Photos by Alamy
Problem: With food abundant and the rut cranking up, your plots are getting limited use.
Diagnosis: First, both farm crops and natural foods (acorns, fruits, browse) are widely available now. Second, deer are focused on breeding. Third, your plots lack drawing power. Some of your plants may not be at peak palatability; others may be overbrowsed. Clover may be flowering, while the wheat is tough, and brassicas have been devoured down to the dirt. Deer are not bothering with these slim pickings.
Rx: In the short term, you can add more variety and improve your plots’ taste appeal. Would you choose a buffet with three entrées or six? The wider the selection of plants, the more likely a buck or the doe he’s after will find something to their liking. If you live in the south, use blends such as Eagle Seed’s Broadside (turnips, radishes, wheat, and beans) or be creative and plant your own mixtures, alternating strips like crimson clover, mixed brassicas, and winter peas. In northern states, expand your offerings by adding different cereal grains. (These are the only food-plot seeds that can be planted this late.) If you have wheat, add rye or triticale for variety, or a high-sugar-content oat such as Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus. Some bucks prefer one to the other.
Preventative: Employ a strategy that ensures a variety of plants will be available to deer at all times of the year. This means cereal grains and brassicas for fall and winter, clovers for spring and fall, annuals such as cowpeas, soybeans, and lablab in summer. Add edible shrubs along the borders and a few fruit trees to further enhance the menu.