Plot placement and types
Planting deer food plots and trying to decide where to plant? First you need to decide what the primary goal of each plot is, or the plot type. Once you know this, you can decide if you’ve selected the right spot.
When planting deer food plots, we generally like to break our plots into “hunting” and “feeding” plots. Most plots will be effective for both, but hunting plots have a few extra requirements to be useful hunting spots.
Feeding plots (and plots in general)
As the name implies, these types of plots are primarily for nutrition and feeding. They are typically larger in size and are crops and seed varieties that have a wider window of attraction. Since they are primarily for providing nutrition, the big questions are whether the crops will grow well in the specific locations. There are a few key factors to consider when choosing these locations.
Soil quality tends to vary more than people would expect over an individual property. If you’re putting in your first plots, this is a great time to get soil tests in a number of potential spots. The results may make your plot site selection easy.
Certain crops handle low light situations better than others. In general, more sunlight is better for feeding plots.
Slope and drainage
If your property has some topography, slope and drainage are important factors with certain crops. Too much slope and planting deer food plots may be unsafe, due to tip risk. Runoff also is a problem on highly sloped plots. Conversely, poor drainage can also impact ability to plant successful plots. While deep valley plots may have good soil, they tend to be wetter than other planting areas. Tailor your site selection and variety choice based on your conditions when planting food plots for deer.
Certain crops require moderate acreage to provide effective forage. While small plots can be good attractants, they often get overgrazed if you don’t have enough acreage, or don’t protect your plot. For corn or soybeans, you’ll often need at least one acre to avoid overgrazing of your plots. Measure your plot sizes using our area measurement tool.
Plotting generally requires a number of implements and pieces of equipment to plant. Difficult to access plots can be great for hunting, but tough to put in. If it’s difficult to get your equipment to the spot, maintenance and planting will be harder to perform. For these locations, consider perennial plots.
Factors that are important for feeding plots, will also be important for hunting plot site selection, with the exception of the size requirements.
While you can hunt over nearly any plot, hunting plots are planted with the specific purpose of hunting over or near them. In general, they are smaller, closer to cover, and have fall attractant varieties.
Cover and Visibility
Deer by nature tend to be nocturnal animals. The more secluded, the more deer you will have in the plot in daylight hours. Planting deer food plots that are small, winding, and amongst trees is a great way to create a successful hunting plot. Again, keep sunlight and drainage in mind and adjust your variety selection and location based on those factors.
If you’re a treestand hunter, you need trees for your stands. Planting near immature woods or brush may attract deer, but be difficult to treestand hunt. If you find a great spot with no good trees, consider a ground blind for your hunting. Read more on stand placement here.
If you have a good food plot, it will likely attract some deer to it. However, deer are browsers and move from food to food. They best way to attract deer is to place plots on or near normal traffic corridors. This will pull deer that are passing through the area and otherwise wouldn’t seek out the plot.
Getting to plots without spooking deer can be a challenge. That said, the more secluded and hidden, the more deer will generally use the plot. When choosing hunting plot locations, try to balance your personal accessibility with the level of cover and seclusion of the plot. With many plots, they will better for hunting in morning or evening based on your deer patterns. A game cam is a great way to find this out without being too intrusive.
Google maps is one of the best ways to scout for plot locations. The terrain feature will help you assess the slope of the ground, and the aerial feature will help assess the level of cover.
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