Secret Spot and Imperial No-Plow, the Perfect One-Two Punch. These two seed blends can increase your hunting success big time!

By Michael Veine

 If you’re looking to draw deer to a certain spot and cant or don’t want to invest thousands of dollars on expensive equipment, then Secret Spot and No Plow may be the perfect solution. These two products are designed to be extremely easy to use. They do not require any soil tillage yet they create lush food plots that will attract deer like a magnet. Those out-of-the-way honey holes that are hard or impossible to access with agricultural equipment are perfect for Secret Spot or No-Plow applications.
These products are so versatile that they can be grown virtually anywhere the sun hits the ground. They can also be used to spice up existing food plots as the forage is preferred by deer like candy is by a child.

My property in Southern Michigan is dominated by wetlands. During the summer though, “my” swamp always dries up and those waterless conditions typically last though most of the fall. Much of the wetlands are dominated by waist-high swamp grasses that neither feed deer nor provide them with cover, and in my opinion those areas are wasted spaces. I don’t want deer to just pass though my property; I want them to spend all their daylight hours on my land. Therefore I strive to convert those “useless” spaces into nearly 100 percent deer-preferred real estate to maximize my ability
to attract and hold deer.

Last year I created a new food plot in that swamp grass wasteland. It’s located close to heavy cover where deer are known to bed regularly. The plan was to give the deer a close, easy-to-access, high quality food source. By locating the food plot between the bedding area and agricultural fields, it was positioned perfectly to intercept and hold them there during daylight hours. The spot also featured a nearby, dense island of trees where I could hang a tree stand or conceal a ground blind for the perfect ambush.

I had previously taken soil samples all over my property and knew that the dirt at that site was fairly low in some vital nutrients; however the pH was near neutral. Since no advanced soil correction was necessary, my first task was to clear the site of all vegetation, which I accomplished with herbicides and a little elbow grease. My first application of herbicides was sprayed during May, when things were really starting to green up. I used a backpack sprayer and mixed a heavy dose of Glyphosphatebased Roundup with a surfactant to really brownthings down. The treated area was 50 yards deep by 30 yards wide, which is about as large as I would tackle with just hand tools. That acreage though is perfect for a kill plot as it can easily be covered with archery gear, yet it still produces enough forage to keep the deer feeding and happy through most of the fall hunting seasons.

The first spraying did indeed kill off a good portion of the greenery; however, as the site dried out, another wave of plants sprouted and were given a taste of Roundup as well. During late June I hit that plot again with another heavy dose of Glyphosphate. I gave the site a third Roundup treatment during mid-July, but by that time I was just working over the especially stubborn surviving plants which were few and far between.

By August, the site was reduced to a knee-deep brown matt of dead vegetation that was so thick that it had to be removed before planting could begin. I worked over the whole site with my big weed whacker. It has a saw-blade brush-cutter attachment that I used to buzz off all the dead stuff. Then using a jumbo leaf rake, the trash was moved to the edges of the plot.With all the debris removed, the seed bed was essentially ready for planting. However, I like to add a water hole to my food plot setups, so with shovel in hand, I started digging.

Even though the plot was located in the middle of a wetland, for much of the year, that swamp had about as much water available as a desert. By late summer the water table was about two feet below the ground, so I had to dig down about four feet to create a small water hole. That water hole, combined with a lush food plot, would give deer the ultimate, deluxe pit stop.

In mid-August I seeded the site with a generous covering of Secret Spot using a hand crank Earthway Seed Spreader (available through the Whitetail Institute). A heavy dose of 12-12-12 fertilizer was also applied with the same spreader. I highly recommend that spreader as I previously used a cheaper model and the Earthway is far superior.

