September 29, 2022
By Brian K. Strickland
For well over a decade now, food plots have been an element of the farms I have hunted. Although I fought the urge to jump on the food-plot bandwagon when it seemed to be the latest flavor of the month, I’ve since changed my tune. Fact is: A good food plot in the right location and hunted at the right time of year simply works!
One of the best whitetail bowhunts I ever experienced was on the inside edge of a secluded food plot. At the time, it was simply a place where the does wanted to be as they headed to a larger ag field, and with the calendar just flipping to November, the bucks did, too.
I bet every deer on the property visited the small plot that evening, and when the sun finally dipped below the horizon, one of the bucks I was after showed up.
He strolled onto the plot as if he owned it — hitting each scrape with vigor as he did. When he finally nosed the scrape in front of me, my arrow zipped through his chest and he darted into the timber. I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that this food plot had paid off once again.
As much as I remember every detail of that hunt, I also remember the sweat equity it took to make it happen. Whether you’re wanting to clear a small kill plot or create a destination plot designed to benefit the health of your deer herd, there’s simply more to it than just breaking some ground and spreading some seed.
Lucky for us, there’s no shortage of tools to create and enhance our foodplots, and if you’re short on equipment or just want to make a secret spot a little better, BioLogic’s Hot Spot No-Till ($19.99) blend is a great option. Like many bowhunters, I tend to gravitate toward these hidden gems, and more than once some type of no-till blend has made them a little better. As its name suggests, BioLogic’s blend requires no soil tilling: simply clear the ground, apply seed, and watch it grow. This fast-germinating mix of wheat, deer radish, rye, and rape plants easy and is awesome when it comes to attracting deer.
Clover is another can’t-miss forage in most regions in the fall, but it’s also a protein-rich food that holds its own the rest of the year as well. Developed as a backbone for any long-term food plot, Big Tine’s Foundation Clover ($29.99) is a five-clover blend with three drought-tolerant perennials for persistent success up to five years, plus two faster-growing sweet annuals that kickstart the plot until the perennials have time to develop.
Another way to keep deer interested throughout the whole season is the new Southern Greens ($24.99) blend from Antler King. Powered by collard greens and radishes, it’s resistant to both drought and cold, making it extremely palatable regardless of the time of year. Although its name may throw you off a little, this blend of brassicas, winter wheat, and oats are just as effective up north.
AccuForage’s Fall Frenzy ($38.50) is a protein-rich brassica-based blend that’s both beneficial and irresistible to deer. Its three main ingredients contain 20% or higher protein, which is a must for establishing good deer health. Fall Frenzy contains hybrid forage brassicas, rape, turnip, radish, and other versatile forage that will withstand cold, warm, and dry conditions.
Diversity can be important if you only have one spot to scatter seed, and The Perfect 10 ($26.99) from Ani-Logics Outdoors would certainly qualify. A popular annual, it combines 10 whitetail-preferred forages that provide essential nutrients and attraction from early fall deep into the late season. This smorgasbord includes Ani-Crush winter wheat, rye, oats, winter peas, clover, radish, collards, turnips, sugar beets, and rape.
It’s no secret how sweet-tasting brassicas act like a magnet when bucks are in a post-rut recovery mode. To keep your herd’s interest when the temperatures dip, try one of the latest from Boss Buck — Final Destination Sugar Beet & Turnip Seed Blend ($34.95). The 4-lb. bag covers a half-acre, making it perfect for new micro-plots, or as a supplement to an existing one. This blend provides the late-season nutrients and energy deer need for the tough winter months.
Another sweet-tasting option for the late-season is the Rack’M Radish Pro ($19.99) from Evolved. It’s blended with Evolved’s ProGro Biostimulant, which is a proprietary seed coating that has been proven to grow healthier plants with more forage per acre. This annual combines daikon radishes with a special T-Raptor rape and turnip hybrid that regrows throughout the season.
If you’re needing a blend to supplement an existing plot or maybe add to a harvested bean or milo field, Domain’s Green Machine ($24.99) would be a good choice. Designed to stay green all winter, it consists of a variety of wheat, rye, oats, winter peas, forage rape, and radish. This quick-germinating mix was specifically chosen for its pH and cold-weather tolerance.
Sometimes, dirt needs a little boost to make it come alive, and Whitetail Institute’s Impact Soil Amendment ($59.98) is the cure. Designed to treat soil with low pH levels either before sowing seed or to an emerging or existing plot, simply mix with water and apply to create high-yielding, nutritious plots. Its size makes it ideal for hard-to-reach locations, and it certainly beats lugging bags of pellet lime to said hotspots.
Another water-based supplement to try if you’re worried that your plot will be a little skinny this season due to drought, insects, or soil that’s not up to snuff, is PlotBoost ($24.99) from DeerGro. With its complex blend of carbohydrates, amino acids, and micronutrients not found in traditional fertilizers, all that’s needed from you is to mix it with water before application, and then let the magic begin. The 32-oz. bottle covers up to an acre and can be applied with hand-pump, backpack, ATV/UTV, or tractor sprayers.
If you’re a one-man operation and don’t have access to a tractor, the GroundHog Max Plow ($349) is an affordable and effective alternative. Its unique design centers the discs directly under the ATV/UTV’s own weight to ensure it digs deep enough for an effective seedbed. It weighs 43 lbs. and is fully adjustable for depth.
When you need a simple solution to broadcast your seed, EarthWay’s 2750 Bag Spreader ($64) might be the best solo option. It’s fitted with a corrosion, tear, and weather-resistant nylon hopper that holds up to 25 lbs. of your favorite blend. With a simple crank of the handle, it spreads seed evenly. It’s fitted with a flow-rate adjustment valve and on/off control switch to limit waste, and it folds up for easy storage.
Edging the food plot with an attractant can certainly add a little extra draw to your setup, and the Hunters Specialities NFUZE ($14.99) would be a top contender to do just that. Teaming up with Rackology, HS developed a scientific blend of protein, minerals, and vitamins that are designed to dramatically increase overall herd health, immune system, antler growth, and reproduction.
Another attractant designed to draw in the action is the BB2 Cube ($24.99) from the folks at Big&J. Offering the highest protein-to-salt ratio available today, it is specifically designed for those hard-to-reach locations and would be a great addition to any existing plots. Essentially, it’s a compressed form of Big&J’s popular BB2, which has built quite a reputation over the years as a healthy supplement and attractant.
One of the latest attractants from Moultrie that seems to be holding its own on one of my farms is the Deer Magnet Drip Bag ($19.99). Available in a berry and apple blend, it’s essentially a flavored, natural trace-mineral salt that you hang over an existing mineral site, or you can use it to develop a new one. When it rains, it creates a drip-mineral attractant that whitetails really seem to enjoy.