Food plots are a great management practice for white-tailed deer. A planted plot can provide an excellent place for landowners and hunters to observe or harvest deer. Winter (cool season) food plots are the most common type of food plot hunters use to attract deer for harvest during the fall and winter, while spring/summer (warm season) food plots are important during the antler growing and fawn rearing seasons. Simply stated, food plots for whitetail deer are the perfect compliment for anyone already performing habitat management practices for quality deer management.
The purpose of food plots, however, is often misunderstood. All too often, hunters make the mistake of over-hunting winter food plots. Whitetail deer respond rapidly to hunting pressure and human activity. In fact, hunting the same food plot several days per week is a sure way to discourage daylight use of these plots, especially by bucks. The primary role of a food plot should be to provide supplemental nutrition for deer in the area; although important, harvest should be secondary.
The reality is that food plots should be hunted sparingly. Food plots are great areas to observe and harvest whitetail, but hunters must alter their hunting methods to improve success. Case in point: Hunting over a plot when natural forage is abundant will not work. Millions of hunters have kept watch over empty foot plots while deer foraged on crops of acorns elsewhere. Food plots are good at providing additional food when deer need it, but they are not a cure-all for simply improving the deer hunting in an area. Hunters must learn to hunt where the deer are rather than where they want the deer to be.
There is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to what species to plant. Food plots for whitetail deer in Texas are much different than food plots in Wisconsin or elsewhere. It is recommended that anyone wanting to develop a food plot on their property really pay attention to the plant species that work best for their climate and soils. Additionally, identify the objectives of the food plot, then decided whether a spring or winter food plot will work best. (more…)
Hunters today are looking to get the most out of their property and the white-tailed deer found there. The establishment and maintenance of food plots can be a component of any deer management plan. When combined with other habitat management techniques, food plots are a good way to provide additional forage to grow and produce bigger, healthier animals. However, hunters may have unrealistic expectations about the function of food plots. Food plots for deer are not a replacement for habitat management, but they compliment these other practices really well. So what can food plots do for you?
Successful food plots can enhance your land for deer and other wildlife by increasing the number of animals that visit the area at different times of the year. Food plots for whitetail deer serve as an important supplemental food source during the stressful weather conditions often experienced during summer and winter. Whitetail found in northern states often experience extreme winter conditions where natural foods are lacking, while deer in southern states often experience extreme summer conditions with an absence of high quality food sources. Food plots can help deer meet or exceed their nutritional requirements during these times of the year.
The availability of more food means more food per deer. More food equates to improved body condition and better overall performance. Many hunters realize that well-fed bucks experience improved antler growth. This growth stems from superior body condition. Bucks in poor condition will have inferior antler growth. More food also means healthier does. Does in good condition are more capable of rearing multiple fawns. This means more survival and higher recruitment. When environmental conditions are really harsh during the winter, food plots can help all of these animals make it to spring green-up.
Food plots are great, but some deer managers and hunters rely too heavily on food plots as the main focus of their deer management program. This is a bad idea. Food plots should be considered as an integral part of a deer management program, but they should never be viewed as THE deer management program. Brush control, harvest management, prescribed burning, and overall improvement of native food sources should be used to enhance deer, turkey and other wildlife habitat on any property. (more…)