw some sorghum in there, some sunflower. And I'll take that blend and. , I'll use about a half rate of that with a full rate of my legumes and I may even broadcast them a little bit different because I've got different seed sizes depending on if I'm using a no-till drill or if we're having to work the soil up.
But I'll use that as my spring and summer blend for trying to [00:25:00] create a happy medium between building my soil up and also adding some diversity and some high protein forwards from our crit. to start imprinting on that area as being a place they can always come and get a belly full of food. And that's one of the, things that I've found that works great down here.
Is that as pretty as a, a five acre soybean field sometimes? No, but you have to get out of the mindset, and I figured this out 20 plus years ago, I guess that what my I see and what a whitetail needs are, not the two same. . And so you have to get out of what looks good to me is not always what's best for my whitetails.
And so a lot of times my spring and summer plannings when I look at one of my fields to the average guy or to a guy wanting a magazine picture, that ain't it. But it's gonna be extremely effective in growing a lot of biomass and introducing a lot of, plant material into that soil. that [00:26:00] as you were talking earlier, there's different ways we can manipulate it when we start looking into our fall planting.
But all of that's going back into that soil to try to start a better, org organic cycle of bugs and bacteria and all the stuff that actually make a soil work. Yeah. That I love how specific you are and I like taking the different classes of plants and putting them together. And it's funny you're taking.
Kind of the offerings that biologic has. You're splitting them up, you're thinking about seating rates, you're thinking about, landscape specifics, and then timing. And then you're trying to take advantage of probably the good rains, seasonally when you're, we have the best opportunity I, in my in my area, and it's funny.
My warm season strategy isn't much different. I've used mung beans and sorghum and, a ho, a host of different varieties of plants and I'm thinking, I tried sun hemp a few years ago. It was another interesting plant in small quantities and partially [00:27:00] because I'm roller crimping these areas, so I really need a really heavy grass.
C. In order to roller crimp. So grass has to be, at least for my blends, at least 50%, sometimes 60% of the blend, just so I can roller crimp it. Yes, and so that's the other piece of this is how are you hand? I wish I had a flam mower because I think that would actually make the process a lot easier for me.
Rather than a roller crimper. And that's a that, I've seen people use all sorts of they take a tiller and they use that and as an alternative, not actually tilling the ground, but just running the tiller over to crimp. I've seen all different strategies behind this, but boy, I wish I had a flail more.
Cause I think that would be a game changer for me. And then the other piece of this is, you bring up a topic that. Reminds me of something I just talked about with Marcus Lashley about how to create this brooding cover scenario and having, this STEMI structure and spacing and thinking about food plots more of in a navigatable kind of concept, right?
Having accessibility in those areas. We think a lot about deer and we're talking about deer, but thinking about how other. [00:28:00] Utilize kind of the landscape, as a beneficial and a lot, most of our are Turkey hunters on this podcast, more than likely. So thinking more about how it advantages other species, et cetera.
I, I got a question. , I got a question for you and I have this one client and he, I know he listens to this podcast. He is just a diehard alfalfa guy. Diehard, he sent me alfalfa to plant and I appreciate that and I did plant it, so thank you. Establishing alfalfa, that's a, legume, it's a perennial.
I'm interested in how you establish perennial and the chuah. I want to hear about those two plants specifically. Yeah. Yeah. So let's hit on everything that you just talked about. Cause I, I think it's all really important especially going back to the the sun hemp you were talking about.
Okay. I've used sun hemp before and I think it's a cool plant. Oddly enough, there's still some books. There's still. stuff on the books. I believe in the state of Alabama and the state of Arkansas. And there maybe one more that you [00:29:00] cannot sell sun hemp legally in those states. You can plant it, you can buy it in another state and you can plant it there, but it's not legal for sale in some states.
And it goes back to it just being in the same class of family as not obnoxious weeds. And it's like some of those crazy laws on the books from like the 18 hundreds and . I got my hands on some sun hemp years ago, and I wanted to try it in some different scenarios. I tried it with lab, I tried it with a lab lag in sorghum and millet mix.
I, I basically used it in four or five different scenarios that year. But what I wanted to see was how does it do with other plants? How does it do with other legumes and what's the growth cycle like? The mistake I. Was protecting it too long with a fence that year because we had an extremely heavy deer density and I thought they would treat it like every other leg human just, rape it.
The trouble was we protected it for too long and we had good rainfall that summer [00:30:00] and it just got outta hand . So even the areas where we planted it at a half rate the areas, we planted it at a half rate, and then the areas we planted it at the full. by August. We had 12 foot tall plants that 125 horse John Deere, with front wheel drive and a 15 foot bat wind bush hog was having to run in low gear to chop it.
