Joe Keckeisen is the owner of New Order Productions focusing on the outdoor industry. He has filmed with many outdoor television shows including The Buck Commanders, Sporting Dog Adventures, and Sheep Shape TV airing on the Sportsman Channel in July of 2015. You can check with him on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
The popularity of food plots over the past 5 years has grown leaps and bounds for whitetail hunters. You’d be hard pressed to pick up a whitetail hunting publication that does not have an article about food plots accompanied by several seed, fence, and implement ads to boot. Some of these articles and ads can make some of the work and preparation seem as though it is as easy as throwing some seed down and the deer will flock to your plot. How many of you have put forth some effort and money on food plots only to either have poor growth with the plot, or have a great crop but the deer are visiting infrequently? I’ve heard stories similar to this quite a few times. In addition to paying attention to the plot itself such as the specie of vegetation, habitats, and environment, are you planning your plot with other key ingredients to a successful food plot?
Placement – It is essential to the placement of a food plot to yield good success. Deer behavior and movement will change as the seasons change. Understanding the deer movement throughout the year on your property will be a huge asset to the success of your food plots. This is a year round activity which your trail cameras will be your best friend. Understand the deer behavior throughout the hunting season, and come up with a game plan when you want to target deer feeding from your plot. This will determine the proper placement. Sometimes placement of a plot is not something you need to decide on due to the fact there is maybe only a couple of options. Again use the option available to you during the time of year that particular area is being traveled the most. Trying to force deer to a particular area of your land during a part of the season they normally do not travel will yield poor results. The saying “plant it and they will come” may not always hold true especially if the plot of not in a deer’s normal travel.
Preparation – Making sure your soil has the correct nutrient by taking a soil sample is mandatory for a healthy food plot. If there are deficiencies, make sure you augment by applying what is needed in the correct amounts. Weeds need to be controlled by applying Round Up or the like to ensure your new growth does not have to fight for light and room to grow. Make sure that your plot gets plenty of daylight not restricted by wooded canopies etc..
The specie of food and the environment your plot is planted in – Granted deer will eat anything with nutrition when food is hard to find, but during a majority of the hunting months food is readily available. So the selection of the type of food that you plant is very important. First, determine if the time of the season you plan to hunt your plot the most. Depending on the season will dictate the type of food source due to the changing diet of the whitetail throughout the hunting season. 1.- Understanding the diet habits of whitetail in your area, 2. – what type of food you should plant to coincide with the part of the season you will be hunting your plot, 3. – and if your land is suitable for the food you selected to plant are all questions you need to ask before you plant. Each one of those 3 questions are lengthy topics and can be the most overwhelming when making decisions that ultimately will determine the success of your plot. The internet and hunting publications are great sources to look into each one of these topics. Also, talk to local farmers and seed companies, they will offer a wealth of information specific to your area! Land management consultants are also a great way to ensure a successful food plot such as Drumming Log Wildlife Management (www.drumminglog.com). Erich Long which owns and operates DLWM has been consulting on land management for over 10 years and will get your plot up and running the right way the first time through and is a great wealth of knowledge.
These are only just a few things to pay attention to that will hopefully bring more success to your food plots this Fall and the future. So before you go and spend some of your hard earned money on a truck full of seed, and exhaust yourself tilling up some dirt, take your time and do some homework first. Get a good game plan together that makes sense and stick to the plan. Have you had an underperforming food plot that you made adjustments to and now is bringing in deer like you had originally hoped? If so, what did you different?