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Create A Honey Hole for Hunting

Land Management with Garden Tools

Small Plot Basics

Follow these simple steps to improve wildlife habitat in wooded areas on your property of hunting lease:

❏ Test the soil at plot location, correct pH balance with lime, and restore missing nutrients with recommended fertilizer.

❏ Use handsaw, chainsaw or bladed weed eater to remove small saplings and other woody plants. There are several gas operated power units available from manufacturers, such as ECHO, which have replaceable head units that allow you to clear and cultivate areas such as small food plots.

❏ Remove leaves with a leaf blower or rake to ensure good seed/soil contact.

❏ Rough up the ground with a garden tiller or heavy-duty rake. You don't need to go deep; a few inches are enough to sprout seeds.

❏ Finally, sow small-seeded plants and grasses such as clover, wheat and rye. These seeds are preferable because they don't need to be planted deeply to grow.

Mix It Up!

NWTF offers seed mixes that work well in small openings. Order yours today by visiting

Hunting near home is ideal for hunters because it affords them more time in the woods, especially before or after work. Considering the sprawling growth around major metro areas, hunting in and around suburban areas is becoming more common each year. One way to optimize your chances of connecting on a hunt near home is to create small food plots, or wildlife openings, on your property or lease.

However, purchasing the equipment necessary for food plots can become pretty expensive, not to mention the storage needs of the equipment. You have to also consider whether your opening is even large enough to accommodate most ATV plot implements.

Here is an alternative to planting food plots with farm equipment or ATVs and accessories. Hunters can plant food plots with basic garden tools hanging in their garage.

According to Scott Vance, NWTF assistant vice president of conservation programs administration, a little bit of time and a few garden tools can create honey holes that could make the difference in filling your game tags.

"A single afternoon of planting can provide browse and ideal habitat for deer and wild turkeys and provide great places for ground nesting birds, such as bobwhite quail to raise their young," said Vance.

Start with a third of an acre, preferably on top of a ridge with very few trees. The area should get plenty of sunlight — at least half the day.

The openings are beneficial to turkeys because grasses, berries and insects are the primary foods for adult turkeys during the spring and summer, with plant material providing more than half of the wild turkey's summer diet.

What to Plant

Grasses and clovers provide important summer and winter forage and improve brood habitat for wild turkeys and nutrition white-tailed deer need, making these plantings excellent choices for wildlife openings.

These plants produce large amounts of seed, benefiting mature birds and attracting hordes of insects, the essential element of a young turkey's diet. Additionally, grasses and clovers help control erosion when planted on roads and logged areas.

There are two major types of wildlife plantings: warm-season and cool-season.

Preferred warm season plantings, which are planted in the spring, include naked oats, alyce clover, alsike clover, buckwheat, millet, soybeans, peas and corn.

The cool-season plantings, which are planted in the spring or fall according to the region and variety, include winter wheat, forage oats, annual ryegrass, crimson clover, ladino clover, chicory, brassicas and rape.

There are several brands of seed and seed blends for wildlife available today. One of the most popular seed mixes is Turkey Gold Strut and Rut, which comes in a variety of blends suited to the different needs of wildlife throughout North America. It grows quickly and provides food and cover throughout the summer, fall and early winter.

To learn more about wildlife management and landowners programs offered by the NWTF, call (800) THE-NWTF or visit at

— Brian Dowler




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