And that's something to think about when you start looking at planting certain things. How am I gonna terminate this crop? Or what are we gonna do with it when it's time to plant for the fall? So something to keep in mind when you start adding a lot of different plants. Is also thinking about if they do great, how do we go forward with that, with the equipment that we have at hand to prepare for the fall planning?
So a lot of cool plants out there, but also always thinking about, what does this look like three and four months from now if we have good [00:31:00] growth and the deer don't completely decimate the crop, just something to think. . And then the other point that you were talking about making food plots more inevitable.
One of the reasons I'm such a big fan of trying to, and I don't wanna use the word double crop cuz that infers, two cash crops in the same field. But when I say double crop, I mean at using a perennial and an annual in the same fields and trying to. , let's just take a five acre block, for example, as productive as possible.
Not just from how many crops that I'm growing in there and the amount of groceries that it puts out, but being a micro habitat within a piece of property that critters always wanna be at because it has several values, it has a food value, it has a cover value, but it's an attraction value.
when turkeys feel safe somewhere, generally deers feel safe in that same spot, in vice versa. They use the [00:32:00] same landscapes in different ways. But if you see if you see eight turkeys hanging out in the field and they're spaced out, if you'll ever notice the first couple of deer that come in there, the, they come in there with a little bit less apprehension when they walk into a field and nobody's out there, the first thing a two plus year old dough is gonna do is.
And look around. She's probably checked the wind way before she walked up to the plot, so she already knows what to expect, but she's also gonna rely on what her eyes tell her. And so from a hunting perspective, if I've got a pretty decent size field that I'm hunting, I kind of wanna shrink that area down from a deer's perspective, they live in this 48 inch tall world and under from what they.
And so if I've got this great big food plot that's nice and pretty and I've got five acres Nebraska's out there, you're probably gonna invite a lot of deer to that property. But when we're talking about trying to, let's say we're after a four or fives and six year old buck there, there's little bitty, [00:33:00] there's little bitty chunks of the year where he's legally killable if you really wanna look at it that way.
They just don't make that many. . And so if I'm trying to make this food plot, not only produce the amount of food that I want it to produce, but also invite deer that are gonna be naturally apprehensive because of their age and their experience, I'm gonna have to do something different. I'm gonna have to, create lines or, some linear stuff in that field that breaks up the outline of a, I don't want a perfectly square field.
I want something that's got some contour. Something that I may run a diagonal line across it with, Egyptian wheat. There's so many ways that you can get creative and not only make a whitetail travel like you want 'em to. Sometimes they obey these, rules that we set forth in their head, and sometimes they completely ignore 'em.
But yeah. Having some of those annuals growing in a part of the field and then perennials in another part of the field and not having this perfectly straight [00:34:00] tractor. in your head that separates the two. Sometimes that's all it takes in making a field, more productive or more attractive to all wildlife is go going outside of the box and leaving, two acres of my spring and summer blend standing through the winter.
It's not really producing a whole lot more, you know what peas and beans, it did produce that they're probably currently getting eaten or they're already gone, but instead of. , disking all that up in late summer, early fall, and just throwing some weed out there. I'll just take a drill and just drill through it or just broadcast into it as those, when I've got 30 or 45 days of decent growing season left, just go in there and broadcast, some some annual clovers and some, some cereal grains and maybe a different, a couple different.
Of a turn up and a radish in there, knowing I'm not gonna get a hundred percent germination, but I'm gonna add some food value to something that's got some height value without having [00:35:00] to, completely tear the ground up. Where, and I'm, I've got a couple acres right here beside it that maybe I've got some really well established clover in that is a constant draw and all that is just basically taking a field, regardless if it's two acres or 10.
and creating a lot of diversity within that one little pocket, you know that is always gonna be attractive to deer. And if I've got two or three of those spots across a property, I feel like my chances of keeping deer at home and keeping 'em happy, keeping something that turkeys can navigate through and feel like they're safe during the wintertime when there's no leafs on the trees, all those things start to make.
Peace, a little bit more attractive. I love this concept. This is Jake Gillinger who's been on this podcast and I talked about this exactly what you're hitting at is con, considering the height aspect of this and then leveraging, so I'll just throw out just an idea for [00:36:00] anybody.
So on some of these bigger fields, I have a tendency to break 'em. Kind kinda like Austin's talking about here. And one strategy you could, you create kind of block monocultures of sorghum. That's just a good, easy example. Sun hemp was the other one that we talked about, but having kind of these blocks or, along it to funnel deer I think thinking about that in small segments and a block could be a 10 by 10 area.
It doesn't have to be on my food plot, for example, on one of my food plots, on my own property, everyone that follows us, I have 48 acres, right? My story is I have to, I'm micromanaging 70 yard by 70 yard sections, so one acre blocks, right? And so my food plots are smaller than that.
