Fellow Oakridge folks, if you enjoy observing whitetail deer, like to hunt them or just want to add to their nutritional resources, planting a food plot is a great way to meet your deer objective. You do not have to be an experienced “farmer” to be successful and it doesn’t take a huge amount of time or money.
Last fall I planted my first two plots in mid-September and before long, I had 2, quarter-acre plots of very nice oats and wheat. I had chosen spaces in the woods that were open enough for sunlight. They were in the secluded areas and not spots that a large tractor with big implements could easily access. However in a couple of hours I had both plots semi-tilled, the seed spread and then hand racked over. I have an aversion to deep tilling so I simply pulled a rake behind my small John Deere 790 to break open some soil. I did not remove the grass or roots to get to a clear plot of bear soil, I just broke enough ground to have a place for the seeds to land and be covered. Again, within a few weeks I had a growing crop of cereal grains that lasted through our winter. I did not hunt these plots as they were simply there for winter nutritional supplement. I did walk through them regularly to observe the presence of deer. I actually never saw deer in the plots, but I did see their hoof prints and other signs of evidence of them eating the crops.
All of this to say, it is not too late for a cool season plot. The old saying, “better late than never” is very appropriate for this subject. There is even time for some growth to appear before the bow season opens if you want to enhance your hunting options.
There are many on-line resources for review and research. There are many sources for seeds and seed mixes. Local stores such as Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s all carry seed products in a wide variety. Since we are in the “late” time rather than advanced, I suggest purchasing seeds from the local sources. Also there are several ranch property owners who have lots of experience with food plots and are very willing to offer advice and guidance. If you have questions just send us an email and we’ll have someone get to you quickly for some guidance.
Some points to remember:
- food plots only contribute to, or supplement the overall habitat management, such as proper herd/harvest management;
- fall/winter plots do attract deer but they are primarily used for their nutritional value;
- cool season plants include oats, wheat, brassicas and clovers.Try it and send us some photos of your efforts [send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org]. You’ll be glad you gave it a try. Then you just may want to put in some warm weather plots to support our herd during the spring and tough summer months.
RC Lumpkin, Habitat Chairman-ORWMA