If You Plant It, Will They Come?

Whitetail hunters across the Midwest are planting fall food plots now. But you’re saying, “It’s summer; aren’t fall food plots planted during fall?”

Here’s the deal: Spring food plots are planted during spring, and these can include perennials such as clover, as well as annuals such as soybeans and corn. Of course, whitetails will feed on clover as soon as it emerges, and they’ll hammer it through summer and early fall, too. Deer will eat green soybean leaves during summer and into early fall, when the leaves turn yellow. Then, deer abandon the beans until later in fall when soybean pods become dry and desirable, which is about the time deer eat corn (either standing fields, or cobs and kernels left behind after picking).

To confuse you even further, clover can be planted during summer or fall, too.

Fall food plots are generally planted during mid- to late summer, and the seeds put in the soil include brassicas, oats, radishes, turnips and other annual forages highly desirable to deer come fall and winter. So why the word “fall” in the fall food plot name? Good question; it’d be far less confusing to simply call them summer food plots.

Whatever you choose to call the stuff you plant during July and early August (in the Midwest and North), the biggest problem is a lack of rain to jumpstart the plots. Example: On my land in western Wisconsin, the area experienced record rainfalls in June, and April and May were wet, too. I frost-seeded Frigid Forage Plow Down clover early in the spring, and it grew like crazy. In fact, it grew so well I didn’t want to plow it down prior to planting brassicas on the same ground during July. So I buried only half of my Plow Down clover field (below) and let the other half continue to feed deer during the remainder of this year.

Last weekend my buddies and I prepared and planted seven fall food plots. And because July has been bone dry (driest in the past 7 years), there isn’t much soil moisture on the surface. Each day since July 19-20 I’ve been watching the weather radar on my smartphone and on TV. For almost a week now there hasn’t been a drop of rain, and there’s no rain in the 7-day forecast, either. So my seed sits there . . . and I sit here . . . waiting and praying for rain.

If my area does receive timely moisture during August and September, my BioLogic Deer-Radish , Frigid Forage Big-N-Beasty , and Imperial Whitetail Winter-Greens will grow quickly, and my Wisconsin whitetails will enjoy a banquet of fine brassicas, radishes and turnips. And if my hunting buddies (like my brother shown below) and I shoot straight, we’ll enjoy a banquet of fine venison, too.

I’ve planted it, but will they come? Only if Mother Nature cooperates.