Driving down back country roads in the heart of the Midwest, you’ll encounter vast expanses of land dedicated to growing crops. Increasingly, the hunting community is also planting food in the ground, but not for harvesting. Rather, they use it to support wildlife in a given area with supplemental food sources. We call these food plots, and on the large scale, they can look very much like your normal ag fields.
One very important element to keep in mind, especially for those of you who have an interest in planting food plots, is that they can almost literally be planted anywhere. Plenty of hunters out there are going to their best crossbow hunting locations, tucked deep back in the timber, and planting food plots with little more than the strength of their own arms.
This is probably becoming one of the more popular and more effective places to plant food plots. Deer like to feel safe and comfortable, so where better to provide them with food than right on their front door step? The deer have been conditioned to feed through the night in large commercial ag fields, and they are designed to sustain that kind of browse. These small “hidey-hole” food plots can be just the ticket for increased daylight activity, however. Think of them like a midnight snack.
Something that a lot of deer hunters aren’t necessarily aware of is the feeding pattern of deer on a 24-hour clock. There are actually 5 feeding times that whitetails engage in. The most common that hunters know about are just as the sun starts to leave the sky, throughout the night, and just as the sun is breaking day. But there are two other times that deer like to feed.
You see, a common misconception is that deer bed all day, and are active at night. While that is generally true, that does not mean that deer won’t be active during daylight hours too, even outside the craziness of the rut. Deer, like people, might get hungry during mid-day a couple times, and so it is not uncommon to notice deer munching on acorns mid-morning and mid-afternoon. This is when deer are most likely feeding on acorns and other browse found close to their bedding areas. Remember, they had just been sleeping and don’t want to make the journey all the way back out to the ag fields just for a light snack.
When putting the puzzle together, if you know where deer tend to bed down, which ag fields they go to for their “main course”, and generally how they travel to and from each place, then you can pretty well pick a spot somewhere between those locations and plant a small food plot that will pay dividends when hunting season rolls around and you’re up a tree with your crossbow.
If you’re interested in exactly what to plant, it is best to pick something that is different from the grains that are planted in those large commercial ag fields. Stay away from corn and soy beans for the most part, and you’ll do well for yourself. However, if there’s one food plot crop that is easiest to plant while offering a massive amount of nutrient benefit for the deer herd and other wildlife, then there’s only one food plot you need to plant! Read more about why clover is the go-to crop for these small, hidey-hole food plots in last weeks blog and you’ll be well on your way to great success come fall!