August 1st-September 15th is prime time to plant winter annuals, or clover if you didn’t plant any this spring. If you can’t decide what to plant this fall, or are frustrated with how your late season plots have performed, here are a few things to consider.
- Sometimes turnips take a few years to attract deer
This is important for two reasons, first, perhaps the deer didn’t hammer your turnip plot last year, this doesn’t mean you should give up and not plant them this year, it may be the year that they figure it out. Second, it may be a better idea to plant something in with the turnips that deer in your area are more accustomed to. For instance, I am planting winter peas that are similar to soybeans in with the turnips. I believe this will draw deer to the turnips more quickly than they would alone. Another tip my neighbor shared with me is to plant your turnips in between the rows of corn, when your corn ripens it will pull the sugar out of the turnips and will taste better to the deer.
- Your Neighbors Habits
Food Plots are great, but it’s hard to compete with a farmer who leaves an entire field of beans up for the deer to munch on. Consider what your neighbors are going to leave up this winter, perhaps you should plant something different, or perhaps you don’t have to plant any food at all. If there are plenty of crops available for deer to eat, focus more on creating bedding and breeding cover for deer. Plant winter grasses or cut trees for shelter and bedding and the deer will eat in your neighbor’s unharvested field while you wait for them to return to their bedding areas.
If your neighbor is going to be late getting his corn out, deer are extremely comfortable walking on the edges of cornfields, they feel comfortable that they can jump back into the corn at anytime. Last season I hunted a grass strip that had corn standing fifteen yards out on each side of the fence, I didn’t see a single deer walking in the corn but ten walked comfortably in the grass. They will use the path of least resistance while maintaining close proximity to cover. Next season consider planting grass along a fence dividing cornfields and it can be a dynamite early season spot, especially if it leads to beans or an early season food source.
If your neighbor is leaving up beans, the deer will likely migrate there later in the year when the other food is exhausted. But also be aware of when he harvests that field, the two or three days after he harvests, especially if it rains, the deer will be all over the easy picking beans on the ground.
- Thicken Buck’s Travel Corridors
Creating travel corridors is another good alternative to planting food plots, during the early and late rut a buck is unlikely to run crazed across a field, but if you thicken a fence line, or down a few trees to create more cover he may get up a little earlier in the evening. This spring I planted sorghum rows and bushes to connect a food plot, doe bedding area, and known buck hideout.
- Switch it up
The great thing about many of the winter varieties is that they are annuals. So if what you plant this year doesn’t work, you can always change it up next year. I would plant clover, a cereal grain (like winter wheat), and some sort of winter crop (like brassicas, peas, or beats). Plant a different variety in three different locations and figure out which one works the best. Because soil type, region, and weather from year to year has such an effect on food plots there is no perfect combination out there, keep experimenting and in a few years you may stumble on the golden ticket for your area.
Whitetail season is only two months away, I hope a few of these ideas bring you success this fall.
Harrison Hoegh hunts in Southwest Iowa, New Zealand, and Wyoming. He creates videos and writes blogs for Iowa Slam with his brothers Stuart and Max Hoegh. You can follow other articles he has written @IowaSlam on Instagram as well as on twitter @harrisonhoegh.