Getting Started With Whitetail Deer Food Plots: Part 1

Whitetail deer are among the most elusive and sought after game animals in North America. Tracking and finding this graceful animal is a passion for hunters and nature lovers alike who have a penchant for this creature. To increase the chances of even catching a glimpse at whitetail, many enthusiasts are creating their own food plots for deer.

Although this takes time, effort and some money, it can pay off in a number of ways. Not only can whitetail deer food plots lure these creatures in, they can also provide valuable nourishment to help ensure a healthier, stronger population.

If you are considering planting your own deer plot, the effort is one that can deliver many rewards. It is important to step into this venture with a bit of an education under your belt, however. If you haven’t studied up on the topic and don’t realize all that is involved, you could find yourself with a plot that just doesn’t produce the result you are after.

Creating a food plots is simply not something to jump into with both feet without understanding the basics that need to go into this pursuit. Beyond requiring land on which to put food plots for deer, enthusiasts will also need to dedicate effort to making that piece of land pay off. Just like a farmer cultivating crops for people, plot owners need to carefully measure their moves for a crop to produce and provide valuable food for wildlife.

There are many things hunters need to know about to make whitetail deer food plots produce as desired. From picking the right parcel of land and determining how to finance a deal to selecting the correct items to plant. The better educated hunters make themselves about small food plots, the more likely it is efforts will prove fruitful. If you are ready to give this prospect a try and start seeing deer in your own food plot on a regular basis, read on for important information that can make your adventure more productive.

A Look At Small Deer Plots

If you’re used to going out into the wilderness and hoping to catch any trace of deer sign, you might not be familiar with deer plots. These altered pieces of land can prove to be the ultimate tool for attracting whitetail.

So, what exactly is a small deer plot?

Whitetail deer food plots are nothing more than management areas that are created to provide a place for these creatures to easily gain the nourishment they crave. They are typically planted with grains, grass, clover or beans. The idea is to provide deer mineral and deer food that can not only draw them in to a set location, but also provide them with the right nutrients to thrive. Essentially, a deer plot is like a farmer’s crop, but instead of the food being for people, it’s meant to nourish local whitetail.

Self-made deer plots are popular among not only hunters, but also wildlife buffs, photographers and more. Ideally, this type of property will provide the basics whitetail require for sustenance and will be staked out in areas known for having at least a small whitetail population. If you like this idea, but fear you could never get your hands on enough land to pull it off relax. The size of small deer plots can vary. Even fairly small plots can attract a fair number of deer. Keep in mind, however, that the idea is to make them adequate in size to support at least a few deer during regular feeding times. While there is no hard-and-fast rule for sizing, it is often recommended that small plots be at least 1,000 square feet in size. The reality is that you do not need acres and acres of have a successful food plot for deer.

Once a potential area is staked out, the real work begins. The undertaking should include soil sampling to make sure fertilizers and other additives are not required to ensure a rich crop of food for whitetail. The soil pH and mineral content will matter a great deal when it’s time to produce crops for the benefit of deer.

Why Whitetail Deer Food Plots Make Sense

Making the decision to create deer food plots is a big one. Not only will this undertaking demand property and at least a small investment, but also some commitment in regard to personal time. The effort, however, can provide a number of benefits not only for whitetail enthusiasts, but the animals, as well.

The benefits of creating food plots for deer include:

Providing a place for deer to congregate – It is often said that whitetail have only three things that drive them forward – sleeping, eating and breeding. When enthusiasts are able to provide them with a place to do one or all three of these things, they will take advantage of it. Deer plots can readily become a place where whitetail and other animals will congregate, which is excellent for hunters and nature lovers both.

Offering a way to keep the population healthy – As man continues to encroach on natural habitats, whitetail can find it difficult to locate food, even in the warmer months. A deer plot can boost their nutritional levels and help ensure that the local population stays healthy.

Boosting the chances for encounters – Whether you are a hunter or a photographer, whitetail deer food plots that are successful can provide you with the perfect location for close encounters with these animals.

Making a do-it-yourself deer plot won’t be an overnight process, but it is one that can have many rewards. When plots are done right, they can and often will draw in the game.

Checking On The Legalities

If you have never planted a deer plot before, chances are you might be a little concerned about the legalities of this undertaking. As it turns out, deer food plots are legal in most jurisdictions in the United States because of their inherent benefits for wildlife. It is still best to check locally to make sure. Jurisdictions even right next door to each other can have rules that differ in regard to planting and hunting both.

