November 02, 2023
If I had to pick one element that gave me the most fits early in my whitetail-hunting career, it would easily be my ability, or inability, to consistently grow lush, attractive food plots.
Back then, food plots were the latest craze, and it seemed every article or video had something to share. Looking back, it wasn’t always my fault — Mother Nature was the culprit many times, with unseasonably warm and dry conditions or a deluge of rain. But if I were completely honest, bad planning and execution were also in the mix.
However, as the science of food-plot management has developed over the years, and as seed blends, fertilizers, herbicides, and my knowledge has improved, producing a great food source has become relatively easy. Sure, the entire process still takes considerable time, energy, and money to make food plots look like those on TV, but with the right mix, delivered at the right time, you can be the envy of your hunting buddies.
Mossy Oak’s BioLogic needs no introduction, and their Green Patch Plus ($32.99) is just one of the many reasons why. One of their most economical blends, this scientifically driven fall-plot blend combines the drawing power of cereal grains with proven and highly palatable New Zealand brassicas and clovers. It’s attractive within days of planting and will last throughout the season.
Formulated to be a high-impact food source during the season and beyond, Southern Greens ($24.99) is just one of the latest from Antler King. Blended to be both drought and cold-resistant, it’s suitable for virtually any region of the country. It’s powered by protein-rich collard greens, as well as radishes that turn into a sweet, high-energy food source when temps start to dip. Rounding out this powerhouse is a blend of winter wheat, oats, and clover.
Pennington is another seed company that has been developing top-quality blends for decades, and their Rackmaster Deluxe Supreme Fall ($81) is one of their most popular. It is a combination of highly succulent winter annual grains, brassicas, winter peas, and annual clover. Designed not only to germinate and grow quickly to attract wildlife in fall/winter, but with annual crimson and arrowleaf clovers, it also provides a quality food source in the spring to ensure optimal deer nutrition for growing bucks and gestating and nursing does.
Evolved Harvest is a fan favorite of many whitetail bowhunters, and their 5 Card Draw ($19.99) is proof-positive why. Designed to draw whitetails and other wildlife throughout the year, this protein-rich blend is an annual and perennial mix of oats, wheat, white clover, barkant turnips, and chicory that can be planted in spring, summer, or fall. High in protein and minerals, it’s formulated to adjust to a variety of soil conditions to ensure full-season attraction.
Food plots, by nature, are often difficult to access. Deer either catch you when leaving at twilight, or during those predawn hours when you’re trying to slip in. To help conceal your movements, AccuForage has developed their new Out of Sight ($35.50) seed blend. Designed to grow 12' tall in a variety of soil conditions, it acts as a screen that is perfect for field edges, funnels, or natural travel corridors you use to access stand locations. It also provides needed bedding cover if your property lacks it, or if you want to establish one in a particular area. Couple this with their Fall Frenzy ($38.50), a mix of hybrid forage brassicas, rape, turnip, radish, and other forages that will grow in just about any climate conditions.
If you’re limited by time or space, having a diverse plot that grows the right groceries at the right time is important. Ensuring that your deer have what they need throughout the hunting season, Ani-Logics developed the Perfect 10 ($26.99). A popular blend, it combines 10 “perfect” forages whitetails prefer and need from early fall through the late season. This smorgasbord includes winter wheat, rye, oats, winter peas, clovers, radish, collards, turnips, sugar beets, and rape.
If you’re needing to boost an existing food plot or maybe enhance the attractiveness of a harvested bean or milo field, Domain’s Green Machine ($24.99) would be a good option. Designed to stay green all winter to keep deer interested, it blends a variety of wheat, rye, oats, winter peas, forage rape, and radish. This fast-germinating mix grows quickly and was engineered for its pH balance and cold-weather tolerance.
If you have a remote location that’s difficult to access or just don’t have the necessary tools to establish a large plot, Big Tine’s No-Till Buck Brunch ($19.99) is a solid solution. With no soil prep required, this shade-tolerant blend features annual clover, forage rape, turnip, forage wheat, and rye that establishes quickly and boasts proteins, vitamins, and minerals for better antler growth and overall herd health. It’s ideal for fall planting but can be planted in spring to help mend soil.
If you’re looking to provide your food plot with a headstart and keep it delivering quality nutrition throughout the season, DeerGro’s PlotStart and PlotBoost ($69.98) combo delivers that one-two punch. I’ve used them more than once on my Texas plots and was very happy with the results. PlotStart is a calcium-based fertilizer that provides a unique mix of complex carbohydrates, amino acids, and micronutrients to enhance the soil productivity and is applied at or before planting. Apply PlotBoost when your plot is actively growing to enhance growth for greater overall yields.
For over three decades, Whitetail Institute has earned a solid reputation with popular blends like Clover, Destination, Pure Attraction, and No-Plow — to name a few. However, even the best blends need some help once grasses and weeds start overtaking what you’ve planted. Designed to control most grasses and weeds, Arrest Max ($56.99) is a selective herbicide specifically developed for food plots. It controls a broad range of annual/perennial grasses that is safe to use with Whitetail Institute’s perennial forages like clover and alfalfa.
Unlike many fertilizers on the market that offer just the basic N-P-K formulations, Rackology takes them to the next level with their premium Food Plot Fertilizer & Supplement ($16.99) blend. This proprietary formulation adds many of the nutrients deer need directly to the soil, while also creating the healthiest soil possible to produce maximum plant nutrition. Having deer supplements delivered directly to the forage deer eat provides better overall absorption and long-term benefits to your deer herd.
Whether you’re broadcasting your favorite blend on a micro-plot or have bigger plans in mind, the 80-lb. Capacity Spreader ($399.99) from Boss Buck is a handy tool to have. Simply attach it to an ATV/UTV, or even your truck, and watch its remote-controlled magic go to work. Ideal for seed, feed, and fertilizer, it comes complete with a wireless-activation system and features an adjustable flow rate, so users can evenly spread the right amount.
Another option for evenly broadcasting seed is Moultrie’s ATV Spreader ($369.99). Its tapered, plastic hopper holds up to 100 lbs. of seed or fertilizer and comes with a handheld, electronic controller that regulates dispersal rates with six different settings. Its quick-release mounting system is compatible with most ATV/UTV models.
Although as bowhunters we tend to focus on hunting food sources in the fall, establishing mineral sites next to them can certainly enhance your food plot’s attractiveness. Xcellerator ($9.99) from Rack One provides deer with the necessary vitamins and minerals that not only promote overall health but also maximize antler growth.
Although there are many seed blends that don’t require a ton of soil prep, long-term results are often measured by the preparation you’re willing to put into it. Making that process a little easier is the all-in-one Master Series Cultipacker ($4,599) from Micro Food Plots. It’s equipped with 12 notched-bladed disks, a Clod Buster cultipacker, drag, and Accu-Seed Spreader to ensure seed is spread evenly. The 16" Run Flat Tires transport it to virtually any spot on your property, and with the multipurpose Electric Lift, users can get the ideal depth when disking. Plus, with its 40" disking swath, it won’t take any time to ready your seedbed for the best possible results.
Another implement that can take your plots to the next level is the Firminator RT ($10,250–$18,000) from Ranew’s Outdoor Equipment. Available in 4', 6', and 8' models, this tractor PTO-driven rig couples the benefits of a rototiller instead of disks with their proven Accu-Seed spread and cast-iron cultipacker to deliver the best seedbed with a single pass. Its unique ground-driven design evenly spreads seed based on your speed, and when not moving, it stops dispensing to minimize waste.