Food Plots for Deer?
Many people establish various grains and forages as food plots
for white-tailed deer. The most common motivations for these are
to draw in animals during the hunting season and to increase body
size and antler development. Most biologists agree that food plots
are not a replacement to traditional habitat management. Moreover,
past research has provided conflicting results linking the supplemental
feeding of free-ranging white-tailed deer and antler growth or
overall body condition.
Corn, milo and wheat make good winter food plots in Indiana. Rye
and wheat can be used for the hunting season. Green browse food
plots can be annual (spring oats, sunflowers, cowpeas, soybeans,
and buckwheat) or perennial (alfalfa, clover). Your objectives
combined with the availability of the crops listed above in the
surrounding landscape, site drainage, and soil fertility will dictate
your choice(s) of what to plant. Your county extension office can
help you determine selections adapted to your site conditions.
Food plots should not exceed 5 percent of the total acreage. For
hunter concealment, establish food plots adjacent to good woody
or brushy cover. Food plots for deer should be at least 1 acre;
plots 5 acres or larger may be necessary in areas with high deer
densities. Having more than one plot planted to a single crop is
generally preferred to a single plot planted to several crops.
You should be aware of hunting and baiting laws.
In Indiana, hunting over planted crops is
legal. Hunting deer over bait is illegal in Indiana and most other
states; bait is a product, such as mineral licks, that is transported
into a hunting area and placed there for animal consumption. Contact
your local conservation law enforcement officer available through
your sheriff's office for more information.
The following are links related to white-tailed
deer plantings and management: