John's Journal...

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

Planting Food Plots in the Spring and the Early Summer

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 a 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.

March:Click to enlarge
As soon as you see the first green-up in March, pour the second bag of minerals into the salt lick you’ve created with the first bag. “If you use BioLogic Full Potential, the second bag will have a mix of 50-percent vitamins and minerals and 50-percent salt,” Dr. Grant Woods, a wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, reports. “BioLogic Full Potential increases the amount of vitamins and minerals the deer takes in at a time of year he’s eating green plants with more water in them. The salt helps eliminate the water, and the vitamins and the minerals provide additional nutrients for growing larger antlers and larger bodies.”

“This time of year is when you need to eliminate fescue and other exotic weeds and grasses that have little or no value to deer, turkey and quail,” Mark Thomas, a certified forester and wildlife biologist from Birmingham, Alabama, emphasizes. “Once the fescue and the noxious weeds have been eliminated, native grasses, which contain more-digestible crude protein than exotic grasses, will come back and replace the destroyed weeds.” According to a study done at the Mississippi State University, native grasses contain 20- to 22-percent crude protein the deer can use for growth and development. And to boost the nutritional level of native plants on the lands where you’ve eliminated fescue and noxious weeds, broadcast a native-plant fertilizer to increase the crude protein of these plants from approximately 20% up to perhaps about 28%.Click to enlarge

When nighttime temperatures stay between 40 to 60 degrees, plant a seed Click to enlargeblend like BioLogic New Zealand Maximum. Make sure before you plant to have a soil test done to determine the amount of lime and fertilizer you’ll need to put down after plowing. To prepare the seed bed, turn and disc the land. If you don’t have a soil test done, put out one ton of lime and 200 pounds of a time-released food-plot fertilizer per acre. Time-released fertilizer will continue to release nitrogen to the plants throughout the growing season. Once you’ve prepared, limed and fertilized the seed bed, broadcast a seed blend like BioLogic New Zealand Maximum either by hand or with a machine. Don’t cover the seeds with more than 1/4-inch of soil. Many people prefer to use a cultipacker to cover the seeds.

May and June:
You’ll find treating food plots with herbicides an inexpensive way to eliminate weeds that compete for nutrition with the crop you’ve planted. Herbicides also permit the plants in the food plot and the deer that eat them to have more nutrition. You can treat with herbicides quickly and easily if you use an ATV with a sprayer attachment. Eliminating weeds from your food plot also enables your food plots to become more drought-resistant and to grow bigger, stronger and healthier plants for wildlife. You should apply different herbicides for various crops.

To contact Mark Thomas, call (205) 733-0477, or visit Dr. Grant Woods’ website is

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 5