Editor’s Note: Rodney Dyer of Deatsville, Alabama, a certified wildlife biologist and avid hunter, works with Hunter’s Specialties in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, providing advice on wildlife and land management. This week, he’ll tell us what do once we’ve planted our major green fields and how to use Vita-Rack E-Z Grow.
Question: Rodney, once we’ve got our major green fields planted for the fall, what should we do next?
Dyer: I’d start planting the secret places where I plan to take deer. Some hunters don’t really understand how to get the most use out of a green field. The less you hunt a green field, the more likely you are to take bigger and better bucks out of it. Your green fields need to be sanctuaries for the deer, especially for the does, until the rut begins.
If you shoot bucks and does out of your green field before the rut, the deer will learn that the only time they can come safely to those green fields is after dark. However, if you don’t hunt the green fields until the rut, the does will feel comfortable going to those green fields and feeding during daylight hours. Too, the bucks will know that the green fields are where they’re most likely to see the does, which will become major draws during the rut. Therefore, if you don’t hunt your green fields until the rut, more than likely you’ll take more and bigger bucks off those green fields during the rut when the older-age-class bucks are more vulnerable.
Question: If we’re not going to hunt over the green fields we’ve spent all this time and money planting, where are we going to hunt?
Dyer: We planting green fields for several purposes, including feeding deer and harvesting deer. We also plant the green fields to encourage the deer to set-up trails that they will use to go to and from the green fields throughout the year. Once the deer are using the green fields, then go to the edges of the green fields. Find these deer trails, and follow them for at least 200-yards to 1-mile back through the woods, depending on how much land you have. Along these trails, look for small clearings and openings where you can plant hunting sites.
A hunting site can be as small as 1/8- or 1/4-acre. Take a backpack blower or a rake, go into these small openings, and blow or rake the leaves away. Next spread Vita-Rack E-Z Grow. Even if you just throw Vita-Rack E-Z Grow seed on dirt, it will grow. If you add a little water and fertilizer, it will grow more quickly and be even more productive.
Right now while I’m giving this interview over the telephone, I’m standing in the woods looking at a little opening that’s getting some sunlight. I plan to come back next week with a leaf blower or a rake, clear the litter off the ground and throw down some Vita-Rack E-Z Grow. I’ll sprinkle a little fertilizer in there with it to create a great spot to bowhunt that’s just off the trail the deer on this land are using to move to the green fields.
Even if the deer do become nocturnal and only feed in the green fields after dark, there’s a good chance they’ll come to one of these hidden spots and feed some before dark on their way to the major green fields. After bow season, these honey holes will also make great places to rifle hunt, because I’ll plant spots where you can’t get tractors or even a 4-wheeler in there to plant.
Question: What seeds are in the Vita-Rack E-Z Grow?
Dyer: There’s clover, rape and rye grass.
Question: How long will these E-Z Grow spots produce food for deer?
Dyer: Depending on the number of deer on the property, these little sites should attract deer throughout hunting season, as long as you don’t hunt them too heavily.
Question: How do you not overhunt these E-Z Grow plots?
Dyer: You need to have plenty of them. For instance, if you have 1000 acres with 5-10 major green fields, you may want to create as many as 10-12 small E-Z Grow plots. If you hide them well, and no one else finds them, you can rotate your hunting. Plant these E-Z Grow hunting sites at least 200-300 yards from your green fields.
You can hunt the E-Z Grow regions throughout the season and only hunt the major green fields once the rut arrives. This system moves the hunting pressure from the green fields to the E-Z Grow plots. We try to put the E-Z Grow plots in locations where we plan to take does as well as bucks. Then if we need to take antlerless deer off a property, most of the shooting will not take place on the green fields but rather on the smaller Vita-Rack E-Z Grow spots. The green fields become the sanctuaries on your land until the rut, when the big bucks come out. If you’re in a hunting club that doesn’t adhere to this rule and goes ahead and hunts over the green fields, your E-Z Grow spots will more than likely produce more bucks than the green fields do when hunting pressure on green fields forces the bucks to become nocturnal.