Successful Food Plots Part II: Plot Design

A well-designed food plot in Nash County

A well-designed food plot in Nash County

My previous blog was about how to properly take soil samples for your upcoming food plots. The second part of having a successful food plots is designing them in a fashion that is conducive to wildlife usage. Most people think of whitetails then it comes to food plots, but it’s not hard to find a forage that’s beneficial to a plethora of wildlife species. Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing a food plot.

Edges: When it comes to designing a food plot the first thing that should come to mind is EDGES! This can be done if you are creating a new plot or even re-vamping an older plot. A pull-behind disc can be used to create an irregular edge and you can plant vegetation along the edge of your plots also. A food plot will produce a ton of beneficial forages but if it isn’t laid out in a fashion that makes them feel secure, they will only use it after daylight hours. Of course, wildlife will still benefit from its establishment, but it’s always nice to at least see some deer use your plots, even if you don’t actually kill a deer from that stand. The second reason you should manipulate the edges is because you’re not the only predator around. Prey species are less likely to use an open food plot with straight edges than they would one featuring a feathered edge providing some sort of cover. There are a few forages you can plant to create edges if crafting one with machinery is out of the question. I have even laid the tops of smaller trees along the side of a plot to break up the monotony. It’s not much, but it breaks up the straight edge effect.

Area: There are many factors to consider when designing and implementing a food plot program on your property or lease. Many times I am asked if a plot area is too small or too large. Well, that depends. A food plot, in order to be effective, needs to be at least an acre in size. They can be larger, such a 4-5 acres, but sometimes it’s best to have multiple smaller plots than one larger plot. It also depends on the density of your deer herd. If you have too many deer, they will decimate the plot immediately after germination.

Location: Food plots, as in real estate, are all about location, location, location! Ideally, a plot would be planted near or adjacent to a bedding area or place of high wildlife activity. I’ve seen hunters plant forages in some areas that simply aren’t getting the amount of deer activity to be productive, while other parts of their property are seeing high deer activity. Why waste all your time, effort, and money only to build something in the wrong location?

I would strongly encourage you to take the extra time to plan out where a food plot needs to be on your property and do everything you can to create an irregular edge/feathered edge. It doesn’t matter if you are creating or re-doing a plot. You will notice a difference in wildlife activity throughout the growing season as well as after forage maturation. You won’t regret it!


Andrew Walters

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