When we think about designing a food plot program to improve our property and make it more attractive for deer, our minds instantly turn to Fall Hunting and the Big, Leafy, “Made for TV” Brassica Food Plots like Big Sexy. While those Brassica-style food plot mixes are incredibly important for the year round forage production on your property, the foundation needs to be built on cold season perennials, like Comeback Kid and Hot Chic.
Whitetail deer are browsers and eat anywhere from 6-10 pounds of food per day, depending on the age and sex of the deer and the time of year - now that’s a lot of food! This comes from a wide variety of food sources including woody browse, forbs, mast and green forage – but doing your part in providing a sustainable, high protein green food source can go a long way toward holding more deer on your property. These foundational perennial mixes will last several years with minimal maintenance and consist of white clovers, red clovers and chicory. They are generally easy to establish, can adapt to a wide variety of growing conditions, can be planted in the Spring or Fall, offer high levels of protein for body and antler growth and will feed deer late into the Fall and Winter. Perennial food plot mixes can sometimes be overlooked by their brassica counterparts when it comes to deer hunting, but the value they provide your deer hunting property on a yearly basis can’t be overstated. In addition to their benefits for deer, they also will provide great food sources for turkey and grouse, while the flowering plants are a natural draw for your resident honeybees. Lastly, once established, these cold season perennial food plots will be the first thing to green up in the Spring and a critical early source of high protein forage for your deer coming off of Winter and heading into “Growing Season”.
When you begin to lay out your 2024 food plot program, be sure to consider working some perennials into your rotation to help provide food on a year-round basis, provide a solid foundation for the long-term success of your food plot program and help turn your “property” into a “Domain”.
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