We don’t mean ‘plotting and planning.’ We’re talking about planning your plot—as in your food plot! Food plots are among the best ways to lure deer out of thick cover and into shooting range. While it sounds like a simple concept, here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind when creating your productive year-round food plot.
Size and Shape
Determine plot size by how much land you have available and the size of your deer population. A quarter to a half acre can be sufficient for a hunting plot, but if you plan to feed through the winter, plant at least an acre. If you have a heavy deer population and the available land, you might want to consider planting between two and five acres or even planting multiple plots to avoid overgrazing. Regardless, be sure to choose an area or areas with enough sunlight. You may need to clear some trees to ensure that enough light reaches your forage.
Shape is particularly important for large plots. Longer, narrower plots and/or plots with wavy edges provide more cover to attract deer. If you are a bowhunter, narrower plots can give you a better shooting range.
Check Your Soil
After clearing the land, have the soil tested to determine the pH—it shouldn’t cost much more than $10. Most likely you’ll need to balance the pH and add the correct fertilizer for the foliage you intend to grow. It’s important to have the soil tested yearly to determine if you need to add re-balance or re-fertilize.
What to Plant
If you intend to feed deer year-round, it’s best to plant a combination of annuals and perennials. Maintaining forage year-round is recommended to keep the deer coming regularly to your plot. Check your local feed or hunting supply store for the high-quality annual plot seed that’s best for your area. Experts suggest clover blends as a perennial food source. Again, be sure to choose the quality seed intended for deer plots, not the generic garden-variety.
A word of caution—when planting don’t use more seed than recommended! If you have too many plants per square foot, they will choke each other out.
Some suggested forage types include brassicas (which can grow 10 tons of forage per acre), protein peas, soybeans, and winter bulbs. It’s always a good idea to check with local experts for advice on what works best in your area.