Dust Bowl Food Plots
Dr. John Woods 10.30.19
How fast things can turn around when Mother Nature is calling the shots. This past spring, much of the Deep South especially along the Mississippi River Delta in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana experienced record-book flooding. For nearly three months much of the rich Delta farmlands were under ten or more feet of water along with homes and farming equipment.
Then the river finally receded along with most all of the tributaries feeding it. Amazingly, in just a short couple of months the same region was declared in drought. By the time the end of summer rolled around and hunters were talking fall hunting seasons the land was hard rock dry. Landowners and game managers went from one extreme to the other.
Talk of planting wildlife food plots finally became the subject of the day as landowners began to assess their hunting lands for the coming deer seasons. Most archery deer hunting seasons opened October first or mid-month as states like Mississippi had to adjust to the flooding impacts on wildlife. Still, plots had to be planted.
When our hired food plot farmer finally rolled into our property, he found all the plots waist-high in tough, unrelenting weeds. The bush hog had such a tough time cutting down the heavy vegetation that the machine twisted its bearings out of the drive housing. Mowing plots was out of business. He had to resort to disking.
As they say, that was a tough row to hoe. After three to four passes on each plot, the clods were still as big as softballs. The dust billowed twenty or more feet up in the air. It reminded us of stories about the Kansas dust bowls in the Great Depression. It was going to be one of those years. Expectations were quickly re-evaluated.
We had no choice but to press on. After a week of whacking at the weeds in the 40 acres of food plots, we were “ready” to plant. We let the dust and dirt settle hoping for a little rain before throwing seed on the clods. Time was getting thin, so by mid-October we finally bought seed, lime, and fertilizer and went to planting. We finished cultipacking everything on a Friday afternoon. Monday it started to rain.
Ironies of ironies, we got nearly three inches of a good soaking rain as reported by one of the owners on Wednesday. Another rain is due this coming week. Maybe just by accident or faith we played our cards right for a change. Maybe Mother Nature felt sorry for us. Hopefully by deer gun season in November the deer will have some new green lush to munch on.