August 03, 2021
When it comes to bowhunting whitetails, food plots are always a huge part of the discussion. In fact, a quality food plot is one of the most effective tools when it comes to overall deer management and herd health.
For the most part, there are two types of plots: Feeding plots, and kill plots. Feeding plots are designed to hold deer on your property year-round, are generally five-plus acres in size, and tend to draw deer from multiple locations. Kill plots are just that: A place to kill. They are typically a quarter to a half-acre in size, irregular in shape, and are often more difficult to access. For the bowhunter who has little equipment to work with, and even less time, these go-to spots can be productive every season, when planned correctly.
The design of a kill plot is relatively simple: Create a location that has security cover nearby, and that offers you quality shot opportunities. Although several designs easily meet these criteria, a couple are especially good and easy to develop.
The first and perhaps most popular is a long, skinny plot. These are just wide enough to shoot across, provide enough sun to ensure plant growth, and naturally funnel deer past your stand location.
A second design that is also easy to establish is the L-shape. These offer all of the same killing features, but because of its shape, also provide multiple stand locations depending on the wind.
Perhaps more important than a kill plot’s shape, is its placement on your property. When developing your kill plot, consider predominant wind directions, bedding cover, primary feeding areas, and other terrain and habitat features that naturally funnel deer. Also consider access to it. The best-looking kill plot in the county won’t do you a lick of good if you’re unable to slip in and out undetected.
Lastly, to keep your kill plots effective, they should receive limited pressure. Ideally, having multiple kill plots to hunt is your best bet. Nevertheless, if you don’t limit your time hunting them, you’ll quickly notice deer traffic decreasing during daylight hours after a few visits.
Great 8 ($19.99) is the latest plot product from Antler King. As the name suggests, it offers eight key seed varieties — winter oats, cereal rye, tetraploid rye, forage peas, radish, forage rape, turnips and buckwheat — that mature at different times. This staggered approach ensures deer are interested throughout the season, and provides key nutrients at the right time of year.
Because kill plots are often in secluded locations where it might be difficult to access with tills, drills, and other large equipment, seed blends that require little ground preparation are a must. Whitetail Institute’s Imperial No-Plow ($40.98) is a specially selected blend of clovers, brassicas, WINA 412 Radish, and other forages that attract and hold whitetails throughout the season. It grows an effective plot with minimal ground preparation, is drought and cold-tolerant, and establishes quickly in areas that get only three to four hours of sun.
Another option to keep deer interested throughout the season is BioLogic’s Final Forage ($21.99). This long-term producer offers three different succession rates to cover the whole season: A blend of radishes for the early season, brassicas for the midseason, and turnips for when cold-weather arrives. Seeds are nitro-coated to ensure germination and quick growth, and its nutrient content keeps it lush.
Evolved Harvest has been on the cutting edge of food-plot dynamics for years, and their Throw & Grow No-Till ($14.99) is certainly a can’t-miss option. Deer and other wildlife will love its composition of clover, brassicas, and tetraploid ryegrass — all of which are highly palatable, sweet-tasting, and fast growing. Simply throw this blend down and watch it grow.
Easy to establish in a variety of conditions, Primos’ Take Out Spread & Sprout Seed ($15.99) is a fast-growing mix of quality grains, clovers, brassicas, and grasses proven to attract deer. It’s designed for low-till planting, so only minimal ground prep with seed-to-soil contact is required to ensure optimal growth.
Living up to its name, Deepwoods ($39.99) from Killer Food Plots is a versatile mix for creating high-quality forage that requires little ground preparation. With a blend of rape, radishes, crimson white clover, winter rye, and wheat, it’s ideal for areas where sunlight is minimal and soil conditions are less than perfect.
With a mix of turnips, white flowering crimson clover, rape, wheat, and winter rye, Big Tine’s no-till Buck Brunch ($19.99) can be planted spring or fall. Only needing three to four hours of filtered sunlight, it’s perfect for logging roads, field corners, or hidden locations bucks pass through.
Another great option, and one I’ve had the opportunity to spread a time or two, is Boss Buck’s Boss Blend No-Till ($14.99). Easy to grow and ideal for secluded locations, it contains select annual ryes, rape, radish, and red clover. It’s a highly palatable food source that requires little to no maintenance.
A protein-rich perennial mix with a longevity of up to five years, Lucky Leaf ($35, shown at left) from AccuForage is a clover blend consisting of red, jumbo ladino, mammoth, white, and alsike clovers, with a little alfalfa and chicory sprinkled in. Plant it in early spring, or anytime during the summer.
Block-style attractants can be a great addition to a kill plot to hold deer all year. Big&J’s BB2 Cube ($24.99) is one example. Engineered to offer the highest protein-to-salt ratio available, it’s essentially a compressed form of Big&J’s BB2: A powerful aroma attractant that encompasses total digestible nutrition and protein deer love.
Another block option to consider would be Hunters Specialities’ Nfuze ($14.99). HS teamed up with Rackology to create this product, which provides the right amounts of protein, minerals, and vitamins necessary to dramatically improve overall herd health in many ways.
With a tapered, plastic hopper that holds up to 100 lbs. of seed or fertilizer, Moultrie’s ATV Electronic Spreader ($329.99) effortlessly spreads your favorite blend with a flip of a switch. It operates on a 12-volt motor, and comes equipped with a universal mounting bracket that's compatible with most ATVs.
Sometimes hard, rocky soil makes planting difficult. Quick Attach answers that dilemma with their Quick Power Scrape Mini Soil Conditioner ($6,995). This unit features aggressive teeth on the large-diameter rotor that pulverizes soil and exposes stones and other debris for easy removal. The rotor moves soil ahead of it as it tills, creating perfect seedbeds for food plots.
Micro Food Plots’ Master Series ($4,699) is an all-in-one ATV implement equipped with 12 notched blades, a cultipacker, and Micro’s drag and Accu-Seed System. With its 40" discing swath, it won’t take long to ready your seedbed. When it comes time to plant, the Accu-Seed System maximizes mixing while evenly dispersing seed.
Designed for ATVs, the Firminator G-3 ($5,999) from Ranew’s Outdoor Equipment is equipped with all of the features of the full-size, three-point implement, but in a smaller package. It combines 12" ground-turning discs with a precision seed-delivery system and a true ag-grade, cast-iron cultipacker. Weighing over 800 lbs., it won’t bounce across the ground like lighter implements.
Lastly, feeders aren't kill plots, but may have their place in regions where drought occurs. The uniquely designed Capsule Feeders ($399.99–1,299.99) set on the ground, so it's easy to load a 50-lb. bag of feed or protein pellets. They are virtually indestructible, plus a solar panel guarantees it will keep spitting out your favorite treats. It’s available in six carrying-capacity sizes.