Mid-July through mid-August is the ideal time to plant brassicas in your food plots, this includes radish, kale, turnips, sugar beets among many others. These provide a leafy green top which deer will nibble from the time they sprout on in to late winter. The bulb or root is a bonus and will turn surgery once a good freeze sets in and will be a big draw in the later parts of deer season.
The tricky part of summer planting is you either get too much or too little rain and either has its issues on small green’s seeds. The seed you’ll be planting is very tiny and only needs to be firmly pressed in to the soil. This is commonly referred to as the through and grown seed as they usually find a crack or crevice to call in the first rain and that takes care of it.
The problem is if we plant the seed by simply throwing it on top of the loose soil and it becomes hot and dry it may not draw from the early morning dew and soil moisture that lies deeper. If we pack the seed in with a culti-packer or roller we may compress the seed in and if we get heavy rains, then hot weather, we create a crust the seed may not penetrate or germinate and grow through. Both can be bad situations.
By implementing what I call the 50/50 method will solve both problems. Work the dirt the best you can, then spread the seed a little heavier than the bag calls for, but not going overboard, you don’t want plant competition to result in poor growth. A rate of about 130% of what they call for is about right. After spreading the seed, I like to use a tractor, mower, or quad and drive over the plot but staggering the tire tracks to only cover 50% of the soil, leaving 50% loose (hence the 50/50 method).
By firmly packing 50 of the seed you will make sure they get that early morning dew and moisture from cooler nights but also if we get heavy rains the seeds that ride higher up in the loose soil will escape that water trough have good aeration from the side of the tire track. In most cases you’ll get good germination from both the compressed and non-compressed rows but if Mother Nature throws you a curve ball then you have a good chance of a respectable food plot in all conditions.
Until next time, God bless,
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander
Chief City (Pontiac, IL) Ducks Unlimited banquet
When: Wednesday March 16, 2016 Doors open at 5:00 PM Fried Chicken Dinner at 6:00 PM
Where: The VFW, 531 W Lincoln Ave, Pontiac, IL 61764
Why: Simple, you’re going to be hungry and thirsty and you have a chance to win many different guns, bid on some great items including hunt packages and raise money to help duck habitat!
$35 will cover your chicken dinner/membership and beer or soda, cash bar available per your cost
$15 for dinner only/accompanying member
Contact Mike Roark at 309-275-1252 for tickets
Some of the guns to be raffled are a Berreta engraved Ducks Unlimited dinner gun with fine walnut stock and fore end. Two AR rifles, Remington 597, Browning Buck Mark .22, and my personal favorite, a DU special edition Taurus Judge revolver among others.
I’m eternally grateful for this particular chapter as many in it have given me an opportunity to hunt waterfowl and build some great friendships. The Powell boy’s took me on my first ever duck hunt many moons ago, appreciate them every day and sure miss Dave!
Come out and support DU and have some laughs with great people!
see you there,
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander
A bit longer read than normal, so grab your favorite drink, get comfortable by the wood stove and digress with me………
I had always planned for a life in the outdoors, I was 9 maybe 10 years old, and my summer’s spent fishing with my family in Northern Minnesota. My Grandpa, an Illinois farmer, often talked of retiring and buying a resort up North and I’d of course guide fishing trips and eventually have my own fishing show much the likes of Babe Winkelman, Jerry McGinnis and Billy Westmorland.
The problem with this plan was Grandpa had Parkinson’s disease and died in his mid-sixties, never really retiring and I didn’t fish well enough to be competitive in local tournaments more less guide regularly or have a television show. The beauty of fishing though is you don’t have to be great to enjoy it and you shouldn’t wait until retirement to do it. A few good lessons learned there.
I continued in the outdoors through High School much to the dismay of my folks (they were not hunters). They had put their foot down about owning a gun and really weren’t fond of a compound bow or game animals in their house. My how that has changed. I bought my first Bear Whitetail hunter from our schools custodian and my first single shot, shot gun from the Principal. I would practice over lunch hours while mom and dad were at work. Weekends I’d sneak my gear to the woods, only successful at seeing a few deer and taking a couple squirrel. I really thought I was living the outdoor dream.
There was no stopping me, hunting and fishing were all I thought about, I was consumed. Mom and Dad finally gave in and allowed a few overcooked tree rats on the dinner table. Running out of arrows and unable to afford more they finally showed some mercy giving me a .22 Marlin rifle for Christmas my junior year of High School. I had a Ford Ranger with a topper, a shotgun, rifle and bow, what else does a guy really need?
My time in school was consumed by thoughts of hunting, fishing and football. When asked in English class to write a journal it was always about the sunrise of the deer woods or experiences revolving around that. My High School English teacher told me those were not suitable topics, I argued, “it’s my personal journal and we have the freedom to write anything of interest”!! Except hunting or football she told me!
