John's Journal...

Secrets to Early Green Field Planting for Deer

Day 5: Dr. Keith Causey and J. Wayne Fears Tell Us Why and How to Create Inexpensive, Highly-Nutritious Food for Deer

Editor’s Note: If you'll get your green field crops in the ground early, then they'll come up in your green field prior to deer-hunting season. Let's look at some of the advantages you can enjoy by planting your green fields early, fertilizing natural plants and creating unconventional green fields.

Click for Larger ViewDr. Keith Causey, retired professor of wildlife science at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, explains, "The scientific community seems to be equally divided on how to provide the most-nutritious food for whitetail bucks. One group of scientists believes that controlled burning, selective timber harvesting and fertilizing natural-occurring food sources will do the most to increase the nutrition for the whitetails. The other group is convinced that feeding commercially-prepared deer ration and planting winter green crops as well as summer crops like corn, soybeans and other wildlife food will provide the most quality deer food and result in heavier body weights and bigger antlers for the bucks in your deer herd." Click for Larger ViewCausey believes that the best way to produce the most food for deer is a combination of these two philosophies where hunting clubs and landowners plant green fields, fertilize naturally-occurring food sources, conduct controlled burns and selectively harvest timber. As Causey explains, "Although I've never run a cost analysis, I know that the expense involved in buying a bag of fertilizer, taking it out in the woods and fertilizing an old pasture, a honeysuckle thicket, a blackberry patch or greenbrier doesn't cost nearly as much as hiring a tractor operator and a tractor to pull a plow, planting a crop and still having to fertilize it."

In J. Wayne Fears’ book, “How to Manage Native Plants for Deer,” available at, he gives many tips on managing plants and recommends you call the wildlife agent in the state where you live or plan to hunt. Then get that wildlife agent to tell you what type of naturally-occurring plants deer feed on during deer season in your region. “Once you know what those plants are, fertilize a wide variety of the plants, because deer feed on many-different types of plants. The more-different kinds of deer food you can provide that are highly nutritious, the more the deer will eat those various plants. I also suggest that you fertilize various kinds of plants that deer feed on at different times of the year. Click for Larger ViewFor instance, if you fertilize blackberry plants now before deer season starts, the deer may not feed on those bushes until later in the year, because the blackberry bush tends to hold its leaves later in the year than many plants do. Too, you need to fertilize oak, persimmon, apple, fruit and nut trees you identify on your property. Any tree or bush that yields food for deer can provide more food if someone fertilizes it. That food will have a higher quality because of the fertilization. But only fertilize when the moisture condition of the soil will take-in the fertilizer to keep the fertilizer from causing the plant to die. If you put the fertilizer out just before a heavy rain, the plants will receive the maximum benefit from the fertilizer. If you're trying to create more food for deer, consider fertilizing now the naturally-occurring trees, shrubs and bushes that deer eat. Click for Larger ViewThen before cold weather hits, the nutrition in the fertilizer can get into the soil, benefit the plants and make the plants put-on more foliage and/or create more and bigger nuts before the deer need that food.

“When you fertilize naturally-occurring plants, you create highly-productive hunting sites that other people who hunt where you hunt don't know exist. For instance, if you fertilize a patch of honeysuckle, although the property homes other patches of honeysuckle, the deer will likely come to the patch of fertilized honeysuckle, because that honeysuckle has more-nutritious leaves than the honeysuckle not fertilized. Therefore, you can concentrate deer on a naturally-occurring plant species.” To see videos of some of the most-common naturally-occurring plants that deer eat and how to care for them, go to, and click there on the videos. If you start your deer-management program immediately by fertilizing naturally-occurring plants that the deer feed on, you dramatically can impact and improve the health of your deer herd as well as increase the odds for taking that buck of your dreams this season.

Check back each day this week for more about "Secrets to Early Green Field Planting for Deer"

Day 1:Why Northern Hunters Plant Their Green Fields Early for Deer with Chris Kirby
Day 2 :A Mistake in Planting Green Fields Is Failing to Get a Soil Test with the Whitetail Institute’s Steve Scott
Day 3: The Whitetail Institute’s Steve Scott Reports the Importance of Not Evaluating the Amount of Moisture in the Soil When Planting Green Field Planting for Deer
Day 4: The Bowhunting Deer Season Special with Bobby Cole of Mossy Oak’s BioLogic
Day 5: Dr. Keith Causey and J. Wayne Fears Tell Us Why and How to Create Inexpensive, Highly-Nutritious Food for Deer


Entry 576, Day 5