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Will Elliott: Plotting food plantings begins now

For outdoors folk, the cold-weather season is winding down and the planting seasons are nearly here, despite snow mounds and ice coatings currently in view.

Seed planters vary in their approaches, but two Western New Yorkers provide insights, product and even various kinds of field services to help landowners and managers get the right starts and most productive outcomes for their green growths.

East Aurora-based Paul Cwiklinski has been involved with food-plot planning and plotting some 26 years, efforts aimed at attracting good game species. He specializes in managing properties of all sizes to attract sizeable deer, turkey and other wildlife.

Cwiklinski has done consulting work around Western New York and in nearby states for properties with the largest of acreage to land areas of less than 20 acres. He has amassed a gallery of trophy whitetails, mostly taken on his 13-acre plot, during his 53 years of hunting record-sized deer.

He has given many talks as a rep for Whitetails Food Plots USA, most recently at the Archery Trade Association Show and the Dallas Safari Club Convention.

Despite the heavy snow, or possibly as a positive result of this winter’s severity, he said confidently, “This is going to be a great year for food plots.”

He made this prediction while announcing a new line of Whitetail Food Plots USA forage seed available on or about April 1. This new line of basic seeds, mixes and blends are all designed for planting in and around Western New York.

He manages food plots in the area and has done consulting work and is setting up projects for work in Connecticut, Vermont and Virginia, with prospects for some European contacts in the future.

Along with providing product, he has also written a field guide “Food Plotting for (Sm)All Acreage” ($20, including shipping and handling), which illustrates and describes many of the tips and tricks he shares during seminars and while doing field consulting work.

His next speaking engagement will be at Arthur’s True Value Hardware in Orchard Park at 8:30 a.m. April 4. The talk is free but seating is limited. To make reservations, call 662-2155. He then gives a talk at the Marilla First Baptist Church Game Dinner, which starts at 5:30 p.m. April 16. Check with the church for reservations at 652-7429.

Cwiklinski is available for seminar presentations as well as field-consultant work by appointment. For details, call 796-4820.

Steve McIntyre of Wolcottsville is a down-to-earth field worker when it comes to food-plot projects.

“I not only sell seeds, I’ll go in the field and do plowing or tilling, whatever it takes to get a plot started and growing right,” McIntyre said of his work.

A dealer for Buck Forage, McIntyre specializes in a Buck Forage Oats blend that can go in any time of the planting year. “It’s best in the fall, because it offers some fall feed, a cover crop through the winter and then growth in the spring,” he said of the mix.

As a manager of his own and nearby lands, he has done Quality Deer Management Association-style hunting, passing on one buck three years before taking a trophy. “I must have passed on 20 bucks before I got this one,” he said of a Pope & Young-scored buck he took with his bow; that antler mass scored a total of 117.

McIntyre can travel to land sites to do consulting and field work all around Western New York. For more details, visit or check with him directly at 735-5713.

Soil setup

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County can help beginning and newer food-plot planters to properly ready soil for the start of spring planting.

A “Soils 101 for Beginning Farmers” program will be presented at 6 p.m. Thursday in the extension’s auditorium at 21 S. Grove St. in East Aurora.

Carol MacNeil, a vegetable specialist, will share tips and tricks about soil health, reading soil tests, applying fertilizer and other growing needs.

Allen Young, Erie County Soil and Waters Conservation district technician, will explain tillage and no-till practices and soil-erosion basics.

For more details on this presentation, check with Megan Burley at 652-5400, ext. 138.