Food Plots


Deer live by their stomachs. Find the best food source and you’ll find the best deer. Highly nutritional alfalfa, soy beans and corn are just a few of the agricultural crops that deer are drawn to like magnets. In those regions where such crops grow, hunters concentrate on intercepting the deer as they stream into these fields.

But what do you do if you live in an area that does not grow such attractive crops? What if your area consists of nothing more than overgrown hay fields or hardwood forests? The answer is to create a food plot that offers the bored local deer herd some very attractive alternatives to grass and twigs.

Food plots have become very popular as a method of supporting the deer and helping to concentrate them in an area where hunting is sure to improve. Please note that at food plot does not constitute baiting, a practice outlawed in most states.

A food plot is usually one or two acres in size. It is scraped of excess vegetation and then scarified so that the introduced agricultural crop seeds will germinate and grow. Most folks simply use a four wheeler and drag heavy steel bars to scarify the soil.

Alfalfa is a favorite in food plots because it is care free and easy to grow. Some other food plot favorites are beans and corn, with beans being the easiest to grow.

One of the greatest benefits of a food plot to a hunter, besides the obvious, is that it gets him outdoors in the summer season and back in touch with the deer herds. He not only helps the local deer herd by providing this nutritional food, but he also helps himself later on when hunting season begins.

The Benefits

Soil fertility and plant productivity are very important issues affecting quality deer populations. Soil is the foundation for nourishment transfer through vegetation to deer who select among some 80 plant varieties. Deer abundance and physical condition are directly related to vegetation quality.

Quality of food supports quality deer. Bucks are hammered early in life, and genetic strength is seldom exposed in mature bucks. Nutritional strength evolves as a critical part in the equation to produce quality whitetails. Food plots offer a management tool with positives for all members of the deer society. Zones of high and low soil quality are everywhere.

Minerals leave the soil within 5 to 6 years unless replenished. Plants do not produce minerals unless the soil offers them Clearcuts are a common sight in many hunting areas offering initial food of interest for deer. As the woods become re-established, ground growth weakens and nourishment fades for hungry deer. Food plots will keep deer at home and healthy.

Soil analysis, timely planting, vegetation variety, and proper fertilization produce valuable food habitat improvement. State agriculture commissions offer free advice on soil quality, and fertilizing guidelines for high protein crops deer like. Proper size plots in established areas, fertilized and rotated, will sustain deer herds in hard winters. If the carrying capacity of your area for deer is at limit, food plots are life savers, and mandatory for quality animals. Oaks are not reliable in acorn production, and deer will seek new areas and lower quality browse during years of thin acorn crops.

Nutritional stress reduces lactation in does, dampens fawn growth, body weights, and antler development. On a long term basis, diseases become established with parasitic potentials that thin herds and spread amazingly fast. Mother Nature provides for deer in the spring through fall. Many vitamins and high protein food sources. When standard foods weaken or your area tightens due to development or timbering, plant food plots that state agricultural and game commissions advise. Both you and the deer win!


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