Do you want more deer and healthier deer on your property?
If so, then it’s time to plant a deer food plot.
Deer food plots are a great way to attract deer, especially if you have limited hunting land. Deer will travel long distances in search of good forage and cover. Planting deer food plots is an excellent way to provide both on your property.
Food Plot Planning
A deer feed plot can be as simple as planting clover or alfalfa in a small area or it can be more elaborate with the addition of corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, and other grains that deer love to eat.
Follow the guide below to plan your deer food plot.
1. Choose a Deer Food Plot Location
The first step is choosing a location for your deer food plot.
The best deer food plot locations are in areas that deer already frequent. Ideally, the deer feed plot will be close to a natural deer travel corridor such as woods or open fields.
Deer Food Plots in Wooded Areas
When deer are in wooded areas, it’s a good idea to set up your deer food plots near the edge of the woods. Deer will naturally move out of cover and into an open area where they can feed without feeling threatened.
If deer are already in the area, make sure to check for any deer trails that might lead them to your deer food plot.
Deer Food Plots Near Fields
If you have farm fields nearby, plant deer food plots close to those fields so deer don’t travel too far away from their natural trail patterns.
The food plot should be near natural cover such as trees or brushy areas where deer can feel safe while feeding at night.
Deer may still come across your property even if there is not a lot of cover or forage. But they will be more likely to visit your plot if you’re giving them every opportunity possible to get through these areas safely.
Water Considerations for a Deer Food Plot
There are two water-related scenarios you need to consider when choosing your food plot location: 1) too much water and 2) too little water.
- Too Much Water – When planting your deer food plot, make sure it has good soil drainage so the plants don’t get waterlogged during wet periods. If the area is prone to flooding, then you can plant water-loving plants like corn, soybeans, and oats.
- Too Little Water – To combat the lack of water in your deer food plot location, make sure to include drought-tolerant plants that are native to the area. Plants like clover and alfalfa are perfect if you have an area that doesn’t receive much water during the year because it either doesn’t rain often, dries out quickly after rainstorms.
2. Pick Deer Friendly Plants for Your Food Plot
Once you know the location of your food plot it is time to choose the best food plot seed for your location.
The food you should choose depends on the local environment and the types of plants and nutrition you want to provide.
Local Environment Considerations
The biggest environmental consideration for your food plot is the soil type. For example, deer that live in an area with rich clay soils will do well on a deer food plot primarily made up of clover and alfalfa.
Northern deer prefer to eat wheat or winter rye when it is available for them to consume. And southern deer usually have no problem eating corn, soybeans, and oats.
The amount of water is also important in your planning. Make sure you choose a food plot seed compatible with the water availability in your area.
Deer Food Plot Plants For A Variety Of Environments:
- Drought Tolerant Deer Feed Plots – Clover, Alfalfa, Timothy Grass (for lower quality soils), Winter Wheat
- Plants That Require Moderate Amounts Of Water – Wheat, Barley, Oats
- Plants That Require High Amounts Of Water – Corn, Soybeans
The deer food plot plants you choose will also depend on the nutrition that deer need at different times of the year.
Animals are constantly growing, producing milk for their young, or reproducing and they all require a certain amount of nutrients to do this successfully. Planting deer food plots with high-quality nutritive plants will ensure deer have the food they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
There are two important deer nutrition considerations for deer food plots:
- Protein – Helps deer build muscle and maintain a healthy immune system
- Minerals – Helps deer grow and maintain healthy bones, teeth, muscles
If you want to provide deer with a high-quality diet, then plant corn or soybeans in your deer feed plot. Corn is an excellent source of energy for deer while soybeans contain plenty of fiber which deer are known to enjoy.
If deer have plenty of protein in their diet, they’ll be more likely to reproduce at a higher rate which means that your deer food plot is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do – attract and feed deer.
If you are in an area where corn and soybeans are abundant then a better choice may be deer food plots with a higher protein and mineral content such as clover, alfalfa, and timothy grass.
These plants have plenty of protein deer crave as well as minerals deer need. Minerals help deer maintain healthy bones and reproductive systems.
3. Determine Food Plot Planting Dates
The final step is to determine the best time to plant your deer food plot.
The deer food plant you choose will have a particular window of time when it is best planted. Make sure to choose deer food plots plants that will be available and ready to plant.
Different deer food plots require different planting times. A deer feed plot can take anywhere from 60 days (corn, soybeans) or up to 180 days (alfalfa).
You should also consider your local climate when deciding the best planting time. For any deer food plot seed, you want to order and plant it well before winter comes.
The best time is to plant in the spring-time so deer are able to graze on it while they’re pregnant and nursing young animals. However, you can plant a food plot in the fall as well. This will help deer maintain their weight and help deer keep them warm during the winter.
Best Deer Food Plot Seed
The list below contains more information on the best deer food plot seeds.
|Food Plot Seed
|Whitetail Institute Winter-Greens Deer Food Plot Seed for Fall Planting, Annual Brassica Blend to Attract Deer in The Early and Late Season, Very Cold and Drought Tolerant, 3 lbs (.5 Acres)
|Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover Food Plot Seed (Spring and Fall Planting), 4-Pound (1/2 Acre)
|BioLogic Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets Food Plots
|Whitetail Institute Imperial Tall Tine Tubers Food Plot Seed (Fall Planting), 3-Pound (.5 Acres), (Model: TT3)
|Whitetail Institute Chic Magnet Deer Food Plot Seed, WINA-100 Perennial Forage Chicory Attracts Deer and Provides Antler-Building Protein, Heat, Cold and Drought Tolerant, 3 lbs (1 Acre)
Clover is a great deer food plot plant for drought conditions and can be planted early in the year.
