Dedicated Office Member Receives Promotion

Land and Farm Realty, Inc. has recently promoted Michelle Meredith to the position of Controller. Michelle has been with the Mossy Oak Properties Land and Farms Realty Team for three years and began as Bookkeeper with the company in 2015. In addition to her promotion, we also are announcing that Michelle has been named as Secretary/Treasurer to our Board of Directors. She will have the primary responsibility for managing all financials, budgets and accounting for all of our franchise operations and the four holding companies that make up the framework of our network.

Michelle is married to Reed Meredith and has two daughters Madison and Willa. She loves her family, horse riding and the outdoors. Her daughters are active in dance at Island Dance and also love animals.

“Michelle has been a key part of our success, she manages over 300 transactions a year, all of the billing and invoicing for a multi-state real estate management company and the financials for three real estate firms”. “Michelle has worked very hard and is well deserving to have a seat on our Board of Directors, we were thrilled to promote her to this important position.” said Billy McOwen, President of Land and Farm Realty, Inc.

For more information on Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms please call (844-480-5263) or email William “Billy” McOwen @ .   Their corporate office is located at 711 North Hwy 64/264, Manteo, NC 27954

Mossy Oak Properties was launched in 2003 to assist landowners, sportsmen, and investors in their pursuit of the perfect piece of rural property. The Mossy Oak Properties network has grown to over 95 offices in 28 states throughout the country, and currently boasts an inventory of over 3300 listings totaling in excess of $2.25 Billion. Selected as a national “Best Brokerages” by The Land Report, our network also had thirty-five groups named as Best Brokerage award recipients. For more information, call 1-866-667-2289 or go online and visit


This one looks like a pretty big bear, right? Hold on. Look at those ears. This is probably only a two year old bear (Image courtesy of Zach Heaton).

There’s a magical time at the end of the day, the final moments of daylight. The sun is already below the trees and the light fades so fast you can almost see the change happening. The wind, which has been slowly abating suddenly dies. The woods become eerily still, so still you could hear a pine needle drop. That makes it all the more incredible when a hulking black form materializes out of the dense underbrush in total silence.

It is Muckwah, the black bear. Your heart races and your body shakes as adrenaline courses through your veins. You fight to regain composure, fearful the bear will hear your pounding heart or heavy breathing and your chance will be gone. You must wait until he looks away to raise your weapon. He looks massive. But is he? Suddenly doubt creeps in. Your guide instructed you to be patient, to size up the bear before committing to a shot. But in the excitement, you’ve forgotten all he told you, and now doubt turns to panic.

Ask any experienced hunter and they’ll tell you that black bears are among the most difficult big game animals to field judge. Part of that is because they’re far less common than deer, so hunters just don’t get much experience seeing them. And part is just the nature of the beast. Any large, black carnivorous animal will look big, especially if you don’t have something for scale nearby.

Fortunately, there are some fairly reliable tips for field judging bears. They involve both physical and behavioral characteristics, and the latter applies to both the bear and you.

Be patient. 

I put this first for a reason, as it should always be foremost in your mind. Don’t rush. The first bear you see coming to your bait site will look huge. But often several different bears will visit the same bait station and the progression typically goes from smaller to larger. Take the time to look over a few bears and compare. Also give them time to settle in and wait for an ideal shot.

Judging size is challenging but determining sex is even more daunting, and you want to be real careful about shooting sows. Shooting a sow with cubs is bad form, and in some places, it’s illegal. Often, but not always, the cubs will come to a bait site first. But you don’t want to make a mistake. So be patient.

Set up a scale. 

Black bears look deceptively large, even to experienced hunters. Place something at the bait you can use for scale. It could be a marked stake, or merely a bait barrel, as long as you know the dimensions. A bear standing next to a 55 gallon drum that’s lying on its side might look huge, but remember, that drum only stands about 22 inches high. You’re looking for a bear whose shoulder height matches that of an upright barrel, about 33 inches.

