Deer Food Plot Tips
Most folks in the Deep South are in the midst of firing up their tractors or ATVs and getting winter food plots installed on their whitetail properties. Winter food plots serve as a supplement to a white-tailed deer’s diet during a time of nutritional stress after mast crops are no longer available. A few tips for your winter food plots:
- Always take a soil sample! Lime and fertilizer recommendations will allow you to prep your soil so that your plot is not a bust.
Send in one sample box per food plot. Label your boxes so that you will remember which one belongs to which plot when you receive the results. Soil test boxes can be picked up at the Coffee County Extension Office and sent to the Auburn Soil lab. The quickest way to receive test results is by selecting to have them returned via Email. For each plot, take three separate samples per acre, mix together in a bucket, then take an adequate amount of that plots total mix and place in a test box and label for that individual food plot. Repeat this process for each separate food plot you plan to plant.
- Do not buy a food plot mix based on what the front of the bag looks like or says!
There are all kinds of mixes out there and some are really great. But a lot of times you are not getting your money’s worth. Always look at the label to see what percentages of actual seed are in the bag. Many times the majority of seed may be a plant that has the least nutritional value or browse preference for whitetail deer, such as Ryegrass. We suggest buying individual bags of seed and mixing it yourself or planting them separately. For example, in a 1.5 acre plot, you could plant .5 acre of clover, .5 acre of oats and .5 acre of winter peas.
- Think about placement and variety.
Be strategic in your food plot placement. Just because there has historically been a food plot in one area doesn’t mean it’s the best spot to have it. Look at an aerial map and perform scouting. Strategically placing a food plot based on bedding areas, water sources, and travel corridors can lead to greater success. Being smart about what you plant is also important. If someone is planting wheat as a cover crop on several fields nearby, you most likely do not want to plant wheat in your small plots. As previously mentioned, planting two or three different types of vegetation in a single plot can make it more attractive to deer and allow for extended usage later into the season.
For more information on deer tips, contact Jordan Graves, Regional Extension Agent for Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources. He may be reached at the Coffee County Extension Office at 334-894-5596 or by email at JDG0041@auburn.edu.