What about the neighbors that don’t participate or manage land for food plots?
Some bowmen complain that while they “manage” for better deer and bigger bucks on their small hunting properties, neighboring landowners don’t. The rub is, why should a hunter with food plots and the desire to have better bucks “grow” deer only to have a neighbor shoot the animals if they wander next door?
That can be a problem, but if you have choice food plots on your 100 acres, deer will spend the majority of their time on and near those fields—not on your neighbor’s property. This is advantageous for attracting and holding better bucks, and also in keeping smaller animals on your land, where you’ll allow them to grow, instead of wandering over the property line where they could be shot.
In discussing food plots for deer, it’s important at the outset to determine your intent. Are plots made simply to attract deer for hunting, or are they established as year-round feeding sites intended to increase overall herd quality? Year-round plots do the most good for does, fawns and buck racks, but there’s more work involved. If you’re only interested in feeding deer in autumn for hunting, less farm labor is mandated, but you’re not influencing the herd health as much as year-round food will.
Quality deer management is more than just feeding deer during hunting season. Deer need a high-quality food source 12 months per year, something in the neighborhood of 16 to 20 percent protein. This is what’s required to significantly increase deer body weight and antler development. It can be accomplished by feeding high-protein feeds through game feeders, by creating food plots offering deer spring and summer crops, and by fertilizing natural food sources.