Get A Start On Your Best Food Plots For Whitetail Deer

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, you already may have food plots planted for the upcoming deer season or you’re still in the planning stages for some late-summer plots that will take hold and carry over through autumn and winter.

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

Wildlife managers and landowners preparing and planting food plots will benefit from the new USDA planting guidelines.

Supplemental food plots can be fun to create and will provide wildlife with an extra boost during autumn and winter.

In either case, establishing and maintaining supplemental plots requires a year-round approach in order to have success. We all have some things tugging at our time — work, kids’ activities in summer, vacations, financial concerns, lease agreements — so making a plan is one of the first things to do.

Do you want a lot of plots? That’s time and money, of course. If you want just a few select spots here and there, those are easier to get done. Both should involve a few key components, though.

Soil testing should be one of the first things to consider. A good soil test is inexpensive and the results can be illuminating for providing lime and fertilizer. Check with your state conservation department or agriculture agency to find out who can do these for you. Some universities also provide this service.

VIDEO: SMALL FOOD PLOTS CAN PAY OFFWATCH HERE

Set a budget to figure out your expenses for lime and fertilizer, seed, equipment rental or costs (gas, time, gear), and then move forward. It’s one thing to say you want x-number of luscious multi-season plots and another to look at the dollar figure on paper for those. That’s when deciding where and how many come into play. If you’re in a lease or club with multiple members then this is always a consideration, too.

If you’re new to the game, check out these great downloads: Food Plot Management, 10 Mistakes to Avoid with Food Plots, and Creating Dynamic Hunting Plots available in ShopDeerHunting online store. We have others, too, including this great Food Plot Value Pack that can help with plot questions.

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Clover is a popular choice for plots.

What about seeds and blends? Some hunters prefer something simple, such as white clover, which provides for deer, turkeys and other wildlife. Honey bees also utilize clover, and with the concerns about declining bee populations in the country today it’s an extra little boost for them, too.

Some soils may help a specific blend more than others; when you check with your state conservation or agriculture agency, they should be able to provide some insights on whether clovers, chicory, peas or others will grow better in your area.

VIDEO: FOOD PLOT TIPS FROM THE EXPERTSWATCH HERE NOW

Controlling weeds and invasive plants always is a concern, too. You don’t want to spend your time and money on a plot only to see invasives sprout up and create a mess. Factor the herbicide costs into your budget and don’t overlook that aspect.

Along with rainfall and drainage, which is important, one other thing to consider is the amount of sunlight your plots will receive. A few years ago at a Mossy Oak Biologic field day, the host discussed this aspect and made a good point. He said to always know on your property where your plot will be, or you want to put it, and determine if it runs east-west or north-south. The latter will have more shade in mornings and evenings, getting the most sun only at midday, while the east-west plots usually will have more consistent sunlight throughout the day.

I’d never thought of that until then but it makes sense, right? We’ve seen plots that look great on one side and scruffy on the other. That could be drainage, soil acidity near trees (such as pines) or lack of sunlight, or all of those. Take a look at your land and plot ideas before starting and then make the best decisions.

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