Frequently asked food plot questions from Great Days Outdoors readers.
I have two small properties in Alabama with areas that could be planted in the middle of some very good hardwoods.
Over the years the neighbors have harvested some mature deer on adjacent properties. Just putting out corn gets me pictures of a few does every now and then. What I want though, is to plant something to bring these mature deer off the surrounding neighbors land to my small piece of property. Any suggestions? I’m willing to try about anything!
Quality food plots can make a big difference. Planting diverse crops in your fields that have early, mid, and late season food for the deer can really change how deer use a piece of property.
If your property is in the middle of some neighbors’ land and they are killing mature bucks, a good food source may be all that you are missing. For your part of the country, I would use a few different blends.
For the areas you plan to hunt early, I would suggest a combination of cereal grains and radishes. This has become my favorite early-midseason hunting plot. If you have a field or two that you want to save for the latter part of the season—November-January—plants in the brassica family such as forage rape is without a doubt some of the best late-season groceries for whitetails.
“A piece of ground with little or no good bedding/escape cover will have a hard time holding and inviting mature deer to use it during daylight hours.”
For your area, I would try to plant around late August on the brassicas and mid-September for the cereal grains and radishes.
You would also benefit from a couple of good mineral sites on the property. These can be especially useful for taking an inventory of the deer on the property in the late summer. Last and certainly not least, available cover may be a reason mature deer don’t seem to frequent your property.
Even with low hunting pressure, a piece of ground with little or no good bedding/escape cover will have a hard time holding and inviting mature deer to use it during daylight hours.
Using a hinge-cutting method on low quality hardwoods or establishing some native warm-season grasses in key areas are great ways to create escape and bedding cover. This also benefits other wildlife.
I have a six- to seven-acre opening in Southern Mississippi that is broken up into several
sections ranging from ¼-acre plots to two-acre sections. What would you suggest planting and what are the planting rates you would recommend for each one?
A large field like this can have several advantages and a few disadvantages over a small plot. The downside is that it’s generally a little harder to bowhunt larger plots.
Older bucks are sometimes shy about using large open fields during daylight hours. The upside is you can plant plenty of food and really overwhelm your deer herd with a lot of different varieties of forages.
I would suggest splitting the field up into a few different sections with different blends planted. Oats or triticale (90- to 110-lb per acre) and deer radish (8- to 10-lb per acre) are really good blends.
You could also plant a perennial like a ladino clover (8- to 10-lb per acre) in another section. I generally plant a cereal grain such as wheat or oats in with my clover at a quarter- to half-rate. It gives the deer something fast-growing to browse on while the slower-to-establish perennials like clover or chicory are getting their root system going.
By using these blends, you will have several different types of forage that will be palatable and attractive for several months.
To provide diversity and make the field feel a little smaller to your deer, you can use a tall-growing annual. Egyptian wheat planted in June grows tall to create a screen.
I like to plant this in linear strips that will break up the field and separate the different blends. Deer also love to travel these strips. And you can use them to funnel deer toward a stand or blind location for better shots and viewing.