You have a desire to attract deer to your hunting spot, but you don’t have the money to buy land. Nor do you have the time to improve someone else’s property that you might get to hunt for only a couple of days this season.
News flash: Cultivating a small food plot needn’t cost you thousands of dollars and a week’s vacation. Dr. Grant Woods, America’s whitetail guru, says you can make an effective food plot on the cheap.
“The most important element of growing a productive plot is sunshine,” says Woods. “Find a secluded place that deer don’t associate with fear, and then clear it.” An opening in the woods is perfect.
Second, remove all earthy competition that would rob your crop of nutrients and sunlight. Use a rake to clear out leaves, weeds, and saplings until the area is bare earth.
Next, buy a bag of winter wheat from a feed store and broadcast 25 pounds over your quarter-acre plot immediately before a rain. Then it’s time for fertilizer.
A bag of fertilizer has three numbers on it representing its nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium content, respectively. Nitrogen is the element that makes crops sweet to deer, so buy a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. Then spread it over the seed. “One 50-pound bag is good,” says Woods, “but two is better.”
Woods cautions that deer prefer acorns over anything you can plant, so while your plot may not pull deer from miles around or provide enough nutrition to magically grow record racks, it’s still a great bet for a buck– or 102.
WHAT YOU NEED
– Winter Wheat: $16 per 50-pound bag
– 25-0-13 Fertilizer: $43 per 48-pound bag times 2
– Cost to develop a ¼-acre-plot = $102
Prices from Southern States store, Feb. 2014
THE $25 PLOT
Tony Sumpter, a whitetail outfitter at Oklahoma’s Turley Ranch, says you can’t beat purple-top turnips for the money. Broadcast seed in early August, fertilize it with 20 pounds of 46-0-0, then walk over it to lightly pack. “How good are turnips? They’ll pull deer off the neighbor’s wheat,” says Sumpter.