This is by far the most common food plot question. Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer.
QUESTION: I live in eastern Massachusetts. I was curious what the best food sources would be to set up a food plot. I know the deer are around the local cornfields but is there anything else I could use on my plot for a bit more diversity to help attract more big bucks? — Martin M.
ANSWER: There are plenty of things you can plant to attract deer, even if there are crops nearby. For starters, think about year-round nutrition, not just fall attractants. A good crop of perennial clover will provide protein in the spring and summer when deer need it most. And it will be the first thing to green up the following spring when deer and turkeys are actively seeking a high-protein diet.
Fall annuals like winter wheat and oats will grow quickly and ripen just about the time deer are fattening up for winter and you’re trying to fill the freezer. So will brassicas and/or turnips. Deer might ignore them early on but will hammer them once the frost hits and the plants’ starches turn to sugar. And any leftover tubers will remain attractive through the late season (November and December) after commercial crops are harvested.
You might also consider the longer term. Mast trees like apples, chestnuts and oaks take a while to mature and begin producing fruit, but once they do, they’re maintenance-free and provide natural food that deer are accustomed and attracted to.