Game Changer Kill Plots!

In the March 2012 issue of Woods-N-Water News the first article of a series on land and deer management was published. I touched on issues of land management and noted that there are almost endless types of deer hunting land. Each property needs its own personal management.

We wouldn’t plant northern white cedar in grayling sand, nor red pines in the lowlands of the U.P. I mentioned the importance of bedding security that matures bucks will not do without.

If you do not have that feature on your land you have not addressed the number one rule, which is controlling the movement of deer during daylight. If the bucks bed on your property you have first crack at them as they decide to make their evening rendezvous and again when they come back just before daylight and take one last bite in your deer security designed kill plot. Does and yearling bucks are one thing but mature bucks demand security in their dining room. One is not likely to take a mature buck munching on neither a sugar beet pile nor a large open food plot. It is a different story when that open bait pile or food plot is changed to a secured and small kill plot. This is the key in, ‘game changer kill plots.’

Game changer kill plots do not need to be small, yet wherever the deer are standing within these plots they fell secure to the point that for the first time in your hunting career you may observe deer totally at ease. The enclosed picture of the corn based game changer kill plot is 1-1/2 acres in size with 18 narrow individual plots directed at the hunting blind. Wherever the deer are within the plot, they will be visible to the hunter except if within the two adjoining rows of corn. I planted this spring, 43 acres of corn based game changer kill plots and 12 acres of a variety of game changer kill plots in four locations. All methods work with the corn based design excelling.

The Beginning

We feel very confident in the value of game changer kill plots as a major improvement in the success of taking deer with mature bucks being included. Our first thoughts in this direction were in 1996, the year after my retirement in commercial cash crop farming. We usually left a few acres of corn and soybeans in the fields standing through the winter for wildlife. We haven’t stopped. I can’t explain it but my mind just doesn’t sit still. There are times I wake up in the middle of the night and make notes of my dream. So in 1996 when seeding a few acres of corn I disconnected the center two rows of our six row corn planter thinking I was onto something. I only disconnected one pass aimed at a blind and the hope for result of improved deer observation didn’t materialize. Had I seeded something else in the open space maybe it would of. At this same time we were seriously involved in experiments to create improved doe fawning areas, (our present wildlife cover and forage blend).

The doe fawning areas took precedence and the corn based kill plots took a back seat. You may have read some of the ideas we had the past few years, we suggested a food plot within a corn field or knocking down a strip of corn with a tractor and bucket with the pass aimed at the blind. The ideas had some merit especially with the late and heavy snows in December during the muzzle season. One major lesson learned was that sugar beets within a corn field with a good snow can become dynamite in December. The deer much preferred the beets over anything else with a brassica forage not far behind. Round Up ready Sugar beets may be available for all next year. The sugar beets are left in the ground, plus they do not die and rot, thus leaving preferred forage until gone. Sugar beets become sweeter and hit the top around mid-November. Sugar beets like fertilizer, especially nitrogen which is the major mineral for maximum sweetness. I add nitrogen to sugar beets in mid-September and mid-October. Deer do have a sweet tooth, plus the TB bacteria cannot survive in a live and growing sugar beet.

Corn Based Game Changer Kill Plots

In total we seeded over 20 corn based game changer kill plots, with different set ups from small bow sites to 2-1/2 acre firearm sites. Until today, the thought was large food plots aren’t effective, they must be small in size, with the smaller the better and within cover.

First, we are not seeding food plots, we are seeding kill plots. Food plots are for night feeding. Unfortunately this style of kill plot is not for everybody. You may not have the soil, you do not have enough open land, you are a public land hunter, it’s expensive and you need many acres of corn to preserve the attractive effect. You may find five acres is not enough with ten acres being pretty close to being okay. Deer love corn and will live in it. Deer prefer corn if it is a large field for this provides security cover, forage and the lack of pestering insects. Add the rest of the magic formula of a game changer kill plot and the does will offer you their oldest son.

Here’s the process of creating a corn based firearm kill plot in detail. There are many ways to skin this cat, the pictures enclosed tells us much and is highly recommended for anyone interested. This kill plot stands alone and is not connected to another corn field, which is recommended, but it is near to two other corn fields with a total of 10 acres. This is decent farmland of 120 acres which we farmed since 1978 in Gladwin County. That means there is still much open land. The kill plot is 1-1/2 acre and has been used as a food plot from a clover blend, forage rape, grain blend and corn since 1996.

The plot starts 45 yards from the blind and goes back 180 yards where it meets a 60 yard wide strip of planted evergreens, which is the boundary line. Directly behind is over 200 acres of cattle pasture. Behind and to the left is 320 acres of wooded deer hunting property. The history of deer taken is moderate with several mature bucks down. The largest scored 151 B&C. In 2001 early November a neighbor found within 50 yards of our property a 19 point non typical that scored 190- 7/8 B&C. That guy and 9 other mature bucks hung around during the summer and fall of 2000 and had their visits shown on TV. That year we took a 3-1/2 year old ten pointer, while our neighbors took three other mature bucks with a twelve pointer being tops. This is not trophy deer country, yet it shows what can happen when land and deer management is practiced.