If there are any questions, do check with local wildlife and game officials and the local extension agent office. These two resources can help you throughout the process in making sure you stay within the confines of local law and adopt the right practices for the local ecology. Generally, as long as local agricultural rules are followed, whitetail deer food plots will be more than acceptable.

Finding the Right Land

Selecting land for whitetail deer food plots is a little different than choosing property for a home or other similar manmade structure. The process does go beyond finding a good strip of agricultural land, as well. To make sure a plot is successful, location will matter a great deal. Size, too, can make a difference as has already been discussed, but it is not as important as the location.

An ideal piece of property for food plots for deer will depend on the region of the country in question. Some of the features to consider when selecting a plot to grow on include:

The presence of deer – Putting a deer plot in the middle of a suburb will not likely attract whitetail. To enjoy strong chances for success, pick a piece of property in an area where deer are already known to go. The idea behind a plot is to take a present population and give them a new place to frequent during feeding times. Look for deer signs in the general vicinity before attempting to create a plot.

The presence of adequate cover – Whitetail are highly skittish and very aware creatures. They are more apt to frequent a feeding ground that has natural cover available to provide them with a sense of security. It is often best to locate a deer plot on the edge of a forested or heavily treed area as a result. Still, it is possible to place plots near other farming operations and see results.

Suitability for planting – The area selected should be at least reasonably accessible for the actual preparation and planting phase. Keep in mind that equipment and water might need to be taken to the site. This means that a location that is too remote might be too difficult to get to. Ideally, a property will have ease of access, but remain outside of heavily human populated areas.

The soil quality – Soil composition can be changed and enhanced with fertilizers and other treatments, but the higher quality the soil is initially, the easier it will be to get started.

The presence of other natural attractors – If a piece of property for a deer plot also has a water source available or nearby, it will be more likely to attract whitetail.

Whitetail deer plots can be created in just about any area that is open for planning. Ideally, a plot will provide cover for deer and easy access to maintain the plantings.

Should You Rent Or Buy?

This is a question that can plague those considering the idea of planting a deer food plot. The truth is you do not technically have to own property to create successful food plots for deer. The location and having rights to use the land are more important. There are questions you can ask yourself to determine whether it makes more sense to purchase a property specifically for the creation of deer plots or if renting would be more prudent.

If you already own property on which deer frequent, you’re well on your way. If not, consider these questions:

How much money do I have to dedicate to the project?
Purchasing undeveloped land for the creation of deer plots is not as expensive as buying in developed areas. Despite this, it can be a costly venture to acquire enough land to set aside for management and hunting. Sometimes it is simply better to lease, at least initially.

Am I positive a plot will pay off?
Sometimes renting with a lease option can make more sense to ensure that a piece of property will pay off when properly planted. In this case, you can give a plot a go for a season or two. If it attracts whitetail, then buying it would make sense.

How long do I intend to engage in management?
If you have a lifelong love or hunting or watching wildlife and plan on continuing for years to come, an investment can save you money over the long haul. If it’s your intent to work a plot for a year or two and then move on to something else, renting would be more economically sound in all likelihood.

Renting or leasing is a personal choice. Both options do have some advantages and both can pay off with successful deer attracting plots. Regardless of the final decision on buying or renting, employing the right practice for growing and selecting the property will remain vitally important to the venture.

Getting Help In Selecting The Land
If you do not have land lined up already, there are places to turn for help in finding the right plot to plant. Beyond seeking out a real estate agent to help with locating property to purchase or lease, these sources can assist you in pinpointing a spot where deer are known to be:

Local hunting guides – If there are hunting guides in your area, they will know the prime locations to create whitetail deer food plots on. Check around for suggestions.

Hunting supply or licensing locations – Employees and/or customers in this type of establishment might have an inside track on where to find property that would work perfectly for deer plots.

Wildlife management areas – Property located outside county, state and even federal management lands can also work very well. Just make certain to understand any use restrictions that might be in place in the vicinity. Land adjacent to farming properties can also do the trick nicely.

Seeking out the perfect piece of property to plant a deer plot on can take a little time. When the job is done right, you will have land that is already known to attract deer. Your efforts will simply enhance what nature has already provided.

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Dr. Judy McFarlen Veterinarian, Alberta Rancher, and publisher of Deer Food Plots Made Easy, Dr. Judy McFarlen has helped a large number of novice and experienced deer food plotters establish and improve their whitetail deer food plots.

From deer food plot location strategies to seed selection, this text is a nuts and bolts kind of reading. It is guaranteed to make sense to even to the most inexperienced grower.