Hidey Hole Food Plots
I really enjoy planting food plots and watching them grow. However, truth be told, I plant food plots to help me see and kill deer. I really enjoy watching deer, learning about deer, and eating deer. For food plots to be successful, they need to be designed with a mission or missions in mind. On one end of the spectrum, the mission ranges from providing quality forage for deer and other forms of wildlife so they can be healthy and express more of their potential. (In many areas production ag fields serve this purpose.) On the other end of the spectrum, plots need to be strategically located AND hunted with the sole mission of attracting deer for a shot opportunity.
I call such plots ‘Hidey Holes.’ They are one of my favorite tools to tag mature bucks. There are three criteria that must be met for Hidey Hole plots to help hunters meet their mission of tagging a mature buck:
- The Hidey Hole plot must be located within the range of one or more mature bucks. You can’t tag what’s not there.
- The forage in the Hidey Hole plot must be more attractive to the bucks than other food in the area that is equally accessible. A Hidey Hole plot full of pigweed won’t attract deer no matter where it’s located.
- The plot location should be where bucks have no association with fear.
The first two criteria are straightforward, and don’t need an explanation. The third might need a bit of an explanation. The primary factor that determines when/where deer move is fear (not food, cover, or water). Mature bucks will avoid the best food in their range, especially during daylight, if they associate the area/food source with fear. Simply stated they want to survive more than they want the best food in their range.
Given that, I look for locations to create Hidey Hole plots that deer shouldn’t have any association with danger. This may be an old dry pond in the woods or where lightning killed a large tree and now sunshine reaches the ground, etc. I find a spot in a small area that hasn’t been hunted in a while and receives at least a half of day of sunshine. This might only be 100 yards or so off a beaten trail, but exactly where deer have been free to move without being alerted by hunters.
I plant the plot, hang the stand or place a blind and then leave the area until conditions are right to hunt. Lush forage in an area where deer don’t have any association with fear is a proven recipe for creating a killing plot! Next week I’ll share how I plant forage in Hidey Hole plots!
Growing and hunting deer together,
Dr. Grant Woods was raised and began his love of white-tailed deer as a bow hunter in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.