One of the best go-to food plots plants are oats for whitetail deer hunting. They grow in a variety of soils, sandy or otherwise. In fact, no fall or winter season plant attracts whitetail deer more than a lush stand of green oats. This is the number one reason why oats are recommended in most every fall food plot mix for deer. They also work stand-alone and when done right will bring deer in from far and wide.
Food Plots for Sand: Have a Plan
Most deer hunting grounds offer challenges for plot establishment. Areas with sandy soils have both pros and cons: easy to manipulate, but water retention an nutrients are low. If the main interest in attracting deer to an area is to make them more susceptible to hunting during the season, then planting a plot of oats will do the job. But you will have to do more than disk up a field, plant the oats and expect deer will come.
This can work, but if you optimal deer attractant, then it is important to get the pH between 6.0 and 6.5, adjust P and K levels (medium-high) and add 100 to 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate per acre as the plot is getting growing and setting roots. When the sandy soil is amended correctly, a stand of oats is very nutritious for whitetail and will attract more deer. In fact, a good plot of just oats can achieve 25 percent crude protein levels with over 70 percent digestible nutrients! But you do not want your food plot to consists of just oats.
Post Season Food Plot Management
As the oats mature in the spring, palatability and digestibility by whitetail will decline considerably. At this time, the plot can be disked under in preparation for an annual spring food plot planting or left fallow for planting again in the fall. Another option is using a herbicide (such as Roundup) to prepare the field for planting a spring/summer plot with a no-till drill.
A no-till drill is a great piece of equipment. This technique conserves soil moisture and may reduce time between fall/winter plots and warm season production. Another good option is allow the oats to stand through the summer so that seed is available for wildlife, then spray growing weeds as appropriate and disk in late August.
During this time, either allow the oats to re-seed or re-plant the area. Oats are generally good at re-seeding, but food plots on sandy soil may not germinate well if moisture is inadequate. I suspect in most years you will be just fine if seed production was good.
Oats and Sand Go Hand in Hand
In the end, it’s just about impossible to beat a good oat food plot for attracting deer. Oats grow well on sand soils and whitetail deer absolutely love them. Remember not to skimp on the site prep because the deer will notice and that will mean less opportunities for you during the whitetail hunting season. Go with 100 pounds per acre when planting oats for whitetail. If you want to get fancy you can add some other species, but keep the oats at at least 60 pounds per acre if you are putting together a mix.