With the pond management plan well underway and the waters quickly becoming prime fishing grounds, it was time to start focusing on the hunting. In July of 2010, the Cuba Farm partnered with Jared Plattner of POC Outdoors and Nate Herman of Herman Brothers Pond Management to develop a comprehensive plan for managing and improving the hunting habitat.
Step one was to determine strategic locations for seven food plots. Five locations were chosen as sites for new plots with varying crops, near timber and in areas where game were sighted in the past. A series of soil tests were taken in those areas to evaluate the soil types, condition, and what would be needed to enrich the soils. A total of 4,300 pounds of lime was added to the soil to adjust the pH so that food crops would grow. A two-man team tilled, prepped and planted the plots in August. The other two prime locations were determined to be within the existing crop and were marked as locations to leave crop standing.
The first location identified was near the horse pen. The Horse Pen Deer Condo food plot was planted with BioLogic Perfect Plot, which is a blend of New Zealand red and white clovers, alfalfa, winter peas, chicory and brassicas (plants in the mustard family). Its foliage blend should last year-round to attract and nourish wildlife even outside of hunting season.
The second plot, Big Lake food plot is located near Duck Hole Bay, was planted with BioLogic Clover Patch, which is a blend of red and white clover designed for wildlife attraction during autumn as well as in spring. BioLogic Maximum was also planted, which contains a blend New Zealand brassicas that mature at different rates to ensure forage throughout the life of the plot. This blend was developed to promote rapid weight gain, health and antler growth in deer.
The Minnow Lake food plot consists of several seed types: BioLogic BioMass, a legume blend that provides a source of protein; BioLogic Green Patch Plus which has New Zealand brassicas and clover that establish quickly and is great for attracting Whitetail and Turkey in the fall; turnips which are a good late-season plant; and finally rape, also a good late-season plant.
The fourth plot is located near the creek. Creek Bottom food plot was planted with Buck Forage Oats, which are very hardy so that they can take on winter temperatures but grow slowly so that they remain tender (and more appealing to wildlife!). There are also more turnips in this plot. Both crops are great for the later season.
The fifth and sixth plots are located south of Beaver Lake, near the barn. This is also the new home of the tower blind. The Beaver Lake food plots are existing crops that were left standing rather than harvested in the 2010 season. The standing crops provide an immediate food source for wildlife while the four new food plots mature.
The seventh plot, Joey's food plot, was built in September 2010 in the thick of the timber. The food plots were planted with BioLogic Premium Perennial and Clover Patch along with a blend of Hot Spot (a blend of winter peas and buckwheat). A camera is installed to monitor wildlife coming through the area.
Each of the food plots has a deer cage installed at the site to help determine if the plots are over or under browsed, or just growing poorly. These will help us to understand if we need to plant additional plots or care for the existing plots differently.
The deer really like the blend in Joey's plot!
In September, the custom-built Horse Pen Deer Condo was completed. The overall dimensions of the luxury hunting condo are 10' x 10'. The floor is slightly elevated to try to keep the structure out of the deer's direct line of vision, but still maintains a 6-1/2' clearance inside. The front shooting windows are 38" off the floor and measure 12" tall by 40" wide. There's also a window on the side that measures 8" tall by 40" wide. There's also an 8"x40" window in the rear as well.
Two new goose pits were installed in October of 2010. The first blind was installed at North Lake and the second in the wetlands. They are both 12' rice field blind from Bradley Blinds. Some winter wheat was planted around the blinds and a clear line of sight will be established to North Lake by removing the old and weak trees that are blocking the goose landing zone. To finish them off, 4 hunting swivel chairs will be added to each pit!
The existing tower blind was moved to the Beaver Lake food plot area and it was fixed up a bit so it's ready to go for the upcoming hunting season!
Now that the plots are in the photos from the installed cameras will help us monitor the areas and record the wildlife visiting. This will be useful to determine which stands will be the best locations for hunting season. We're already seeing a lot of activity; visit the camera feeds page for recent photos of deer. You can also see the infamous "King of Cuba Farm" online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOkjwCf6y7A
Tree stand and blind locations - end of the 2009/2010 season