Rains came the day after planting, so germination was fast and furious. The plot was growing like gangbusters and deer almost instantaneously started visiting the site in mass. My hopes were high, but then the hurricane season of 2008 rained on my parade with a vengeance. 2008 turned out to be one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. Michigan is not normally considered an “at risk” state for hurricane damage; however both Gustav and Ike tracked over us and stalled; dumping torrential rain across the region; So much rain in fact that it broke all kinds of records here. We got 10 times our normal rainfall amount during September and it flooded out my new food plot big

Even though the entire plot was underwater for a couple days, most of the vegetation still survived, demonstrating the hardiness of Secret Spot. I hunted that plot several times in 2008 and every sit produced opportunities to kill deer.

One evening, just before dark, a nice buck came into the plot; however, by the time he fed into bow range the clock had ticked past the legal shooting time. I was still delighted to just watch him in the moonlight as he nibbled on the green stuff in front of me. It just proves that you don’t have to kill something to get massive doses of enjoyment out of hunting.

One of the goals for an ideal deer hunting setup is to be able to enter and exit the stand without spooking deer. It’s especially important for morning hunts, because if you blow all the deer out of the area on the way in, your chances for success are slim at best. One of my stands is situated about 150 yards behind my house. That stand could be hunted everymorning (with other than a north wind) without burning it out. For starters, the stand’s close proximity to my house is a big asset as the deer in the area get used to the sound and smell of human intrusions.

The key draw to the stand site is a small food plot that is triangularly shaped with the hypotenuse being about 50 yards long. Another draw is a water hole that I dug there with a mini-excavator. During dry weather, the water table there is about five feet below the ground, so I had to dig down about 8 feet and the hole is about 15 feet in diameter. A thriving stand of Imperial Whitetail Clover comprises nearly half of the food plot. In fact, it’s been growing strong for six straight years. It’s a good idea though to provide deer with a variety of forage choices, so the other half of the plot gets an annual planting of No-Plow.

The No-Plow portion of the plot gets sprayed with Roundup three times: once during late summer, during July, and then about one week before the planned planting during mid August. The plot pH is maintained with lime as close to 7.0 as possible. Even though No-Plow will grow on acidic soils, keeping the soil pH close to neutral will definitely increase the growth rate of the forage making it much more effective at drawing and holding deer. Before I plant No-Plow I rake the seed bed by hand with a large leaf rake. The annual herbicide treatments reduce the planting area to mostly bare, compacted dirt, and the raking helps rough up the surface for better germination and growth. I seed and fertilize the area using a hand-crank spreader.

During mid-September, after the No-Plow is fully germinated and growing strong, I spray the plot with Impact Plant Growth Stimulant. A friend of mine grows an awesome tomato garden and the only thing he uses is sprayable Impact. Even though his soil there is extremely poor, he still gets bumper crops and attributes it to the Impact. It also works wonders on food plots, giving plants a burst of growth right when you need it most. Impact also sweetens the plants, creating the perfect draw for deer.

There’s a tree stand overlooking that plot situated in a thick grove of red cedar trees about five yards from the border of the food plot. The stand is located between my house and the plot with a mowed trail leading to the stand from my back yard for silent entries. Even though that stand is only 10 feet off the ground, I’ve never been spotted or winded by deer from it. The cover is so thick between the stand and the plot that I’ve actually entered and exited the stand several times with deer feeding in the plot just 20 yards away. None of them ever noticed me. There’s also a delicious apple orchard about 50 yards from the stand, so the area gets so much deer traffic that it’s common for me to encounter a dozen or more deer from that stand on nearly every sit.

It’s been a consistent producer over the years. As I work on my computer, I can gaze to my left at a pedestal shoulder mount of a beautiful 10-pointer that I took from that spot years ago. Coincidentally, I can also see that same mount through the window from the tree stand, so I can honestly say that I see a 10-pointer from that stand every time I hunt it.

Secret Spot and No-Plow are just two more weapons in the food plotter’s arsenal. They are both annuals comprised of carefully selected formulas of cereal grains, brassicas and clover that are specially developed to attract deer and provide them with a high quality nutritional source. Both are designed to thrive in tough growing conditions with minimal investment. Best of all they produce the kind of results hunters can count on time and again.