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Late Season Food for Big Bucks


It is no secret that when the season is in it late stages bucks are trying to recover from the stress of the rut. As we said in an earlier post, bucks can lose up to 40% of their total body weight during the rut. This makes the post rut vital for recovering from the stress. To do this, bucks need to eat and they need to eat a lot of protein to build back fat reserves and muscles loss.

If ever there was a time for high quality food plots to help your deer herd it is in the late season. Good food is very difficult to find in many areas of the south that do not have food plots built for the deer. Wild food sources are few and far between causing bucks to wander long to find suitable food. Hunters can capitalize on this by knowing where the food is and or placing food for the bucks.

High energy brassicas are perfect for this late season. The greens of the brassicas are turning into sugars after a good frost and the deer love them. Plus, once the forage is eaten, the deer will dig up the tubers and feast on the turnips, sugar-beets, or other nutrient rich roots. If brassicas are not available, alfalfa, good quality hay, or even supplemental food sources are ideal for providing food for the deer and allowing for opportunities for hunters to find and ambush deer. Another good food source for late season is soy beans. As Kip Adams of the Quality Deer Management Association reminds us, “the husk of the soybean provides more nutrition and protein than white oak acorns.” Hunters who plant soy beans see it as an early season food source. However soybeans left unharvested will provide the deer nutrition far into the winter. As the leaves die off, the deer will begin to feed on the bean pods and gain vital nutrition from the bean and the husks at the same time.

Supplemental feeding, also known as baiting is another method used to provide late season food for bucks and will also help them to recover. If herd nutrition is your goal, then the commonly used shelled or cob corn is not the way to go. While it will bring in deer to feed, it is not providing them with the nutrients they need to get through the winter. Protein pellets, or other food supplements on the market are far better than corn to give the deer something they need to put on the fat and muscle they need. However, if corn is all you can afford, then by all means use the corn. Something is better than nothing.

Hunters wanting to ambush a buck in the late season need only to find the food sources and sit as close by as they can without being detected and they will give themselves the best chance of killing a good buck.