FOOD PLOT STRATEGIES
The ongoing search for food shapes the daily routine and life of a whitetail deer and providing food sources through the use of food plots is a great way to not only keep more deer on your property, but provide important nutrition for the growth and health of your resident deer herd.
Through years of research we have determined that you should plant between 5-10% of your hunting land in Food Plots. With average deer densities if less than 5% of your property is devoted to food for your deer herd, there will probably come in time when your property runs out of food and your resident deer will move to neighboring properties in search of food. In the nearly 30 years that we have been in the wildlife nutrition business, more often than not, people just cannot devote 5% or more of their property to food plots. Many people have heavily forested areas with limited openings for food plots and others that live in heavily farmed areas where most available space is utilized for agricultural crops simply can’t plant 5-10% of their property in food plots. If you’re hunting in agricultural areas make sure you are providing a food source for early Spring and late Fall and Winter when the crop fields aren’t a reliable food source. In either case, if you are limited in the acreage that you can plant and are unable to plant 5-10% of your property in food plots, remember that no plot is too small and any amount of food is better than no food…here are some ways to maximize the production of each plot you are able to plant.
- 1. Take a soil test, especially for your pH level. Testing your soil is quite possibly the most important step in planting a food plot and will help you lay a foundation for success. Apply the necessary amount of lime to raise your pH to a 7.0 as a neutral pH of 7.0 will allow all of the fertilizer that you spread on your plot to be broken down and utilized by the plants that are growing on your plot. If you ignore a soil test and you do NOT apply lime and instead spread 300 lbs. of fertilizer on your 1 acre plot and your pH is a 5.0, over 1/2 of the fertilizer that you spread for that plot cannot be broken down and utilized by the plants and is essentially wasted.
- 2. Apply Antler King’s PLOT MAX prior to planting. Plot Max will create the most fertile environment for seeds to germinate and then to allow them to flourish by creating a perfect environment below the ground for the roots to thrive. It will also raise the pH, add nutrients and organic matter to the soil help the soil retain moisture and help aerate the soil. A minimal investment for maximum results!
- 3. Once the plants emerge, a monthly spraying of Antler King’s JOLT Foliar Fertilizer will also maximize the tons of forage you can produce on your plot. JOLT is critical for those micro hunt plots susceptible to being wiped out prior to the Fall hunting season and allow them to be productive plots producing forage well into the Fall and Winter.
- 4. A very successful strategy to use if you are limited on acreage available for food plots is to plant RED ZONE seed mix in the Spring of the year. Red Zone produces a tremendous amount of succulent forage…without a doubt one of the highest tonnage producing forage mixes available. Since Red Zone offers a high protein food source consisting of succulent forage from soybeans, forage peas, etc., in a small micro plot there is a high likelihood that your food plot will receive intense graze pressure all Spring and Summer. As a result, they may have all or some of the plot eaten down to the dirt by late Summer. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and offers you two options…if the deer allowed some of your Red Zone plot to grow to maturity you can till or rough up the areas of the food plot that were eaten down to dirt and broadcast seed into those areas, adding additional Fall/Winter food to the existing grains remaining in the Red Zone plot. If your entire food plot has been eaten to dirt by August then you can plow it under and replant with our Honey Hole, Slam Dunk, or Lights Out food plot mixes, which will grow extremely fast and provide the necessary food and attraction all Fall and Winter. This is a great program to maximize the amount of year round food on your property and allow deer to identify your plot location as THE preferred food source in the area. The high protein forage of Red Zone benefited them all Spring and Summer to help maximize body and antler growth and NOW if you replant with one of our Fall hunt plots, those deer will continue to “lean on” that same plot location as their major Fall and Winter food source continuing to keep them on your property all year long.
In an effort to create an ideal whitetail habitat and hold more deer on your property on a year round basis, you will need to maximize the amount of food available to them throughout the year. By providing high protein food sources in the Spring and Summer and providing high energy and protein sources in the Fall and Winter your deer will have no reason to leave your property. Whenever people come to us with limited space available to plant food plots, yet with the goal of holding more deer on their property, we inevitably recommend the “Red Zone Strategy” and the results will speak for themselves. More food equals more deer and the Red Zone Strategy will help maximize the amount of food you can provide on a year round basis.
Good luck planting this Spring and as always, if you have questions we’re here to help!