John's Journal...

The Ultimate Year-Round Food Plot for Deer

 Callaway Crab ApplePermanent Plantings That Work Best in the North and Those for the South

Editor’s Note: If you understand the Y design of green field planting, you not only can see and take more bucks, but you'll have a hunting site for both bow and gun season.  The Y-shaped green field enables the hunter to provide a smorgasbord of highly-nutritious, very-palatable food for the deer all year. You need to see and understand the components that make the Y-shaped green field the best design with the best plantings for hunting deer during bow and gun seasons.

Northern hunters report that apple trees seem to be the deer's favorite fruit tree in the northern U.S.  Many northern sportsmen plant numbers of crab apple trees on their lands whereClick to enlarge they hunt deer.  Although nut trees don't produce well in the North like they do in the South, northern hunters have had success planting the red oak and the swamp white oak. These trees tend to drop their nuts in October. The English oak is another variety that provides nuts for northern deer. However, for fruit and nut trees to survive in the North, you must build a fence around the trees to protect them and keep deer from destroying them. Start off by buying the biggest trees you can afford to keep deer from eating and destroying them. Another bush that works well up North is the Hawthorne bush. Deer love the leaves and the fruit of these bushes, which are cold, hardy and tougher than apple trees.
Giles Island, located in the middle of the Mississippi River, just northwest of Natchez, Mississippi, became an island when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attempted to straighten the Mississippi River and dug a canal that set this island off from the mainland. "We plant between 8,000 and 15,000 trees each year," Jimmy Reilly, the manager of Giles Island, explains. "Depending on the size and the number of cutovers that are created on the island every year, Giles Island is constantly being reforested as the mature timber is being taken off.  We plant trees according to their timber value, the soil type, the terrain and their wildlife value. One of the biggest advantages that we have here on Giles Island is that the sweet pecan tree grows naturally here and reforests itself every year.  The sweet pecan is our number-one nut tree. Although a pecan tree isn’t a dependable nut tree every year, because we have so many pecan trees on the island, some of the trees arClick to enlargee always producing. I believe that the sweet pecan, at least in our area, is the best nut tree for the deer because this tree yields a lot of nuts. Too, the nuts stay on the trees throughout much of deer season. The deer really love to eat them, and pecans are very high in protein."

Giles Island's land managers plant the nutall oak tree, which produces food for wildlife and has good timber value, away from the island's swamps. This variety of oak tree can tolerate the floods Giles Island has every year. Although the nutall, a type of red oak, takes 10 to 12 years to produce nuts, Reilly feels, "That the wait is worth planting these trees. We usually grow the nutalls in our nursery until they're about 6-feet tall before we replant them."

Giles Island alClick to enlargeso plants water oaks, which produce a large amount of smaller acorns and can withstand the tremendous amount of flooding the region has. Both deer and turkey love these acorns. According to Reilly, "On the higher elevations of the island, we plant the Shumard Oak, which is similar to the cherry bark oak. These trees take about 15 years to grow before they start yielding acorns. We also plant the forked white oak on the higher elevations, and cow oaks, another form of white oaks, which have huge acorns. Too, we plant Chinese chestnuts and sawtooth oaks.  Although sawtooth oaks produce a lot of acorns, the deer have usually eaten these acorns before our deer season begins here. We plant apple, pear and peach trees that produce fruit in the summer months and keep the deer in the area where we want to hunt them. Then if we have apples and sawtooth acorns come in next, the deer will stay in that region. We plant persimmon trees that continue to hold the deer where we want to hunt through the fall. Some persimmons we've planted continue to produce even into January.  In the same area where we're trying to hold deer, we have red oak and white oak acorns. We try to provide natural food sources with nut and fruit trees in the places where we want to hunt, starting in May and continuing to yield food for deer through the end of hunting season. We plant our supplemental food plots in the same areas as we do fruit and nut trees. Using this system of deer management, we keep a wide variety of foods in front of our deer the entire year."

To learn more about when to plant in your region, visit


Check back each day this week for more about "The Ultimate Year-Round Food Plot for Deer""

Day 1: The Difference Between Deer Management and Baiting
Day 2: Defining the Y-Shaped Green Field
Day 3: Shrubs and Fruits That Attract and Feed Deer in the Summer and the Fall
Day 4: Late-Season Shrubs and Fruits
Day 5: Permanent Plantings That Work Best in the North and Those for the South



Entry 424, Day 5