So we all have opinions on what the best food plot for Kentucky whitetail hunting is for the year. We all get excited planning for that “best” food attractant to bag you that trophy class buck.
- Decide what is around you. It doesn’t do you any good to plant a 1/2 acre of corn if you are surrounding by 100’s of acres of corn fields.
- When do you plan to hunt the food plot? It make a difference as far as when the deer will usually visit what crops and what time of the year they do that.
- How big if your food plot? Most have read you cant plant soybeans on a 1 acre plot, but if you’re like me, you don’t listen to people a lot and have to learn the hard way.
- How much shade is there?
- Depending on your skill level, you probably don’t need to worry about your soil type. We are not farmers, we waste money and spare no expense on our food plots.
So the answer on the best food plot isn’t really clear. Whatever your neighbors don’t have is probably a good place to start, but chances are by just making your soils Ph perfect, you can plant exactly what your deer hunting neighbors have and have a little bit better of a food source.
Unless you hang in circles that discuss going on paid Kentucky deer hunts, then the term “outfitter” can be a new one to you. An outfitter, specifically a Kentucky whitetail outfitter is a person or business who makes it their job to see that you have a successful deer hunt. They provide some, if not all of the following services:
- Hunting land
- Hunting Guide
- Maps of the trails
- Maps of the food plots with descriptions
- Locations of pre-set hunting stands
- Year-round management of food plots
- Year-round mineral sites
- Trail Camera research / deer patterning
- Advice on where to hunt
- And the bill for services rendered
The last one, “And the bill for services rendered” is probably the one you need to pay attention to first. Now the reason people use Kentucky hunting outfitters is because either their time is limited to hunt or they simply don’t own hunting land. My land costs $20,000+ per year to manage for trophy deer, while other ranches could cost over $100,000 per year to manage. If you want to stay in a big nice lodge, and if you want a Kentucky hunting guide with you to take you to your stand or what not, then you’re going to pay for that service. If you want to go to a place that leases 10 farms or 5,000 acres, then you’re going to pay for that extra “clout”. My place is much smaller, so I’m going to say you’re really only hunting 5 acres at a time anyway, but to each their own.
Being a smaller Kentucky whitetail outfitter, I don’t being present to drive you to your stands nor do I have someone cooking you food. I work my property as much as anyone with the 13+ food plots, but my work and research is done before the season even begins. I share that work with you on paper, offering maps, descriptions, etc. of what the property looks like. I offer basic and small lodging. There isn’t a pool table or even a bathroom inside. It’s all about what amenities you want to pay for. If you want to shoot a 180 inch deer, then only non-free range outfitters can offer a reasonable expectation for that. If you have extra money, then don’t come to my place! You’d be crazy when you can go to a cushy place that offers drinks, pool tables, fishing, etc. If you want to hunt good deer and know you have a chance at a 150 incher, and don’t mind a small cabin and nobody cooking you food, then come and try me out for a season. http://www.huntingkentuckydeer.com
The reality is if you’re looking to learn about making your food plots a little better or trying to figure out the best way to create 1 or 2 food plots, then you’re relatively new to the food plot game of Kentucky whitetails hunting. Now I’ll reference Kentucky deer hunts or what not, but this information applies to all deer hunting efforts throughout the country.
So, if you’re reading this, you first want to know some of the basics you need to have on a budget.
- 4 WHEELER OR TRACTOR – Now, before buying a backhoe, bulldozer, 4-wheelers, etc., I too tried to make a foot plot with a rototiller. If that is what your budget allows, then go for it!
- TANK SPRAYER – Yes you can use a little hand-held 2 gallon one. I’ve gone through many tank sprayers and you do need to spend$20 for poisen on any given food plot before you plant it and to prepare the soil.
- DRAG – A lot of the pro’s offering pro advice will talk about not burying the seeds too deep and that you need a cultipacker. Well, you don’t need a cultipacker! You only need that if you have a tiller. Find a harrow, a log or two, some chains, a chainlink fence, etc. I know you’ve read about this stuff, so you do need a basic drag.
- CHAINSAW – Even owning a bulldozer, there are some trees you just can’t get out, so you’ll need to cut trees down to let more sunlight in and/or cut trees off at the base and slowly let them to start rotting.
- HANDHELD SPREADER – I sell deer hunts and manage 13+ food plots, but I still only need a small handheld spreader. You only need a big pouch spreader if you’re doing oats, rye or wheat.
- A PULL BEHIND SPREADER – Now you do need a spreader for lime. Lime is cheap, enjoyable to do and it makes getting soil samples more fun so you can so see how the money and work you put into your soil has changed it over time.
Keep note just for fun! If you do it for “work” you’re never going to really make the note-taking matter, so why do it at all! I’m a realist. If you’re not a high-rolling Kentucky whitetail outfitter and you don’t have money coming out of your ears, then enjoy creating a pre-fall plan, a fall plan, and an outline of what you actually did. Then keep track of how it came up and where you noticed deer. This is all a process and learning curve.
