Vegetables For Days

Keeping A Deer Population Throughout The Year Relies On A Healthy Food Plot

If you want to keep deer on your land, you have to provide a safe, healthy environment that they'll want to stay in. Part of the effort that goes into attracting and keeping deer, whether you're running a farm or just like seeing deer on your private land, requires keeping a healthy food plot for the deer. These plots provide plants that the deer like to eat and that provide them with the right nutrients. Keep in mind that these food plots require planning and continual work; you can't just scatter some seeds and let nature take its course. And even if you're an experienced gardener, there are a few issues specific to deer that you need to take into account.

Food Needs to Be Available Year-Round

One issue is that food needs to be available year-round. You can't plant in the spring and then assume the deer will go forage somewhere over the winter. Keep a rotating stock of plants suitable for all seasons so the deer know they can always find food on your land. That is key. If your land does not provide consistent food, the deer will go elsewhere. They don't have little deer planners where they can note that your land has great food in summer and they should make a trip back. Deer, like other animals, want to be where the food is, and the less they have to search for it, the better. So you're going to have to be planting in all seasons.

Choose Plants for Your Current Soil pH

The acidity or alkalinity of the soil affects which plants grow best there; if you're a gardener, you'll have some familiarity with this. If you're not a gardener, your soil has a pH, and you have to plant things that like to grow in that pH. Soil pH can take a long time to change. While nutrients can be changed quickly by adding fertilizer, the pH needs time. Once you add an amendment to make the pH change, you have to wait and keep testing.

For deer food plots, you don't have that sort of time. You need food to grow as soon as possible. What you should do is find plants that like the current pH of the soil in the areas where you plan to have food plots. You can set aside various areas on your land and work on amending the soil there in the meantime, but to start out, work with the pH you have.

Daily Maintenance of the Plot May Be Necessary

A food plot full of plants is like any grouping of plants that you're growing deliberately: It will need constant attention and possibly daily maintenance. Watering needs, fertilizing, trimming, pest control — that all needs to be done to keep the plants healthy and attractive so the deer will eat them. Some days will be lighter than others, but don't assume you can occasionally water and then forget about them.

Managing a food plot takes practice, and it will get a lot easier over time. However, if you're still unsure about what to do, look for food plot management professionals to ask for advice.