Look for the following characteristics:

Head – A bear’s ears stop growing after the first year but their head continues to grow. A young bear’s head will appear more streamlined and pointed. Ears to nose form a skinny triangle and the ears look larger and closer together. Think Mickey Mouse ears. A bigger, older bear’s head will be large and rounded (like a basketball). The ears look smaller in comparison and will be out to the sides more. Ears to nose form an equilateral triangle and there is often a groove down the middle of the forehead.

A boar’s nose is more rectangular with a square, blocky tip. Also note the ears splayed out to the sides.

Body – Young bears generally look lanky because their legs are long for their body size. However, a young spring bear may look larger because of its dense fur, so be careful. And don’t forget about the ears. Older bears have thick, stocky legs that may appear short for their large body. Also, their belly hangs closer to ground. They may also appear slightly bow-legged when approaching head on.

Behavior – Young bears tend to be either reckless or nervous around a bait site, pausing often to look, listen and smell. Older bears tend to be more confident and deliberate in their movements. You can’t appreciate a bear’s ability to approach a bait silently until you witness it. Often, the only time you actually hear a bear approaching is if it’s a sow with cubs, or a dominant boar warning other bears of his approach.

Sex – Telling a bear’s sex is daunting but not impossible. Females and males share many of the same differences as young and old bears. Females tend to be smaller in general with larger hind quarters and smaller shoulders. They generally appear “shorter” from head to toe and their nose shows a slight taper from base to tip. Males will have larger shoulders and slightly smaller hind quarters. They may appear taller and/or longer in the body and their snout is more rectangular and blocky at the tip.

By Bob Humphrey

Note: Bob Humphrey has hunted bears from Maine to Alaska and guided bear hunts as a registered Maine guide.


Improving the land and habitat for deer and other wildlife takes place one step at a time, by accomplishing one specific goal at a time. In this article, we’ll look at 25 projects almost any gamekeeper who has access to private land can do whether he owns just a few acres or manages hundreds of acres. In both cases, the needs of deer and other wild animals are the same—food, water, cover and space to live in. The simpler projects here might take just a few hours. Some of the others might require a couple of days. Still others are ongoing and never really end.

It’s important to realize that no single project will make a dramatic difference. But as you complete more and more of them, the results will vastly improve the land you own or lease for deer, as well as turkeys, upland game, waterfowl and other wildlife. The more of these projects you tackle and complete, the more mature bucks will want to call your property their home all year. And while many of these projects are perfect for the summer season, there are plenty of things on this list you can do year-round.



1.  Add an extra shot (or two) of fertilizer to food plots during late summer or fall to boost their production, protein content and taste appeal. Fertilize established wheat, rye, oat, and brassica plots with pure nitrogen such as 46-0-0, or use a multipurpose 20-20-20 mix.

For clover and alfalfa, skip the nitrogen. These legumes fix their own. I like to combine 0-46-0 and 0-0-60, but mixtures with just a bit of nitrogen such as 5-10-10 will also work and may be easier to find.

2. Clear an access trail to make it “convenient” for deer to reach food plots, or stands of pear, persimmon or apple trees from thick daytime bedding cover. Sure, they’ve probably already found these on their own. But if you make it easy for them by carving a trail, chances are they’ll take it. And while you’re clearing that trail, get double benefits out of this project by swinging the route within shooting range upwind of a good potential stand or ground blind location you’ve scoped out.

3. Reactivate mineral licks. These are used mostly during spring and early summer, but keeping them active and available year-round helps “anchor” bucks on your property. (Be sure to check your state regulations first.) Break up the ground with a shovel and mix in 10-20 pounds of fresh deer minerals 6-12 inches deep. Or, it doesn’t get easier than placing out a fresh BioRockevery few weeks.

4. Trim back native shrubs over six feet tall and those you’ve planted such as red osier or graystem dogwood, chinquapin and lespedeza. They’ll grow bushier and thicker, providing more cover and browse down at the level where deer can use it. Remember, it’s the two to three inches on the end of the branch/stem that whitetails utilize. Shorter with more stem density is better than tall plants with browse that is out of reach.

