- Food Plot Tips & Strategies
Food Plot Tips & Strategies
By: Dylan Hayward
When people ask me for advice on how to improve their whitetail strategies, I’m extremely surprised by how little people focus on food plots, and even more surprised by how many people choose not to even do food plots at all.
Food plots are a great way to attract and hold deer on your property, while also providing the food and nutrients needed to establish a healthy deer herd. While most people I have talked to seem to think that creating a food plot requires a lot of money and heavy machinery, you can create an awesome food source with just basic garden equipment.
Spring Food Plots
Depending on the time of the year it is, your food plot strategies might be a little different. For spring planting, I like to focus on perennials that can withstand heavy grazing, as the deer will be feeding on them for several months before hunting season even starts.
Clover and alfalfa seem to be the best spring food plots in my opinion. Clover is extremely easy to establish, very attractive to the deer, and can withstand grazing better than any other perennial in my opinion. While alfalfa is harder to establish, it’s probably the most attractive plant variety to deer. Both clover and alfalfa are perennials, meaning if planted correctly and taken care of, they should be able to come back each spring for 3-5 years.
Having an attractive spring food plot also makes scouting velvet bucks that much easier. Using your trail cameras, you can get an idea of the early season travel patterns of your deer herd, which will only help your success come hunting season.
Fall Food Plots
Having a lush, fall food plot is critical to your hunting strategy. This is going to act as a perfect ambush spot come hunting season. During the early season it will be a very patternable location for feeding bucks, during the rut it will be a great spot for cruising bucks to scent check does. And finally, when the frigid late season rolls around, it will be a sanctuary for exhausted bucks to regain their energy.
For my fall food plots, I like to select winter hardy mixes that will last long after the first frost. As well as something that becomes more attractive as the temperatures drop into the single digits. This generally looks like a brassica plot, and a grain plot.
My brassica food plots tend to be smaller in size, around 1-2 acres, and have a good mix of turnips, radishes and rape. Brassicas are great to include in your food plots, because they’re highly attractive to deer, and as the temperature drops, a chemical reaction occurs which brings sugar towards the bulbous roots, and the deer will paw at them towards January and February.
My grain plots are most effective right after the rut, when bucks are looking for large amounts of carbohydrates to replenish all of the energy and weight that they lost during the rut. My grain plots usually consist of soybeans, winter peas, and some form of oats. These seem to be the most attractive plots from early December all the way until the end of the season.
All of the food plots I have mentioned can be established with very little equipment, and are less expensive than dumping corn out every week. Most of these plots you can create by spraying round-up (glyphosate) to kill all of the existing vegetation, raking the ground to expose the soil, broadcasting the seed, and packing the seeds down with your atv tires.
Always make sure to get a soil test done to see if you’re lacking any key soil nutrients, and to ensure that your pH level is ideal for what you are planting. If you follow these tips, and plant right before a rain, you’ll be amazed by how much food you have on your property, that will in return enhance your hunting experience.