Life can be difficult for the landowner and/or land manager. But growing food plots and providing year-round nutrition for whitetails can dramatically add to your success as a deer manager as well as a hunter. Simply put, whitetails are going to be where the “groceries” are, and providing easy access to food will significantly enhance your hunting area. However, simply throwing out some seed and hoping for the best will not produce the kind of property that is going to attract and hold deer throughout the season. The following plan will help keep more whitetails on your property and allow you to create high-impact stand locations that are tailor made for thick-racked bruisers.
The Right Choice
The recent food plot craze has flooded the market with a ton of different seed companies and brand names. But Evolved Harvest stands out above the crowd. As a hunter, it can be pretty confusing to pick out a particular brand or food plot mix with all of the promises. However, the folks at Evolved Harvest have made it super easy to choose the right food plots for your particular hunting area. In fact, they have specialized seeds and mixes that will grow in almost any environment or condition. Most importantly, Evolved Harvest has specific food plot mixes that will produce food from the warm weather of early spring to the colder temperatures of fall. Hunters can also choose from a variety of perennial and annual food plots that will attract and hold more deer throughout the year.
Perennial Mixes: ProVide Clover
Perennial mixes like ProVide Clover with chicory are excellent spring and summer blends. This particular food plot consists of a premium mix of forage clovers with the added bonus of chicory. The forage clovers yield up to 35% protein and have been carefully selected to produce the highest TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients). This special blend is also extremely drought resistant and offers excellent reseeding qualities. In fact, proper maintenance of ProVide will allow the plot to be productive for a 3 to 5 year period and it can be planted throughout the spring, late summer and fall months across most of the country.
Growing larger annual food plots will produce an abundant food supply and prevent your smaller plots from being overgrazed by large numbers of deer. This plot should generate a high-protein food source that can affect antler and fawn growth. This can be planted during the spring, summer and early fall months throughout most of the nation. Beans are a fast growing legume that produces amazing amounts of protein. Corn is also a high-energy food source during the fall and the stalks allow the beans to grow taller and produce more rapidly.
Cool Season Plots: Winter PZ
Providing an adequate food source during the cooler and colder segments of the season is crucial for keeping whitetails on your property. The last thing you want is to lose deer during the action-packed parts of the season. This is why you need to plant a cool- to cold-season food plot like Winter PZ from Evolved. This unique blend contains winter peas, forage oats and a bonus mix of Triticale and clover. Winter peas grow rapidly and are very cold weather tolerant, which makes it a perfect forage for fall and winter food plots. In fact, in moderate climates the peas will continue to grow throughout the winter and even into late spring.
The forage oats are more tender and sweeter tasting than conventional oats. These highly-palatable oats are higher in protein and more digestible than other forage grains. This type of oat is very easy to establish and the deer will begin devouring them just days after planting. The bonus mix includes Triticale that is added to help extend the overall life of the plot. On the other hand, the mix also contains a forage clover blend that ensures your deer herd will have a nutritional food source into the spring. Without question, providing the right combination of perennial and annual plots that will produce forage throughout the entire year will improve your property immensely.
Creating Strategic Plots
For good reason, most monster bucks are not going to visit large food plots in open areas during the daylight hours, so strategically placing some smaller plots in secluded areas with high-impact stand locations in mind can increase the number of close encounters you have with long-tined giants this season. These deer are a separate breed of whitetail and very seldom make mistakes that place them in vulnerable situations. This is why meticulously designing plots that are located near bedding areas and surrounded by thick cover will be your best bet for tagging a nocturnal bruiser.
Construct a Food Plot Funnel
During the early pre-rut period, bucks are traveling together in bachelor groups and are generally locked in a textbook feeding to bedding pattern. These bachelor groups will typically hang out in staging areas with cover and wait until dark to hit the larger food plots. However, you can grow a narrow strip of clover leading from the staging area into the main food plot. With a little planning, you can design this stand setup so that you have the wind in your favor, the sun at your back and a safe entry and exit route that doesn’t spook deer. Utilizing a standard ATV with a disc and culti-packer attachment will allow you to create these food plot funnels inside of hard to reach areas.
Bedding Area Plots
Constructing smaller food plots along the edges of known bedding areas can be another deadly ambush site. These locations are definitely hotspots throughout the rutting period and are perfect places to tag lovesick bruisers. Unfortunately, setting up too close to bedding areas can increase the chance of spooking deer. This is why clearing out small sections of ground near doe bedding areas and growing shade tolerant clover blends are your best option. These isolated plots will lure estrous does from their beds and the big boys will follow them right into your lap. Once again, you can use your ATV and small attachments to grow these plots in hard to reach areas.
The Food Plot Advantage
This season you have the opportunity to transform your hunting property into a super whitetail sanctuary. Adding year-round nutrition to an area that already contains adequate cover and water can significantly increase the overall carrying capacity of deer on your land. In addition, strategically constructing smaller ambush plots near secluded locations and isolated bedding areas will create more shot opportunities at bigger bucks this fall. On the other hand, you can lose a lot of deer to your neighbors if they are growing food plots on their property and you’re not. Right now is the perfect time to layout a food plot management plan that will help jumpstart your deer season.
Rack Force and Supplement Stations
Another great perennial plot would have to be Rack Force, which is very drought resistant and consists of alfalfa, forage clover mix and chicory. Alfalfa is a perennial crop that yields unbelievable amounts of forage and contains an extremely high nutritional value. Traditionally, alfalfa has been planted in dry, colder climates, but the varieties that have been selected for this blend will flourish in both warmer and colder climates. Hunters can expect to find mature plants reaching 25-inches tall and will return for at least three or more years. Having a crop of alfalfa, chicory and forage clovers that automatically grows for a three- to five-year period really cuts down on your workload during the spring.
Adding these two perennial plots along with a variety of supplements like Evolved Habitat’s Deer Cane (concentrate mix, liquid, gel and time released blocks) and Honey Acre Buck Jam (liquid) can transform your hunting area into a whitetail paradise. Carefully placing these supplement stations between known feeding and bedding areas can drastically increase the health of your overall deer herd, therefore increasing body weight and antler size. As hunting season approaches, make sure you know your state’s regulations in regard to feeding and hunting near feeding stations.