Creating Food Plots for Wildlife: What You Need To Know
You’ve probably heard that food plots are a great way to attract deer and other wildlife. But to do this, you need to understand what kinds of natural foods deer like, where they live in your area, and what kind of land you have. After that, it’s just a matter of planning and planting. This article will walk you through the process to ensure your success.
What Is a Food Plot?
A food plot is simply an area where you plant crops that your wildlife of choice likes to eat. The goal is to attract them to your property so you can observe or hunt them. These deer hunting attractants can be annual (planted each year) or perennial (coming back year after year). They can be as small as a few square feet or as large as several acres.
How Food Plots Are Beneficial to Wildlife
Food plots are beneficial to wildlife for a variety of reasons. First, they provide a source of food for foragers. Grasses and other plants can be used to supplement the natural diet of these animals or to provide them with a reliable food source in an area where they would not normally find food. When animals can find food easily, they are less likely to starve during periods of scarce resources, such as during winter or natural disasters.
Additionally, food plots can help keep populations healthy by providing essential nutrients and preventing malnutrition. Nourishing plants can promote antler growth and improve the health of bucks.
Also, these plots can help support biodiversity. When different species have access to a variety of food sources, they are more likely to coexist peacefully and compete less for resources. This can lead to healthier ecosystems overall.
How Food Plots Are Used for Foragers
Food plots are commonly used to increase the population of a particular species for hunting purposes. By providing a plentiful food source, foragers can encourage a higher density of prey animals in an area, making it easier to locate and hunt them. In some cases, they may also be used to protect a population from danger. For example, if a population of animals is threatened by a hectic street or highway, a plot can be used to lure them away from the dangerous area and into a safer location.
How To Create a Quality Food PlotThere are just a few steps to get started on creating your own plot.
1. Decide What You Want To Plant
The first step is to decide the best deer bait for your plot. There are many options, but not all will work in every area. You’ll need to consider the climate, rainfall, and soil type where you live. Here are some popular choices.
- Chicory: This perennial herb grows in USDA hardiness zones 3–8. It’s a deep-rooted plant, so it does well in drought conditions and will naturalize (spread by seed) in your plot. It prefers full sun and can tolerate limited shade.
- Clover: This perennial is easy to grow and does well in shady areas. It can grow in hardiness zones 3–10 and has low water requirements.
- Radish: This annual root crop is fast growing and easy to establish. It’s a good choice for poor soils and can tolerate some shade.
- Turnip: This annual is a cool-season plant that typically prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Turnips are a good choice for poor soils and are drought-tolerant.
These are all easy to plant and make for strong bait. The best deer food attractant has a good mix of annual and perennial plants to provide food throughout the year. You could also choose a mix of sun-loving and shade-tolerant plants to cover your bases.
2. Test Your Soil
Testing your soil will help you determine which fertilizer to use and how much to apply. You can collect a sample from your food plot area and send it to a local lab for testing. Or you can purchase a DIY test kit.
When you receive your results, pay attention to the pH level. This should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for most plants. If it’s too low, you can add lime to raise the pH. If it’s too high, you can add sulfur to lower the pH.
3. Prepare the Soil
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. The goal is to create a loose, weed-free environment for your plants to thrive. You can do this by tilling the soil or using a mulching mower. If you till, be sure to do it several weeks before planting so the weeds have time to germinate and can be killed before they have a chance to take root.
If you use a mulching mower, set it to its highest setting and mow over the area several times. This will chop up the vegetation and help it decompose back into the soil.
4. Fertilize and Plant
Fertilize your plot according to the results of your soil test. Then it’s time to plant! You can do this by seed or by transplanting seedlings. If you sow seeds, be sure to do it at the right time of year for your area.
5. Water and Wait
Water your plot thoroughly after planting. Then all you have to do is wait for the plants to grow. Be sure to water regularly, especially during dry periods. You may also need to add more fertilizer throughout the season if the plants show signs of nutrient deficiency.
Once your plants are mature, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!
6. Enjoy the Bounty
How to Keep Your Food Plot HealthyFirst, it's important to follow the proper planting dates for your area. This ensures that the plants get the right amount of time to grow and mature. Secondly, you'll want to minimize human traffic on the plot. This can compact the soil and damage the plants. Lastly, make sure to keep an eye on the plot for any signs of pests or disease.
Deer are creatures of habit, so once they find your plot, they’ll keep coming back. By following these steps, you can create a bountiful buffet that will attract deer all season long!