John's Journal...

Grow Your Own Better Deer All Year by Careful Planting and Fertilizing

Preparing Your Food Plots in January and February

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you want to take trophy bucks, you have two options. You either can pay several-thousand dollars to hunt a couple of days at a ranch or aClick to enlarge lodge with an extensive deer-management program that produces trophy bucks each season, or you can grow your own trophy bucks on the land you hunt. I’ve contacted some of the nation’s leading deer managers and developed a month-by-month guide, which if followed, will help insure you’ll have more and bigger bucks on your land each season.

“You can increase the availability of deer food for the next season by removing undesirable hardwoods that are draining nutrition and water from the soil,” Mark Thomas, a certified forester and wildlife biologist from Birmingham, Alabama, says. In January, find the trees that produce the most nuts for deer, and inject the small, undesirable hardwoods around them with a herbicide. Byusing a small ax to make a 1/4-inch cut at a 45-degree angle and then squirting a 50/50 mixture of a herbicide and water into the cut, you can kill the root system of these undesirable trees. Once you’ve eliminated this competition for nutrients and water from your fruit and nut trees, fertilize these mast-producing trees with a fertilizer specifically formulated for trees. Put the tablets all the way around the tree Click to enlarge5-feet apart and 3 to 5 inches into theground under the outermost branches. Now that you’ve removed the competition from the tree and fertilized it, this tree will produce bigger and more-nutritious nuts or fruit nextseason.

February: Click to enlarge       
Now’s the time to put out your first bag of a mineral mix. Place this first bag of minerals with extra salt content near a green field or some other feeding site.  Putting out the first bag of minerals in February creates a salt lick the deer will use. “Vitamins and minerals taste bad to a deer, but deer like the taste of salt,” Dr. Grant Woods, a well-known wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, explains. “So, if we can get the deer to ingest the salt, they’ll also take in some vitamins.” The first bag of a mineral mix will cause the deer to habitually come to the site for salt and minerals.

To contact Mark Thomas, call (205) 733-0477, or visit

Tomorrow: Planting Food Plots in the Spring and the Early Summer

Check back each day this week for more about "Grow Your Own Better Deer All Year by Careful Planting and Fertilizing"

Day 1: Preparing Your Food Plots in July and August
Day 2:The Best Ways to Prepare Your Food Plots in September and October
Day 3: Food-Plot Planting in the Winter
Day 4: Preparing Your Food Plots in January and February
Day 5: Planting Food Plots in the Spring and the Early Summer


Entry 516, Day 4