August 19, 2020 3 min read
Do a small amount of research on best practices for food plots, and you’ll likely come up with a long list of tips and tricks. The items that usually appear on that list would include things like taking soil samples, applying the right fertilizers, understanding the variety of seeds you want to plant, getting the timing right of when to plant, and how to prepare the seed bed. Those are all important factors and should be taken seriously. But you can find those ideas anywhere.
Here are 3.5 less common tips and tricks to consider for your food plot strategies this year
Yeah, that hemp. Many states have recently made hemp legal to farm, sell, and process. With rapid growth rates, the right variety of hemp can provide both great foliage and habitat for deer. The large, tree-like bushes are hardy and low maintenance. Available in hundreds of varieties, select the plant type that fits your plan. Use tall varieties for barriers, and shorter ranges throughout your plot for leafy greens that won’t overpower your other crops. As a bonus, the large canopies and large seed clusters produced by some varieties of hemp will attract a wide range of other wildlife to your food plot and the surrounding area.
Throw your deer a tasty curveball this year by planting a few fruit trees. Give your deer a sweet treat for dessert after their food plot meal with some healthy fruit. Apple trees and pear trees will both draw deer to your plot and keep them coming back. Simple to grow, these trees offer large varieties of specific species, growth rates, and taste. Take special note of the zone map for planting, and consider planting multiple types in a small cluster area to ensure success. Be mindful of the position and the equipment you’ll be using to work the rest of your food plot. You may need to get creative to keep deer away from the trees as they establish, but once they’re growing and producing, you’re in business.
Ok, I get it. I said you’d get some unconventional tips in this list, and shape is regularly discussed for food plots. Unlike common convention, I won’t tell you to plant a long narrow food plot. When I’m doing food plots, I like to think of shapes like letters. If you’re on your computer or your phone, look at the shapes of the letters on your keyboard. There is no shortage of creative ways you can plant food plots to steer and direct deer to a specific location. Consider planting less common shapes to provide unique curved paths (like the letters D, G, and O, and J), pinch points and intersections (like K, Y, X, and H), or combinations of the two (like R, B, and P). If you’d rather keep things nice and straight, long, and narrow, try some W, Z, or L shaped plots and fill in the voids between your primary crops with a variety of other secondary crops.
Seed mixture isn’t exactly a new concept either, hence only getting half a point on our list. What I like to do is blend my transitions between seed varieties. Let’s say you want to plant soybeans, turnips, and clover. I try to avoid mixing the seeds into a large mixture and spreading altogether. Similarly, I try to avoid hard, sharp edges on my plots and eliminate the sudden transitions between plant varieties. Overlap the areas where you’re seeding slightly to give soft edges to each plant type. This will often slow down a deer coming and going from each area, giving you what might be the extra second you need to get that perfect shot.