Bring Bucks to Your Land with a Last-Minute Food Plot
It's not too late to ring your deer's dinner bell.
Never got around to putting in food plots this spring? Don't sweat it. Sow the right seeds in the right places right now, and your last-minute plots will sprout in days and start attracting deer in time for bow season. With fall rains and cooling temperatures, they should produce lush forage and draw bucks well into the gun season, too. Here's how to do it right, in four easy steps:
1. Pick a spot
Find places that (a) are situated along or near a deer's route between bedding and feeding areas and (b) constitute a natural clearing, such as a logging road, log landing, or small overgrown field. Such places are easy to plant and make a natural ambush for bucks on their way to feed. Just make sure the spot gets at least a few hours of sunlight each day.
2. Prepare the ground
Use a rake to clear away leaves and a nonselective herbicide, such as Roundup, to kill weeds. Mow these down with a weed trimmer and work them under with a tiller or an ATV attachment. Remove logs and debris. Then add one bag of agricultural lime and one bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 150x50-foot section. Rake or till both into the soil.
3. Plant the seeds
Mix one or more brassicas (rape, kale, or turnips) and a cereal grain (wheat, rye, or oats) together in a large bucket, using a 1-to-2 or 1-to-3 ratio. Spread the mixture lightly and evenly. Never bury it deeper than 1/8 inch. Drive over the area with an ATV to create a firm seed-to-soil contact. Or drag a section of chain-link fence over it.
4. Pray for rain
Seeds may sprout without rain, but more often, you'll need a bit to get them going. But then it's just a matter of a few weeks before does and bucks start making your 11th-hour plots the hottest spots on the property. Watch the wind and hang your stand carefully. You never know when a trophy may be looking for a snack.
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Deer Management Archive
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- Conduct a Herd Monitoring Profile
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Prep for Winter: One quality many properties lack is an absence of prime winter cover for deer. Plant conifer (evergreen) trees like pine, spruce and fir to provide the thermal cover whitetails love during the cold months. State game agencies usually sell seedlings of such wildlife-friendly trees for a very nominal cost, and they can usually be ordered in bulk quantities.