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Early Season Food Plots

Early Food Plots


With deer season in many places in South Carolina opening in August, now is the time to get those early season food plots in the ground. But whether your season opens in the middle of August, the first of September or the middle of September, the early season plots need time to grow to reach optimum efficiency.

An average adult deer will consume 6 pounds of feed per day. 365 days per year x 6 pounds = 2,190 pounds of feed per year. So, one deer can be supported on roughly 22 acres. In order for land owners and managers to get the most out of their land, they need to maximize the feed.

There are basically two reasons to grow food plots. One is to grow bigger deer. We all love a lot of antler and when the protein is available bucks will produce bigger antlers (with all other elements assumed). Food plots enable land owners and managers to control the amount of protein that is available on a particular piece of land. The second reason we grow plots is to keep deer on our property. We do not want our well managed deer to wander off onto some scag hunter’s property. By providing a food source that is palatable to the deer you are more likely to keep the deer on your property.

On average, in the non-agriculture areas, native vegetation will produce about 200 to 300 pounds of deer food annually at approximately 6% to 12% protein. Which is far below the 16% protein biologists agree deer need to express their full potential. Furthermore, it is shown that deer will consume approximately 75% to 80% of their diet in food plot crops. When good crops are available.  Food plots produce forage that is much more palatable and digestible then corn, protein pellets or native vegetation and therefore encourage deer to feed aggressively on these crops.

Summer blends are some of the best crops to plant this time of year. Mossy Oak provides some of the best blends available. Another crop that will work well for early season and is a personal favorite is soybeans. As any South Carolina farmer knows, soybeans are magnets for deer in August and September. When these crops are maturing the deer cannot seem to get enough of them. Contrary to popular thought you do not need hundreds of acres of soybeans to attract deer. I have seen and planted plots of a few acres, some as small as a half-acre of soybeans and been very successful drawing in deer to these plots.

Bow hunters and early season gun hunters know the importance of getting good food for the deer. Finding a good source of food will make for excellent hunting.