But, in those blocks I'm creating this easily transverses area that has structure to create segmentation and visual limitation and thinking about a requirement built into your food, plot, design, and layout. Kinda like Austin's getting at here. And I think introducing plants of height and structure to create that 50 [00:37:00] inches in down kind of com compartmentalization, making them feel a little bit more at home is I think really critical to the design layout philosophy and having some real, thought process behind that.
Whether, they're pinching closer to a tree stand. , you're creating cover in between two areas, so it creates more opportunity for, multiple deer to feel a fe feeling of comfort and security kind of in an open area. And it's balancing that kind of across the landscape design and layout.
All right. So I got those other questions for you on establishing alfalfa and chuah. Yeah, let's get to that. Yeah, I'm interested, tho those are huge questions and I'll be honest with you I don't pretend to be an alfalfa expert. . I've never lived in an area where it was a major crop.
Now I have grown some alfalfa. I have put in test plots of alfalfa down here in the south. And one thing I do know about it is that if you get it established, it is an amazing crop. It's got some really cool attributes that a lot of other legumes just don't have.[00:38:00] If you're in areas with high alkaline soils, you know it, it likes those and prefers.
Over, a lot of your really good, white clover varieties that honestly, if you ask me, they prefer a slightly acidic soil. They want something in that 6.4 to 6.8 range is where I see a lot of clovers really thrive. Doesn't mean they won't do good at 7.2, but if you wanna be really specific, alfalfa just likes alkaline soils and more well drained sandy type soil.
There's areas in the landscape where I think alfalfa can be really productive as a crop for whitetails, as a crop for other critters. I think it leaves a little bit left on the table that clover is better at as far as being growing across a more wide variety of soil types. And so as much as I love alfalfa, as much as deer seem to love alfalfa, which is you.
No secret to that. When you see, the herds of 'em [00:39:00] that come out into alfalfa fields, is it from a hunting standpoint, how does it work for me? It's not very cold tolerant, and it's really tough to establish in some places, and it's very particular about bugs in my experience.
There's only a handful of varieties that work consistently when you get below the Mason Dixon line. So if you live in an area. Alfalfa has grown frequently and the soils match up to what it likes. I'm all for it, but I never wanna put as that as being all my eggs in my basket as far as what my whitetails are gonna be consuming, especially in the fall and the winter.
I think it leaves a lot left to be desired, which is where you're gonna have to have some other crops to contend with. So if it's grown in your. and the soils match up and you can grow it. Good. I'm all about it. I think it's a cool crop. It's just for the majority of whitetail country and I'm talking from, [00:40:00] I'll talk to guys from, Canada all the way to Florida every day and way out past the Mississippi, sometimes in Nebraska.
So it really depends on where you live at. If you live in Alabama, I'm probably not ever gonna mention the word alfalfa. If you live in some other places, you know where the al and soils and stuff really match up with alfalfa? Yeah, it can. It can really work. The CHUAH is something that, for whatever reason, has always been a little bit more southern oriented crop.
Maybe it's just because there's a higher percentage of Turkey hunters in the South that have used it. I don't know. But it's. Underutilized. If you ask me it, it's a different crop. It's in the nut stage family, and it grows just about anywhere. If you can get it established it can be a little finicky because it's a large seed.
And if you've never looked at it, a seed, a handful of chief of seed in your hand, it looks like a bunch of old peanuts that have gone bad. [00:41:00] They're it's a shriveled up dry looking , but they are full of moisture and they actually taste great. You could pour 'em in a bowl and put milk in it, and it's like grape cereal
It's an odd plant . They're very, they're it's got a sweet nutty taste to the actual seed itself. So if you ever eat one, you see quickly why turkeys love them so much. Getting it established and planning it is. is not difficult, but you have to think a little different because it's not a grass and it's not a broad leaf and it's not a legum being a nut sage.
You don't get this beautiful above ground growth, even if you have a perfect crop. It's just kinda what am I looking at? It looks like a bunch of wire grass growing in a swamp sometimes. So it doesn't have this illustrious look to the. What's growing underneath the soil is the cool stuff for people that have never grown it before.
It's, it grows this massive wad [00:42:00] of tubers underneath the ground. And when you pull it up, when it starts hitting mature, it's got these, ch of nuts all masked into this wa of roots and it's kind of Turkey crack. Turkeys go crazy for it because they love to scratch. and they love to scratch their food up, whether that be bugs and seeds, that's their dna.
N is scratching just like washing your chickens in the backyard. As soon as you let 'em outta the coop, the first thing my chickens wanna do is go find leafs and sticks and scratch 'em and find bugs and seeds. And I don't think turkeys are all that indifferent when they're when they're calm and they've got somebody looking for hawks and predators, the rest of 'em wanna be scratching.
