Planning for Food Plots with John O’Brion… Hi folks, it’s the second segment with John O’Brion of Grandpa Ray Outdoors, and John and I are talking about “do it right the first time”. And what happens to us all, and I’m guilty as anybody, I go…oh, I get all excited, and we get the plan in place, and then we go to work and we forget something, we forget one component. It could be any number of the components. The first thing that we never, never wanna forget is, of course, to do the soil test. But after that, it becomes a slippery slope sometimes. And others, you could go out there, I mean, you could build a food plot in downtown Manhattan without water and without dirt, and it would still grow. Well, there’s dirt in the street anyway, so it’s got that, so…you know what I mean. But most of it, you know, it’s a struggle. So why do we need to do it right the first time, John?
John: Well, when I talk to people that either are brand new, or even for those that are very experienced, I ask a list of a lot of questions. The more questions I ask, the better I can give for a recommendation. The problem that we see so often is you get guys that are like, “Well, my buddy didn’t take a soil test and he had a great food plot this year.” He might have, he might have a great food plot next year, but if you don’t fertilize right, you don’t maintain your pH, eventually, it could be two years, could be five years, at some point in time, your soil will be mined, and then you’ll have a…you could have a total failure. You have a year with a total failure, you spent money on the rifle, the shells, all these inputs, and then all of a sudden there’s no deer on your property because you don’t have an effective, growing food plot. Best laid plans of mice and men.
So we wanna plan not just short-term. So many people wanna just buy that mix that their buddy told you to buy, the celebrity, the hunting show, whatever reason, but… It might be a great mix on your buddy’s land, but it might be a terrible thing to plant on yours. So every situation’s different Whether you ask me, “Hey,” help you, and I ask you questions and you answer them, to give you some time to think and reflect, or even if, you know, you don’t get ahold of a guy like me, [inaudible 00:02:27]. Put on paper, what’s your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? How are you gonna get there? What’s your current strengths? What do you think your weakness is? Let’s improve our strengths and let’s do way better on these weaknesses. Formulate a plan before hard charging, and just get ground cover, get something to grow. Could be good this year, could be a total failure.
And again, just like sighting in that rifle, do you wanna go hunting? Sure. Do you sight in your gun? You better. Same thing, we wanna sight in our food plots to not just have average, to reduce our risk, to be as effective as we can. That’s what I want people to think about.
Bruce: So again, planning, planning, planning, planning, you’re gonna get sick and tired of hearing me say it. But by planning, okay, stage one, stage two, stage three in your land management plan, for your food plots, that’s the stages that, in my opinion and the opinion of a lot of people I’ve been talking about, you just plan it out and you plan a rotation in your crops, just like a farmer does. He doesn’t plant corn two years in a row unless he’s using a lot of supplemental fertilizers and stuff to replace the nutrients that are sucked out of the soil. So, you know, you have to do the same thing.
Plus, your deer change. You gotta see what happens. If your neighbors change things up, you better know exactly what impact that is gonna have on your deer. You know, the more I get into this, people say, “Well, gee, it sounds like work.” Well, it sorta kinda is to become a student. But the people do it right, it’s not work because they get some nice bucks, they get some nice does, they get a healthy deer herd on their property year after year after year. And that’s sort of what my goal is on the farm that I hunt. Every year we have good deer. Are we gonna have monster bucks? No, we might never have monster bucks. But we’re gonna have good bucks, mature bucks, 3 and 1/2, 4 and 1/2-year-old bucks, through a process, and it’s a learning process. So by doing it right the first time…
What about equipment, John? When they go out and go, you know, a brilliant manufacturer wants X for this new cultivator. We’re not cultivating. Well, maybe we are. Folks, I’m not a farmer. But anyway, they want X for new connection to your ATV, you know. Forget about tractors, you can do almost everything with an ATV, as we see today. So John, help me out here. You know, besides the seed, what the heck else do we need?
John: Well, the industry and certain companies might not love me to say this, but people tend to rush to buy equipment. They tend to overspend on equipment for their own situation. Let me clarify. If you’re gonna spend $10,000 on a fancy no-till planter, maybe one of these…and I’m not gonna mention any names of any companies out there, but one that could plant your brassicas, plant your clovers, plant your soybeans and that, guys got five acres of food plots you’re planting. Step back, think about this rationally. Do you need to have that equipment? What does it cost you? What’s your real dollar for spending that money?
Okay, let’s look at his long-term investment. Let’s just say that equipment I’m buying is gonna last us 10 years, right? Better not figure 20 or 30, typically 7 to 10-year depreciation. Spend $10,000 on that piece of equipment, lasts 10 years, that’s $1,000 a year. They got five acres of food plots, that’s $200 an acre. Would you be better to have a professional come in and plant it? Or B, do you really need that kind of equipment on two acres or five acres? And I throw that at people. There’s people that may be somebody like Bruce there, maybe you got so much money that it doesn’t matter to you. You just wanna have your fancy piece of equipment that you can show off to your cousin Vinnie. You can go out there and plant, it doesn’t matter, it’s great. Right? But I got a plot master, I also got the average guy that’s not planting many acres. You could have a $100 spring to it. You could have a lawn roller. You could have a bag seeder and accomplish most of what you ever need to do on your land.
Why do I bring that up? So when we look at our food plot pyramid, my best investment is a process. Do you wanna invest in equipment? Is that your most efficient use of your budget? Or is it to have that soil amended, to have the soil healthy? Yes. Then what’s the next best use of your money, okay? Let’s get, you know, the right mix planted at the right time for your own situation.
Here’s a little story. I know I might be rambling a little bit. One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen out there for crop failure is not the quality of the seed, it’s planting death. A guy I know bought a brand new gallon of XYZ, state-of-the-art seeder. And he gets ahold of me, he planted for a bunch of acres. “The things aren’t growing well. We know it’s not the seed. We know what the germ count.” He had 90% germ-count seed that’s tested, it’s 90%. If you have almost total failure, it’s not the seed. The tests don’t lie. If you plant seed that’s supposed to be 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch deep, and you bury it, you put an inch and a half deep because you don’t understand how to calibrate your equipment, we got failure. The deer might be on your neighbors’.
So again, input. I say if you’re brand new, let’s start with any inexpensive equipment. Learn about how to plant, planting that, the timing of it, all these little basic management tools in the areas. Then, after maybe two or three years, then let’s start investing in equipment once you get all the other stuff mastered. That’s what I want people to do. That’s how I want you to think. And again, so many people got a budget. So many people spent way more than they thought that land was gonna cost. Maybe you can’t afford that fancy piece of equipment. Do you even need that fancy piece of equipment? Just ask yourself, evaluate. Do you really need it? Maybe, maybe not.
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