Scouting – Food Plots

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A working knowledge of deer foods and feeding patterns is important to a hunter’s success. Whitetails eat hundreds of varieties of foods throughout the year. A hunter should obviously concentrate on what deer eat during fall and winter. Those foods include green vegetation, corn, alfalfa, soybeans, clover, apples and acorns.



In early fall, deer fill up on green vegetation. Greens grow all over the forest, so locating specific feeding areas can be tough. A hunter must rely on secondary clues, like droppings, tracks and rubs, to prove that deer are eating in an area.

When most of the vegetation dries up, deer turn to browse. Preferred browse trees include red-bark dogwood, black ash and mountain maple. Look for nipped-off stems where deer fed.


Certain foods will completely change a deer’s routine. For example, when white oak acorns begin falling in September, does and bucks come from near and far to gorge on the high-energy nuts. Deer eat acorns at dawn and dusk, and often get out of their beds at midday to feed. Bucks feeding on acorns leave big tracks and fresh rubs and scrapes in an area. Look for these signs and position a stand nearby.



Many hunters set tree stands on the edges of crop fields or food plots, places that are normally used heavily by deer early and late in the season.



Food sources change constantly. When one source dries up, deer set off in search of new eats. Along with shifts in food sources, deer shift their trails and bedding areas. Thus, constant scouting is critical to success.


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