Corn is obviously the most common deer supplement. At around $5 a bag, it’s cheap and easy to buy at any Tractor Supply or Wal-Mart, and easy to distribute or load into a feeder. But corn is also the poorest human-provided nutrition source for whitetail. Corn is low in protein and does not provide nutritional levels needed to develop bone and muscle. While corn is a cheap method to bait and hold deer in an area, commercial protein pellets and establishing food plots can accomplish the same result as well as increasing nutrition and total available quantity of food. Better food source(s)- and more of it – means healthier and higher numbers of offspring and larger wildlife populations on your place. Commercial feed pellets are high protein and can be distributed like corn. Food plots should be planted on a split season growing cycle: one planting in early spring for summer months and one in early fall for winter consumption. Rye, wheat and peas are common cool season plantings, and vetch and sunflowers warm season plantings.
Of the two seasons, the summer months are the most stressful dietary period for whitetail. Summer food supplementation is most critical due to fawns being born and nursed and bucks adding antler growth.
For waterfowl, dove and songbirds, establishing food plots is most important during migratory and winter months when food sources are scarce. Bird food plots can be established by shallow discing and sowing with seed-producing plants like sunflower, pea and millet.
Locate food plots near surface water sources and in narrow strips and – for deer – adjacent to escape cover. Of course make sure game food plots are protected from cattle on your property so all production is available for wildlife.
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