5. Pick up rocks and debris in plots and potential plot sites that could damage tilling or mowing equipment or hinder plant growth. Even a piece of bark blown off a nearby tree could kill several clover plants. And because of the ground’s thawing and freezing, rocks that weren’t visible before can heave to the surface, so make note of these and remove on this project. Or, use a leaf blower or rake to clear debris off of newly-planted plots in the woods. Too many leaves can smother the seedlings and prevent them from getting adequate moisture or sunlight.

6. Take a soil sample and send out for analysis. BioLogic offers a fast, inexpensive test on their website, or most local farm co-ops perform this function for a modest fee. It’s important to see if your lime and fertilizer needs have changed, and to find out exactly what the soil needs, especially if you’ve never checked it before.

The tests will show if you need major elements like sulfur along with the commonly applied nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They’ll tell you if your plots need minor micronutrients, too, such as manganese, zinc, copper or boron. You don’t read as much about them, but these micronutrients are vital for maximum growth of plants and maximum nutritional value for the wildlife that eats them.

7. Add extra lime to your plots. It’s almost impossible to get alkalinity too high, except in a few specific regions. If you want to be more precise, a simple test kit or a pH meter will tell you the soil’s acidity and help to calculate exactly how much lime you’ll need to add.

Generally one to two tons per acre is a good amount to apply. If your soil is highly acidic, you may need more than that. You can often get this delivered and spread by farm co-ops or agricultural companies for as little as $30 to $50 per ton.

8. Spray established clover and alfalfa plots with selective herbicides such as Weed Reaper, Poast or Vantage to reduce grass and weed competition. Follow the directions carefully and these will not harm your clover or chicory. Make sure no rain is in the forecast. You can also spray potential future plot sites with Pursuit or Prowl at this time to kill weeds before planting.

9. Hand-weed small plots when new seedlings are coming up, but it’s too soon to spray, or when weeds are spread widely apart.  This is good exercise and fun if you get the kids to help. Give them some youth garden gloves and make it a game.

10. Plant a 30 to 40-foot-wide row of shrubs along the edge of your plots where they adjoin woods for a buffer or staging area where deer will feel comfortable before entering the open food plot. Put in plants recommended by your state forestry department or local NRCS, or use species such as Allegheny chinquapin, red osier dogwood, plumcrabapplemulberry, strawberry bush, American beautyberry, and blackberry.

11. Cut down a few low-value trees along the edge of crop fields and food plots and leave them scattered or make a windrow with an opening strategically placed near your stand. These felled trees make great security cover, encouraging mature bucks to enter the plot during shooting light. Or, hinge-cut some small, low-value trees at chest level just far enough so they fall and provide browse for deer, but continue to grow for a while. They’ll also become anchor points for valuable vine-growing foods such as honeysuckle, grapes, and greenbrier. Cut them along travel routes and at potential bedding and staging areas.

12. Over-seed areas where a plot is too thin or spot seed bare ground areas in a plot. Rough the ground up a bit with a hand rake for good soil-seed contact.


13. Mow clover and alfalfa plots down to 4-8 inches to reduce weed competition and also create new fresh growth which is more palatable to deer and higher in protein. Stagger the cuts in different fields or cut strips at different times in a single field so they offer varied stages of re-growth.

14. Cut low-value saplings such as red maple back to “deer-level” so they produce more accessible low browse as they re-grow. Deer will also eat the tender tips of the clippings. A 12-20 foot maple is mostly a waste of space, sunlight and soil nutrients. Trim it back to four to five feet high and it becomes a valuable food source for deer.

15. Spray a potential food plot area with Roundup or generic glyphosate, wait for the vegetation to die (10-14 days) and then mow it down. Also remove stumps, brush, and rocks. This will give you a head-start for putting in a plot there later in the summer or next spring. If necessary, respray a few weeks after the initial herbicide application.

16. Release any young fruit and hard mast trees you find from competing low-value trees and shrubs nearby. Pull off and cut back clinging vines that can choke off their growth and compete with them for valuable nutrients, moisture and sunlight.

