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10 Steps To Food Plot Success

To Bag Big Bucks ? Plant it and They Will Come! All across the country, many hunters are starting to realize the benefits to about planting food plots on the lands they either lease or own these days in order to attract and hold more deer in their area. It is also part of creating a healthier deer herd with bucks that have larger antlers, too. Traditionally, most hunters planning to plant food plots think first of planting the many different types of clover blends. Any of the wide variety of commercially available clovers will improve the soil and provide it with extra nitrogen and can be used in pasturage, green chop, hay, and nitrogen-enhancing crop in between other rotational crops. The high nitrogen content does not allow the full-time pasturage of clover alone because of the problem of bloating. Sustainable pastures should contain a 30% clover to 70% grass average for the best utilization of nitrogen producing plants.

Whitetail Deer
A few more things to keep in mind about planting the different types of clover in food plots are that a clover food plot requires a lot of attention. It has to be fertilized and limed properly to grow hardy. By taking soil samples prior to planting a field of clover you can save yourself a lot of headaches. The soil sample analysis will determine exactly what mix of fertilizer to use (5-10-10 or 10-10-10, etc.) and how much fertilization and lime is needed to grow a healthy and long-lasting food plot. For those who may not know, the NPP numbers represent the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium content within the fertilizer mix.

Clover also has to be inoculated at planting to eliminate less desired seeds from growing within the clover crop. There are several types of clovers from which to choose. Most provide a high concentration of protein for deer and other wildlife. Some of the more popular clover plants include Alyceclover, Berseem Clover, Durana Clover, Barkey Subterranean Clover, Osceola Ladino Clover, Patriot Clover, Regal Ladino Clover, and Yuchi Arrowleaf Clover. Each will grow hardily in the areas for which they were designed. Most of these will grow well in the northeast.

While the many varieties of clover are good choices, many hunters forget the more traditional seed options that provide wildlife forage and high protein for deer, turkey, and other wildlife. On my farm, I use a variety of large (10 acres or more), medium (a minimum of 5 acres) or small fields (2 acres or less) to plant a wide variety of clover and traditional and non-traditional crops to attract and hold deer, turkey, ducks, and upland birds.

I plant both feed and sweet corn, Timothy hay, two varieties of Alfalfa meant especially for deer, Birdsfoot Trefoil (one of the longest living perennial legumes), and Brown Top Millet (which is one of the few plantings that can be flooded for ducks and also planted in dry areas for deer, turkey, and upland birds). I also plant Chufa seed in small plots (which are meant to be grown especially for wild turkey who love to eat this plant), dwarf corn which I plant around my ponds and waterholes for waterfowl (deer also happen to love it) and Japanese Millet which is strictly for ducks. Japanese millet is a fast-growing plant in muddy areas, near water, or in areas that are to be flooded. This year I also planted over ten acres of soybeans too. Soybeans are a high- quality protein plant. They require fertilization and inoculation to grow best. Soybeans should be planted in rows. If you don?t have a tractor (I have a Kubota L3400 ) with a seeder, use a PlotmasterTM to plant your soybeans in rows. Many sport shops are renting PlotmastersTM as well as selling them. My local Gander Mountain store in Middletown, New York, rents PlotmastersTM ? check out your local sporting goods store. Soybeans will germinate quickly as long as there is moisture present. Deer and other wildlife eat the soybeans in the foliage stage and after the beans have matured, too. What I really like about soybeans is that they reseed themselves after the seed falls to the ground and they end up producing even more plants! I like planting soybeans in mid-July (as long as it isn?t a drought year) so they will provide foliage and beans into October and sometimes November. Soybeans are hardy and will last up until the first couple of frosts. They are ideal to plant with other food plot crops and can be planted from April to July at the rate of 20 to 35 pounds to the acre.

I also have a plan to plant some native grasses as well. These grasses are also known as Tallgrass. They provide a wide variety of wildlife cover, food, and shelter. I plant several rows deep along a field that borders my neighbor?s farm. By doing so, I prevent other hunters from seeing into my food plot fields. The Tallgrass can grow up to eight feet in height! It is a natural border that keeps other hunters? peering eyes from watching the wildlife on your property. It also provides an ecological benefit to the soil and is a distinct ornamental plant as well. Along side of a wooded ten-acre sanctuary I posted on my land, I have a four-acre field of hay, which borders another four acres of corn, which lies next to a road. To prevent unwanted eyes from spotting the field at night, or be tempted to poach from a vehicle (which has been reported in the area), I decided to keep the corn crop standing until after deer season. To further help conceal the deer and to add to the effectiveness of the sanctuary, I also decided not to cut the hay along side of the corn. Instead, I will let it grow thick and tall. It will provide an extra buffer zone from the road and also give the deer more cover to hide in along side of the corn and the wooded sanctuary. The deer can also sneak off unseen from the cornfield, to the overgrown hay field and into the woods in case of unwanted trespassing. This is just another way to use crops to provide cover, food, and prying eyes from seeing deer on your land.

Whitetail Deer HuntingLastly, I am going to plant sunflowers in several areas on the farm in July, too. Black sunflowers are highly sought-after by all types of birds and game birds. Sunflowers are a good partner crop to grow in and around food plots of other types. Like Chufa, they are a good source of high quality oil which is needed for the healthy development of all species. They are a particular added benefit to attract ducks and, more important, larger migrating fowl like geese that traditionally require a large amount of calories during their migration flights.

Finding seed companies on the web are not difficult. Just make sure they are reliable plant companies that supply quality feed, minerals, and vitamins. I plan to use a variety of seed from Plot Spike in my plantings this spring. They can be found at or by calling 1-800-264-5281 for the nearest dealer in your area. This company offers a wide line of seed and other products including Chufas, oats, clovers, and minerals and vitamins.

