The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Prepping the Best Food Plot Area

When we at Shotem and Caughtem started to think about building food plots on our property we knew it would not be an easy task.  However, one thing we wanted to make sure we did was create a plan before we ever started digging or prepping.  One of the first things we needed to check is where the best place to put a plot and where on the property we had the most traffic.  In other words, you don't just build a plot, then decide where to place your stand. You take stand placement into account before you build the plot.

You must separate "hunting plots" from "feeding plots." Hunting plots are small, maybe just 1/4-1/2 acre in size. They are irregular in shape and seeded with plants that will attract deer during the hunting season. In a hunting plot you want irregular shape. There may be a peninsula of cover jutting out into the plot, positioned in such a way as to take advantage of the wind. Just a nice little plot in the woods that fits into the landscape.

Finding the right place for your Food Plot


The first step in building a hunting plot is to decide where you want it. In the spring, scout the area for trails, and always, always pay attention to the wind. Know where the deer bed. Also consider whether it will be hunted in the morning or evening or both. Determine how you will get to the plot, and when you've taken all these factors into consideration, then decide where you want the plot.

Food Plot Shape and Design


There are various designs for hunting plots. One that really intrigued us is the "hourglass" design, where the narrowest (the neck of the hour glass) is only thirty yards across. If you know the prevailing wind, where deer bed, and build the plot near thick cover, putting your stand at the narrow portion of the hour glass can be dynamite during the rut. We recommend building licking branches and mock scrapes at the neck of the hour glass. Interesting concept..



Other shapes such as boomerang and "s" shaped plots.  Then there is the corner plot that is built adjacent to an existing field. This is really a "food" plot, but is small and is a great place to set a stand.

You may have some small openings in the hardwoods that you hunt that may be adapted to a hunting plot. If so, now is the time to get it ready for the fall. Depending on the terrain if you only need 1/4 acres, you may be able to get by with some chain saw and small equipment tilling to build your own hunting plots.  Next in this series we will talk about what to plant to attract the most animals or specific ones to hunt.  But we always love to get your comments and ideas below.

We at Shotem and Caughtem joined many in the recent temperature drop from the Arctic Blast hitting much of the UNited States and it got us thinking about frozen waters.  We decided this would be a great time to discuss creating a great portable ice fishing shack for your next adventure and to keep you warm on even the most frozen of days.  So we searched the internet to find a simple and unique portable designed ice fishing shack.  Here is what we found to be the most well put together, unique yet portable and yet still adaptable designs for even the least handy of individuals.  We liked the fact that you could adapt this design into a more sturdy, rugged or permanent dwelling to fit the needs of any type of conditions yet still have some portability once it was time to load the shelter up for the warmer weather.  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below should you have any experiences that you might need to add to this design from our friends at Mother Earth News.  

Let's look at some of the benefits of this utilitarian design. To begin, at 4 feet wide, 6 feet long, and nearly 6 1/2 feet tall, the structure is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate even two large adults for the 8- to10-hour stints expected of it. Yet in three minutes' time it can be folded up into a 9-inch-high, 4 x 8-foot self-contained package that can be pulled along the ice on built-in runners, or lifted into the back of a pickup truck.

Inside, the shelter sports two sizable fold-down seats, removable floor hatch covers, armrests, coat hooks, and a window with a sliding shade. Furthermore, it's designed to incorporate a homebuilt kerosene heater. Finally, the hut's polyethylene tarp skin (which allows the shack to fold and reduces its weight and expense) is lined with a reflective plastic which helps insulate the shelter and retain interior warmth.

A look at the accompanying illustrations will reveal that the structure is, in the main, made of 1/4-inch and 5/8-inch plywood sheathing (AB or AC grade), 1 x 3 and 1 x 4 furring strips, a couple of 4-foot-long 1 x 5s, 1/8-inch metal stock, and hinges and other assorted hardware.

To aid in your understanding of how the project goes together, we've prepared separate detail drawings of the two end walls and the roof components. Essentially, the shelter is just a tray on runners; the stove-equipped wall is designed to hinge down on top of the tray, with the window-and-door wall folding to cover it. The structural members that hold the walls steady and give the roof shape fit easily into the tray once the framework is dismantled, and the flexible side walls and roof fold neatly between the two end walls.

o start, it's simplest to build the base first, complete with angle iron runners (miter their ends), hatch covers and stops, and end boards with handles. Be true to the dimensions on the end boards, since the geometry of the folding walls depends upon them. Don't install the two sideboards yet, because they have to cover the tarp layers, which are added later.

Next, assemble the window-and-door wall according to our plan. Again, pay attention to the dimensions given, and be especially careful around the door opening, since there must be a good seal at that point. For a really top-notch job, use carpenter's glue as well as 3/4-inch brick siding nails to secure the furring strips to the 1/4-inch plywood sheathing. The acrylic window is merely joined to the edges of its opening with silicone sealant, and the sliding plywood shade fits behind two narrow plywood tracks mounted to the cross braces. Finally, be sure to allow a 3/4-inch clearance above the roof rail hangers and the stops attached to them and don't forget the stops, because they'll help keep the wall off the poly in transport.

The stove wall is assembled in much the same manner as its opposite, but its construction is even more critical because it must fit snugly beneath its mate. Pay close attention to the position and length of the dowel stops, which keep the weight of the wall off the stove when the shelter is folded. To assure a safe and proper installation, don't cut the openings in the sheathing for the stove inlet and flue until you've read the stove construction article carefully and your heater is assembled. Note that the openings in the pie plates are just slightly larger than the rectangular downspout elbows and that the bottom of the inside plate faces inward, while the inside of the outside, or inlet, plate faces outward. For safety's sake, mount the two-layer reflective aluminum shield behind the stove housing and fabricate the folding heat shield as shown. Even though you'll be in the shelter when the heater's running, and thus able to keep an eye on it, these extra precautions provide a necessary margin of safety.

With both walls completed, you can concentrate on mounting them to their respective end boards using the larger surface hinges. Once that's done, assemble the arm rails and roof rails as illustrated, paying particular attention to the placement of the joist stops and the angle iron brackets. Don't fasten the arm rail supports or the wall brackets until you've trial-fitted the rail sets to see where the steel struts and the arm rail shoulders will fall. Then drill the holes and install the bolts that hold the metal parts together. (The wall bracket bolts are fixed in place with locking nuts tightened against their shoulders.) The two roof joists should have a symmetrical pitch cut into their upper surfaces, and 1 x 2-inch notches included in their lower corners.

At this point, the structural portion of the shelter is complete. To finish the project, you'll need to install the three layers of plastic sheeting as follows: First, drape the clear poly inner liner over the erected structure so the material is slightly loose and all the wall edges are covered. Staple the plastic at appropriate locations to hold it in place, then trim it if necessary, leaving a bit of border for fold-over. Next, cut your roll of reflective film into three 30 x 208-inch sections, and lay them over the poly so they overlap at the inside edges and meet the walls. Finally, place the outer layer of reinforced tarpaulin over the film, and fold over the edges and bottom to create a hem. Again, use some staples to hold it temporarily in place.

The last step is to secure the layers of plastic to the edges of the walls with carefully trimmed counter edging held in place with 3/4-inch ovalhead screws. These molding strips should be fastened at the top and sides, terminating about 3 inches from the lower ends of the walls. When this is done, the two sideboards can be installed and your shelter is complete.