The Pit

Discussion in 'Food Plots & Habitat Improvement' started by boonerville, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    I decided to start a thread documenting one of the most difficult and complex properties I have ever worked on. It has become over time, one of my best hunting properties, but still needs a tremendous amount of work to realize it's potential. This place I affectionately call "The Pit."

    The pit received it's name because about 1/3 of the property used to be a sand & gravel pit. Another 1/3 used to be a landfill in the 1930s & 40s. The final 1/3 is an impenetrable swamp.

    I first acquired the property in 2008 as 63 acres of tangled jungle, as nothing had been done with the property since the gravel pit closed in 1978.
    I hunted it only a couple times that year, as most of it was so thick you couldn't see 15 yards in any direction......I managed to shoot one mammoth doe.
     
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  2. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2009 I started to learn the property. I hunted the few openings there were and on Nov 7th killed my biggest buck ever. It was one of those complete freak chance things. He chased a doe across a bean field from over a mile away at 2:30 in the afternoon. The doe entered the woods on the trail that was 12 yards from my tree. He ended up scoring 224."

    Since I knew there were great genetics in the area, in 2010 I started to really manage the property. The first thing I did was take a dozer and cleared a network of trails criss-crossing the entire place. I built the trail system like a spiderweb...Main trails running from the exterior and converging in the center with lateral trails cutting across them. I then cleared 1/2 an acre in the center for a food plot. Small I know, but I did not know the deer density of the area very well yet.
     
  3. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    Food plots are a challenge here. The terrain is very rough and varies from huge sand dunes to swampy bottomland to mature oaks with the understory choked with Asian Bush honeysuckle. The soil is extremely sandy, so a lot of traditional forage won't grow very well. My first soil test showed a ph level of 6.9, which actually shocked me. That fall i planted a brassica blend. The deer action was crazy almost immediately. My camera took pictures at all hours of the day from sept 1-thanksgiving. I learned that the deer did not have a green food source within 3 miles in any direction. Previous to this, the neighboring hunters (a group of 15-20) told me most of the deer lived on "their side" and not many stayed on my property. These guys have been hunting there for over 20 years. In the beginning, they were right. The first few years I didn't see much...granted I killed a giant, but overall I saw fewer deer than any of my other spots. The neighbors have 300 acres of crop fields with a long strip of woods in the center...so naturally the doe groups bedded in those woods instead of mine. I have 0 crop acres. What I did find out is the 20 acre swamp on my property is where the bigger bucks like to bed. My place was just so thick that it was impossible to hunt them. The trails& food plot made an instant impact. My deer sightings went way up. I took 4 does off the property and passed up several younger bucks, and my wife almost killed a mid 130s 8pt.
     
  4. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2011.....The deer ate my small plot down to nothing by mid November the year before, so I expanded the plot to 1 acre.
    I also used a skidloader to clear 5 acres of Bush honeysuckle. Most of it I just let regenerate naturally....It has now become a great bedding area full of browse (sassafrass & multiflora rose). I did take another 1/2 acre and planted another plot in a perennial called edge that does well in sandy soil. I really ramped up my mineral sites too. I started keeping them stocked weekly. Deer sightings were up again that year. I killed 4 does and a 150" 4 year old (the same one my wife had a chance at the year before). But once again, I ran out of food by late season and lost a couple good bucks to the neighbors.
     
  5. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2012......Another 5 acres of Bush honeysuckle cleared. I also started working on some pond management. There is a 1 acre pond on the property...it's actually the pit where the old steam crane was. Very deep (28ft) for its size. It had been stocked with bass& bluegill many years previous...but was in bad shape. The fish were overpopulated and stunted. I invited lots of people to come fish that year and ended up taking about 600 adult fish out of the pond. Financial reasons didn't let me expand the plots any bigger, but I planted brassicas again in the fall. Deer sightings were on par with the previous year, but I noticed a higher percentage of bucks.....lots and lots of young bucks. I took 3 more does, but had killed a buck on another farm early season so no bucks were shot there that year.
     
  6. MnHunterr

    MnHunterr Grizzled Veteran

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    Pictures!!
     
