Food Plot Question: “We have a small property that is used for hunting in Hamilton County, Texas. What is a good food plot for both white-tailed deer and wild turkey? I am going to plant at least 3 acres, and since I have both deer and turkey I was going to combine the plots to help both species. Although we will plan on using the plots to harvest game, we are very selective and intend to use the food plots primarily to keep animals in good condition.”
Response: Excellent question! First, it appears the average annual rainfall in Hamilton County is 29.61 inches per year. It also looks as if soil conditions, on average, are good with most soils having a pH of about 7, thanks in a large part to the amount of calcium in the soils. There are a number of plant species that can achieve your food plot objectives of providing forage for both deer and turkey.
Let’s talk about the early part of the year first. Good species that could be planted to spring plots include proso millet or brown millet, jointvetch, cowpeas, grain sorghum, annual sunflower, and alyceclover. All of these plants provide forage for deer and turkey, and turkey and other upland game birds will consume the seeds. Make sure that the sedbed is properly prepared to ensure the best plots.
There are also some good options for fall and winter food plots that will work great for both species. Oats and wheat are plot staples and loved by whitetail and turkey. In addition, Austrian winter peas, ladino white clover, crimson clover, and forage chicory would make great additions. A combination of a couple-to-a-few of these species would ensure that your property holds animals and that they get quality supplemental nutrition.
When it comes to food plots in general though, I wouldn’t over think it too much. Hamilton County has a lot of good soil, and it looks like some poor ones as well (though I’m sure you have identified a suitable site), so even with a moderate stand the animals will use the site heavily. The process of disturbing the soil will allow a variety of forbs to germinate, which in itself will attract the animals you are interested in.
Millets grow well and the seeds are good for all birds, but they are not great for white-tailed deer, so you would need to plant something else for spring. However, do not mix anything with millet for spring food plots unless millet is used sparingly in a mix. Instead, plant the one-half of the plot in millet if you go that route and the other half in something else. Deer will eat annual sunflower, but hopefully not so much that it doesn’t seed out because turkey, doves and quail love them.
The plants listed above would work great for deer and turkey plots in the Hamilton County area. Also, check out the photo above for more ideas on food plots in areas that get at least 29 inches of rain. This would likely include much of the central Texas area. Lastly, continue to use moderation with regards to harvest when turkey and deer hunting. This, along with attractants/supplements will make the property fun and productive.