A lot of articles will talk about fertilizer. Well, you don’t need to fertilize unless you have money to waste. It’s not going to make that big of difference to the people reading these articles. If you know better, and consider yourself a Kentucky hunting outfitter, then yes, you probably need to spend a little money in fertilizer to improve your food plots. If you put all this effort and spend all kinds of money on top-dollar seed and fertilizer, and you simply don’t listen to us about the depth of which you plant the seed, then you’re wasting your money. I had a little money to waste and I didn’t listen to everything people said. It’s a learning curve and at least you’re having fun learning how to be a better game manager! Check out my website for more info: http://www.huntingkentuckydeer.com
Nearly a decade ago I bought my chunk of land and began turning it into a Kentucky whitetail hunting paradise. Some basic tools of the trade listed, more or less, in order of importance relative to typical budgets include:
- fertilizer / lime spreader
- seed spreader
- bulk sprayer
The next set is more advanced with a bigger budget:
- rake Implement
- chainsaw (belongs on the above list)
- harrow (an overpriced device that takes the place of a log drag)
The final set is the most expensive “toys” you use for whitetail food plots:
- grain bins
I’m sure I left a few things out, but you get the just of what’s needed. A rookie mistake is buying a cultipacker because you hear everyone talk about them being required for good soil / seed contact. A cultipacker is simply a waste of money unless you have a tiller. That is just something I’ve never read.
Another good tip is to make sure when you plant clover, give it a few years before you kill it all and start from scratch. My final suggestion that hasn’t been glaringly pointed out in Kentucky deer hunting articles is that you MUST overseed your food plots. All the time and effort we put into these things, do not listen to the “farmer” professional seed advice. They look at things differently. I’ll write more about reasons why later.
I was recently told by a respectable Kentucky hunting outfitter that there are only 5 or 6 legitimate outfitters in the entire state of Kentucky. We had a gentlemen’s debate over his comments. The implication being you are only can be considered an outfitter if you charge $3,000 to $6,000 or more per hunter was what I gathered from the conversation. Maybe if your cabin was in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. That is really the impression I was left with. A lot of these people with access to lots of land lease farms from the random elderly who do in fact have big deer roaming their land. I won’t knock them one bit! This is how it’s done and there is nothing wrong with that at all. It’s a little offensive because I actually own my deer ranch and have spent countless hours and lots of money pouring in the lime, pouring on the fertilizing, using a bulldozer to carve out the perfect 13 foot plots on the property. From digging stagnant water ponds and keeping the minerals heavy to making sure the auto-feeders are spitting out corn regularly. Not to mention the push around my several mile neighborhood to only shoot 120 inch 8 point bucks are bigger. From quality deer management signs being posted on the roads to busting poachers, I spend about 60% of what I make as a school teacher making this the perfect Kentucky deer hunting property. I’m not sure what an outfitter means; if an outfitter means to make you food, then they’d be called “chefs”.
When paying for a Kentucky deer hunt, my philosophy is that it’s all relative. If you have 10 farms you sell deer hunts on, then you’re going to sell to 10 times the number of hunters. In the end, success rates will be the same and everyone enjoys themselves. We’ve all been traveling and stayed at places with different amenities. I will not be gutting your deer for you, but you can drive 5 miles to the processor and pay them $10 to do it for you. They’ll cut off the horns on the spot or prepare the cape for a shoulder mount and ship it to you. Some full-service Kentucky hunting outfitters do all of this for you. They are great, but everything has a price doesn’t it? Kentucky deer outfitters are across the spectrum in Kentucky. Decide what you’re willing to do yourself and what you’re willing to pay for, then choose your Kentucky whitetail trophy deer hunt from there. You can count on anybody selling you a deer hunt though probably spends just as much time as the next outfitter in the woods and on the property trying to make it the best Kentucky deer hunting property.
If you have experiences all of the Kentucky hunting seasons we offer, it’s a great time to be out with family and friends. To kick it off, we have Spring Turkey Hunting. With Spring Turkey season, it’s a chance to do a little scouting for the next deer season or to possible find a leftover shed from last year. You’re getting out in the woods, noticing old scrapes and rubs you missed from the season prior. We know were the gobblers are on the tract of land we own and manage, it’s the Kentucky Whitetail deer that change travel patters. It’s always reassuring when you see that little bit extra of trophy buck sign you didn’t notice the year prior. For some reason, during gun season, people push the deer out of their home range and they manage to find mine. We provide foot plots for all Kentucky seasons for the whitetail deer to browse on. There is no doubt that every buck within a 5 mile radius knows my land well and considers is a “safe space” for them to hang out since they are used to coming and feeding on it throughout the year.
After you’ve researched which Kentucky deer hunt or outfitter you’d like to book an adventure with, just before that Kentucky hunting season comes Fall turkey season. The food plots we have planted at the ranch are conducive for turkey attraction as well as for deer. Kentucky Fall Turkey season is a magical time to get out with your family and enjoy the outdoors. We have towering red pines in several section of the property that the gobblers use to roost each night. We’ll be able help you set up an ambush near their travel corridors to make it a successful turkey hunt.