Now that we’ve established why summer food plots are so important, especially here in east Texas, let’s take a look at how to select your plot sites. There are lots of things to consider, such as location, size, proximity to cover and water. Again, I’m not an expert, I have just learned to use my resources.
When it comes to location, you have to look at the long term and short term issues. The long term issues could be distance from the highway or other public areas such as a campground, rest stop, or even a hunting lodge. Deer like to be in secluded areas and if there is a lot of traffic, the deer will be less likely to return. This is one thing my family and I have worked really hard on. We only go near the food plots between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. so that the deer have as much seclusion as possible. Deer typically only come out during the evening and night so we do our best to be out of the food plot by that time.
One of the short term issues you might encounter is lack of cover. Trees and food plots can be planted to take care of this issue. In one of my food plots, Deer Pond, it lacked cover but it was in a prime position for food and water so I planted oak and pine trees and a few fruit trees. Bell Place on the other hand lacked food, but was abundant in water and cover. I had to remove some of the cover to replace it with food.
You also need to figure out what size the food plot needs to be. It doesn’t have to be in a square shape, it can be in any natural opening or shape you want. Just be sure to leave enough room for equipment to get in and out if you are going to plow or no till drill. The food plot also doesn’t have to be completely open. I left a few trees in the Bell Place food plot so that the deer still had some cover.
According to an article I found from Field & Stream, “10 Ways to Improve Your Land for Deer”, “a deer needs an average of 1 1/2 quarts of water a day”. In some months, deer can get the water they need from plants, but in other months they need to have another source of water. This article also mentions that a pond doesn’t have to be large. A ¼ acre pond will serve the needs for a whole herd of deer!
Planting several small food plots as opposed to one large food plot will help in the success. Deer are known as being browsers which means they don’t stay in one spot very long. No matter how good your food plot is or what you have planted, deer won’t stay in one spot all day. They are always on the move.
The next important thing to do is a soil sample. If you don’t know what your soil contains, it is really hard to figure out what to plant. This goes for gardening, farming, and even food plots. Next week we will talk about what resources you can utilize in your county for many things related to wildlife management