John's Journal...

How to Grow Body-Builder White-Tailed Bucks

The Proper Ingredients of Fall Green Fields

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Do you want monster bucks on your property?  Would you like to have bigger bucks to hunt every season?  Well, here's the formula that will produce your heart's desire. As a youngster with a stomach ache, I'd willingly do almost anything to get rid of the pain.  However, when my mother came toward me with a bottle of bad-tasting medicine, I didn't know if the medicine would taste worse than my stomachClick to enlarge ache hurt. The remedy to harvesting nothing but small bucks on your property may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it will solve your problem. To produce quality bucks through management, everything about the way you hunt and the way you manage your land must change.  A professional body builder doesn't enter a contest, if he hasn't eaten the right food 6 weeks to 3 years before the contest.  To have muscles that look like mountains and to meet the full potential of his frame, the body builder must consume the best foods all year long for several years. And, if you want to produce bucks that can win awards for big bodies and large antlers, you must understand what the deer need to eat and how to supplement their diets to insure they receive the proper nutrition.

According to Dr. Grant Woods of Reeds Spring , Missouri , a nationally-known deer researcher, you need 60% of your green fields in perennial plantings and 40% in annual plantings to always keep the green fields in some type of highly- nutritious food year-round. To grow body-builder bucks, the deer on your property must access high-quality food with high levels of protein every day of their lives. "One of the critical keys to ensuring a productive planting is to make sure you have adequate soil moisture before you plant," Dr. Woods advises.  "If there's not enough moisture in the soil to germinate the seeds, then you won't have a good planting." Deer need foods with high energy levels during the fall and winter not only because of the severity of the weather but also due to the tremendous amount of movement of the bucks and does during the rut. The whitetails will expend a tremendous amount of energy when breeding season arrives. The bucks will chase does, the bucks will fight, and the bucks often will stay up most of the day and night to travel great distances. This increased movement will create a huge demand for energy on the whitetail's body. Click to enlarge

"Another factor to consider when planting for the fall and winter is that bucks in most states will drop their antlers late in the fall or in the winter," Dr. Woods says. "So they've got to store calcium and energy in their bodies to re-grow their antlers after they've shed them. Plants that give the deer the energy they need during the fall must grow rapidly and be able to transfer the nutrients from the soil to a palatable form that the deer Click to enlargecan use. Too, small grains, when they first come out of the ground, are very nutritious. However, as small grains grow taller, they become less palatable and less nutritious. Rye grass, for instance, is extremely palatable and highly nutritious when it first comes out of the ground. But as it becomes more stemmy, the nutrients are absolutely unavailable to deer." Wheat, one of the most-generic fall green field plantings, has hundreds of varieties. Different varieties of wheat will go to the stemmy stage earlier in their lives than other varieties will. To solve this stemmy problem for the late season, Dr. Woods suggests planting a variety of brassicas that deer can utilize year-round and that you can plant in the spring and/or the fall. "You need brassicas in the mature stage and approximately 80% leafy, which means the deer get most of their nutrition from the leaves and only 20% from the stems. Then you’ll get maximum tonnage of high-quality food that’s digestible for the deer by having brassicas available for them in the late fall.”

When you select seeds for planting in the fall, consider how much deer food those seeds will produce and also how much of the produced food will deer digest and use. If a body builder eats a big bowl of food, and his body only can utilize 20% of that food to build muscle and bone, or, he can eat the same size bowl of a different food that his body can use 80% of that food, you quickly realize that the body builder needs to eat the food that his body can utilize the best. Since different plants mature at various times, Dr. Woods recommends planting a blend of seeds with plants that are extremely palatable early on and other plants palatable during the middle portion of the season. "I never recommend planting a single crop at any time of the year for deer," Dr. Woods says. "Seed blends produce the most nutrition throughout the entire growing season by having different cultivars mature and at various times becoming palatable." Check with your county agent about the best times to plant these green fields in your section of the country.

For more information about Dr. Grant Woods’ research, visit

Tomorrow:   Spring Green Field Plantings

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Grow Body-Builder White-Tailed Bucks"

Day 1: The Three Most-Critical Ingredients for Growing Big Bucks
Day 2: More Tactics for Better Deer Management
Day 3: The Three Most-Critical Ingredients for Growing Big Bucks
Day 4: The Proper Ingredients of Fall Green Fields
Day 5: Spring Green Field Plantings


Entry 523, Day 4