17 Create a water hole or small pond. Dig a hole to fit a farm stock tank or kid’s pool or simply pile some rocks and logs to dam up a stream that would normally go dry. Deer and other wildlife need water every day. Having it there will keep them from leaving your property to find it, and other wildlife will benefit as well.

Sure, large ponds are major, often expensive projects. But you can create “mini ponds” and waterholes  with just a few hours of effort. And these isolated spots that only you know about can pay off in spades at times during hot dry spells.

18. Clean stand approach trails. Clear sticks and logs and trim back potential noise-making, smell-absorbing brush so you have an unobstructed, silent path to reach your stands. While you’re at it, trim back branches to open up clear shooting lanes. As a final improvement, plant a row of Blind Spot or pile up a few cut cedar trees to block visual detection by deer as you approach the stand or to give you some cover to draw your bow behind.

19. Plant shrubs or pines to flesh out a potential whitetail travel route that lacks cover. It can mean the difference between just does and small bucks using it, or mature bucks feeling secure enough as well. Alternately, cut and drag in some low-value trees to add cover along the potential travel route or transition corridor.

20. “Daylight” your best oaks by cutting low-value trees inside the tree’s crown area. This will cut down competition for moisture and nutrients.

21. Thicken cover near a water hole so deer will feel secure using it earlier in the day, hopefully while there’s still shooting light. Conifers, shrubs and low growing trees such as crabapple, silky dogwood, indigo bush, and plum are good choices.

22. Plant a few clusters of pines and fell a few low-value trees to create a sanctuary and bedding area near the middle of your property. Then place this area off-limits to travel except to retrieve a hit deer or to do woods-work. This is also a great way to make your land more appealing; both in terms of security and the thermal protection it offers deer during winter. The larger you can make the area, the better.

23. Disk or till strips in fallow fields or old pasture. You’ll kill or reduce fescue and other unwanted grasses and allow beneficial forbs and wildflowers in the soil bank to sprout that deer and turkeys will feed on.

24. Plant small patches and strips of native warm season grasses. Switchgrass is my favorite and easy to grow by broadcasting. Other good choices are bluestem and Indian grass. These offer vital escape, bedding, and fawn-rearing cover for deer. They also protect the animals from cold winds but allow sunlight to penetrate and warm their bodies during clear weather.

Planting large fields of NWSG’s is certainly a big undertaking and usually requires a specialized drill. But you can plant these “pockets” of native grass cover in strategic areas with a few hours of work when you have just a bit of spare time.

25. Deep plow a few plots each year. Disking and tilling are the go-to methods for preparing food plots for planting for most gamekeepers, but every few years it’s a good idea to deep plow plots. I like to rotate and do a few each summer. This breaks up hard pan, aerating the soil. That enables moisture to penetrate more easily and plant roots to grow deeper and have access to additional nutrients.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while! And we didn’t even hit on dozens of other projects. To monitor your progress, keep a notebook and record tasks you’ve completed and those you still need to get to when time permits. Completing smaller projects makes you feel good about the achievement and invigorates you to do more. There’s always a potential project waiting, but for the gamekeeper it’s all a “labor of love” for wildlife and the land.

    Gerald Almy | Originally published in GameKeepers: Farming for Wildlife Magazine

Photo by Ralph Hensley

Shallow Water Fishing on the Tar River

The dog days of summer have arrived and the rivers that were once flowing rapidly have slowed to a trickle it seems. The floating docks now rest on the hard, dried ground and many boat ramps cannot be used by larger boats. This is the time when small aluminum jon boats, canoes, and kayaks reign supreme.

The Tar River is known for it’s low water levels during the summer months but it’s not the only river that can be waded across or fished on smaller rigs. The conditions were perfect last weekend so my father, brother, my nephew, and I decided to hit the water and see what we could do. We put in two small boats and began our drift downstream. The water was incredibly clear and many fish were spotted causally drifting under our boat. In some places the boat bottomed out and a push or two with a paddle was required. However, just because you can see the sandy bottom of the river doesn’t mean great fishing cannot be found there.

