By Dan Kibler
Deer season is three months away, but it’s already time for hunters to start thinking, at least in terms of what food plots they plan to plant to attract deer or make them healthier.
Foods that will mature and be available to deer during the season should be in the ground in a few months and the aspect of planning fall food plots is on the horizon.
North Carolina-born biologist Jeff Burleson, whose company Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting operates out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, plants food plots, dove fields and waterfowl detainment to earn his life. He is already working on his plan for fall food plot plantings for his clients, and he advises landowners or tenants to get started.
“You have to prepare, even start planning,” Burleson said. “You have to prepare your soil, do soil tests and put some lime on it. You need to plan where you are going to put your food patch, what you want in it.
“Deer will come to anything if it’s palatable and tastes good. If you want to plant soybeans, that’s fine, but you have to plant them in May. You can plant them in early June, but as the summer heats up and the soil temperature rises, it will grow to those tender shoots.
“If you’re thinking of planting a fall vegetable garden, most people plant peas and oats, and maybe clover; this is the perfect time to plant white clover, but it requires neutral pH soil and takes some time to prepare.
“Most people who aren’t really used to planting crops can plant oats,” he said. “They’re cheap and easy to plant – you can do it with a 4-wheeler. Just break up the ground and spread the seed.
The soil analysis will allow you to know the quality of your soil, whether it is basic or too acidic. Spreading lime will lower soil acidity to a level where plants can survive and thrive.
“If your soil is good, the plants can use the fertilizer you spread and they will really grow, but getting the pH right is the most important thing,” he says.
Soil testing is available for a few dollars through county agricultural extension agents, seed companies, and stores that cater to gardeners.
Burleson said hunters who want to shoot doves over a nice grain field are likely time-limited.
“It’s a bit too late to plant sunflowers, and sorghum and brown millet all have 120-day maturities,” he said. “Many people plant Japanese millet for waterfowl, but it matures in 60 days and can be good grain for dove fields.”
NC certify state record consolidator
Until recent weeks, North Carolina has never recognized a record-breaking graysby grouper, but a Wilmington fisherman has changed that.
Wilmington’s George Dale caught a 2-pound, 3-ounce grouper about 40 miles off Masonboro Inlet on May 31. The fish, caught in 100 feet of water, measured 15 inches in total length and had a girth of 18 inches. He hit a cut piece of bait.
North Carolina certified the record earlier this month because Dale’s fish was unusually large for the graysby grouper subspecies. The world record, in fact, is only 2 pounds and 8 ounces, captured off the coast of Texas in 1998.
State finalizes flounder and striped bass management plans
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission voted, as expected, to restrict the recreational fishing season for southern flounder, making it clear that a proposed six-week season in late summer could be further reduced.
The commission approved Amendment 3 to the Southern Plaice Fishery Management Plan, which grants commercial fishers 70% of the annual harvest, limits recreational fishers to one fish per day for a season between August 16 and September 16. 30 window that could close even further and open up a recreational season on the gulf and summer flounder from March 1 to April 15 – a season that could potentially shorten the late summer season.
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries staff will set the annual southern flounder quota, and if it is further reduced, the late summer recreational season could be squeezed even further into the six-week window.
In addition, the commission approved Amendment 2 to the Estuarine Striped Bass Management Plan, which maintains the ban on gillnets over ferry lines in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse river systems.