Building a better deer herd in your area takes some time and effort but can be very rewarding. Deer are browsers and like to eat natural foods much more than eating from a feeder. To help increase the quality of your deer herd you need to make sure that they are getting more protein in their diet. Feeders can be full of high-protein food but deer will only spend an hour or so at a feeder. If you incorporate high-protein food plots along with the supplemental foods you will definitely see improvements in the quality of the deer in your area.
Test the soil in the areas that you plan on using for food plots with a test kit from the Department of Agriculture or a university extension office. You will receive a report of what you need to do in order to change your soil to better support deer crops. This can include fertilizing, liming or even irrigating the land plots.
Pick a plot that has some natural cover or wooded area for the deer to bed down or to hide when necessary. The food plot area does not have to be entirely enclosed by cover but enough to give the deer a sense of security.
Make sure the food plot has at least three to four hours of sunlight a day. You can purchase plot mixtures that can produce good stands of vegetation with this amount of light.
Consider the size of your food plots. About 1 acre is best, but any food plot size is better than none. Always make your food plots irregular in shape; don't make them look like gardens. The deer will like them better and feel more like they are part of the natural surroundings. If space is available, try to have about 5 percent of the total acreage in year-round food plots.
Prepare the plot by removing as much of the brush and undergrowth as possible. The more you clear out the better your plot will be and for a longer time.
Space your food plots evenly across the land. Don't bunch them all together. This will help the deer herd to browse and won't diminish the food plot as quickly.
Plant the food plots. The best mixtures are ones with clovers, alfalfas and lespedeza. If you are planting soybeans and cowpeas it is best to plant in larger food plots to help with heavy grazing. Many of these mixtures don't require plowing and are very easily planted with little preparation.
Install the stand-alone deer feeders and have them stocked with high-protein pellets to supplement the food plots. This will also keep the herd from depleting the plots.
- If you are going to plant lablab in any of your food plots make sure that you plant it in one of the driest areas. The food plots will produce better results if you match the mixtures with the conditions.
- Deer are aggressive animals when it comes to eating and especially if the food source is one that they really like. If you are using a stationary feeder it is a good idea to have one of the tripod style or a good mounting system to keep the deer from knocking it over.