Our setup was simple. A few ultra lite road and reels, some crickets with a long shank #6 hook, and a bobber. It didn’t take long to find a deep hole, relatively speaking. Many species of fish tend to find gravitate to these pockets of deeper water and with a live cricket, you never know what you will catch. It’s a simplistic, yet incredibly effective, way of fishing. Before 9:00 am we had caught our fair share of bream, shell cracker, a few bass, and crappie or two. We even put a few of the larger fish on a stringer so we could fry them that afternoon, per my nephew’s request. We had such as good time that I slipped away one evening this pat week with my wife and we nearly repeated the success we had a few days prior.

Great fishing can be found across our great state, and this time of year most of the attention is on the offshore fishing which is astounding. However, don’t forget about these overlooked honey holes where there is great fishing to be found with simple setups. There is something satisfying about catching slab sized panfish all morning from a canoe that I’m certain I’ll never stop enjoying.

Andrew Walters



Mitch Harrison explains how to catch crappie in deep water. Finding deep water crappie requires good electronics. You can cover 70-80 feet on each side of the boat, find a depth range of 18-25 feet and set your boat right on top of that spot, and check the imaging for fish. To find these locations, look for creek channels and drops and where they may intersect. You want to find “tops,” either manmade or natural structure. Start shallow and move to deeper water to find these tops. Once you find fish, it’s rather simple. Crappie rigs are easy to set up, and the best bait for crappie is a live minnow. Throw it out here and start catching crappie.

Courtesy of Mossy Oak


For a recreational bass fishing pond to reach its full potential and maintain that peak, it must be managed throughout the year. One major component of managing a fish pond is controlling the fish population. If a pond gets overpopulated, there becomes a lack of food and there will be a corresponding decrease in fish size and health.

Controlling the fish population in a pond requires it to be fished enough to take out the right number of fish per year as well as keeping the right size. This process also needs to be organized and kept up with, instead of just “ball-parking” how many fish are taken out of the pond. One great way Gamekeepers can keep a detailed track record of their ponds is to have a mailbox by every one of the main docks. In each mailbox is a notebook that everyone fills out when they are finished fishing for the day. This keeps a record of the date, exactly how many fish were caught, the size of each fish and how many were taken out.

For fertilized ponds, try to keep about 20 to 35 pounds of bass per acre per year depending on how bad the overpopulation problem is. If the population in one of your lakes or ponds is balanced, you need to keep about 10 to 20 pounds per acre per year. The sizes of the bass that are generally kept are 14 inches and smaller.

Letting family members and close friends fish these ponds on a regular basis is a great way for all to enjoy and have a part in managing its success. It would not be possible to keep an accurate record of the amount of fish taken out of our ponds without these mailboxes that we put at every dock. Since we have started keeping up with the number and size of the fish caught as well as culling the proper size, there has been a very noticeable increase in the size of the fish in our ponds.

For more info on pond management, read “Habitat Structure for Producing and Holding More Fish.” Some fish species relate to bait more than structure. But even when that’s the case, the bait they’re after usually relates to structure of some kind. So giving your fish something to relate to in the form of structure is a huge step forward to producing and holding more fish.

By Neill Haas



I don’t just introduce youth to the outdoors. I took a 45-year-old fellow on his first duck hunt in December, 2017. He was a computer enthusiast and had never duck hunted a day in his life.

He had just started bowhunting two years earlier but hadn’t been successful at all. He went on a guided hunt with me and brought a buddy of his with him. They both harvested a limit of ducks. He was so excited about the ducks he’d taken and couldn’t wait to get those cleaned birds back to his house. He told me about all the different recipes he planned to try with the ducks he had taken. Finally, he had been successful as a hunter, although he hadn’t been successful as a bowhunter.

I guide for Columbia River Decoys Guide Service. This is my fifth year of guiding and calling for this group. About 10 years ago, I decided that harvesting ducks wasn’t all that duck hunting was about, and I finally realized that taking hunters who had never duck hunted before or very little provided me an opportunity to share my love of the sport.

