Whitetail deer food plots


Successful plotting is like successful business, think location, location, location: and then decide what deer food plot seed to start with!


If you don’t give some serious consideration to the location of your deer food plot, you may end up with the equivalent of a beautiful garden that no one wants to spend time in!

Whitetail deer food plots top image

Take me for instance, I live in Alberta, Canada and when I planted my first plot on our ranch, I spent several days scouting and testing wind patterns, looking for the best transition areas.

Some of the areas I thought were the best, based on primarily wind factors and stand placement, would have failed miserably because of access overlap.

Imagine purchasing the best quality seed, spending your valuable weekends tending to and growing a great plot, only to find out your location sucks.

Let me translate this for you: POOR DEER FOOD PLOT TRAFFIC. What a waste the entire effort would be, unless of course you want to just hang out there yourself!

Consider these key plot location strategies:
  • maximizing the interface area
  • providing cover
  • natural habitats such as corners, peninsulas, feather edges, and unusual  geometric shapes
  • prevailing wind patterns
  • where to set up your stand
  • confirming or mapping breeze patterns within the plot area
  • your landscape from the deer’s point of view -the use of old fire roads or logging  trails, previous wildlife or perimeter trails along with convenient low points>

Getting out there with these key planning features in mind can give you the best locations for your plots and save you time and money.

There are also some other important consideration when designing a plot and these are often overlooked by the motivated but overzealous planter. If you have the available land and optimum locations, you may want to keep you food plots as distinct entities from your hunting plots. In time over-trafficking for the purposes of camera placement, plot maintenance or hunting will result in less frequent visitation by the very deer you are wishing to get there.


Even after you decide on the best location, there can be mistakes the novice may make that can impact the deer food plots success.

Don’t chase your valued deer population to the neighbor’s property and give them bragging rights!

When planning your whitetail or mule deer food plots and your stand placement, it is important to keep the access trails you will hope to frequent separate from the ones you will frequent during the hunting season.

Then only time of overlap here should be in the planting stage, after that beware of combining these trails.

If you can’t get to your plot unnoticed, you may as well not expend the effort in planting the plot. And scent management is not the only thing that will be important. If you don’t consider factors such as wind conditions in the access trail, how much noise you need to make to get to the stand and in field dressing habits once the game has been harvested, then you have only seen a fraction of the picture. You may end up blowing you perfect plots harvest potential.

One of the biggest thrills of planting a food plot is admiring your handiwork once you have planted it! In fact, it is tempting to head out “regularly” just to see if everything is “ok”. You must resist this temptation. Such activity almost always scares the deer off before your deer plot gets a chance to work. In fact, between September and January in most areas, scheduled maintaining and seeding should be the only activities engaged in, other than harvesting the deer you have worked so hard to lure there. Try to go out during peak daylight hours and avoid overlapping with feeding times. This doesn’t mean you can be as loud and disruptive as you like. The hope is that all traces of your presence will have disappeared by evening.

Whitetail and Mule Deer Stand location Tips for Deer Food Plots:

Don't fall in love with one location, be flexible. Be prepared to move the stand if necessary. By the same token, don’t build a massive plywood stand covered with a few trees and a camouflage tarp. Even if it’s in a very good spot, the deer will notice it eventually, and you will have severely limited your flexibility. Moreover, such set-ups nearly always lead to over hunting any given plot or area. If you want luxury, try a resort! If you want deer to return year after year, you will have to work around their agenda.

Don't even consider using your stand if the wind conditions are unfavorable.

You can almost surely guarantee a Deer Free Day when you do this. Also, excessively windy days will cause deer to hunker down and not browse very far. Though they love the wind because it gives them an advantage when smelling for trouble, too much wind and they can’t hear properly. Hence, they are too cautious to be useful to you in such conditions.

Your deer stand is not a tree house. Don’t spend time there unless you are there to hunt. It is easy to lose focus and get distracted, especially when you have been there for several hours. Though a fine place to see nature, if you want to see deer, you had better stay focused. Deer are always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. If you are not careful, you will be discovered and not even know it.

Don’t hunt on top of your plot. If you keep your hunting in the areas around the plot, you will discourage the association between your plot and hunting activity. You can always use brush stands where regular or portable stands cannot be used.

It isn’t necessary to see the whole plot from the vantage point of your stand. In fact, if you can, you are probably not hidden well enough.

The bottom line is poor positioning will decrease deer traffic, regardless of what purposes you established the plot for. Don’t accidently train deer to avoid your plot because of bad position and activity management. Always consider how the deer will react to anything you do.

In summary, everything in hunting as about strategy and building successful whitetail deer food plots are no exception.

Before you go out and buy seed, think location, location, location. Some of the many factors to consider in positioning your plot are: maximizing the interface area and provision of cover, use of natural habitats and old trails, dealing with wind factors, good decisions regarding stand placement, and how you manage your activity during and after plant growth.

Dr. Judy McFarlen www.diydeerfoodplots.com/ 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.