Spring Food Plots?

NAH Staff Writer Larry Weishuhn looks at SPRING food plots!

I started hunting whitetail deer as a wee youngster in “the gravel hills” just north of Texas’ Gulf Coast Prairie with my dad. Deer stands, back then, were a couple of 2”x 4”’s or cedar “poles” nailed in a tree overlooking a deer trail.  No one baiedt.  I doubt deer even knew what “corn” was in our area, other than when deer happened upon a garden.   But come come fall we did plant oats in small cleared areas secluded in the woods.  These we referred to as an “oat patch”.  These were not planted to serve as food plots, although deer perhaps did benefit from them.  We did fertilize some of our “oat patches” but it was only because we planted “hay grazer” in the larger of them during the spring, so we could get a few extra bales of hay for our cattle and horses.  These were not planted for whitetail deer, although these plantings benefitted the local deer. We noticed two things: deer liked feeding on the growing “hay grazer” (a sorghum-grass hybrid) and when we turned those same “hay patches” into “oat patches” those which we had fertilized were preferred by deer.  But back then we did not concern ourselves with added nutrition for deer.  Our “oat patches” helped pull deer out of the woods where they could be seen and shot, pure and simple.

It was not until many years later we even thought about turning our “oat patches” into “food plots”, to provide highly nutrition forage for deer during the spring and summer.

In time I learned, too I to got to shoot my Ruger firearms loaded with Hornady ammo at deer considerably more often on those properties where we established both fall/winter and spring/summer food plots.  Increased nutrition in deer manifests itself in bigger bodies and antlers, as well as increased fawn production and survival.

As a wildlife biologist long involved in quality deer management programs, I started encouraging planting food plots on those properties where there was tillable soil.  I had landowners and hunters experiment with many different seed/plantings, some of which produced  and some of which did not.  Many of our efforts were aimed at properties in the arid lands of southern Texas.  If we could plant a forage crop that would do well in the horribly dry, though high nutritious soils of that region, I knew it would be relatively easy to grow deer forages elsewhere. Enter forage seeds from Tecomate.  At the time I was working with landowners/hunters throughout much of North America to help them improve their habitat for whitetail deer.

Back then as now, when it came to food plots there are some basic considerations: Will the seeds grow in the immediate area?  Is the forage produced something the deer will eat?  Is it good for deer? 

I used to be invited to look at lush green food plots in the southeastern part of the U.S.  They were beautiful to look at, grew tall and looked lush!  Problem was, nothing fed on the plots other than insects!  I asked whether they planted food plots to look at or for the deer?

We are fast approaching the time to plant spring/summer food plots.  I recently caught up with a trusted friend, David Morris; a wildlife biologist, television show host, as well as serious whitetail deer hunter.  I asked David about spring/summer food plots. What follows is his reply!

“High protein warm season food plots provide the critical nutrition needed for body recovery after the rigors of winter and rut and to grow big antlers and nourish fast developing fetuses in the does.  Spring plantings should be high in protein, highly preferred and available  in enough quantity to supply a major part of the deer’s spring/summer diet.  Legumes are generally excellent protein sources. Favorite perennial legumes are alfalfa and clovers, especially ladino white clover…and chicory, though a forb and not a legume.  Various big-seeded peas and beans, like LabLab, cowpeas, forage soybeans are some of the top choices.  Sunn hemp, a fast growing legume capable of growing 8-feet tall in 40 days, is a new warm season protein source as well as a shielding plant for big seeded peas and beans.  It is also a great soil builder.  Tecomate Horn-Maker Xtreme, a mix of sunn hemp and forage cowpeas and soybeans, is one of the best warm season choices. 

We are planting Tecomate’s Horn-Maker Xtreme on several properties within the next two to three weeks here in central and southern Texas.  For a better idea of what to and when to plant spring/summer food plots in your area please visit www.tecomate.com

Heading out the door to look for shed antlers and get ready for spring planting!

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