Find out how to make a food plot with our expert tips.
There are a few things that virtually every hunter does to prepare for hunting season each year: we all make sure our guns are sighted and ready to go, we all double check (or build) our tree stands or blinds, and we all plan out the way we want our opening day to go. However, while all of these preparations are important to laying the groundwork for a successful hunting season, there are more proactive things that we can do to assure that we are bringing down the big bucks.
One of those is planting a food plot that deer will be unable to stay away from. Chances are, if you’ve been hunting in an area for a few years, you know where the prime feeding spots are. If none of those spots offer a tactical advantage for you in your effort to hunt a target deer, then take matters into your own hands and cultivate a new feeding spot. If you do it right, your food plot will become the favorite buffet in the area for deer of all shapes and sizes, in turn helping you to kill more deer.
Of course, a good feeding plot is not just an execution ground. Many hunters believe that food plots are as important for keeping a deer herd healthy and well-fed – and for ultimately keeping that deer herd on your hunting land – as they are for drawing deer within shooting range of your bow or rifle. To a certain extent, that’s true. It doesn’t matter how profitable your favorite deer hunting spot has been in past years. If the food plots in the area have been extinguished, whether by a bad spring frost or because of frequent human traffic, then the deer are going to have to move on to a different spot that can support their herd.
Start by mapping out your eventual plot, and tilling the soil if needed. Prepare it much like you would any home garden, but with a more natural feel. Take into consideration common wind directions, ease of access, availability of bedding and amount of cover from other trees or shrubs in the surrounding area.
By planting a good food plot, you can assure that the deer on your favorite hunting property are getting adequate amounts of nutrition. More food means healthier fawns and does, bigger bucks, more impressive antlers, and more deer. In other words, planting a few seeds of corn, wheat, rye, or alfalfa – deer aren’t picky eaters – can go a long way in facilitating a healthy population of deer in your area. Whichever crops you choose to go with will deserve some homework to learn the best time of year to plant, how far apart to bury seeds, etc.
But food plots are certainly a hunting tool, and hunters primarily use them to assure that they get plenty of shot opportunities at prime deer. Not only do food plots ensure that more deer are gathering at or near one pre-determined spot – in turn making it easy for you to position your blind or treestand for a solid killshot – but they also can be designed in such a way that they lure deer to precisely the spot you want them for a shot.
Since hunters don’t want to spook deer around their newly-formulated feeding plot, many who use the food plot as a hunting tool opt to use a bow as their weapon of choice. Since the food plot can be designed in such a manner that it draws deer to a specific spot, range is often not an issue, and since bows allow for quieter kills than rifles or shotguns, they are often perfect for use around food plots. Keep the plot narrow and long instead of square and even. This will limit the distance from your shooting spot that deer can graze, ensuring that feeding deer are never too far away to take a shot at.