food plots for hunting

Planting Food Plots For Hunting: 4 Things You Need To Know


Food plots for hunting can offer awesome opportunitites, so long as you plan appropriately in regards to things like soil quality and the best types of plants to attract wildlife.  The U.S. hunting and outdoor industries coined the term “food plots” to describe any area planted as a supplementary food source for wildlife. Food plots typically rely on agricultural forages as opposed to native plants because they are more attractive to wildlife. Here are some of the most important things to consider when developing food plots for hunting.

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#1. Where to Plant Your Food Plot

Old fields and wide open fields are the first places to look for good soil for food plots. Seek out areas with preexisting dense vegetation, a clear sign that things grow well in the area. Don’t plant in areas with no weeds, it might seem like a great way to reduce maintenance but there’s a reason weeds don’t grow there, the soil sucks! Or rather, the area is too wet, too dry, or some other factor prevents weeds and plants from naturally thriving.

Pick a spot that gets at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day. Don’t plant your plot in complete shade, very wet or dry areas, such as rock outcroppings, sands, and areas that are constantly hit with direct sunlight or high winds. You don’t want to plant in overly damp or shady locations either.

food plots for hunting

#2. What to Plant

You can reduce plant maintenance by sticking with native plants for everyday landscaping, but it’s not that simple when it comes to food plots. Food plots typically contain agricultural forages as opposed to native plants, simply because they better attract local wildlife. Some popular options for food plots include grains (oats, rye, etc.), brassacus, and Australian winter peas. What you plant is reliant on a couple key things:

How much time do you have between now and winter?

This is an important question to consider when deciding what to plant in your food plot. Reason being, certain plants require more time to fully mature to the point they can weather winter and survive into spring. If it’s May, for instance, you can plant pretty much anything. If it’s August, you’re limited to plants that mature rather quickly. For instance, annuals are a much better choice than perennials for last minute food plots. Annuals are hardy suckers that mature quickly and are made for bulk production.

food plots for huntingOats and wheat are high-carb plants preferred in their early stages of growth. It’s important to properly time out when you plant them with when you plan to hunt over it.

Where do you live?

Wildlife can react differently to the same plant depending on the part of the country you live in. For instance, brassicas (turnips, canola, radishes, rapeseed, etc.)  remain among the most popular options for food plots for hunting. BUT, if you live in a southern state you’ll notice deer are not all that attracted to Brassicas until late October. The reason for this is that average temperatures are not low enough to spur the plant’s production of glucose until later in the season.

#3. Consider Conducting Soil Analysis

You need decent quality soil for plants to grow and thrive. That’s why conducting a soil analysis can be very beneficial. In order to test the soil you’re working with, dig down several inches to remove a few samples of dirt. Place the dirt in a plastic bag and send it off to the Whitetail Institute for analysis. The analysis includes instructions for how to improve your soil using lime, fertilizer, etc. Check with your local feed and seed stores as they commonly offer soil analysis as well.

#4. What Does Your Local Wildlife Want to Eat?

Animals have food preferences, and if you want to attract them you need to provide the food they like best. We recommend practicing with different types of food plot options until you find your local wildlife’s favorite(s).

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