And I think that's one of the reason they. Chifa so much is it's just in their dna n to scratch and find food. The first year or two you plant it, it's a little odd because I've had to encourage people to go out there and actually run a disc or a tiller lightly through their chia patch [00:43:00] to pull some of em up so turkeys can find it.
And then after that it's over. They're gonna, they're gonna pretty much live in that field until all the chief is gone. So if you're really into. a different type of food for your turkeys. You're probably not ever gonna see your deer in the chiefer field. You might see 'em graze on the chief of plant itself a little, but very rarely, which is nice because it's something that, it's only there for your birds.
The cool thing is you don't have to plant 20 acres of it on a place to make a difference. I've gone in and planted some linear strips, on the edge of some places where you. close to the timber, let's say, where your other crops don't do all that great cuz the root system from the trees is sucking out all the moisture.
Chuva doesn't have to have a ton of moisture, so it may be a good place to put in a, two or three tractor widths along the field edge. You're creating some diversity. It's a different plant height, and it's really easy to maintain from a [00:44:00] weed standpoint because you can spray it. something as cheap and simple as two four D for grass control, for a broad leaf control.
And you can go in there with something like, cleod them or oxid them for grass control because it's neither, it's a nut edge. And if you've ever tried to get rid of nut edge, let's say in your yard or in some other places, that stuff is tough. Once it's established, it's tough. And so then the question begins is it a perennial?
And by nature it Once your turkeys find it, there's usually not enough of it left to not have to go back in and replant, if that makes sense. Yeah, that does make sense. And the nuts edges to get rid of those is a difficult thing, but like you said, it's a consumable. So it's gonna be utilized once it's found, it's utilized.
And now the question is, how much do you need on the landscape? And we could have another discussion on that and thinking about. Volumes of food plots or volumes of food sources that we're planning in the landscape based on deer densities and [00:45:00] how to manage, this issue that we're constantly in, in flux with is, should I have more food plots or not?
That's a constant, discussion that I have to have with clients and. You know where the focus is, and you started this out originally, and I'm taking this in another direction. We're at the end here, is managing your woodlots. You've got history, educational history and experience doing that.
That's an important time. This is things that we should be talking about this time of year in addition to planning spring food pots. Weighing both of those in this equation of, balancing of planted food versus resident natural food, minimizing kind of the non edibles, right? And particularly the ones that are not native in your areas.
Obviously in the south you're dealing with different eco regions and types and, thinking what's natural on the landscape's Pretty critical. It's a little simple here in the north. You brought concepts up today of drought. Thinking about, we talked a little bit about maturity periods of plants.
Managing the residual crop and thinking about the next planning. I use the term double cropping in my philosophy. [00:46:00] That means I'm planting the same crop or similar crop and thinking the sequencing. We talked a little bit about carbon organic material, the importance of that. Herbicides, you just brought that up.
The end. And diversity, I think that's the most important thing, is trying something new and different. Not being scared to try mung beans. This. Lab, some of the other examples that we brought up. I think it's just thinking different outside of the box. We have a tendency to get pigeonholed and do the same thing on a normal basis.
And that may work for you. But it's taking some of these concepts and applying them, thinking about the vertical height and structure, the volume of plants, right? To create some concealment, camouflage. A lot in this podcast. And Austin, I appreciate your time. I love hopefully we have you on here again, cuz I think this is just we're just getting a little bit of the taste of, your experience and I know that.
You are the food plot guru in Bobby's mind, but the reality of it is , you do wildlife management on a larger scale, and it's important to leverage that knowledge that you have so folks can start to think about, improvements. Any, anything? Yeah I wanna help [00:47:00] people out and, I've been doing this a long time, but I don't, I wanna share my mistakes I've made with people and I tell the people all that all the time so that you don't have to make 'em.
more than importantly. Maybe you save money along the way and have, extra leftover to go buy a tag in another state, . Yeah, I want people to, I want people's property to be the best it can. I want to give sound advice and maybe it's not something I read out of a book because 90% of what I know is it didn't come from a book.
It came from, hands in the dirt, for lack of a better term. So you. I've made a lot of mistakes through the years, and I can tell you what does and doesn't work a lot of times and help people implement that. Appreciate y'all letting me be on. Yeah, no, I'm happy to have you on. All right we'll talk again soon and we'll we'll keep following you.
So thanks, Austin. Thank y'all. All right. See ya.
Maximize your hunt is a production of whitetail. For more information on how John [00:48:00] Teeter and his team of experts can help you maximize your hunt, check out whitetail landscapes.com.