The Hancock Family hopes that you and yours are going to enjoy a great family feast this Thanksgiving. And, of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without a plump turkey decorating the table.
Have you ever considered doing things a bit more...au naturel? Maybe you’re a fan of the organic movement, or maybe you just like the idea of the rustic “pioneer” Thanksgiving. Sustainable home farming has made truly homemade corn, potatoes and green beans a reality...so why not turkey?
If you’re a hunter and you’d prefer to bag your own birds for holiday meals next year, use this guide to help make your property an ideal hangout for the holiday fowl. Although the time for planting a turkey plot won’t be until late next Spring, you can get ahead of the curve by planning your plots and purchasing supplies.
PICK A PLOT
Many of our readers may be familiar with the concept of deer plots, or large collections of food plants to attract hungry deer. Here’s some good news for planning for turkey instead of deer: Although they may be sizable birds, no turkey needs to eat as much as a small deer, which means your plots won’t need to nearly as large. Plotting for deer requires planting acres at a time, whereas a single acre is plenty to attract some gobblers.
Another benefit is that it doesn’t need to be just one large chunk. Many hunters suggest that several small plots—as little as a quarter acre—work just as well, if not better, than one large section.
If you still need to clear some space for your plot, avoid trees that are still producing acorns, beech nuts or pine cones. These are another favorite of fowl and there’s no point in preventing nature from lending a helping hand.
PICK A BLEND
There are many different food sources you can choose from, so we just did you a favor and combined them into one winning blend. Hancock’s Wild Turkey Food Plot Mix is comprised of 25 percent Brown Top Millet, 25 percent Dove Proso Millet, 20 percent Sorghum, 15 percent Buckwheat, and 15 percent Chufa.
“Nom, nom, nom,” as we would say. Or “gobble, gobble, gobble,” as turkeys would say (we assume).
Now, if you’re in our Southern climate zone, you can try experimenting with a pure Chufa blend as well. This plant produces tubers that these birds love. The rest of this article will focus on instructions for those using our Turkey Food Plot Mix, so be sure to check out our Chufa instructions to see the slight changes in ideal planting conditions.
The planting time for our Turkey Mix will differ slightly from region to region, between Spring and early Summer, however the rule remains the same: Wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost. The blend is meant to provide feeding throughout hunting season, with maturity coming in early, medium and later stages.
The ideal pH for soil will be between 5.5 and 6.5. Apply ground limestone if you find yourself a little acidic, or soil sulfur if you’re a tad basic.
When it’s safe to plant, a healthy ratio will be 40 lbs of seed per acre (we keep things simple by selling this blend in 40 lb. bags). Apply anywhere between 250 to 350 lbs of balanced fertilizer per acre.
You’ll want to make sure that your seeds have at least one inch of cover, as turkeys aren’t known for their patience. Give them the chance, and they’ll eat the seeds before they can germinate into greens! Hogs and deer can also cause problems, if plot seeds aren’t shielded.
Finally, be sure to maintain control over the weeds. Although many of the seeds featured in our Turkey Food Plot Mix will return the next year, we recommended plowing at the end of the season and replanting the next year to ensure consistency. Plowing helps prevent the potential for weeds in the next growing season.
Your mouth may be already watering for next year’s home-caught bird, but don’t start planning until after Thanksgiving dinner! You don’t want to offend the cook!