Tips For Turkey Food Plots
Food plots; You hear about them often for deer hunting. You likely even plant them – or have planted them – yourself for your fall deer hunts. But do you plant them with turkeys in mind? If not, it may be a good idea, but there are some things to keep in mind when deciding on where – and what – to plant your food plots if drawing turkeys in is your goal.
Location, Location, Location
A good place to set up a food plot is along the edge of a woods. Strutters love to get out in the open and strut their stuff for the ladies and a food plot that lies next, or close to, an adjoining wood lot would be ideal. There are other places that will work too, though, in case your property is lacking in the open terrain department.
Clearings inside of woods are also good bets. A nice opening in a secluded spot inside the timber is just the ticket for drawing in birds. These areas tend to naturally attract turkeys anyway as they allow sunlight in, let a tom strut with some visibility, yet are close to safety, and are perfect dusting and scratching locations. Putting a food plot in such an area that already attracts birds is a slam dunk.
When making a food plot for turkeys, keep one thing in mind; think long and narrow. Make it a place that a tom will want to strut in. If he wants to strut in it, he will be there for a while, hopefully drawing in more turkeys.
Don’t have time or money to make a food plot for this spring? No problem. Sometimes just disking up or clearing out an area may be all you need to do. While it certainly will not have the drawing power that an actual food plot will, it will open up and area and allow for some weed growth, which will in turn, provide the birds in your area a place to dust, scratch, strut and the like. Such an area will also allow weed growth, attracting bugs, which make up a huge part of a wild turkey’s diet.
What To Plant
There are several foods that make for great planting in food plots, that will both attract turkeys, and offer them the right kind of food sources that they require for nutrients and nesting. And luckily, if you had food plots planted for the deer on your place, then these same plots will generally attract turkeys as well. If you want to amp up your bird game, however, there are certain types of things to plant that can be even better at attracting birds.
Some drooping or plowed under corn from last fall is a great food source for turkeys, it provides plenty of calories and nutrients, but typically isn’t the first thing you think of when planning plots. If there is a no-till corn field in your hunting area, you may not want to plant corn as a food plot, but might want to consider planting a plot close by as a place to offer them a variety of food plus some other vegetation that will attract bugs, which are high in protein and a staple of a turkey’s diet.
Grains such as rye, oats, wheat and milo also make sense in your plot. Such forage is planted in the fall though, and the grains from these plants won’t become available until summer, however, they green-up early and, therefore, will still attract birds for strutting, dusting and scratching. They are small and provide just the nourishment turkeys need for summer and early fall though.
Clover and alfalfa are other top picks when considering what might make for a gobbler attractant.
Chufa is probably, by far, the most popular turkey attractant there is, and for good reason – or reasons – I should say. It is as close to a turkey “Super food” as there is.
According to the NWTF’s Scott Vance, “Chufa is a super food that contains about 36 percent essential, high-quality, edible oil which is used to fight against cardiovascular diseases.” The plant also produces tubers which turkeys just can’t seem to get enough of.
It can be daunting when trying to incorporate food plots into your hunting area, considering such things as Ph levels, fertilizing, over seeding, when to plant, etc. For the everyday hunter, the bottom line is, don’t fret it too much. If there are patches of your plot that don’t come up, such areas will end up being perfect places for turkeys to dust and scratch for bugs anyway, so things will still work out.
So, food plots for turkeys are definitely a good idea. If for no other reason, they can help attract more birds to your property, which is always a good thing! Especially if you don’t already have birds roosting on the property you hunt, putting a food plot or two in could certainly change all of that.
Besides the ability to attract birds onto your property, food plots will definitely give toms a place they like to strut, hens areas to nest, both sexes a place to dust and scratch and obviously, nutrition; all of which will help you put a bird in the hand, rather than two in the bush.