Turnips are a great source of protein and are just about the easiest of plants to grow in the woods. Perfect for small, back-country plots, a turnip patch is easy to plant and requires little or no after-generation care. Best of all, the turnips and their tops become attractive to deer in late season, when most other green vegetation has vanished; it pulls in deer like a magnet.
Brad Herndon tells his story about a special turnip patch in this post on the Whitetail Institute blog.
When I grew up in Indiana, both the wild turkey and coyote were nonexistent in the state. Deer were also as scarce as hen’s teeth at the time, and therefore we country folk grew up hunting squirrels, rabbits and quail. Back then, our hunting time in November was consumed with chasing cottontails instead of deer. Each day we would walk several miles trying to get our limit of five rabbits each, and it was tremendously enjoyable listening to the beagles chasing the bunnies.
On hot days, we would get both thirsty and hungry, and if we were out near the Shieldstown covered bridge on White River, we stopped in at Cy Perkin’s cabin. Cy didn’t live there in the fall or winter, but he always had a nice patch of turnips behind the quaint cabin. We would pull up a few turnips, cut the outer skin off with our pocket knives, and had an instantly refreshing treat at no charge. We were then good for a few more miles. Along about this same time I had a good friend, Lester Lambring, who lived out in the German farming community and I would visit his house from time to time. His mom was a great cook, and she made sure we were always well fed. Many years later when I was in my 40s, I went to the doctor for a checkup one day. In the waiting room was Lester Lambring’s mom, who by then was well up in her 70s. “Hi Brad,” she said. “I still feel bad about the last time you ate at our house.” “Why?” I replied, “You always had great food.” “Not that time,” she sighed. “All I had fixed that evening was turnip soup, and I’m sure you didn’t care much for it.” “Oh, it must have been fine,” I stated. “I can’t remember ever having a bad meal at your house. Your food was always outstanding, so I’m sure you had it doctored up to the point it was delicious. I bet you had a piece or two of your tasty country ham mixed in with the turnips.” She then felt better about my last meal at her house and we had a great talk. At the time, I thought my conversation with her would probably be my final tale about turnips since they had fallen out of favor with most local people by then. Boy was I wrong.