How to Plant Killing Food Plots
Last week I described a killing plot – a source of lush forage that is attractive to bucks located in an area bucks don’t associate with fear. Remember – fear or avoiding danger is the strongest motivation for mature bucks. Creating a food source in an area bucks don’t associate with danger combines the attractive power of security and food. This combo virtually always results in a great stand location – a killer combo actually!
Once a location is found that receives at least four hours of the sun’s light (enough to grow forage) and one the hunter can access without alerting the deer they wish to hunt, the next step is planting the crop.
My Hidey Hole plots are usually about a quarter acre in size (approximately 30 yards x 30 yards). I simply remove any leaves, sticks, etc., from the area so the seed can make seed to soil contact. Remember, the mission of this plot is simply to attract bucks – not to produce enough forage to improve the herd’s health. Another factor to remember is that simply growing plants won’t attract deer. The forage needs to be a variety deer prefer to eat during hunting season and the forage produced in that plot is as tasty or more tasty than other food sources within the deer’s home range.
To increase the odds of bucks using the plot throughout the season I select forage that’s most attractive to deer during the portion of season I plan to hunt. For example, if I plan to hunt the Hidey Hole plot before there’s frost in that area, soybeans are a great choice! I’m not aware of any forage that deer prefer more than soybeans! However, they will be damaged or killed by the first frost during the fall.
If I plan to hunt the plot after a killing frost has occurred, I usually plant wheat or a blend of wheat, radishes, and turnips like Eagle Seed’s Broadside blend. Deer will typically eat the radishes first, then wheat second and the turnips during the late season. No one forage will be the most palatable from October through December so a blend helps keep bucks coming to the plot as different varieties mature and extending the hunting life of the plot.
Plants are only as attractive to bucks as the nutrients they get from the soil. Soil in most woodland areas is typically low in nutrients. Therefore it is very important to heavily fertilize Hidey Hole plots. Once the Hidey Hole plot is planted and the stand/blind prepared, leave it alone until you hunt. Often times, the first hunt at a Hidey Hole plot is very productive as bucks have no association of fear with that location!
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.