Designing a Whitetail Hunting Plot

hunting plot

This picture is looking North from the middle of the 150 yard, long narrow plot. I rarely hunt over a food plot, but this is a good one, and in the most true sense of the term, is an actual “hunting plot”. On the north end there is a stand in an oak tree. A doe family group beds in the golden rod and white pines to the right, or east, which is a 2 acre field. Mature bucks/bucks bed further east, behind the does, over the ridge, and within a series of benches that drop 200′ in elevation to a county road. To the left of the food plot and 20 yards from the north stand is a 110 gallon tank for water. The deer travel through the golden road, feed/drink…and either head northwest and down hill…or along the plot and to the south to pasture land or our major food plots to the west about 400 yards away. North of the stand there is a 200′ drop in elevation and with any south wind, the scent is gone.

hunting plot

This is looking south from the middle of the field. There is a stand to the right, on the west side of the long narrow food plot that is used with easterly winds in the evening, or a straight south wind in the morning. The stand on the north end and this one are about 80 yards apart. Both stands are accessed from the low sides in the darkness and anything on the plot can’t see you coming. During the day the south stand is accessed from the west/southwest…the north stand from the west/northwest.

The deer feed quickly through in this long and narrow plot, after getting up from their daytime bedding. The deer quickly travel to the larger food sources. Typically the closer it gets to dark…the less deer we see or get pictures of (camera on small tree on right side of pic, facing northeast). And that’s a sure sign of a good hunting plot…less deer the closer to dark it gets, not more deer. We actually get daytime pics here all season, of all types of deer. Its our best daytime mature buck game cam location on the property.

nice buck in hunting plot

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It is very rare that I would consider hunting on a food plot…and I have had over 30 plots totalling 18 acres in 3 states at 1 time. However, this spot has all of the ingredients to be able to be called a true “hunting plot”:

1. Deerless entrance and exit.
2. Multiple sccess routes.
3. Deerless downwind while on stand
4. Secure/safe/thick deer movement from bedding to the plot
5. A pass through on the way to nearby much larger food sources.
6. A 1st stop water source from the bedding areas…meaning, the deer sit dry all day, and the water source in this spot is the only spot they will find water for another several hundred yards in any direction.
7. Hidden food plot…thickly screened on all sides.

Also, being able to hunt from 2 different stand locations for a large variety of winds…is the icing on the cake.

For “what to plant”, the highest volume that can fill the 1/4 acre space is best. The food is a compliment to the water, and the natural routes the deer are following anyways so the longer the food is available, the longer the entire daily movement is supported. If the plot is green…deer will keep visiting it. On this food plot we have a full planting of brassica…and about 50#s per acre of rye coming in. We should have a healthy, lush plot and we are paying extra attention to the location this year with the addition of the larger water tank…and extra nitrogen.

This plot acts to move deer the way we want them to…and to offer a highly social but safe area for the deer to visit while we take a look at them out of stands with good access points with little chance of spooking deer. The long and narrow plot keeps them moving…onto greener pastures so we can get in and out of the stands without deer in the plots feeding for long periods of time. Also…more deer move more deer, meaning…dominant does push subordinate, bucks move more bucks, and so on. Moving deer is a good thing because we want them to drink, feed, rub/scrape…and move out.

We actually get more daytime mature buck pics then night time here, because during the dark hours the deer spend the majority of time in the big social areas a 1/4 mile away in a few directions. Here are a few more night time game cam pics though…

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Here is my buddy Karl waiting for a mature buck…we had 2 fighting in the goldenrod that morning, less than 25 yards away, and they moved on w/o a shot being fired. Great morning in the stand though! When we get into either stand we are within 50 yards of does…and within 150 yards of mature bucks. Its a tight spot but with screened access and quiet stands even 2 hunters can slip into a stand undetected.

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And this is a buck shot out of the north area stand…

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By Jeff Sturgis, www.whitetailhabitatsolutions.com

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