Products for Procrastinators

By Dean Weimer

 “Better late than never.” This widely accepted and oft-used cliché is thought to have originated in the United States, and that seems appropriate considering most Americans use this expression from time to time.

I’ve got to be honest; I’m a procrastinator, and this used to bug my dad terribly. “You’re going to be late for your own funeral,” he used to tell me.

Gotta Love Your Dad

There are many situations in which people use this phrase. Some of them are more fitting than others. For example, you don’t want to use it with your college professor when you’re turning in a term paper two days late. It likely won’t help your cause. On the other hand, when you arrive a bit late for a family holiday dinner, it’s not as serious. Your family will forgive you, and you won’t have to worry about failing the course — though you might not get first dibs on the turkey and mashed potatoes, which is similar to failing a college term paper, in my overweight opinion. Another situation in which it’s not a good idea to come late and use this old cliché is on your wedding day. Although you might not fail anything, you aren’t going to earn any extra credit from your new bride. But what do these situations have to do with food plotting? Nothing, actually, but it seems that many hunters and land managers are still finding it tough to get their food plots in on time. It’s especially prevalent in a world where speed and the ability to keep abreast are everything. We live in the age of information, and life comes at you at warp speed. We are all super busy with our careers, children, vacationing, hunting, fishing, exercising and a host of other activities. We are on the go. So what happens if you wait too long to get that food plot in, although you’ve promised yourself every off-season you’d get it in this year by the time fall rolls around? Not to worry. All is not lost.

Help is On the Way

Sure, there are many plants you don’t want to put in too late in the planting season for fear that the elements, weather, and the like could ruin the plot before it gets going. And we’ve already mentioned that we don’t always have the time to do things the right way in preparing a perennial food plot. So what are the options for producing an attractive food plot that can be planted late and still provide nutrition and hunting attractiveness without all the sweat, preparation, money, fertilizer, equipment and soil testing?

The Players

 Lots of companies sell products that claim to be useful for growing food plots with practically no preparation. But let’s be honest, many of them are simply over-marketed seed blends you could buy at your local co-op, and they aren’t always the magic mixes they claim to be. This is another area where the Whitetail Institute really shines, especially with its annual blends, such as Imperial No-Plow, Secret Spot and Bow Stand. All of these blends have been designed for food plotters who don’t have the time, money, heavy equipment and ideal ground to produce a more traditional perennial plot. Or perhaps they just fall in that category of procrastinators (such as myself). Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t really matter. What you need to pull off a last-minute food plot is enough ground that receives the right amount of sunlight per day to get a quality plot going with the bare essentials for plant germination and survival — namely water and nutrients. Let’s look at the big three — Imperial No- Plow, Secret Spot and Bow Stand — and talk about their benefits. No-Plow has been around for quite a few years and has been continuously improved since its inception. It is a combination of late season brassica, cereal grains and annual clovers, and most recently, a radish and forage lettuce, which were added to enhance its attractiveness. It was initially developed for areas that were hard to reach with traditional food-plotting equipment. Spots such as clearings, old logging roads or remote fire lanes are ideal spots for No-Plow, provided you take care of natural vegetation before you plant No-Plow. We’ll touch on soil prep work in a while. Similarly, Secret Spot and Bow Stand are forage blends designed to thrive in very remote, hidden spots. These blends also have a pH booster to help out with more acidic soils. This brings us to a good point about soil pH, but we’ll touch on this later as well. All of these forages need as little as three to four hours of broken or full sunlight to germinate and thrive. They are also designed to ensure germination with minimal soil preparation. If you can find such spots in your hunting area and do the minimal amount of prep work, you can have an annual food plot that can attract and nourish deer during the season, provided you can get the plot in no later than early fall.


 Preparation is critical in most of life’s endeavors, and food plots are no different. Dozens of articles talk about the keys to food plot preparation, but the problem is that we’re dealing with a plot that is designed to take advantage of less-than-ideal growing conditions. With that said, it’s always best to take a soil sample of the area if possible. It’s also advisable to also use fertilizers and/or lime to optimize your efforts, too. Heck, in an ideal world, you’d have gotten the ground ready several weeks in advance while waiting on ideal planting conditions. Obviously, if you can do all these steps before planting a last-minute plot, do so. But this article is written with the idea that you don’t have the ability to do these things, so let’s focus on what you can do with the bare minimum of preparation.

Getting Started

I pride myself on creating great traditional food plots, but I’ve never messed with last minute plots. This past summer, I decided to try out an in-woods plot and found a nice four-wheeler path in my buddy’s woods that was semi-cleared and had a small amount of existing vegetation. His neighbors had actually inadvertently created this open area in late winter while setting sap buckets and later collecting maple sap from his many maple trees. Several years of collecting created a very nice clearing. This would prove an ideal spot to work with. In late summer, I took some glyphosate and sprayed the existing vegetation while waiting on better planting conditions. Although the drought last year was serious for most areas of the country — especially the Midwest — it finally started to rain some at the beginning of September. The glyphosate effectively burned off much of the competing foliage, and then it was time to prep the soil in that spot. I chose to use a standard yard rake, garden rake and spade fork to loosen the dirt in the path. I have to admit, the ground was extremely hard, and this was not the most fun I’ve had while food plotting, but it was worth it in the long run. The spade fork was effective at breaking up some of the harder portions of the path, and the garden rake was stout enough for much of the other areas, but the plastic yard rake was the star implement in this plot, as it helped loosen remaining areas of soil and was also used to go back over the plot after I spread the seeds. That leads us to another very important step — perhaps the most important step — in last-minute plots.

Seed-to-Soil Contact

Most of you know seed-to-soil contact is ultra-critical in food plot applications, and this is also true for last-minute plots. Remember these products were created with the idea that you wouldn’t have to get a cultipacker or other drag-type implement into the areas you’re creating these special plots, but taking a yard rake over the seeds at least once after broadcasting can help tremendously. Doing so helps mix up the seeds with the available topsoil and can actually improve your germination rates in a last minute plot. This is also the time to add any pelletized lime or fertilizer to the plot, so you get a good mixture of everything. Now it is time to let the late-summer/early-fall rains work their magic.

Hunting Tools

Many hunters use such food plots in their hunting strategies, and any of the aforementioned Whitetail Institute products can shine in such situations. I’ve said many times that my favorite reason for food plots is the nutritional boost whitetails receive from them. But they can also be effective tools to help harvest deer. Many hunters are incorporating plots to help in their quest to harvest deer, and a few folks are using small in-woods plots to help harvest mature bucks they’ve been trying to kill for a few years. The idea is to know where the buck is bedding and create a hidden plot near its staging area. As most hunters know, mature bucks tend to keep to the dark, preferring to stage in security areas before venturing to open agricultural fields after the sun sets. This is where a last-minute plot known only to you and the buck can be the final piece of a great hunt. The key is to get your spot ready while waiting on ideal planting times. You obviously want to keep your efforts as low-key as possible, and you definitely don’t want to go traipsing around the plot you’ve created until the time, winds and weather are perfect to intercept that buck. You might also choose to create last-minute plots in areas where deer congregate, creating a super hub of activity. An area like this could be great all season, but it might be best in later October, before the onset of breeding.

Summing It Up

There are many reasons why many hunters/managers don’t get their perennial plots in on time, but there is help in the form of annual blends from the Whitetail Institute. With a bit of planning, preparation, foresight and sweat equity, you can create the ultimate last-minute food plot to help make your next deer season a winner. Remember, it’s better late than never. Just don’t be late for your wedding. It’s OK to be late for your funeral.