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Tweak My Food Plot

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"If your food plot isn’t attracting deer like you want, change it. Test for fertilizer and lime use, add some fruit trees and vary plantings to create a deer cafeteria.

QUESTION: I hunt in the Northeast, about 3 hours north of New York City. I have a 15-acre parcel of land that’s bordered by several hundred acres of woods on one side with houses on the other three sides. I have an isolated 1.5-acre food plot with a chicory/clover mix close to the edge of the property adjoining the woods.

Tweak My Food Plot

Although my deer sightings have increased, I am not seeing the number of deer I thought I would when I planted the plot. I really want it to be the premier plot in the area to draw and hold deer. Given the limited acreage, is there anything additional I can plant to draw in and hold more deer? — Brendan F.

ANSWER: Given that you are surrounded by houses and woods, I would think a clover-chicory mix is a good option. Clover will thrive in wetter years and chicory in drier years.

There are several possible reasons for why you’re not seeing more deer. One could be palatability. Assuming you’ve already tested your soil, you might consider doing it again, particularly if you’ve had the plot in place for several seasons. It may be time to add more lime and fertilizer, which will make your plants more attractive to deer.

You could also consider switching to a different seed blend containing brassicas. If you have the right soil and growing conditions, they might do better, and do a better job of attracting deer during hunting season. Of course, it will require annual planting.

With 1.5 acres, you also have the option of planting a cafeteria plot. Plant part in clover and chicory and part in brassicas. You might also consider adding some fruit trees along the perimeter.

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