Spring is in the air, and it probably has you thinking about turkey hunting, fishing, and just getting outdoors. But, now is the perfect time to start thinking about deer season! Yes, I said deer season. I know it’s months away; after all, it seems like it just ended. But, it’s what you do now that can increase your chances of success later.
So, what am I talking about? Food plots, of course! Now is the time to start planning your spring/summer food plots. Not only is time to plan, it’s actually time to get some of those seeds out. However, planning is very important. There are a lot of consideration to take in before get started.
First, do you own your own land? And, if so, is it open land or wooded? Maybe you have a great combination of both. If you don’t have your own land, will the owner let you plant there? They might not want you putting out a big corn or bean patch, but they may be okay with you throwing out a little clover.
Now, why is it so important to put out spring food plots? First, it’s important to know that food plots are meant to be a supplement to a deer’s diet, not a replacement for natural food sources. And, spring food plots are extremely important. These spring plots provide much needed nutrition to nursing does, help fawns to grow, and can greatly influence a buck’s antler growth. This is especially true for yearling bucks, as the first year is the most important. And, let’s not forget that it gets the deer coming to your land! Another plus, if you love turkeys or other game birds, your food plots will draw them in too. It’s a win-win situa
Okay, so now let’s look at some of the best spring food plot choices.
Clover is packed full of nutrition that whitetail deer love. It can also be one of your cheaper food plot choices, and it will grow anywhere. So, if you only have a small opening in the middle of the woods, clover is the perfect choice. Even better, no fancy equipment needed. Just simply scatter the seed on top of the ground. However, if there are a lot of weeds present, you can always clear the area with a weed eater to help ensure better growth. Also, clover does prefer a moist environment, so if conditions are extremely dry it may be necessary to replant.
Consider chicory as an add-in plant. It can work well with your clover since it will tolerate dry conditions. Chicory is also a great source of protein and has been shown to be a good whitetail attractant. This is a perennial, which means it will come back every year. It requires very little maintenance. It is recommended that it be moved down from time to time, or of course this can be done with a weed eater. But, if the deer are showing up and eating the crop, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Soybeans are definitely a favorite of almost every whitetail deer hunter! They are packed with much needed protein and will definitely attract the deer to your land. Soybeans are drought tolerant and easy to establish. Deer not only eat the bean, they also eat the leaves which are capable of absorbing minerals from the ground, making them more attractive to the deer. With that in mind, know that young plants are very vulnerable. If the deer eat the plants before they reach maturity, the plants will not grow back. However, if you are looking to attract bucks, this is one of your top go to food plot choices!
Iron Clay Cowpeas
Cowpeas are a great choice, especially if you are on a budget. They are fairly cheap, and easy to grow. Cowpeas are also drought tolerant, and they are high in protein. The leaves of cowpeas are similar in appearance to those of soybeans. And, it is the leaves that the deer graze on. However, if given the chance to grow, cowpeas will produce a seed pod.
Alfalfa is another of the perennial plants, meaning that it will come back year to year. This plant is another great source of protein for whitetail deer. However, alfalfa is not an easy plant to establish. It can have taproots that grow over 5’ in length, and it does not tolerate moisture; this is a drought resistant plant. One bonus, if you can get alfalfa to grow on your land, is the fact that it is able to fix its own nitrogen deficiencies, thus never requiring you to apply it. While it is greatly loved by whitetail, if you’re looking for something easy to grow this is not the plant for you.
Buckwheat is a very adaptable plant, making it easy to grow anywhere. It requires little to no ground preparation. These properties make buckwheat a perfect choice for that small opening out in the middle of the woods. Buckwheat will grow to be 2-4’ tall, and deer love to graze on the leaves. It is an excellent source of protein and is sure to draw the deer in.
Grain sorghum, also called milo, maize, or “poor man’s corn” is a great choice for your spring food plot. Sorghum is a very easy to plant seed; just broadcast is the same as you would any grass seed. So, besides being easy to grow, what else is it about sorghum that makes it a great choice? For starters, it is much more resilient than corn and will compete with the weeds, making it more likely to survive. Like corn, sorghum is an excellent source of carbohydrates. Deer eat the seed heads from the plants, and not the plants themselves. However, there is a downside to sorghum; if there is corn around, the deer will choose the corn over sorghum. So, if you are in an area surrounded by corn, it may not be the best choice.
While there is a difference in opinions as to whether or not corn should be put out for spring food plots, it definitely makes my list. Yes, it is a great fall/winter food source, but it can also be great for spring/summer plots as well. Just like we need different nutritional supplements in our diets, so do deer. And, they like variety. It is also a sure way to attract deer to your land! So, if you prefer to put corn out in your spring food plots, go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong.
This, of course, is not a complete list of spring food plot ideas. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. As always, do your research and find what would work best for you and your area.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO PUT IN YOUR SPRING FOOD PLOTS?