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.
Lastly, there are many choices when it comes to commercially available food plot mixes. Most of the advertisements that accompany these products make food plots sound really easy. These are not the only options. Contact a local feed and seed store and ask what they have. Often times, they can recommend products or species that have worked well for other folks in the area, and most suppliers can typically order anything that you need. Food plots are not rocket science, but a good food plot for whitetail deer, or any other wildlife species, does take work. Lastly, always plant a mixture of plant species to your plots to ensure that at least one performs for you. The best food plot is the one that grows.