|Mimic Patch Farms with Food Plots|
Hunters Should Think More Like Farmers
I’m old fashioned. I still hunt with a Winchester pre-64 model 70 in 30-06, topped off with a 1960s Weaver K4 scope. For Christmas, my wife, Kathy, bought me a Remington model 721 bolt action in .270 with a vintage 2.5-7 Weaver scope on pivot mounts. It shoots like a dream. Both rifles date back to 1953. But as ole Clint Eastwood said, "A man’s got to know his limitations."
So, as accurate and tough as the old scopes may be, they do have a weakness compared to new scopes. The last few minutes of legal shooting, the older scopes won’t gather as much light. But it’s close, so it works for me.
I am not opposed to new guns and new scopes…far from it. On all of my unguided hunts in Alaska, I carried, and still do, a Winchester model 70 built in 1988 in a .375 H&H Magnum with a 1.5-5 Leupold scope. So I do like modern guns, if 1988 is modern. Now you ask yourself what in the world does this have to do with food plots?
I spent 30 years in the agriculture chemical and fertilizer business as a salesman and branch manager for Helena Chemical. I’m a certified crop advisor and agriculture is dear to my heart. So is hunting. I went to work with Tecomate a year ago and my goal is to blend sound agriculture science into the food plot industry.
No new chemistry is introduced into agriculture until sound research is performed at agriculture colleges. For many years, marketing has led the food plot industry and that’s fine. But sound, proven science is absolutely necessary to forge a long future whether selling the American farmer or the American outdoorsman.
Barenbrug, the owner of Tecomate Seed, has always promoted science over marketing; thus making them an extremely successful seed company. Through Barenbrug, Tecomate receives many technology advancements not found in other food plot seeds. Advancements can include tolerance to drought, faster germination, and establishment and disease resistance. These advancements come through improved genetics, selection and the Yellow Jacket Proprietary Seed Coating. Seeds are also selected and sold in the respective geographical areas for optimum performance and palatability.
As the southern manager for Tecomate, I have spoken to thousands of outdoorsmen and have met many new friends in the industry. Tecomate’s business is growing due to our promoting sound science. For many years food plot designs have been long, finger-like food plots. Consequently, there is not enough sunlight/photosynthesis to raise a quality food plot providing the nutrition required.
We are increasing these old food plots to larger two and three-acre food plots/patch farms. I show pictures in my presentations of before and after food plots now producing much healthier plants, more palatable, able to withstand much more browse pressure. There is a down side: you will spend more money on a bulldozer, lime and fertilizer.
The difference between a long, skinny, quarter-acre, shaded food plot to a two-to- three acre patch is undeniable. Your goal is to think more like a farmer on a small tractor than a hunter on a four-wheeler pulling a chain to incorporate the seed.
Shade, low pH and poor seed selection are your enemy. Select a premium seed that is treated, drought-resistant and geographically selected for your area. And, yes, we would like for you to choose Tecomate. There are other experts out there in the seed business…pick one and do it right like a farmer feeding his family.
There is another key to promoting a healthy deer population and that is native vegetation. Col. Jerry Brown in Alabama and Glen Garner at Foxworthy Outdoors, both good friends of mine, have made a believer out of me that native vegetation is as important, or more important, than food plots. Joel Glover, a very well-respected wildlife biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation serving as a regional private land biologist with the NRCS, has also convinced me of this. You have to manage native vegetation through proper burning, thinning of timber and promoting warm-season grasses.
Spring Food Plot
I am a very strong proponent of crop rotation in food plots. Any good farmer practices crop rotation and the same holds true for food plots. This spring, try planting Lab Lab Plus from Tecomate. A spring crop of Lab Lab Plus gives a balanced nutritional program for all wildlife, great cover from predators and it makes us all good stewards of the land by practicing cover crops and crop rotation. This product contains Lab Lab bean, butterfly peas, ebony peas, Hinson soybean and white milo, along with cowpeas. You have five legumes (these are products fixing nitrogen in the soil) in a bag. The product is great for all wildlife including quail and helps rebuild the soil ahead of your fall food plot. Four weeks before planting your fall food plot, mow and disc the Lab Lab Plus in. This fall, plant something like Max Attract or Greenfield Pro. I strongly recommend Lab Lab Plus every spring. Plant Tecomate Lab Lab Plus at 22 pounds per acre.
Am I saying you have to choose Tecomate seed to shoot a large buck? No.
Does Tecomate provide one of the best seed mixes in the industry at a competitive acre price? Absolutely.
In the South, our forefathers had patch farms all over the countryside. Cotton was the cash crop, but they lived on one acre of peas here or a half acre of beans there. There were patches of corn to feed the horses, mules and milk cows. There were also a lot of quail because of this. Pine trees and folks leaving the farm have forced patch farms almost into extinction. Now, I am not against the timber business. All I’m saying is we need to try to mimic patch farms on our properties.
Brown, a Vietnam veteran who runs Lake Martin QDMA in Alabama, has mastered this old time farming technique and I am attempting to do the same on my small farm. Jeff Foxworthy’s Pine Mountain, Georgia, property is a prime example of what beautiful Southern farmland can look like. Garner, his manager, has blended agriculture with food plots in a professional way, leading to great success.
Stay tuned for the next "Tecomate Acre" and thanks for the business.
You can read more of Scott Railey’s articles on the outdoors and food plots at www.FoxworthyOutdoors.com.
Scott Railey is the southern manager for Tecomate.