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Garden Guru

Deer Plot

Jim Boxberger Jr
Posted 10/8/21

A few weeks ago I wrote about the different types of clover for your lawn or deer plot. This week I will be going over a little more about deer plots since it is the season. When it comes to food …

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Garden Guru

Deer Plot


A few weeks ago I wrote about the different types of clover for your lawn or deer plot. This week I will be going over a little more about deer plots since it is the season. When it comes to food plots, you will get the best possible results in the most cost-effective way if you stick to the basics.

Step one, decide how many food plots you’ll plant and where you’ll put them. Step two, decide what to plant in each site. Step three, correctly prepare the sites for planting and step four, plant correctly the first time. Whether your property is large or small, your best bet is to have enough ground in plots to maximize attraction and nutrition, but without planting so much of the property that deer have no reason to move.

Experienced managers (deer camps) put about three to five percent of the total property into food plots if only “hunting plots” are being used. Those who use both hunting plots and feeding plots may plant ten percent or more of the property. You don’t need to plant a huge area or percentage of your property to successfully attract deer.

It is like the movie “Field of Dreams”, if you build (plant) it, they will come. But where should you build it? It always pays to put some thought into where you put your plots and it can be equally critical to think about where not to put them. One place you don’t want to put them is where they’ll be visible from a public road.

When making that determination, be sure to consider that screening vegetation, which may be there when you check in the spring and summer, may be gone in the fall and winter. So consider planting evergreens or other natural screening plants to help shield the plot from public view if it is near a road.

Feeding plots should be centrally located on the property if possible. You want your deer to consider your feeding plots as safe zones so that they will head for them when they leave their bedding areas in the afternoon. That means that you shouldn’t hunt directly on feeding plots at all, or at least do so very rarely, for instance during the rut.

When designing your hunting plots, keep one critical thing in mind, the safer deer feel using it, the better chance they’ll do so during hunting season. Try to place your plots where their edges border cover such as a thicket, or anything else deer interpret as something they could quickly jump into if threatened.

A corner of an overgrown field that meets thick woods on two sides is an excellent example. Completely surrounded by thick cover is best to keep your deer feeling comfortable. Once you pick your sites, you need to prepare. Test your soil for the proper pH. Your seeds should be planted in a seedbed that has a soil pH between 6.5 to 7.5.

The only way to be absolutely sure that the soil pH of your seedbed is within this optimum range is to perform a laboratory soil test. The closest place to go for this is the Cornell Cooperative Extension on the Ferndale Loomis Road in Liberty. Their phone number is 292-6180 so you will know what they will need to test your soil.

Proper soil pH is the most important factor you can control in assuring a successful planting. Next, try to get your seedbed clean of existing vegetation so your emerging forage plants will have the root space they need for optimum growth. We sell a “no plow” version of Imperial Whitetail deer plot mix, but clear ground is better if possible.

Once your seedbed has been cleared and limed, add fertilizer as specified in your soil test report. Sometimes this report can be a little intimidating, just bring it in and we can help interpert it for you. Add your fertilizer just before you plant to ensure the fertilizer will be at full strength as seedlings start to emerge.

If you can rototill or disk your plot to loosen the top layer of soil it will help your seeds by allowing roots to expand quicker. Also once you get your plots planted, you may need to protect the plots while the seedlings are getting established.

Electric fence is the best way, but also the most expensive way, an easier way is to just use some deer repellent until your plot is ready.


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