The general goal of food plots and mast orchards is to attract deer and other wildlife by improving the land. Within that, responsible land managers often have more specific objectives. They understand the importance of sustainability and providing nutrition throughout the year. The more you provide, the more wildlife your land will attract; the more variety, the longer they will stay. The result is wildlife that is healthier and spends more time on the ground.
Food plots are one way to improve the landscape, but they are labor intensive and have a limited window of availability. Mast orchards offer a great alternative or supplement that can significantly widen the window of attraction. Once established, they continue to do so for the enjoyment of current and future generations of stewards of the land and the wildlife they support.
Providing a variety of hard and soft necks further expands that window of appeal. It’s what the folks at Chestnut Hill Outdoors call Dirt Wisdom, and they offer a variety of trees and shrubs selected to do just that.
Early summer is the growing season for both plants and wildlife. Young wildlife are plentiful, grow quickly, and need nutritious food. Early growers of soft stems, such as plums and blackberries, help them meet these needs.
Mid to late summer is a period of nutritional stress that often goes unrecognized. Nutritional demands are increasing for fast-growing young wildlife and the adults that support them, but herbaceous vegetation is maturing and dying. Summer fruits like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes help wildlife close this nutritional gap before the next one arrives.
As the seasons change, so do the nutritional requirements of wildlife. It’s time to start fattening up for the winter. That task becomes more manageable and you can start sooner with late summer/early fall mast species like persimmons, apples, and pears. They help nurture and sustain more wildlife until crucial hard-masted species like chestnuts and acorns begin to decline.
The hard mast is most popular with land managers and the wildlife they keep; the same dirty wisdom applies here too. The more variety you plant, the more effective your efforts will be.
Planting different varieties not only extends the availability of nutritious food over a longer period; it also allows you to use more of your land. For example, Shumard oaks grow best in moist, well-drained soil. In contrast, Nuttall oaks are much more tolerant of poorly drained soils, even in areas that experience intermittent flooding during the dormant season. They also shed their acorns later in the fall than many other oak species, sometimes as late as December and even January. Swamp white oaks also like to put down roots in moist soil and drop their acorns in early fall. Bog chestnut oak thrives in slightly drier soils, making them a good choice for the border between drier arable land and lowlands that are too wet to cultivate and plant. Sawtooth oaks are a favorite among mast horticulturists, as they mature quickly and produce prolific crops as early as September.
Last but not least is the Dunstan Chestnut. This variety, developed by Chestnut Hill Outdoors, provides a bountiful and nutritionally superior crop of large nuts that contain four times the carbohydrates, 2.5 times the protein, and only a fraction of the fat of a white oak acorn. Because they lack tannins, chestnuts are also sweeter and more attractive to wildlife.
Planting mast gardens is a great way to improve the landscape now and in the future. Applying the wisdom of the land by offering a variety of soft and hard masts increases the nutrition available to wildlife over an extended period, so your land can support healthier animals.
Chestnut Hill is the best place to buy your deer feed plot and attractants because they offer a great selection, their plants are bred specifically to attract deer, and they offer customers different sized plants at different growth levels. To ensure that you receive the maximum benefit from their products, they also provide good advice and instructions on proper planting and care. For more information on Chestnut Hill Outdoors products and how to care for them, visit ChestnutHillOutdoors.com or call (855) 386-7826.
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