Several readers wrote in, “Our hunting club has several new food plots that have small stumps in them. They measure from 8″ to 2″ in diameter. We do not have the equipment to remove the stumps so are looking for an inexpensive way to remove them so that planting in the future will be easier. We have been told that by putting salt on the stumps deer would dig them up. Is this so and if so how do we do it?”
First, you are correct in wanting to get the stumps out of the field so that you can prepare a good seedbed each year. To leave stumps is to create a weed bed in the food plot that will get larger each year. Also, stumps can ruin food plot planting equipment if it hits the stump.
What you have heard about using deer to remove small stumps is correct in many cases. By making each stump an artificial salt lick, in time, the deer will keep digging until they dig the stump up. The best time to start the process is in the summer. Take a shovel and posthole digger and dig holes up under each stump, between the roots. Pack the holes with granular cattle salt or with one of the various brands of granular mineral lick mixtures. Leave about two inches of each packed hole for dirt to cover it. Sprinkle a little of the salt on top of the stump so that the deer can find it quickly. The rest is up to the deer.
I have seen deer dig up a 12″ pine stump in less that a year. Sometimes it takes longer. If there are a lot of deer in an area and only one stump to be removed it can take less time. If there are several stumps or if the deer numbers are low it will take much longer.
If you plan to hunt the food plot, be sure to check your game laws as in some areas artificial salt licks cannot be hunted on, or near. Also, keep in mind that the salt area in the food plot may not bear plants for a year or two after the stump has been removed due to the high salt content in the soil. Plus deer will keep digging at the hole as long as there is any salt remaining. Once the stump is removed I like to bring in a load of fresh dirt to fill the salted hole so that I can plant the area sooner.
Editor’s note: J. Wayne Fears, named the Food Plot Doctor by the Whitetails Unlimited Magazine, is one of the pioneers who helped develop wildlife habitat and food plot practices that are common today. Now his decades of experience are available to Global Outfitters readers. J. Wayne uses questions from our readers and TV audience as the basis for his columns in Outdoor Outfitters.com. and habitat segments on TV. Just mail your questions to email@example.com The GO Habitat columns will be archived on the Globaloutfitters.com website, so you can go to them for reference in the future.
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