On May 10 I broadcasted 200 lbs of 19-19-19 fertilizer per acre and disked it in twice. We next drilled in 30 lbs of Round Up Ready soybeans per acre which is around 1/3 of a normal seeing rate. Hopefully next year we can include Round Up Ready sugar beets. The latest word is in late July the restriction on seeding Round Up Ready sugar beet seed has been lifted with total deregulation now in place. This means anyone can buy and seed Round Up Ready sugar beet seed next spring 2013. We should seed the sugar beets at 1/3 to 1/4 the normal seeding rate, which is 50,000 seeds per acre. You mix the reduced rate of sugar beet seeds with the soybeans and broadcast or drill. Drilling is easy and accurate. Some have no opportunity to drill, so we broadcast the seed. This may take some practice to seed accurately, which is important. We want a balance of forage with everything reaching its potential in growth.

If you broadcasted the soys and sugar beets, till the soil twice, three inches deep. You need to add another forage at this time and I suggest brassica, which is winter canola. Problem we have is there is no Round up Ready canola available presently. It is now in a test mode with hopefully Round Up Ready seed being available within 2-3 years. When RR canola is available it should be seeded no more than two lbs per acre. If you have a drill available you duct tape every other seed opening in the front small seed hopper for the canola and set the flute spacing at 1/8 of an inch. For the combination soys and sugar beets seeds you also duct tape every other seed opening in the back large seed hopper but duct tape the adjoining opening of the front small seed hopper. You will seed the entire field with soys, sugar beets and canola in the future. If you broadcasted the soy and sugar beets seeds and tilled twice now broadcast the canola seed followed with a slow cultipacking.

Now for the key seed of corn, we recommend 85 day field corn seeded with a corn planter set at 20,000-25,000 seeds per acre. You can use a two row, three row, four row, six row or eight row corn planter. We recommend a six row corn planter with the center two rows disconnected. Do not seed a single row of corn, two rows side by side is necessary for the deer’s need of total security, three works, four gains nothing. As shown by the pictures we use a six row corn planter. This is a firearm set up, with the far end being 180 yards. You will need to set that corn planer down at one side of the field and aim directly toward the center of your blind and go straight, (absolutely no drinking and driving). The opening center space is only 7-1/2 feet and yet you can see the entire deer at more than 200 yards. This space gives the deer total security for he can munch on an ear of corn while his tail is touching the other corn row.

You next go to the opposite side of the field and go for the blind. Move to the center and split the field. You keep splitting the spaces until it gets too tight. Do not let the corn seeding overlap. Hopefully in the near future you have seeded an entire kill plot with Round Up Ready soys, sugar beets and canola. Adding the Round Up ready corn gives you the opportunity to maintain a clean weed free kill plot by just spraying the Herbicide Round Up. Spray Round Up four weeks after seeding and four weeks later. Two sprayings are usually enough. Until the Round Up ready Canola seed is available we recommend seeding by broadcasting any brassica blend at two lbs per acre right after the second Round Up spraying ,which should be sometime in the second half of July.

Near the first of September broadcast a grain blend of 10-15 lbs each of oats, rye grain and winter wheat. Try to keep the total amount of grain per acre under 50 lbs. On Sept. 15 and again on Oct. 15 broadcast 100 lbs. of urea 46-0-0 per acre. This urea application is the final touch to make your’ Corn Based Game Changer Kill Plot’ irresistible. You need only to apply the urea where you want the deer to stand not necessarily the entire field.

Many Options Available

The above should be obvious of its value in attracting and holding deer and as mentioned this includes mature bucks. Just make sure the kill plot is nestled next to dense woods, more corn, switch grass, tall old fields, etc. but, for sure, not in the open. We will be publishing several options of game changer kill plots. Many of you just do not have the right condition for the above set up.

We will suggest a game changer kill plot where the field can be planted just as shown but replace the corn with similar rows of forage sorghum seeded with a grain drill and at a reduced seeding rate giving you the same effect for deer security and not bad forage. I will have an article where you seeded a large field with switch grass giving maximum deer security yet you can see deer within this field, within several narrow kill plots from close by for the bow and or any distance desired. I will offer a plan similar to the switch grass field but you seeded a large field of forage sorghum with strips of kill plots within.

Keep the fun in hunting!

Ed Spinazzola, Associate, Tony LaPratt’s Ultimate Land Management, for more information see our web sites or or call 586-784-8090.

If you’d like to see and hear more on Ed Spinazzola’s game changer kill plots be sure to attend the 26th Annual Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend Sept. 7-9, 2012 at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds in Imlay City. Ed will be conducting seminars on this topic along with Tony LaPratt, who will be providing seminars on his ultimate land management. For more information go to or call 810-724-0254.