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This Year's Fall Food Plot Success
By: Jason Herbert
August 8th, 2012 - While out running the other day it hit me. Not figuratively, but literally. I was running down a quiet dirt road, lined with age old hardwoods. A pea sized acorn had fallen and hit me as I was jogging by. I took a moment to look around and realized that this wasn't a fluke. Acorns and hickory nuts had already dropped everywhere. This summer's record setting heat and drought like conditions have punished the nut and fruit trees. Unless irrigated, the corn, beans and hay are not looking much better. With average rainfall predicted from this point forward in most of the country, this fall's food plots are going to play a huge part in the success of many ambitious hunters.
There are two times to plant food plots, spring and late summer. Spring plots are designed to attract deer and provide them with nutrition through the crucial development period of the summer months. Late summer, or fall plots, are designed to keep deer around during the fall hunting season. Fall plots can still be nutritious, but antler development is done well before most hunting seasons begin. Many well intended hunters worked long and hard this spring to properly plant their spring plots. The problem is most of them never got enough rain to be successful. Several of these plots sprouted, and then dried out and died. In these plots, all hope is not lost. Most of the prep work is completed in these plots. To be safe, I would hit them with Roundup, wait a week or so, and till them back over again.
There are several great fall food plot choices. I prefer to plant a mixture, offering as much variety as possible. Not only is variety preferred by deer, but rapid growing brassicas such as turnips and canola will shoot up quick, distracting the browsing deer while the slower starting crops such as clovers and alfalfa gain their footing. This partnership is also important because each plant "peaks" at a different time and it will continue to offer preferred food sources throughout most of the year. Turnips are especially important in a fall plot. When the first frosts hit the starches in brassicas, especially turnips, will start to sweeten up and the deer take notice. Deer will eat the giant leafy greens, and continue to spend the rest of the winter gnawing the ground for the turnips themselves. With a mixture such as this, the perennial crops like clovers and alfalfa will easily be around for years, where the brassicas like turnips and canola will probably need to be re-seeded each summer.
Another fall plot option is to simply plant an annual attractant plot for just this fall, while planning to re-seed and pray for rain next spring. In such a plot, I would use a mixture of oats, wheat, rye, turnips, canola, and chicory. The oats, wheat or rye will act as nurse crops for the others until everything is well established. The MonsterBuck Annual Forage Blend is a perfect fit for this choice. This plot will attract deer all winter long as well and be ready for a tilling come spring.
No matter the situation or location, something is better than nothing. Don't be a victim of the crazy weather and just complain all fall. Get out, properly prepare a fall plot and plant something. At this rate, anything green and nutritious will be very attractive to all of the local deer. Good luck and happy planting!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An independent outdoor writer, Jason Herbert has written articles for Petersen's Bowhunting, North American Whitetail, Bow and Arrow Hunting and other regional magazines. He is a Bear Archery Prostaff member along with his day job of teaching America's youth. Jason is married and a father of four.
Other outdoor articles by Jason Herbert: