Planting Deer Food Plots: To Plot Or Not To Plot?

   06.05.19

Who doesn’t dream of killing big bucks over lush, green food plots in the fall? I love hunting over food plots, but with a little strategy and some homework, you may be able to save money planting deer food plots and put it towards a taxidermy bill this fall.

Food is important

Without it, your deer herd may wander onto neighboring properties but are you overlooking the food that is already there? Even more important, will the food that is available trump your plot? I have a buck targeted for the 2019 season and trail cam pics suggest he is bedding close to a field that come June, will be planted in soybeans. I don’t intend to kill this deer during the rut. I intend to arrow him before the beans turn yellow this Fall. A small, backwoods food plot won’t compete with 40 acres of standing beans. In this case, I am better off patterning him and his bachelor buddies than planting rye grass in a clearing.

How close are you to his bedroom?

I get excited about trail cam pics with BIG bucks in my food plots but when all I am seeing are pictures at 2:36am and nothing during daylight hours I start to consider where they are bedding and how far they are traveling to get to the plots. If you are not seeing daylight pics you might be better off determining where he sleeps, and hang stands to ambush him before he can wipe the sleep out of his eyes in the evening or as he lumbers back to bed in the morning.

What about bedding?

As stated above, food is important, but if there is no bedding, there will be few deer. We can go crazy with food plot production, but have you considered planting native grasses for bedding or hinge or select cutting trees to allow areas of your timber to get big buck wooly? A bonus of thinning out timber stands is the creation of natural browse created when the sunlight hits the forest floor. You can also investigate enrolling a portion of your ground into a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Not only will you create bedding for a variety of wildlife, but you may earn income through the program.

Where’s the Water?

And like keeping a glass of water by your bed, are there water sources close to bedding? If there are no creeks or ponds you can get as creative as burying a kiddie pool in the woods to renting a bobcat for the day to create a small wildlife pond. And unlike a food plot that must be maintained or re-planted, creating a small pond is a one-time expense.

Planting food plots is not only fun, they may increase your odds of holding deer but not if attention to detail is paid in other areas vital to habitat management.

What other actions do you take to ensure your farm remains whitetail friendly?

Story by: Jeremy Koerber

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