  7. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2013......I tweaked several of my stand locations to take advantage of observed movement I had seen in the past couple years. I improved the trail system and opened up another 2 acres of that blasted Bush honeysuckle. That spring I planted 900 trees. In most of the sand dune area, after I cleared the honeysuckle the only trees there were cottonwoods. I planted 300 white pine, 200 Norway spruce, 200 red cedar, 150 burr oaks, 25 persimmon, and 25 crabapples. Unfortunately, there was a substantial drought and only maybe 30 percent survived the summer....a lot of the others got killed that winter by mice...so only maybe 10 percent are still alive. It rained like crazy in August& September, so my plots did great! I also worked on the pond quite a bit. I sunk some concrete& tires into it...and had a mini war with snapping turtles.....ended up killing 6 of them. In late may I caught a really nice 6lb bass so I knew the pond health was improving. I had several encounters with a big 160 class buck, but didn't shoot a buck that season. I did take 4 does.
     
  8. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    I'll get there...I've got a ton to go through
     
  9. coheley665

    coheley665 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    You have grabbed my attention with the thread. great read so far. Post pictures of the deer and property if you have some
     
  10. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    I promise I will...I have a bunch of old ones to go through
     
  11. trvsmarine

    trvsmarine Weekend Warrior

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    Great story so far.......... thumbs up

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
     
  12. _andrewgiles_sio

    _andrewgiles_sio Weekend Warrior

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    QDM at its finest!
     
  13. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2014......in early spring, I carved yet another plot into the thick honeysuckle. I connected it to my original plot. This one is 1/2 acre. I planted imperial extreme in it. Babying that plot was my summer project. The trail cam pics showed lots of 2&3 year old bucks, and a couple good 4 year olds. However I noticed doe numbers were down. This past fall was incredible as far as deer sightings. The best part was probably 70 percent of deer seen from the stand were bucks. Because of this, I decided not to shoot any does last year. I suspected the neighbors must have thinned them out. I didn't kill my buck there, but my wife missed a big one, hit another in the shoulder blade (he lived), and my best friend had a close encounter with a 160 inch deer that he passed because half of his rack was busted off. My food lasted a little longer, but it was still mostly gone by late December. The best part of the season was right after it ended, one of the neighbor guys called me up and asked how my season was. I said it was decent....he then says he's pretty sure that we had a bad EHD outbreak because the last couple years they have seen less& less deer, and this past season none of the hunters shot a buck. :):):). I smiled and just gave him a "huh.....that's strange:rolleyes:" the deer are calling my place home now. The Turkey population also exploded. I saw a flock of 25 several times during deer season. I fished the pond a lot too. I pulled another 200 or so fish out....The best being an 11" bluegill through the ice.
     
  14. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    2015....I have big plans this year...more food, clearing more Bush honeysuckle, hinge cutting cottonwoods to funnel deer movement, more food, open up some of the trails, plant some switchgrass, did I say more food, tweak stands a bit more, and take more bass out of the pond, and catch the sob that's been driving a 4 wheeler through my plots and leaving beer cans.
     
  15. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    I will go back and post pics of the various stages from years past....It may take a while to find them though
     
  16. bucksnbears

    bucksnbears Grizzled Veteran

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    good post.
     
  17. trvsmarine

    trvsmarine Weekend Warrior

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    Its probably your neighbors looking at all the improvments your doing !

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  18. MnHunterr

    MnHunterr Grizzled Veteran

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    **patiently waiting**
     
  19. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    Sorry I'm out hinge cutting a client property today.....ill post a bunch on Monday....I won't be near a computer till then
     
  20. boonerville

    boonerville Grizzled Veteran

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    Ok so here are a few aerials of the land.
    [​IMG]
    This is what it looked like when I got it in 08.
    The blow sand area, hardwoods, and old landfill area are all overrun with Asian Bush honeysuckle. In the blow sand area, cottonwoods are the only trees that grew fast enough to get above the honeysuckle and not get choked out. In the few areas that aren't overrun with it, foxtail and a few cedars grow in the sand. The hardwoods have virtually zero young trees....the honeysuckle has choked out everything but the big mature trees. This area is literally so thick that you can't walk through it. Deer were not using it either. The swamp is a tangled mess of huge cottonwoods, burr oaks, and snakeweed. About 1/3 of it will have standing water pretty much year round.
    The landfill area is completely unusable in its current state. Nothing but Bush honeysuckle on top of huge piles of garbage covered in 3ft of dirt. It is extremely difficult terrain to walk through. Some of the "trash hills" are 30ft high and 30yds in diameter. Virtually zero high quality food for deer existed on the property. All the deer feed in the grain fields to the south.
     

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