Being able to watch these hunters get excited and take ducks was more fun for me than taking a limit for myself. The guide service gets many first-time duck hunters, as well as hunters who have only been marginally successful. We also get hunters who have hunted ducks often. I enjoy spending time with them, sharing the resource and explaining why duck hunting is more than just about shooting ducks.

I also volunteer as the treasurer for the largest Ducks Unlimited club in the State of Oregon. I’m the president of our retriever club and the Oregon Waterfowl Festival Association, too. After my term is over, I’ll still be on the board of the festival. I enjoy working with a group of people to reach goals that are greater than any of my personal goals. The Oregon Waterfowl Festival promotes and funds many youth activities. All the blinds we use for youth waterfowl hunts have been purchased by this organization and DU.

If outdoors men and women don’t support conservation organizations, then we won’t have ducks to hunt. For me, conservation and hunting go hand in hand. Hunting for all wild species is very dependent on the conservation organizations that help protect and acquire habitat, fund lobbyists to make sure the rights of hunters and wildlife are protected and develop programs for future generations of hunters. I guess you can say that we’re all in this program together for the betterment of everyone. Mossy Oak plays a major role in hunting, conservation and encouragement of youth participating in the outdoors.

James MacDonald of Cornelius, Oregon, has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for almost 10 years. He was recently named 2017 Mossy Oak ProStaffer of the Year for his philanthropy work and volunteerism. MacDonald enjoys hunting waterfowl, teaching others to hunt and training retrievers.

James MacDonald | Mossy Oak ProStaff

Mossy Oak Properties 2018 Land Summit

Last week the annual Mossy Oak Properties Land Summit was held in West Point, Mississippi. This was my fifth consecutive trip to the Land Summit and I always look forward to the trip. A group of land specialists from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina made the drive down this year. We were part of about 250 other agents who were also in attendance.

The meetings consisted of updates such as new office openings, agent of the year awards, office of the year awards, and once again great food. Motivational speakers and economic advisors were also there as well. There were even a few clays tossed around at the local shooting range. Mossy Oak’s new golf course had quite a few visitors as well. That evening we had yet another great meal at the Haas’ family cabin on their property just outside of West Point. The day after that we began our long trip back home.

The entire trip essentially takes a week to complete and longer than that to recuperate from. Yet I look forward to the trip every year. The reason I enjoy the trip, despite the 14 hour drive, is that I’m surrounded by the best land brokers in the nation. Each broker has their own style of conducting business and while the offices and states we work in may vary, what we stand for remains the same. There is so much to be learned when surrounded by hundreds of successful brokers that it’s truly inspiring. Of course, working for such a fine organization like Mossy Oak Properties is inspirational as well.

Mossy Oak Properties has long been the place where the outdoorsmen can Find Their Favorite Place. That’s not just a catchy tag line; it’s how we conduct our business. In one particular session there was projection screen that displayed the nation’s most recognizable outdoor brands. I’ll give you one guess who was first. There was also an infographic that displayed the growth MOP has experienced over the past few years. There’s no question that the best is yet to come and we are, without a doubt, America’s Land Specialists.

Andrew Walters




Gamekeepers need to study the birds and understand the value of effective scouting. Ideally, anticipating the wild turkeys every move means success in the field. Understanding what turkeys want and then what your farm offers (or lacks) will help you discover ways to enhance your turkey habitat. Since turkeys prefer to travel in large numbers during much of the year, creating “social” areas for them to congregate makes sense if such areas don’t already exist.


Amidst a turkey’s daily routines is the event of “dusting.” Turkeys love to find areas where the soil is exceptionally loose where they can lie down kick up dust. These areas are hotspots for congregating flocks. Areas along log roads or beneath pine stands are great locations to find a dusting area. You can however create a dusting area with a tractor or ATV.

Simply plowing or disking small strips along natural travel corridors will provide loose soil where the turkeys can then do their dusting. Placing your hunting blinds within shooting range of a dusting site can greatly increase your odds of scoring a tom. Even in times when the toms are locked up with the hens they’ll many times be drawn to the area as they court their dusting dolls.


