Over the course of the next month, I’ll be focusing on all things related to food plots – why you should plant a summer food plot, site selection, soil sampling, and much more. Just remember, I’m not an expert. I’ve just found an interest in wildlife management and want to share what I’ve found.
The Priefert Ranch has only been managed for wildlife the past couple of years. Before that, the primary focus was on cattle. We have come to realize that Wildlife Management is no different than managing cattle or other livestock. You still have to ensure the deer are healthy, strong, and well-nourished.
Most people think that tending to deer is only a seasonal thing, something you do in the fall right before hunting season. In reality, spring and summer are the seasons when your deer really need attention. Bucks especially need protein this time of year for antlers to grow and doe need protein for gestation and then to feed their babies.
In several of the studies I have found, it appears that each deer consumes approximately one and a half to two tons of food per year. That’s a lot of food. There is plenty of “natural” food surrounding my food plots, including vetch, rye grass, and clover. But, Northeast Texas has pretty distinct seasons, which means that there isn’t always natural food year round. Most of it will either burn up in the summer heat or frost in the winter. So, what do the deer eat when seasons start changing and their “natural” food isn’t available? They eat in my food plots. Between my food plots and supplemental food that I provide in my feeders, the deer are never without.
According to an article I found from Field & Stream, “10 Ways to Improve Your Land for Deer”, “a 1 acre food plot can provide as much forage as hundreds of acres of mature woods.” A ½ acre food plot once a year isn’t going to build the herd up, it is only going to attract different deer. While this size is good and does help wildlife, it isn’t managing the herd for future growth. If you are trying to build the herd and keep everything as healthy as possible, you need to do at least an acre and a half food plot twice a year.
Now you know why a food plot is necessary. Next week we will dive into choosing a location for your future food plot.