The key is to make sure that any crop you grow is well taken care of. It must be fertilized, limed, and occasionally cut to have a healthy food source for deer to eat over long periods of time. You should also plan your crops so that they will provide winter feed as well (Winter Wheat etc.). No matter what type of food plot you grow remember not to place too much hunting pressure over it. I generally hunt my plots on a rotational basis in order to provide ?rest? to the plots I?ve hunted and thereby giving the deer access to the food without having to worry about constant pressure. If you only have one food plot make sure you don?t hunt it every day. Instead hunt it every three days. By doing this you will have more success in attracting deer to it, especially mature bucks.

I can tell you through my years of experience planting a wide variety of food plots — if you grow it ? they will come!

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A Guide To Tipping Your Guide!

Planning a guided hunt today is easier than ever before. With the tools that the internet offers, a hunter can sit in the comfort of his own home and search through a seemingly endless supply of outfitter websites. These sites usually contain everything that a prospective hunter needs to know about an outfit. Information about the area hunted, accommodations, pictures of animals harvested in the past, and rates for each of the different hunts offered are just a click away. But the one thing that you won’t find is how much gratuity you should leave when your hunt is over. This is a topic that most guides and outfitters step lightly around when asked. Giving a specific dollar amount or percentage of the hunt cost can seem presumptuous, and because each hunt can be so different, coming up with an average tip can be tough. Unfortunately this gray area can be very confusing to hunters, especially those who have never been on a guided hunt before.

Whitetail DeerTo start with, it should be understood that a tip is not required. A good guide shouldn’t expect a tip simply because he shows up. Those that do generally don’t stay in the business for long. Most guides are there because they truly love what they do. If you choose not to tip, nobody is going to call the authorities and have you hauled off to jail. That being said, it is important to realize that what a guide provides you is a quality service that would be missing if you did the hunt on your own. A tip is a good way of saying thank you for this service.

If your guide is not the outfitter, you should realize that there are some things that may be out of his control. Generally, guides who are not the owner of the outfit are told what to do. They may not have any say in choosing the area to hunt, or what your accommodations will be during your stay. To punish them by not leaving a tip because the outfitter may have misled you really isn’t fair. Your tip for your guide should be based on the job he did for you. A good guide is not just someone who tells you when to pull the trigger. For the duration of the hunt he should be your partner. He should be willing to work as hard as he can to help you fill your tags and to make sure you have a safe hunt.

For some businesses the outfitter is also your guide. In this case the person guiding you is also responsible for all of the details and accommodations involved in setting up your hunt as well as the hunt itself. This is most likely the person you talked to on the phone and who told you what to expect during your stay. He is responsible for following through with his promises of what the hunt will be like as well as the state of the accommodations and food. It is his job to take care of all the details to make your hunt enjoyable. I believe it is fair to take into account all of these factors when determining how much gratuity to leave. Whether or not to tip your guide if he is also the outfitter is kind of a gray area. Technically it is ok not to tip the owner, and some people choose not to. In my mind if the hunt is as promised, and the guide busts his tail for me, it doesn’t matter who he is, I’ll leave a tip.

In many camps, the guide or outfitter isn’t the only one working to keep things running smooth. There is usually someone around to do the cooking, and perhaps a wrangler to keep tabs on the horses. If this is the case, tipping these folks for a job well done is very appropriate.

So how much should you tip? When you eat at a restaurant it is widely known that a 15% tip is the going rate for a waitress, but there is no standard for a hunting guide. Different people have different expectations, and this can make it hard to know what a fair tip is. In my mind, though, I would say that a good tip for a guide would start in the neighborhood of 8-10% of the cost of the hunt. For most waterfowl hunts, that would be around $25 per day, and for a 5 day big game hunt somewhere in the $250-$350 ballpark. For camp cooks and other hands, something like $10-$15 per day would be a good starting point. Also, it is obviously okay to tip more. If your guide and camp help show you the best week of your life, by all means give them a little extra if you’re comfortable with it.

One last thing to keep in mind is that in most cases the amount you tip shouldn’t reflect whether or not you filled your tags or downed your limits. If you were unsuccessful because your guide spent most of the day sleeping on the hillside, or stuck you in a tree so he could head out and fill his own tags, by all means take it out of your tip. But most guides aren’t like that and will usually do all they can to make your hunt a success. Bad shooting on your behalf, uncooperative animals or weather shouldn’t affect the amount you tip. Remember that we are hunting wild game in their environment, and there are certain things that are out of our control. If your guide does everything he can to put you in a position to be successful a good tip is a great way to say thank you.

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Iowa’s #1 Hunting Lodge

The Dunn Deal Hunting Lodge

Book your trip NOW! 1-800-662-7600
South Central and Eastern Iowa

Iowa Deer Hunting Lodge

  1. THE BEST whitetail deer hunting in Iowa
  2. #1 in pheasant hunting
  3. Over 1 million roosters shot annually
  4. 1000 acres of private land for hunting
  5. Only minutes away from great restaurants, shopping, and recreation areas


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The Dunn Deal Hunting Lodge: Your Host

LodgMy name is Erik Wilson and I have spent my entire life on the land as a hunter and a farmer.

The Dunn Deal Hunting Lodge is located about 10 miles west of Albia, Iowa or about 10 miles east of Chariton, Iowa where the presumed new world record buck was taken. I have some really comfortable deer stands and many ideal locations. Our lodge offers the best of Iowa hunting experiences. If you need a guided hunting experience, I offer personal attention to details.

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Hunting Articles


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The Dunn Deal Hunting Lodge


The Hunting at the Dunn Deal


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