There is nothing in the world that I love more than whitetail hunting. There is something about it that I really enjoy, and it’s not all about hunting season. In fact, I get just as much fun getting ready for deer season. I don’t own a huge tract of land, although I am lucky enough to have 134 acres on which I’ve been able to implement my very own whitetail deer management program. I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years about deer behavior, what deer eat, and what they need.
In the end, for those landowners and hunters that are serious about managing deer populations, we should want to create the best whitetail habitat. For this is where quality hunting opportunities are literally born. The real secret that I’ve determined when looking at properties where individuals want to improve the deer herd is finding and enhancing the most limited habitat element. It’s easy to concentrate on one single facet of habitat and provide a whole lot of one thing, but they need it all!
Although food plots have their place in the whitetail hunting world, we can’t destroy needed habitat just to plant food. For the most part, I believe the whitetail herd found in America is now better fed than ever. In some cases, though, some have planted food plots with foods that deer won’t consume. A landowner may have good intentions, but sometimes enthusiasm must be anchored with a little research.
There are many reasons why food plots are planted, but the main reason is sometimes overlooked—nutrition. Food plots are often confused as places to just shoot deer. That should never be the case. If so, you have a hunting plot, or simply bait. Yes, whitetail hunting is good around food plots if they grow, but food production is the primary goal of those interested in improving their deer herd.
Food plots can help, but they are not a fix-all for better deer or deer habitat. More healthy deer populations can result from food plots, but it’s more important to pay attention to the habitat that you provide as a whole. It’s impossible to ingnore the requirements of whitetail and also expect to improve a deer herd. If you build it, they will come… and get big!