Growing food for Deer and Turkeys

Posted by Randy Milligan on December 29th, 2022

My obsession is raising big deer and making sure we have lots of turkeys to hunt. It was a dream of mine to hunt the Midwest so about twenty years ago I purchased my first piece of ground in SE Kansas, which was 160 acres. Don’t get me wrong, I do try to shoot that big buck and gobbling turkey every year, but I really love the wildlife management part of it.

We all know that the Midwest already has big deer and lots of turkeys, so why do anything? Just hunt your property, right? My goal is to out-feed any properties around mine. My farms are in SE Kansas where a person doesn’t have to go far to find ag fields in the summer, full of beans and corn. They are always full of deer and turkeys, so I really don’t do a lot of summer plots other than clover. You can only kill one buck in Kansas, so I can truly say most of my plots are just feeding wildlife and not to kill over. About half my plots are in clover, which provide a great source of food for deer and turkeys in the spring, summer, and fall. The other half of my plots are brassicas, small grain, and standing beans and corn that I convince my farmer to leave standing. Twenty years ago, I used old gates, cut cedar trees, or anything I could to break the dirt’s surface to get seed to soil contact. I walked miles with an old hand seeder (which still works great) to sow everything from oats to clover. I’m lucky these days and have tractors, a planter and a drill that reduces the walking a little, however I still enjoy walking to hand seed clover plots.

Things I do that have helped me over the years:

  • I plant in front of a rain
  • I try to always cover my seed
  • I always put a little fertilizer on my plantings
  • I fertilize my clover twice a year, mow it twice a year, but try to only mow in front of a rain
  • I spray my clover early in spring with 24db and clethodim 2E

How I manage and hunt my property is just a combination of what so many other hunters do, and the practices I’ve learned from reading every book I could get my hands on and asking lots of questions. We all have our own opinions of what works and what doesn’t. For me, it comes from doing things right and making a few mistakes along the way. Learning from those successes and failures is key!

The number one thing I do, is I don’t let hunting stress me. I have friends that “have to kill” or they can’t sleep at night. Hunting and management of wildlife is fun for me and something that I do twelve months a year, so have fun with it!