The question every small parcel hunter wants to know: What can I plant to bring in mature whitetail bucks? While every property is different, there is a basic plan that we like to use when setting up small properties for the first time.
1. 1/3 Triple P (Perennial mix containing clover, alfalfa, & chicory)
2. 1/3 Summer Annual followed by a fall plot with high spring regeneration.
3. 1/3 Fall Focused
***Rotate 2 & 3 yearly, rotate Triple P every 3-5 years.
Triple P is where all food plotters should start. This perennial mix of clover, chicory, and alfalfa provides high tonnage of forage throughout the year. It can take high browse pressure through the growing season and provide high quality forage through the winter months. Frost seeding back into this plot in the early spring will provide longer life and fresh new growth.
Summer Annual & Fall Plot
Summer Annuals such as our Upland & Antler, Pods & Blooms, or Soil & Forage are great options to provide high protein food sources for your deer herd. Follow these products in the fall with Opening Day Clover, Shady Buffet, or Fall Forage. These products offer a great full season food source packed with cold tolerant forages and also offer great spring regeneration, meaning deer will have plenty of forage in early spring to fulfill their needs after a strenuous winter. This also means you'll have a valuable food source for your deer until next summers fall planting and a great spot for spring turkey season.
Fall Focused Plot
A fall focused plot such as Frosty Brassica Buffet, Winter Bulbs, Fall Forage, and Opening Day Clover are packed full of cold weather forages that will help keep your herd healthy and stress free during late winter. Containing forages that stay green down to 5 degrees, the deer will be drawn into these plots during the toughest times of the season.
Strategic Set Up
Most clients can find approximately 1 acre to plant, even on small parcels. If you are unable to find an acre, work with your property owner to discuss opening up the canopy of the parcel or potentially having a logger take mature trees out. Logging the mature trees on your property will provide plenty of sunlight to the forest floor, allowing for plenty of native forbs for your deer to browse on and bedding cover.
When designing your plot, consider utilizing the perennial closest to your tree stand. Whitetails will be hitting this plot early during bow season allowing for the possibility of targeting an early season mature buck. The fall focused plot will be highly attractive later in the season, so these plots should be furthest away from your stand due to the higher browse pressure during gun seasons.
-Make sure not to over pressure small plots. Consider utilizing a single stand location with a trail cam close by to monitor the plot. Unless there is a mature buck frequently using the plot early in the season, wait until the Late October/Early November rut phase to catch a mature whitetail getting a snack on his way out to check does in the big ag fields. Over hunting these plots to early will make the deer only feed there in the evening.
-Soil samples are very important when planting in a timber setting. Many times soil can be acidic and may need lime prior to planting. Also, rotating your plots is very important for soil health and disease resistance.
-Any parcel over 20 acres of timber should contain a sanctuary bedding area, where whitetails cannot EVER see, hear, or smell you. While this can be difficult on small parcels, consider the furthest point away from your entry location. For example, if your only entrance is from the south west, use the north east corner as a safe zone for deer. Depending on how your neighbors hunt also factors into this equation.