Mar 10, 2018
Ready for Spring!
By: Steve Jordan
Some of us are jumping into our boats for the great early fishing opportunities on some of our Wisconsin rivers and lakes. Some of us are jumping on our tractors or ATVs to work up and plant our early food plots. A lot of us are doing both, along with hunting our tom turkeys that can often be very elusive. What a state we live in!
In the spring, I like to scout or hunt turkeys almost every morning and evening. I have had someone in our group hunting during every period of the spring turkey season the last few years, and I can usually put them on a hot spot. We have permission to hunt in some great places from numerous landowners.
As far as fishing, I don't spend a lot of time scouting for a hot bite. I rely on a couple of good friends to call me when they are on fish and away I go. I do help them on their food plots in return.
Preparing and planting food plots in the spring is always challenging, mainly because you are dodging spring rains. To help dry the soil, I will set my adjustment on the disk to light aggressive. This will stir up the very top layer of the soil and aerate it. The wind and sun will help to dry it quickly, and you may be able to plant the following day.
In the past few years, I have had a “tall mix” planted in some areas for a border, travel corridor or bedding area. The “tall mix” is a variety of tall plants (corn, sunflowers, sorghum, sedan grass, and others). This mix remains standing and thick through the winter. My disk can usually handle working up standing corn and sunflowers, but the “tall mix” is usually a little too much to handle. For that, I will take my brush hog or riding mower to mulch it up before disking.
The tall mix should be planted in early spring up until early June. Most of the plants in this mix need 90 or more days to mature. Field corn is the same. You can plant it in early spring up into early June in a normal year. Last year, we didn't get a killing frost until November so the late corn did very well. I still like broadcasting my corn seed on the surface and then disking it under to 1-2 inches of depth. This way I can use different varieties of corn with differing maturity dates. Also, this practice makes a great thicket for cover and starts feeding the deer in mid-summer with some of the 65-day maturing corn while still having fresh corn in September or October with the 85, 90, and 110-day maturing corn.
Soybeans can be planted in the spring all the way into September for food plots. I like to plant soybeans in a strip 15 feet wide and 100 yards long every three weeks during the growing season. Even my turnip mix planted in mid-July to mid-September will have soybeans growing with it. The soybeans seeds are much bigger than the little turnip seeds, so to get a uniform coverage, I plant this mix as follows:
- I work up the plot so it is nice and level.
- I broadcast my fertilizer on the surface.
- I lightly broadcast soybean seeds on the surface.
- I lightly disk in the fertilizer and soybeans to about two inches in depth.
- I broadcast my turnip mix on the newly disked surface.
- I culti-pack my turnip mix and the soil to give all the seeds good seed to soil contact.
Another popular food plot plant is the pumpkin. It usually takes a year or two for the local deer to acquire a taste for them, but once they do, a row of pumpkins can add to the diversity of a quality food plot.
(As a side note: CHS Larsen Cooperative in New London has asked me to help with their spring food plot seminar on April 12th. If you'd like to find out more about it, see their advertisement on p. _______. I hope to see you there.)
As much as I enjoy the fall, the spring is very special too. The smell of freshly turned over soil... the smell of fresh fruit tree blossoms... the sight of new leaves on the trees; these new leaves are a shade of green that only come once a year. The sights and sounds of migrating ducks and geese lined up in the sky and the wild turkey fanning out in the field is only part of it. I spent one whole morning while turkey hunting watching a male and female cardinal build a nest from start to finish right above me. It was amazing.
Take some time to sit back and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of spring.