The Memorial weekend is the official summer opener, when most folks feel summer has arrived; time to head out to launch the sailboat or pontoon, with the heat of summer is just around the corner.
Because of the cool spring, almost everything in the outdoors was set back, but this weekend with its warmer temperatures and the high humidity accompanied by the rain should get things started.
Heat and humidity, that’s what the morel mushrooms need in order to start popping up, so I wouldn’t give up quite yet,
The walleye bite on much of the water in our area has been slow, except in the Platte area, where anglers have been doing very well drifting with the wind or using a controlled drift to take some nice limits of walleyes.
As the water temperatures start to rise in the river, lakes and on smaller bodies of water, fishing should pick up throughout the area.
For those outdoorsmen and women who aren’t into fishing, those into deer hunting, it’s that time for them to start work on their foodplots, deciding how many they’ll plant, what to put in them and deciding their foodplot locations.
Some may think that when it comes to putting in a food plot, depending on the size, you’d do things differently, not true as there are basic steps that need to be done in a certain order for you to have a successful foodplot.
As far as how many foodplots to put in, here’s a recommendation from the Whitetail institute.
“Whether your property is large or small, your best-case scenario is to have enough acreage in plots to maximize attraction and nutrition, but without planting so much of the property that deer have no reason to move.”
They also indicate that one should keep in mind that what you’re putting in is just a starting point and you’ll need to tweak it based on how the deer react to it.
You’ll want your stands to be located near the foodplots; downwind from the direction the wind blows the most often.
Depending on what you’re looking for, there’re some differences in the type of plantings you’ll want to establish.
You need to know the main purpose of each site, If you’re looking for a planting that attracts deer, keeping them on your property throughout the year, or one that provides maximum production for just a part of the year, the spring and summer, insuring maximum antler growth, or during the later part of the year, the fall and winter to hold deer or giving them what they need to survive the remainder of the year.
If you’re planting deer hunting plots; the size you plant can run as small as 1/10th of an acre on up to three acres as its function is to draw deer for harvest as well as providing needed nutrients for other deer.
Then there’s feeding plots, they’re generally located close to the center of the property, when feeding plots are used, you’ll look for the deer to head to them when moving from where they’ve bed in the afternoon and evening to browse before bedding down.
As a general rule feeding plots are larger than hunting plots, they’re a place for the deer to feed and feel safe, this type of plots should not be over hunted, if at all, only during the rut, as these areas give the deer a haven, a place to feel safe.
No matter the size your property, whether it’s large or small, there’re certain steps that should be followed in a certain order.
The reason for this is that some of the steps depend on others having already been taken care of.
Finally, as you go through these steps, remember, not to expect miracles over night as this is just your starting point, with most plans needing to be tweaked according to the deer’s reaction during its first year.
In these areas, you’ll need to make the decision as what to plant as there certain things you need to know about the area before getting into the planting, they include the sites soil type, its amount of slope and what type of equipment you have available to prepare the site.
You’ll find that there are some seeds you can plant with less equipment or perhaps even with hand tools, while others may be more drought intolerant as well as varieties of seeds that do well on certain types of soil and slopes.
To start with, you’ll want to do a soil test, taking your soil sample to CVA or another fertilizer dealer, and at that time, informing then what you plan on planting, if you don’t, the recommendation as far as fertilization may be just for grasses and they may be able to give you some advice on what crop grow best in your type of soil.
As with any planting, weeds can be a huge factor, first you’ll want to combat the weeds by treating the area with a Roundup or a similar weed killer, then about a week later, check on it to see if all the weeds were killed, if not, spray one more time.
Once you have your weeds under control, lightly disk the plot, working it up, creating a nice firm seed bed.
Then, depending on the size of your food plot spreading the seed out properly with an ATV/UTV seeder, a chest type seed spreader or simply raking it in.
One mistake that some folks make is to not have your seed planted at the right depth, which is based on the size of the seed, larger seeds, beans and oats do well when broadcast onto a disked and fertilized seed bed and then covered by running over it with a harrow.
When planting smaller seeds, brassica, clover or chicory, you won’t need to completely cover them, they should be left on the top of the ground and then lightly disking the seed and fertilizer into the top two inches, smoothing the area using some type of weighted drag, giving the seeds a nice firm seed bed.
Depending on the moisture, the legumes, brassica should appear first, with others appearing shortly thereafter and if needed later on it’s not a bad idea to give the planting a second fertilization.
There’s not much difference between a good foodplot and a poor one, it’s the amount of time you put into it and its location.
No matter if you’re into fishing or hunting, this time of the year before it gets so overly hot is the time to be out and about, enjoying our GREAT outdoors.
Gary Howey (Hartington, Nebraska) is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster, and was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. The new Outdoorsmen Adventures television series begins its 13-week season on April 4 at 11 a.m. on KCAU-TV, Sioux City, as well as on numerous Independent stations throughout the upper Midwest. For more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Facebook page and watch the shows on the MIDCO Sports Network, News Channel Nebraska and on the Outdoor Channels www.MyOutdoorTV.com.