If you’ve ever harvested a wild turkey and examined its crop and gizzard, you likely discovered that they consume gravel and grit to help digest grains and other hard foods. Much like dusting areas, turkeys will typically spend some time each day in an area where they can consume grit.

You can create your own grit or sand area for the turkeys by simply dumping small loads of the material near frequented areas. Obviously, commercial turkey grit used in poultry farming is an easy way to remedy the lack of grit. Otherwise, if you have a river or creek, oftentimes grit can be found along the bank. Grit is an essential need of all turkeys (and other birds).


We’re simply trying to provide for as many of the wild turkeys’ needs as possible at a given spot. If you add dependable food and a reliable water source, now we’re talking about a turkey paradise. Having a couple acres close where you can rotate some “turkey favorites,” means again, they will spend more time at the spot. There are several preferred food plot corps, but you could add beech, hickory and pine trees along with juniper, dogwood, black cherry, crabapple, grapes and berries as some natural foods that can also be added to the landscape.

Adding certain grass plantings can provide for billions of seeds, excellent bugging habitat and great nesting and escape cover. Native warm season grasses can be difficult to establish and care for in some areas, but even annual grasses like sorghum, numerous varieties of millet, oats, wheat or even corn all produce foods that turkeys love.

Turkeys can go without some other needs, but they cannot go for long without water. If you do not have a creek or pond in the vicinity, a stock tank buried in a low spot or better yet, a Banks water system can work wonders. You want a source that will be available day-in or day-out so the birds imprint on that element and its dependability.

For more GameKeeper tips to help you in the field, read “Simple Tips For Tough Toms.” While there are numerous important points that can mean the difference between a 25-pounder hanging on a limb by its spurs and an unused tag, these three subjects are among the most vital.

This article is courtesy of the GameKeepers Farming for Wildlife publication, a quarterly wildlife and land management magazine produced by the Mossy Oak GameKeepers. For more information on subscribing or joining visit Mossy Oak GameKeepers Club.

Jarrode E. Stephens


Are Food Plots Necessary?

There are dozens of questions in the deer-hunting world that revolve around food plots. What to plant? Where to plant it? When to plant? Annuals or perennials? And the list goes on and one with no end in sight. One question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not a food plot is a necessity on your property

The answer is not as straightforward as you might imagine. Whether or not a food plot is necessary essentially depends on what your goal is on your property, how your property is set up, and if you have the time to manage it. Food plots take time, effort, and money to plant, maintain, and monitor. Even though some forages may say that you can sow the seeds and walk away, I can assure you that for best results that’s something you don’t want to do. Also, factor in that not all properties have open areas suitable for tilling and planting. In this instance, lanes and tillable areas need to be cleared. This is another expense that also takes time and money.

However, food plots are absolutely worth it if you have the time and money to put into them. They provide nutrients and forages that are not always available naturally. It’s no doubt that these forages have been scientifically proven to benefit whitetail deer, as well as other game and non-game species. A food plot is not always for hunting purposes. The primary goal is to provide nutrients to the herd and provide a benefit for the bucks, does, and fawns. This includes skeletal growth and milk production. In some instances food plots can be hunted over but you can easily spook deer from using these areas. The goal is to provide nutrients so you don’t want the deer herd to be shy about visiting your plots.

If you’re someone who only has a couple of weekends a year to hunt and is only able to spend a limited amount of time working on your property, then you may be better off implementing another type of habitat management that takes less time, such removing “trash trees” like sweet gums and ash trees. This will open up the tree canopy allowing more sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor and more nutrients to be absorbed by mast producing trees such as white and red oaks. Mineral sites, trail camera surveys, and other types of management can be conducted as well. While food plots are incredibly beneficial, it’s important to note that there is more to wildlife and habitat management than just food plots.

So to come full circle, food plots are not necessary to grow and manage wildlife on your property but they are certainly worth it if you can make it happen. I would recommend doing anything within reason to plant food plots. Whether or not you’re able to plant food plots shouldn’t sway you from making improvements on your property to enhance the habitat and the overall hunting on your property. I’ve yet to speak with anyone who has implemented a management plan on their property and regretted it.

Andrew Walters