Weekly QDM Tips
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.
Road Rage: Accessing your food plots and stand/blind sites efficiently is important, not only for ease of travel and moving equipment, but also so you can hunt without alerting deer. Study an aerial photo of your land to determine where access roads should be situated, then hire a bulldozer operator to build them.
Go ATV: The number of high-quality implements designed for ATV use grows each year. From breaking ground to spraying weeds, these tools are designed to make food plot growers more successful and add to the I-did-it-myself enjoyment that is a critical part of property maintenance and fulfillment.
Farm It Out: Large, destination style food plots can often require bigger tractors, planters and equipment than most of us can afford. Hire a neighboring farmer to install and maintain your largest food plots. Not only will he save you time and money, your crop will be better. And who knows? If you strike up a friendship, you may gain a new hunting spot or two!
Become Weed-Savvy: Weeds can choke out even well-established food plots and turn a whitetail buffet into a haven for noxious plants. Learn the most common weeds in your area and visit your farm co-op to learn how area farmers deal with weeds.
Create a Living Fence: Planting tall-standing cover (switch grass, willows, even standing corn) adjacent to your food plots has many positive effects; the dense cover makes deer feel safe as they feed, you can enter and exit stand sites more readily, and you can hide feeding deer from food plots visible from roads or heavily-hunted adjoining properties.
Eat it Up: Attend a banquet held by your local QDMA branch. Your ticket not only buys your dinner, you’ll receive a QDMA membership and a one-year subscription to Quality Whitetails, the information-packed magazine available to members only. Plus, the banquet will connect you with local land managers with similar goals and advice.
Get Professional Help: It’s easy to get busy with specific projects and lose sight of the big picture on any property. Hire a consultant to visit your farm and assess its strengths and weaknesses, then lay out a comprehensive management plan. The up-front costs may seem steep, but you’ll save money in the long run by being more efficient in your habitat improvement projects.
Minerals on the Cheap: Save money on minerals by buying bulk ingredients and mixing your own. Local farm supply stores will sell trace mineral salt and Di-Cal (a feed supplement for cattle) at a fraction of the cost of pre-packaged mineral. Mix 60/40 for best results.
Hold a Youth Hunt: If keeping doe numbers under control is a challenge, consider hosting a youth hunt. Kids—especially those with limited opportunity to hunt—are usually more than happy to shoot any deer. Consult with a local sportsman’s club or state agency to help set up and run the hunt.
Go Co-op: Sorting through the dozens of food plot seeds available can be a confusing task. Consider a visit to your local farmer’s co-op for advice about specific food plot seeds or blends. They’ll know which plant types succeed in your specific area.
Rotate It: Regardless of their performance, switch out food plot blends or seed varieties every 3-4 years. Research suggests that continuing to plant the same species will achieve diminishing returns. Every plant type robs soil of specific nutrients that can be rebuilt by other species. Also, disease can occur from replanting for too many successive years.
For more specific information on any of these general tips, visit the QDMA website. Members also receive the magazine “Quality Whitetails,” a full-color journal full of useful information for deer hunters and managers. For more information, contact QDMA at 800-209-3337.
Deer Management Archive
- How to Judge a Trophy Buck's Potential
- Kick-Starting Your Management Plan
- Mapping Your Whitetail Hunting Paradise
- Conduct a Herd Monitoring Profile
Deer Population by State