Let’s face it; at the end of the day, the majority of hunters are not skilled farmers. In other words, most of us have not been blessed with the proverbial green thumb. As a result, it can be really confusing when deciding what kind of food plot to choose, where to plant it, and how to get the best results.
With that being said, let’s breakdown a high-impact game plan to help keep things relatively simple, while maximizing the full potential and productivity of your food plots. Follow these steps and get the jump on early-season whitetails in your neck of the woods.
Step 1: Make a Food Plot Plan
Consequently, where you grow your food plots can be just as important as what you plant. For the best results, strategically choose areas encompassing prime ambush points, undetected accessibility and adequate surrounding cover. If you can’t reach, hunt and exit the area without spooking deer in the process, then you’re simply not getting the most out of your food plots. Possible stand locations, prevailing seasonal wind directions, along with carefully planned entry and exit routes must be considered before selecting the most productive planting sites.
In addition, try to concentrate on possible planting sites surrounded by adequate cover and located within short proximity of buck bedding areas. Mature bucks are a different breed with nocturnal tendencies, which means they’re less likely to enter open areas with minimal cover during the daylight hours. Isolated plots with good cover will help create a false sense of security that can potentially get a long-tined shooter in major trouble well before the rut.
Step 2: Prep Your Site and Follow Directions
After choosing the right location, your next move is to conduct an accurate soil test. The results from these tests will tell you exactly what is needed to grow a more productive crop. Skipping this vital step can cost you time and money, and leave you with mangy plots that simply won’t attract and hold whitetails once season rolls around. A soil test will basically take the guess work out of how to properly prep your site. Knowing precisely how much fertilizer or lime to add to your food plot can make all the difference in the world.
Next, make sure you prep your seed bed and follow all planting instructions. A poorly prepped seed bed coupled with planting mistakes will absolutely destroy a plot’s growing potential. Taking measures to eliminate large clumps of dirt, rocks and unwanted weeds in the beginning will dramatically increase a food plot’s overall productivity. This often requires a little extra work and sweat initially, but it’s well worth the additional labor in the long run.
Step 3: Plant High-Attraction Plots
Growing traditional warm-season plots, such as soybeans, will definitely help draw more deer to your hunting area. However, planting a variety of crops specifically for whitetails can be a much better option. For example, specially formulated blends and mixes that include legumes, soybeans, lab lab, and a variety of clovers will often produce a much higher attraction rate than a single crop. Plots that provide multiple food choices and a variety of options are hard to beat during the early-season.
Other good spring and summer blends are made up of legumes and may include cowpeas, soybeans, grain sorghum, alfalfa, alyceclover and red clover. Remember, if your neighbor only has one or two food choices and you’re offering a full buffet, chances are your property is going to attract and ultimately hold more deer in the end. This is exactly why you need to start planning, prepping and planting as soon as possible. It’s the best way to get the jump on your neighbor and that wall-hanger buck that you’ve been dreaming about since last season.