Are there certain times of the year when the resident deer on your property disappear? Maybe it is because your neighbors are providing something you aren’t at that time. At different times of the year certain food becomes more attractive to deer and they will change their habits depending on what food is most beneficial and attractive to them at that given time. Several factors can cause this shift of preferred food: a deer’s changing needs, weather and other variables cause certain plants to become more attractive at different times. Providing different food plots and plant varieties at different times of the year is a great way to attract and keep deer on your property and provide nutrition year round.
In the spring deer need protein to recover from winter, nurse fawns, and grow antlers. Having a good clover plot such as Antler King’s Game Changer Clover Mix or Trophy Clover Mix will sprout when the snow melts and provide 30%+ protein all Spring and Summer to help maximize your herd’s potential. Game Changer Clover Mix was designed with no till scenarios in mind and is comprised of 4 special varieties of clover and a variety of brassica. It will last from 3-4 years and can produce as much as 3-6 tons of high quality forage per acre per year. Clover can grow up to 2 feet tall and provide 20-30% protein (depending on soil condition). Deer love the taste of these highly palatable clover varieties and the high protein content will greatly benefit, antler, body and bone growth. It is recommended to plant 1/2 of your available food plots in a long lasting, high protein perennial like Trophy Clover Mix or Game Changer Clover Mix.
Summer is the growing season for deer. Fawns are starting to grow and bucks are at their peak in terms of antler and body growth. Having high protein food sources and enough of that food at this time is very important for fawns, does and bucks and can help grow a healthier deer herd. A bucks antlers are comprised of roughly 80% protein and 20% minerals during the summer. Making sure you are providing minerals such as Antler King’s Trophy Deer Mineral which contains 27 different antler building major minerals, trace minerals, vitamins and amino acids is very beneficial at this time. Minerals are also important to keep does and fawns healthy and strong. On top of minerals, proving deer with protein is another huge factor in having deer and antlers grow to their full genetic potential. Planting a food plot blend such as Antler King’s Red Zone will provide tonnage and huge amounts of palatable food to the entire deer family. The leafy greens of the forage beans and peas will produce over 30% protein and provide critical nutrition during spring or summer. At maturity the soybeans will pod out and the peas will vine up the Sunflower stalks and offer your deer herd great protein and energy sources in the Fall and Winter months. Buckwheat and Sunflower seeds also offer great nutrition as well as providing 15-25% protein in their early stages of development.
Hunting season is has finally arrived and now you are able to hit the woods to enjoy the “fruits of your labor”, so having a variety of food plots will ensure deer will be on your property when you are trying to harvest them as well. Planting a food plot with Antler King’s Light Out Forage Oats will attract deer from early September well into late Fall. With 90% Oats, Lights Out Forage Oats will be able to attract and feed deer just 10-14 days after planting, as it will germinate quickly and immediately provide highly sought after food sources. This special variety of oats are not only cold tolerant but can also withstand intense graze pressure. This mix also contains canola and turnips which will only grow more appealing to deer as the weather gets colder. Another option is to plant Antler King’s Slam Dunk Mix. This food plot mix offers varieties of Peas and Buckwheat which are attractive in the early Fall and special varieties of radishes and canola which can be more attractive later in the season. Once the weather turns cold and these plants are impacted by a hard killing frost that triggers plant maturation and a dramatic molecular change occurs allowing the plants to convert their stored up starches into sugar, thus increasing attraction, consumption and palatability.
This time of the year not only can be your best time to hunt over food plots but this can also be when food plots are most beneficial to your deer herd. As the weather turns colder deer will need to pack on the calories in order to survive the winter months. If they have to, they will switch their diets to consume shrubs and woody browse and if necessary they will travel to find a more nutritious food source. Having winter food plots available with attractive sweet leafy greens and energy filled bulbs will not only provide them with a high amount of nutrition but keep them coming back to your food plot day after day. Planting a food plot mix such as Antler King’s Honey Hole is a great winter food plot blend with several varieties of turnips and rape. Deer will begin to consume the leafy greens as the plants begin to grow and mature, but once the weather turns cold and the plants are impacted by a hard killing frost, the plants will experience a molecular change. The frost triggers plant maturity and allows the plants to convert their stored up starches into sweet sugars. This food plot blend will stay and become more attractive as the weather gets colder and harsher. The deer will actually dig under the snow and into the frozen ground to get at the sweet turnips and rape. Once it gets extremely cold don’t be surprised to have this food plot completely wiped out before winter ends!
Deer will move to find food. Whether they move to or move from your place can be totally up to you. Putting in the work and strategizing your property to provide food and nutrition year round will keep deer living and feeding on your property. Planting a variety of food plots will not only provide food and nutrition but will also have a smorgasbord effect. You will provide deer with options on what and when to eat. This will in turn tell you what is most attractive to the deer and what to plant year after year and keep the deer on your property.
Hunter Flanders, Wisconsin Pro-Staff