Clover has high amounts of protein to meet deer’s dietary needs during winter months when they’re pregnant, nursing young animals, or are under stress from harsh weather.
Alfalfa deer food plots are great for any deer food plot seed.
This plant is high in protein and found to be a favorite among deer that live in hotter, drier climates because it’s drought-tolerant and will grow quickly with plenty of rain. Alfalfa also provides deer with minerals deer need to maintain healthy bones and reproductive systems.
Timothy deer food plots are a good choice for deer feed plots in lower quality soils that can grow well without plenty of rain or watering.
This plant provides deer with all the protein they need which helps them build muscle, have a healthy immune system, and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
This plant is a good deer food plot for attracting deer and has lots of carbohydrates that deer like when they’re in need of energy or calories.
However, this plant doesn’t provide all the vitamins and minerals deer need so it should be used with caution as an additional supplement to deer food plots.
Soybeans deer food plots are an excellent source of energy and also provide a high level of protein. Whitetail deer are often found in fields that have soybeans planted in them. Place a soybean field plot in the middle of your ground and you are certain to attract deer.
Soybeans deer food plots are best for deer feed plots in hotter, drier climates because they can grow fast but still provide plenty of fodder.
Corn is an excellent source of energy and contains the protein deer crave. It’s a great choice for any deer food plot in areas where fields of corn aren’t abundant.
It also provides deer with plenty of carbohydrates deer need when they’re in need of energy or calories and it’s drought-tolerant, so it will grow quickly even if rain is scarce.
These deer feed plots are a good choice if you want deer to have plenty of high-quality protein and carbohydrates without using corn as your main source of calories or sugar beets for attraction.
Milo grasses provide deer with minerals they need to maintain healthy bones and reproductive systems while also providing them with high-quality carbohydrates deer crave.
Planting a Food Plot
Once you buy your food plot seed, it’s time to get it in the ground.
The first step in successfully planting a food plot is preparing the land. In most cases, you need to till the land where you want to plant your deer food plot. However, you can try some newer techniques for no-till food plots.
Next, add fertilizer and lime if it’s needed based on soil test results. Make sure the soil PH is between six and seven, which is neutral. A PH level in this range means the soil will be in the optimal range for strong growth of most food plot seeds.
Finally, scatter the seed evenly over the entire area while keeping an eye out for better areas where deer might congregate during winter months. This way those spots will get more coverage with deer food plot seed.
Maintaining a Food Plot
Once your food plot is planted, you still need to maintain it for maximum growth. This way you can have deer food plots for winter that are green, weed-free, and nutritious.
Some food plots will benefit from additional fertilizer and lime after the plantings are done. Fertilizer can help decrease weed growth and increase plant life density, which attracts deer to the deer food plot.
Some people choose leaf mulches as an annual cover crop while others use them year-round on their property where they have planted other crops that need maintenance between seasons.
Leaf mulches also provide nutrients and minerals such as calcium and potassium without costing money on fertilizer each season like some types of manure do.
One way to eliminate weeds in deer food plots is to use a cultivator to break up weed plants before they get out of control. Additionally, you can use a combination of tilling and harrowing to control weeds.
The weeding process, however, can be time consuming and difficult if there are too many weed plants. You may have to use herbicides in deer feed plots that are filled with invasive weeds.
Other Food Plot Questions
Here are a few common questions that are asked about deer food plots.
When is the best time to plant a food plot?
The deer food plot planting season is usually from March to September. This way, you can grow the deer feed plots before winter and deer have plenty of time to enjoy it through their favorite feeding times during the cooler months.
What should I plant in my food plot?
The most common deer food plot seeds are clover and alpha. These deer feed plots deer have plenty of protein and carbohydrates deer need for energy, including calcium.
What is the best type of fertilizer to use in a food plot?
The most common deer food plot fertilizers are nitrogen-based products like manure or soybean meal.
Best fall food plot plants?
The deer food plot plants that deer love the most in fall are clover and corn.
Best summer food plot plants?
The deer food plot plants deer love the most in summer are legumes, brassicas, and corn.
Best spring food plot plants?
The deer feed plots deer prefer the most in spring are alfalfa and oats.
How big should a food plot be for deer?
A deer food plot should be large enough to provide deer with an area of comfortable feeding. Food plots typically range in size from one to four acres, but there is no limit to how big you can go.
What are deer food plot exclusion cages?
A deer food plot exclusion cage is a barrier, usually made of wire mesh that surrounds the deer feed plots. Deer cannot enter through this fence because they can’t jump over it and their heads won’t fit through the openings. This allows you to monitor the usage of the food plot compared to unprotected areas.
Summary – Deer Food Plots
A deer food plot can be a great way for you as an avid outdoorsman to take a break from your daily chores and provide a natural buffet of sorts that will keep deer coming back for more.
They provide deer with an area to feed, giving them much-needed sustenance during the winter months when many areas experience a decrease in deer populations.
Deer need protein and carbohydrates to survive, which is why planting clover or alpha as your deer food plot seed will be beneficial for deer health and population growth rate.
A deer food plot can make the deer in your area bigger and healthier which is a win-win situation for the hunter and the deer.
Start your food plot today!