How to Pick a Food Plot Site with CVA’s Pro Staffer Tony Smotherman

 

“The idea of ‘Build it and they will come,’ taken from the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ is true,” Smotherman, an avid blackpowder hunter, CVA pro staffer and outdoor TV personality, says. “Generally, if you build a green field, deer will come and feed on it. However, if you build it in the wrong place, they only may feed on that green field after dark and be gone before daylight. A 1-or a 2-acre green field, in the middle of a 100-acre cut, soybean field, will be used by deer, but, probably, not during daylight hours. What I prefer to do is to try and find a spot where I can create a green field, where deer are feeding or moving during daylight hours. I feel if I put food plots in the places deer are already using for travel or to go to food, they’ll come to that site, even more during daylight hours, where I can take them.” For instance, if you like fried chicken, and there’s a fried chicken restaurant on your way home from work, you more-than-likely will stop there if it’s convenient to your travel path, than you are to stop at one that’s 2-or 3-miles out of your way. Smotherman likes food-plot locations in small coves – perhaps an indentation on the side of an agricultural field, a corner of an agricultural field or a place where the timber juts-out into an agricultural field and creates a pocket on either side of that timbered point.

“These places are often easier to find in the Midwest, than they may be in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana,” Smotherman explains. “I like to have a cove that’s surrounded on three sides by timber or brush. If I’m building a food plot in the woods, I like for my food plot to be long and narrow. This way, the deer can step-out of thick cover and feed. If he feels threatened, he can jump one time and be right back in that thick cover. I want to have a 50-yard wide, less-than-100-yard-long food plot, in the middle of thick cover or thick timber. The thick cover or thick timber provides cover for the deer and a bedding site for the deer. If the deer has plenty of food and thick cover, close-by, he may bed within 50 to 100 yards of the green field.”

Before Smotherman pinpoints a place that he likes, and before he takes a soil sample or begins to turn the ground, there are several other considerations that he makes, before he decides to plant a food plot in this area. “If someone locates a place that has several trails coming through it, and the region has a good road system to get a tractor to that spot, then often a hunter will go-ahead and plant a food plot,” Smotherman reports. “But, I do more research, before I spend time and money on seeds, fertilizer, gas for the tractor and herbicides. I want to know, ‘Is there a good tree for me to put a tree stand in, or a good spot to put a ground blind on the edge of that field?’ I want to know which way the green field faces. Where I hunt, the prevailing wind come from the southwest. So, can I put a ground blind or a tree stand in a spot where I can face southwest and have a good chance of taking a deer, when he comes to that green field? I want to know, which way is east and west, because I want the sun at my back and in the deer’s face, if he’s looking in my direction. I want to know the direction of where the sun will come-up and set and from which direction the wind most-likely will come from, on the day I’m hunting. Then, I’ll know when I can best hunt this field, in the morning or in the afternoon.

“The area I hunt, never, never, never, gets an east wind. But, if we get an east wind on the day I want to hunt this field, I want to know where can I set-up my tree stand or my ground blind to be the most productive. If I spend money on seeds, fertilizer and gas for the tractor, I want to know that if a big buck shows-up in this field, I can take him.”

Anyone can go into the woods and plant a green field, and if you build it, the deer more than likely will come to it. However, if you look at the process that Tony Smotherman goes through when he’s trying to identify the best green-field sites, you too can plant a much-more effective green field and increase the odds of taking a buck in that field this season.

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