Before we dive into this topic, I want everyone reading this to know that we are not experts. We are just extremely passionate about whitetails and the habitat that they live in.
Bedding, water and food is what your property needs to hold deer year round. In the perfect world, you would have several food sources with multiple water sources. Spring/summer food sources are the most important for heard health. Fall food plots are the secret recipes for successful hunts.
If you can only plant one plot, plant a clover plot. Deer won’t allow there antlers to grow until they have reached pre-rut weight. Clover will give deer the nutrients they need in the spring of the year. For summer plots, my personal favorite is soybeans. Deer will eat them all summer, fall and winter long! For fall plots, I like turnips. The key is to plant them at the right time. If you plant them too early, they will rot out. If you plant them too late, they won’t mature. In the event you have the ability to grow all three types of plots, I recommend planting 2/3 of year round food and 1/3 of fall food plots.
Water sources can be the last thing that people create for deer because of the cost. Before looking at the cost and getting turned away, remember that this is a one time investment that has the ability to last a lifetime if maintained property. Once you take this into account, they truly aren’t that expensive. Remember to build them bigger so they can hold water through a dry spell. If you don’t have access to heavy equipment or a trusted excavation company in the area, go find a kiddie pool and dig it into the dirt. The key to a successful kiddie pool is not digging it flush but to keep it up several inches to prevent it from getting full of dirt.
Bigger plots like corn/beans/clover give deer food year round and hold deer on the property. Keep the small plots turnips in staging areas between bedding and main food source.
Keep things simple, don't buy special fertilizer mixes that are extremely costly. 19-19-19 for turnips. If you want to really make them grow, throw some 46-0-0 with the fertilizer mix. 200 lbs of 19-19-19 and 100 lbs of 46-0-0 per acre. For soybeans, use 200-300 lbs of 9-23-30 per acre. If you have the ability to find 0-0-60, you can use this at the same rate. For corn, you can use 46-0-0 or 30-10-10. Depending on what product you end up using, you are going to want 300-400 lbs per acre.
If your hunting area allows it, be sure to use mineral sites! This will be the most cost effective thing you can do to help your deer! Simply buy mineral and dump it on the ground. I like to place them on main trails, or on the edges of food sources. In the spring of the year, when the snow starts melting is when you need to start these! You could start them in January if mother nature allows it. Minerals and salt are key to give the deer the minerals they need to grow big and stay healthy.
When it comes to equipment, and you want to start buying equipment, start with an ATV and sprayer! If you can keep the weeds down, it will make tilling a lot easier and you will be able to get away using smaller equipment. For example, if you mowed your fall food plots over the 4th of July, come back a week or so later once the grass has had time to grow back a little, you can spray with round up and 2-4D. This will kill all the grasses and weeds in the plot leaving the ground bare. Allowing for easy tillage in August when you go to plant your plot. Keep in mind when you put 2-4D in the mix, you have a TWO WEEK delayed planting. Which means, once you spray you cant plant for two weeks. If your schedule doesn't allow for this to work, just spray with round up.
Remember planting food plots and watching them grow just adds to the hunting experience. Something is better than nothing! If you are looking for help from the professionals don't hesitate to reach out! There are lots of custom food plot companies that are willing to help you out! Feel free to give myself a follow and watch what we are doing! Yucatanagservices on Instagram! You can also call/email me directly with any questions! Erik Dahl 507-429-5407 or email@example.com
- Erik Dahl