I remember it like yesterday, she said “There is nothing to be gained in writing about trying to kill a deer”. I hear this in my head every month when I cash my Heartland Outdoor check, in fact my first dollar earned with Mr. Jeff Lampe is framed in my game room near my favorite deer heads. Writing for Heartland Outdoors is one of my proudest accomplishments. I was told from age 17 I couldn’t do it. I was marginal in English, squeaking by with a C- most often (as you can probably tell) but getting the occasional A in college. I told my English professor of my goals and desires. She said “straight A students usually lack interesting topics to write of anyway, get used to proof readers and red ink, keep after it”. Keep after it I did.
I have hunted, fished, filmed, followed many, spoke to even more and tried everything I can within and sometimes past my means and feel I’ve put together a great network or outdoorsmen and woman as friends. I wrote article after article to several Whitetail magazines and never a reply, finally I called one and insisted on talking to someone in the editorial department. I was told “your articles probably aren’t even getting read, you have to know someone to get noticed”. A harsh reality in life, but sadly true. The better half of the outdoors industry doesn’t hold a candle too many of the outdoorsman and women I’ve met along my journey. Failing to be deterred I decided to write for myself, start my own blog, why not, it would be short stories, pictures, how to comments and just generally sharing other’s adventures.
Less than one year in to the Flatlander Outdoors Blog I met Mr. Lampe through a mutual friend and he said, “I use to organize Prairie State Outdoors (as if I didn’t know who he was; everyone knows Jeff and his work writing and reporting) and I’m starting my own venture, I’m taking over Heartland Outdoors Magazine and developing a blog, do you want in?” Yes I want in, Sir! I said, with the upmost respect! I asked who else was on his blog, he said Nate Herman, Tim Walmsley, and an awesome deer hunter from over my way that goes by “Back 40”- John Soehn. I had known Nate since he was barely shaving regularly and I’d heard of Tim, who was known for starting the original Illinois Deer Classic. Now getting to know and become friends with John also I realized I was completely outclassed, Lampe let me write anyway. Later meeting others on staff such as Gretchen, Kevin Chapman, Kevin Hahn and many more I realized what a great well rounded team, as knowledgeable as any group of outdoor writers and photographers in the business.
It’s not the journey that I had expected as a young boy, folks don’t line up to give you new trucks, boats and shotguns. You don’t earn enough to get rich and live a carefree life, it’s not as glamourous as one might think. It is hard work, often writing while at family gatherings or on break at the regular 50 hour a week job. Sometimes it’s a collection of thoughts from a treestand on the thirtieth day of being skunked. Try and muster up something encouraging to say after that stent?! Not easy at all.
You may get harassed by other hunters, maybe even the game warden, and treated as if all this hunting comes on a silver platter. In reality it opens you and your hunting spots up for encroachment from others. You probably won’t make enough in a year’s time to pay for all you hunting permits and licenses. You will likely spend more writing than you make doing it, why do it you ask?
Sometimes in life you find a calling, a deep down burn inside that you are to do something. No matter how hard or tough a calling is, it’s who you are. Some folks are great hunters and you never hear their tales, some tell tales and probably couldn’t start a fire, skin a critter and survive a night in the woods. I guess I hope to land somewhere in the middle. Sometimes you just know what you’re supposed to be doing
I Believe it was 2004 or maybe 5 I was watching an old mature dark horned buck for several weeks, he’d covered a seven mile stretch of fields, never going to the woods, keeping does pushed away from other bucks and cover. He wasn’t huge in fact on the downhill of his prime, yet he was a fighter, beaten and battered. I had crawled out to him in a muddy field, water standing in the low spots just on the brink of freezing.
Knowing no one else would be dumb enough or dedicated to belly crawl through this freezing slush I set out to get him. Having to get in the mind set to lay down in the water and crawl close to five football fields. I got within 195 yards, he stood with his doe and looked my way not liking the large ball of mud coming his way, putting the first mil-dot of my Bushnell Elite scope on his high shoulder and dropped him in the mud. Upon dragging him out I crossed a knoll where a herd of does flanked me at 125 yards, I shot the big lead doe.
Having checked in and hung my deer in dad’s shed, I headed back out the next morning with one remaining tag. Sitting the same field under a loan tree I had two gut piles with in site. A dark coyote came trotting by shortly after sun up, putting the crosshairs of the muzzleloader on his nose I squeezed of a 250 grain bullet from the .50 cal. piling him up some 80 yards away.
I brought him back to the base of my tree, skinned him out, put him in my pack and poured a cup of black coffee. I sipped the hot brew that frigid morning thinking what an amazing 24 hours it’d been when a lone doe came over the hill in to a 100 yards or so and turned broadside, sniffing the coyote’s odor or mine with the coffee, she wasn’t going to stick around. One more thump of the muzzleloader and I now had three deer and one coyote skinned out in dad’s shed. He came to look in his once wood shop, now locker plant/hide tannery and said “I guess you have a knack for this”. I guess I do and wouldn’t have happiness doing anything else.
Thanks to the Lampe’s, fellow writers, and most of all you die hard outdoorsmen and women who also have a story to tell, thanks for reading along…….
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander