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What Should I Plant?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I live in northeast Ohio, and hunt a 400-acre farm but struggle with what to plant in my food plots. There are already alfalfa and clover hay fields on the property, and many cornfields around us. What should I plant to ensure that the deer will want to stay on our property instead of using it as a transitional route between bedding and food sources? — Eric

Ask The Biologist
Photo by Tim Martin

ANSWER: It sounds like you’re already in pretty good shape. With properly treated soils, clover and alfalfa are great sources protein and will be in high demand by the local whitetail population, at least through the early to mid hunting season. If they’re well maintained, they’ll become more attractive after the corn is cut. However, as the days grow shorter, deer increasingly shift their diet from warm-season protein forage to plants high in fat and carbohydrates. Perennials like brassicas and turnips fill this niche nicely. You could also plant corn or soybeans and leave them standing.

Meanwhile, having deer use your farm as a travel route between bedding and feeding areas is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if they’re not disturbed at either of the end points. In fact, travel corridors are often easier to approach and hunt. Add some food plots, and you can have the best of both worlds.

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